The experience of sitting in front of a Muslim judge in an Islamic court is mirrored at an arbitration case in the Darul Iftaa. The nerves, mental strain and anxiety can be smelt in the atmosphere. The tension can be cut by a knife.
Before any arbitration/mediation, the documentation is prepared. Parties are at will to sign the terms and conditions of arbitration. They have the freedom of choice to submit to the Darul Iftaa. There is a strict protocol in the Darul Iftaa. The official arbitrator is mandated by both parties to administer his discretion to deliver a verdict in line with Shari’ah.
The arbitrations take place in the infamous board room. The board room has witnessed all the emotions that can be experienced by a human; laughter, tears, anger, love. The board room has embraced warring businessmen, families who have locked horns, couples who do not see eye to eye and friends breathing down at one another’s necks.
The Darul Iftaa schedules a meeting after consulting all parties involved. When the promised day arrives, the warring factions humbly enter the Darul Iftaa.
Arbitration commences with the parties acknowledging submission to the terms and conditions of arbitration. Thereafter, Hadhrat Mufti Sahib directs the hearts and minds of the claimants and defendants to the consciousness of Allah. An address is given praising the parties for submitting to the Law of Allah and His Messenger. The parties are further encouraged to amicably resolve the problem and come to a compromise.
A mediation or arbitration is not a matter of 5 minutes. Parties at times are required to come into the Darul Iftaa offices 4 to 5 times before reaching any decree. Hours upon hours are put behind each case. Hadhrat Mufti Sahib along with the students deliberate on reaching the correct Shar’i conclusion.
Governing an arbitration is not the job of everyone and anyone. Prudency is vital. Composure is an art. Connection with Allah is the key. Hadhrat Mufti Sahib has told us innumerable times that throughout arbitration cases, his heart is totally focussed on Allah. Hadhrat implores Allah Ta’ālā from the inner recesses of his heart during the entire arbitration case to amicably resolve the case. In addition, it is the practice of Hadhrat Mufti Sahib that he makes constant dua during the day and night for the parties to unite again.
Due to the highly volatile and emotional connotation to the meetings, an arbitrator must command the entire case. He cannot be overrun by any of the parties. In order to keep the composure of the case and for the proceedings to flow smoothly, Hadhrat Mufti Sahib applies some key strategies. For example, Hadhrat makes sure that when the parties are relaying their grievances, they look at and address Hadhrat Mufti Sahib and not the other party. Hadhrat does not allow the mentioning of the merits and demerits of the opposite party in a public forum. If at any time the meeting seems to be spiralling out of control, Hadhrat immediately brings a halt to whatever discussion is taking place.
At times the arbitrator requires to speak to each party separately in order to bring both parties to a common ground. Achieving a compromise (sulah) is the best solution of any disagreement.
At the end of a case, an arbitration award is prepared. This reflects the entire case in so far as the issue, terms of reference, jurisprudence and conclusions are concerned. The parties are called to attend the award. Hadhrat Mufti Sahib reads out the final decree to the parties and concludes the meeting with reminding the people of how they have pleased Allah by submitting to His Law.
The epitome of an arbitration is the final moment; Two brothers who could not see eye to eye embrace one another upon submitting to the decree of Allah.
This is just a glimpse of what takes place in an arbitration. A one page article cannot encapsulate or even mirror the reality of the experiences of an arbitration. The above can only be appreciated by witnessing an arbitration case