Helping the Oppressed and the Oppressor: An Islamic Lesson in Conflict Resolution

In this era of selective condemnation and self-serving interpretations of the right to defence, the Islamic principles of justice have the potential to prevent a global war.

Helping the Oppressed and the Oppressor: An Islamic Lesson in Conflict Resolution

In this era of selective condemnation and self-serving interpretations of the right to defence, the Islamic principles of justice have the potential to prevent a global war.


ARPIL 17, 2024

Following the First World War, the League of Nations emerged as an ambitious entity with the goal of preventing future catastrophic wars. During its initial years, when major powers like Germany and Russia were trying to join the newly-created organisation, the then Worldwide Head and the Second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, explained certain principles essential for establishing global peace, ignoring which, he openly asserted, would inevitably lead to the collapse of the League of Nations.

His Holiness based his observations on the following Quranic verse:

“And if two parties of believers fight against each other, make peace between them; then if after that one of them transgresses against the other, fight the party that transgresses until it returns to the command of Allah. Then if it returns, make peace between them with equity, and act justly. Verily, Allah loves the just.”[1]

In light of this, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddinra put forth the following five principles, which are vital in resolving conflicts between nations and maintaining the peace of the world:

  1. If two or more countries conflict with each other, other nations should intervene and compel the conflicting states to submit their dispute to arbitration.
  2. If any of them starts a fight, all other nations should unite to resist the aggressor.
  3. Once the aggressing nation is defeated, all countries should settle the terms of peace. There should be no element of revenge or punishment in this settlement.
  4. The matter in dispute should be settled equitably. It is possible that the aggressor nation was in the right, in which case, it should not be deprived of its rights on account of its aggression.
  5. The intervening countries should not seek any benefit for themselves at the expense of either the victor or the vanquished.[2]

However, His Holiness made it clear that it was impossible for an organisation to abide by these principles, which for its very existence, is dependent upon the courtesy of different nations.[3] Hence, as predicted by His Holiness, the League of Nations failed, and the world was dragged into another World War.

Today, we see that history is repeating itself. The United Nations, established in the aftermath of the Second World War, was entrusted with the responsibility to prevent another world war from happening. Regrettably, the UN is following the footsteps of its predecessor, and the principles of peace presented by the Ahmadiyya Caliph one century ago continue to be ignored.

As such, the current and Fifth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, has been warning the world of another impending global war. He states:

“In the last century, two world wars were fought. Whatever the causes were, if we look deeply, only one cause stands out; and it is that justice was not properly administered in the first instance. As a reaction, what was considered to be an extinguished fire turned out to be cinders that kept on burning slowly, eventually bursting into flames and enveloping the whole world a second time.

“Today, restlessness is increasing and wars and actions to maintain peace are becoming the forerunners for another world war. Moreover, the present economic and social problems will be the source of aggravating the situation.”[4]

While the recent escalation of tensions between Israel and Iran[5] has sparked discussions on the possibility of a Third World War, a person might think that the above statement was made in the wake of these developments. However, this statement was made by His Holiness during his address at the British Parliament in 2008, where he outlined the Islamic principles for preventing global crisis.

In fact, His Holiness has continuously warned the world about its deteriorating situation for almost two decades. He has repeatedly called out the United Nations’ ineffectiveness in resolving international disputes. He has vociferously criticised the unjust policies of the UN, such as the veto power and the permanent membership of the Security Council enjoyed by certain countries.[6] In a recent address, he stated that the right of veto power can never allow or facilitate the establishment of peace as it has always been misused to help and assist in cruelty rather than to prevent it.[7]

Similarly, he has addressed many parliaments and written letters to world leaders, warning them of the consequences of a nuclear war.[8] He has repeatedly reminded the major powers of their responsibility in shaping the future of the world, urging them to act with justice.

Explaining the Islamic teaching on conflict resolution, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba states:

“When two nations are in dispute and this leads to war, then other governments should strongly counsel them towards dialogue and diplomacy so that they can come to an agreement and reconciliation on the basis of a negotiated settlement.”[9]

Sadly, the more the world needs to adhere to these principles, the more it seems to be neglecting them. Instead of resolving disputes through just interventions, the major powers engage in selective condemnation, unjust imposition of sanctions, and self-serving interpretations of the right to defence, often allowing the aggressor nation to increase in oppression.

One is reminded, at this point, of the timeless advice of the Holy Prophetsa to help both the oppressed and the oppressor. The companions enquired that while they understood helping the oppressed, they did not know how to help the oppressor. The Holy Prophetsa responded:

“By preventing him from oppressing others”[10]

This principle extends beyond the smallest units of human society to the international level. Though the Quranic injunction to end transgression by making peace between two fighting parties primarily addresses Muslims, it serves as a universal principle that can guarantee peace on a worldwide scale if all nations abide by it.

Ihsan Ali is a graduate from Jamia Ahmadiyya Qadian, the Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology. He currently serves as a professor at Jamia Ahmadiyya Qadian.


[1] Holy Quran 49:10

[2] Ahmadiyyat or the True Islam pp. 297-298

[3] Ibid p. 301

[4] Islamic Perspective on the Global Crisis, address at the House of Commons on 22 October 2008, World Crisis and the Pathway to Peace p. 16

[5] ‘Serious Escalation’: World Reacts to Iran’s Drone, Missle Raids on Israel, from Al Jazeera 14 April 2024

[6] World Peace The Critical Need of the Time, address at New Zealand’s National Parliament on 4 November 2013, World Crisis and the Pathway to Peace p. 163

[7] Building a Sustainable Peace, the keynote address at the National Peace Symposium UK 2024

[8] These speeches and letters have been compiled in the book World Crisis and the Pathway to Peace.

[9] The Path to Peace — Just Relations between Nations, a historic address at Capitol Hill, Washington DC on 27 June 2012, World Crisis and the Pathway to Peace p. 90

[10] Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Mazalim (The Book on Oppressions)

Image credit: Creative Commons

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K Muhammed Salim · April 19, 2024 at 12:41 am

Assalam o Alaikum ww
Murabbi sb JazakAllah.
MashAllah very happy to see that Ihsan is a teacher at Jamia and also writing on important topics.
May Allah bless him and enable to serve jamat and Khilafat more

    Sherin Rasheed · April 24, 2024 at 4:17 am

    Well penned 👍🏻. MashaAllah

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