Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was a mercy to all human beings.
Some years ago, the MNLF/MILF also refused to negotiate with the national government. Their fight for independence was non-negotiable. It was a struggle in defense of the Bangsamoro Ummah, to save the Bangsamoro territories, and protect Islam. The battle cry was: VICTORY OR TO THE GRAVEYARD!
But the realization of both warring parties (gov’t and rebels) of not winning military victory, insistent calls from peace-loving citizens and the national government’s diligence in finding ways to end the violence through negotiation changed the situation. Series of preliminary talks through the hard work of messengers and emissaries made the peace negotiation a reality.
Today both the MNLF and the MILF had achieved their goals through peace negotiations.
This is one best practice that we can learn from that experience as we deal with the present violent situation in the BARMM. This is also what we believe in the CSOs. It may be difficult in the beginning to attract rebels to peace talks but there are many souls, from the ordinary persons to high-profile individuals including development partners and international NGOs who are willing to help.
The BARMM is being led by good Muslims, many of them belong to the religious sector and are highly respected. They can find means and can use religious persuasive approach, similar to what Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did in engaging the enemies. On their own, they know who they are dealing with: former comrades, friends and even relatives. They shared many commonalities, dreams and aspirations.
They shared common legacy of fighting for a noble cause in the same territories.
In the past they fought side by side against common enemies. It will only take them to talk to each, not against each other. They can be one again.
I came across this article that talks about how the Prophet treated his Enemies.
Bleeding from head to toe, battered and exhausted, Prophet Muhammad was faced with a choice. Should he or should he not seek to destroy the people who had just humiliated him by having their children chase him out of town while throwing stones at him?
And what was his crime? All he wanted to do was to share his message (of peace, oneness of Allah) and seek to benefit his people.
Prophet Muhammad was in At-Taif, a lush town of green palm trees, fruit and vegetables, about 50 miles from Mecca to offer peace- Islam-. However, the people of At-Taif proved just as cruel and intolerant as his own people. Not only did they scorn or reject his message of Allah’s Oneness, but they turned their youth against him as well. He could have asked that those children who pelted him with stones be finished off along with their intolerant parents, but he didn’t!
No, the Prophet told the Angel not to destroy the people of At-Taif. Instead of cursing the children of this town, he prayed for their salvation. That is just one example of how this man, whom Allah describes as a “mercy to mankind” (Al-Anbiya’ 21:107) dealt with those who opposed him.
The people of At-Taif were not the only ones who tasted this mercy. It was his habit to pray for his enemies all the time.
The Prophet made similar supplications for his people on a regular basis: “O Allah! Guide my people, for they know not,” he would pray, as he and his followers were beaten, humiliated, scorned and ridiculed.
On another occasion, some Companions came to Prophet Muhammad and said: “O Messenger of Allah! The tribe of Daws have committed disbelief and disobeyed (your commands). Supplicate Allah against them!” Contrary to the people’s expectations, the Prophet said: “O Allah! Guide Daws and let them come to us.” (Al-Bukhari)
These are just a few glimpses at how the Prophet dealt with those who opposed him. Contrast this nobility with some believers today who are found cursing others and praying for their destruction.
Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to all human beings. We, as his followers, must live and spread this message today at a time when hatefulness and ugliness towards each other has become the norm.
Can this anecdote be a good guide on how we deal with our perceived enemies? We want to offer peace. The enemy may reject it or even scorn it and make offensive move. But we insist, we pray that they will accept our offer for peace. The chief minister admitted that it was his first attempt (in Maguindanaon) to ask the “peace spoilers” in public to give the BARMM the time and space to fulfill its goal so that everyone will benefit. This is a good start.
The chief minister would not lose anything, except few words, but will win everything if his offer will be accepted.
Military approach to inviting the enemy to peace will do very little. It has a very limited advantage. It can even sacrifice the peace-loving civilian population no matter how careful the approach can be. Once the war starts, rules are set aside if only to achieve the military objectives.
Like the practice of the Prophet we cannot be harsh to the enemies. We must continue to offer peace and invite them for talks (not the talks of the guns). Let us pray for them for enlightenment and soon they will accept our offer, Inshallah. Let us follow the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) in his dealing with enemies and we MUST TRUST ALLAH.
Wabillahi Taufiq Walhidayah!