As we come to the end of our four-year term as members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Board for Tanzania, we look back on our achievements. In the last four years, we have endeavored to assist in mediating various cases ranging from commercial disputes to marital disputes to Jamati members who felt they needed their voices to be heard and those who felt misunderstood by their families.
In mediating all these cases, one particular phrase that assisted us in bridging the gap was, “after all, we are a family”. The phrase even got extended to, “after all, we are a global Jamat”. Phrases like these have helped us to achieve breakthroughs and also enabled parties to reach an amicable solution because they wanted to maintain and build relationships they had nurtured, grown and invested-in for years.
With regard to family ties, our beloved Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), said,
“The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him “. [Al-Bukhari].
We have witnessed certain families fall apart when they have chosen the route of resolving matters such as inheritance, child custody, family business, siblings misunderstanding, care for the elderly (specifically on who should take care for their aging parents or grandparents), by way of litigation/courts of law and other law enforcement agencies such as the police.
To avoid damaging relationships, unnecessary costs, delayed justice, negative publicity (as there is no privacy and confidentiality) and long-term grudges and hatred, it is always best to avoid litigation or using the courts of law as a means of resolving disputes. The best way is to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for building relationships as it is private and confidential, has reduced or no costs, achieves faster resolution and ends in a win–win situation in addition to maintaining peace and harmony in the family and the society.
ADR can be done in one of the following ways:
- Negotiation: this is a way to resolve disputes by parties engaging in discussions/meetings either on their own or by using their advisors and people they trust. In negotiations, parties can explore various solutions and at the end the final terms and conditions are reduced into a legally binding agreement.
- Mediation: this is a form of resolving disputes where parties appoint an institution/person(s) to act as a guide/facilitator in assisting parties to formulate their own solutions. A mediator is not an arbitrator or a judge; and merely plays the role of a guide who is trained to assist parties to establish their own solutions. The key accomplishments with this process are that it is private and confidential, usually cost free, neutral and ensures a win-win for both the parties. Anything said or discussed in mediation is non-binding until the final terms and conditions are reduced into a legally binding agreement.
- Conciliation: this is an extended version of Mediation, where the Mediator, now turned Conciliator, is allowed to make suggestions and advise parties on possible solutions. The Conciliator plays a more active role and may give suggestions or influence the parties in settling on solutions that have been narrowed down, and once again, only the final terms and conditions are reduced into a legally binding agreement.
As the Conciliation and Arbitration Board for Tanzania, we mostly practice Mediation and use Conciliation as a last resort where parties are at a deadlock and jointly permit the Mediators to give suggestions. As a board, we are very pleased that we have had success over the past four years through the trust and confidence that the Jamat has placed in us. The fact that we have well trained members who have knowledge and skills in Mediation enables us to reach-out to more jamati members to assist them in resolving their disputes.
One of the main themes during the Diamond Jubilee has been the principle of One Jamat –
A United and Happy Jamat; and we can only be united and live in peace if we are united in our families (both within and extended); united in our Jamat; united in our marriages; united as friends and also united in our businesses and professions.
The late, Nelson Mandela said “Forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear. That’s why it’s such a powerful weapon.” Let us all use this weapon to liberate our souls, remove fear and allow love, care, compassion, empathy, generosity, humility and kindness to enter into our hearts and our lives.
It is our hope and prayer that going forward and in line with Mowlana Hazar Imam’s wishes, we will endeavor to prevent disputes in the families and Jamat. However, if there happens to be any dispute, then we would all work collectively to have them resolved amicably in the spirit of peace and harmony through Mediation carried out by CAB. CAB has been created with the mandate of helping the Jamat to resolve disputes amicably and peacefully. In addition to the reference below, information contained in this article has primarily been sourced from the CAB’s mediation training and case experience.
If you have any questions or wish to have more information on a particular subject relating to CAB’s work, please feel free to contact any CAB member. Our contact information has been placed on all Jamatkhana notice boards.