In this article, the first for the year 2017, we shall dwell on the Historical and Ethical Underpinnings of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has been rooted in the ethics of our Tariqah and history since the beginning of Islam. ADR refers to a process that enables parties to resolve disputes amicably without resorting to a court trial.

This process involves members of the Conciliation & Arbitration Board (CAB) meeting with the parties and helping them resolve their dispute in a way that is less formal, amicable, and very often, consensus based.  Most importantly, the process aims at a win-win situation with the outcome of the dispute being decided by the parties themselves. The most common form of ADR that CAB uses is Mediation. The key principles of Mediation include voluntary consent by both parties, confidentiality, impartiality, without prejudice and non-binding until such time parties reach an agreement.

The Quran makes numerous references to alternate dispute resolution. In the Quranic verse, Sura 4, Ayat 35, Allah says: “If you fear a breach between them two, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family, and the other from hers, if they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation: for Allah has full knowledge and is acquainted with all things”.

The Holy Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was a champion in non-adversarial, amicable mediation. An article published at the Institute of Ismaili Studies website illustrates the following: This concept of reconciliation and harmony is also found in the traditions (sunna) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), whose life is filled with examples of mediated solutions to human problems. There is a well-documented incident that during the reconstruction of the Ka’ba, the building in Mecca to which Muslims go for pilgrimage, a dispute arose over the placing of the Black Stone (Hajr al-Aswad). Each of the four tribes of the Quraysh wanted to have the honor of placing the stone, to the exclusion of the others. An impasse arose and the matter was referred to the Prophet. He asked each of the contesting tribes to choose a representative. He then spread a full sheet of cloth on the floor and placed the stone in the centre, asking all four leaders to each hold one end of the cloth and raise the stone together. Thus, a serious conflict was averted by the Prophet’s prudent action in giving all four leaders an equal honor of placing the stone.

Hazart Ali (A.S.) too was a visionary leader in Islamic thinking and practice in the field of mediation. His great wisdom in coming up with amicable resolutions to disputes was the reason that his help was sought by all within the Ummah. Our Imams throughout the centuries have mediated disputes among their followers.

Imam Jaffer Saddiq (A.S) has said, “The charity which Allah loves the most is peace re-established between quarreling parties”.

In recent times, our Imams have actively engaged in international conflict resolution. Mawlana Sultan Mohammed Shah (A.S) led a global peace effort as founder and President of the League of Nations, predecessor to the United Nations.

Mawlana Hazar Imam (A.S) in the 1980s commissioned a study on ADR. This study set the stage for a Global Jamati Dispute Resolution body. It promotes a non-adversarial approach to dispute resolution and is based on the principles of negotiated settlement (“sulh”) that is enshrined in the Quran.

In 1986, the new Ismaili constitution led to the establishment of the International and National Conciliation and Arbitration Boards (“CABs”). Article 13.1(a) of the Constitution mandates the CABs “to assist in the conciliation process between parties in differences or disputes arising from commercial, business and other civil liability matters, domestic and family matters, including those relating to matrimony, children of a marriage, matrimonial property, and testate and intestate succession”.

Mawlana Hazar Imam (A.S) in his guidance to ICAB and NCABs has emphasized that it would be preferable to bring differences and disputes to our Conciliation and Arbitration Boards, in accordance with the tradition of our Jamat, so that these may be resolved rapidly and without excessive costs.

NCAB, is pleased to inform the Jamat that as part of its efforts to enhance its mediators’ skills and thus render better service to the Jamat, it carried out a two-day Continuing Professional Development Training Program (CPD) for its members on the 1st and 2nd of April 2017. Topics covered ranged from Core Competencies of an Effective Mediator to ‘Phases of Mediation’. Role plays, varying in nature from commercial to matrimonial conflicts, were used to internalize the teachings. Every member of the CAB team was given an opportunity to play the role of a mediator. The training program ended with an assessment for each mediator and relevant feedback was provided by the facilitators to the trainees, to help improve mediation skills in real life situations.

If you have any questions, related to CAB or the process of mediation, please feel free to contact any CAB member.  Our contact information has been placed on all Jamatkhana notice boards.

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