An absence of hostility is a hallmark of Rajab. One of four sacred months in Islam, Rajab should be spent striving to be peaceful. We can make an intention to begin using these NonViolent Communication practices for Rajab and continue for a lifetime.
“Although divine guidance has always encouraged humanity to refrain from executing their anger into unfavorable actions, there is a special emphasis made during the four sacred months, as it provides a month-long reminder. The focus helps [people] to recognize and control their egos and desire and to refrain from hateful acts of taking revenge, especially if it inflicts harm on others. . . People are encouraged not to indulge in anything that can lead to conflicts, either at home or in the world at large.” – Asalam Abdullah for IslamiCity
Are You a Warring Nation or Bickering Individual?
Many Muslims worldwide are actually facing warfare and violence in their day-to-day lives: Palestine, Delhi, China, Myanmar, etc.
However, living in more peaceful conditions, we should not think we are exempt to the responsibility to end hostilities. In fact, if our daily survival is so generally easy yet minor tiffs and disagreements cause us to become hostile or angry, then we have much work to do in improving our mindset.
Resolving conflict peacefully with family members, colleagues, and acquaintances can be difficult. Especially so if we were not raised with healthy communication or resolution skills.
Alhamdullilah, Rajab is a reminder from our Creator that we must learn to handle difficult situations gently and thoughtfully. Rajab is a blessed opportunity to learn and implement peaceful strategies, improving our lives and bringing us closer to Allah.
Two strategies we can learn and implement are Nonviolent Communication and Conflict Resolution.
What is Nonviolent Communication (NVC)?
Bay NonViolentCommunication explains the practice:
“NVC gives us the tools and consciousness to understand what triggers us, to take responsibility for our reactions, and to deepen our connection with ourselves and others, thereby transforming our habitual responses to life. Ultimately, it involves a radical change in how we think about life and meaning. NVC is based on a fundamental principle: underlying all human actions are needs that people are seeking to meet, and understanding and acknowledging these needs can create a shared basis for connection, cooperation, and more globally – peace.”
With NVC, there are four main components. These steps can be used on a large scale (warring nations) or a small scale (bickering individuals).
How to Practice NonViolent Communication
Since most of us are more likely to be “bickering individuals,” let’s imagine a typical spousal disagreement.
A husband or wife comes home from a long day at work. Within minutes of entering the front door, they are already checking their smart phone or computer. To their spouse who has been waiting for their arrival, this can feel hurtful. How do we handle such a situation with NVC?
First: Describe what we see as neutrally as possible, without judgement or evaluation. For instance, we could tell our spouse, “I see you felt the need to check your messages.”
Second: Communicate Our feelings by talking about our own inner experience without interpreting people’s actions. “I miss you and want to talk with you,” is a nonviolent way to communicate to your spouse which is less hostile than, “Are you addicted to your phone? Don’t you care about your family?”
Third: We Recognize Unmet, Fundamental Needs are what caused these hurt feelings. Here, one person is feeling that his or her innate need to be loved and appreciated by their spouse is unmet.
Lastly: Formulate A Concrete, Doable Request that will help resolve our problem. “Would you be willing to spend your first 30 minutes at home just connecting with me and the kids?” is a nonviolent way to request our spouse’s attention.
Another peaceful way to address problems is through conflict resolution. What is Conflict Resolution?
“A way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. The disagreement may be personal, financial, political, or emotional. When a dispute arises, often the best course of action is negotiation to resolve the disagreement.” – Community Toolbox Box
There are seven concrete steps to successfully negotiating resolutions to conflicts:
1 – Understand the conflict
2 -Communicate with the opposition
3 – Brainstorm possible resolutions
4 – Choose the best resolution
5 -Use a third party mediator
6 – Explore alternatives
7 – Cope with stressful situations and pressure tactics.
Each step entails quite a bit of thought and effort, but is well worth the investment if it ends in a peaceful resolution that is satisfactory to all parties.
As believers we should take a close look at our relationships and the way we handle disagreements so that we obey Allah’s command in the month of Rajab.
A little bit of reading combined with sincere efforts to handle our disagreements without hostility could go a long way toward healing our relationships and bringing more peace to the world.