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Sulh (Arabic: صلح‎) is an Arabic word meaning "resolution" or "fixing" generally, in problem solving. It is frequently used in the context of social problems.


In Quranic Arabic, sulh is used as a term signifying an agreement or settlement over a property dispute and retains this sense in later Islamic legal usage. In Bedouin customary law, it can signify a settlement of a tribal feud and in modern Arabic usage, it is applied to treaties, such as the sulh Versailles (Treaty of Versailles).[1] In general, it reflects a sense of resolution of conflict through negotiation. The two parties select respected individuals to mediate the conflict, a truce (hudna) is declared, a settlement is reached that maintains the honor and status of both parties, and a public ritual takes place. Particularly important is the fact that the practice affirms bonds between groups and not just individuals.[2] It averts a cycle of revenge.[3]

Sulh, in its sense of conflict mediation, is still common in rural areas where governmental systems of justice have little force.[3]

In Muslim political thought[edit]

In the early days of the Islamic Empire, sulh, in the sense of "treaty" or "armistice," typically meant that a region had "surrendered on terms" or similarly during the Ottoman retreat it preceded a region's independence. Typically, it signified an area that was ruled and administered by its local political structure but acknowledged itself as a subject through the payment of tribute.[1]

In the Muslim world view on divisions of the world the region called the Dar al-'Ahd (Arabic: دار العهد‎ "house of truce") or Dar al-Sulh ("house of treaty") or Dar al Hudna (Arabic: "house of calm") was seen as an intermediate to Dar al-Islam (Arabic: دار الإسلام‎, literally house/abode of Islam; or Dar as-Salam, house/abode of Peace) and Dar al-Harb (Arabic: دار الحرب‎ "house of war").

Dar al-Sulh, was then seen as non-Muslim territory that had concluded an armistice with Muslims, and had agreed to protect Muslims and their clients and interests within its borders. Often this implied a tributary situation, however modern writings also include friendly countries in Dar al-Sulh. By no means, was this particular division however recognized by all Muslim jurists, and due to historical changes, these concepts have little significance today.[4]


  1. ^ a b Lewis, (1991), pg 78-80
  2. ^ Irani, George Emile (2006). "Apologies and Reconciliation: Middle Eastern Rituals". Taking wrongs seriously: apologies and reconciliation. Stanford University Press. 
  3. ^ a b Gopin, Marc (2002). Holy war, holy peace: how religion can bring peace to the Middle East. Oxford University Press. 
  4. ^ Esposito, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-19-512559-2, pg 62-62 [1]


  • Lewis, Bernard, The Political Language of Islam, University of Chicago Press, 1991, ISBN 0-226-47693-6 [2]