The word ‘shura’ is familiar only to Muslims. Shura means advice. Shura is very important in the management of Islamic family, society and state. In the Qur’an, there is a special emphasis on the social structure based on Shura.
Shura is now a very common practice in Muslim countries. In Muslim countries where dictatorships, monarchies or military dictatorships are in place, there are only nominal ‘Shura Committees’, ‘Shura Councils’ or ‘Majlis Shuras’. The same is true of charities and mosques. However, the presence of the Shura is visible in the communities that are developing in different countries of the Western world in need of social, economic, religious or political existence among the Muslim immigrants.
Shura is now a very common practice in Muslim countries. In Muslim countries where dictatorships, monarchies or military dictatorships are in place, there are only nominal ‘Shura Committees’, ‘Shura Councils’ or ‘Majlis Shuras’. The same situtation is true of charities and mosques. However, the presence of the Shura is visible in the communities that are developing in different countries of the Western world in need of social, economic, religious or political existence among the Muslim immigrants.
Importance of Shura in the light of Qur’an: The provision of Shura is important in every stage of Muslim life, especially in the management of Islamic society and state. The caliphs used to form a ‘Majlis Shura’ consisting of a certain number of people to seek advice on caliphate or state administration. This is because Allaah mentions the virtues of the Muslims, ‘and they act on the basis of consultation among themselves. (Surah: Shura, verse: 36)
Importance of Shura in Hadith: The goodness and benefit of working on the basis of advice is proved by the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Narrated by Hazrat Ibn Abbas (RA), the Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Although there is no need for advice for Allah and His Messenger, yet Allah has instructed me to consult, there is a lot of mercy and blessing in it. Those who work with advice will never be deprived of good guidance. And those who do not act on counsel will never be saved from error. (Bayhaqi)
Shura in the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Caliphs: Allah’s Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was rich in the knowledge of continuous revelation and Allah guided him by advanced moral qualities. Even then, Allah the Almighty advised His Prophet to act on the basis of consultation with the Companions. Allah says, ‘And you will consult them in the matter. (Surah: Ale Imran, verse: 159)
The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) adopted the principle of shura or advice in his life. In this context, Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I have not seen anyone more consultative with his companions than the Messenger (may peace be upon him).” (Fath al-Karim fi Siamatin Nabiyyil Amin: Page 24)
In the life of the Prophet of Allah, there is ample evidence of Shura-based decision making. Before the battle of Uhud, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) consulted with his Companions about whether the battle would be fought outside the city of Medina or inside.
After the Prophet (peace be upon him) the caliphs conducted the caliphate on the basis of consultation and in times of crisis in the country, they used to hold consultative meetings with the wise, prudent, far-sighted and jurists. Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) used to consult the Ansar and Muhajir Companions during his caliphate. Hazrat Omar (R.), Osman (R.), Ali (R.), Abdur Rahman Ibn Auf (R.), Muaz Ibn Jabal (R.) and other Companions were present in these meetings. During the time of Hazrat Omar (RA) all the important issues of the state were first presented in the Majlis Shura. Here the decision was made after hair analysis. Hazrat Omar (RA) said, ‘The caliphate system cannot function without consultation. (Ma’areful Quran: Page 214)
Shura was also considered an important part of the Majlis during the time of other caliphs. Later, during the Islamic rule, the need for this did not go away at all. However, its members must be qualified for effective startups. And the real measure of merit will be the origin and taqwa of Islamic Sharia. It is known that Hazrat Omar (ra) used to give place to people of this qualification in Majlis. In this regard, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘Consult with those who fear Allah in your important matters. (Hakim to Mustadra)
In addition, consultants will enjoy the right to free thought, expression, sharpness and openness. In this case, of course, disrespect towards Islam and others cannot be shown. The counselor will express his opinion in good faith, in the interest of welfare and in terms of taqwa. He must follow the principles shown by the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The issue of expressing an independent opinion can be deduced from the conversation of an unmarried girl with the Prophet. When a Companion came to the Prophet and offered to marry a girl, the Prophet (peace be upon him) told the girl to marry that Companion. The girl then said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)! Is this your instruction or advice? ’The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,‘ This is my advice. The girl then said firmly, “I will never marry that man.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was not angry or hurt at all. This was the teaching of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which the girl practiced. The teaching of the Prophet of Allah is that no girl can be married without her opinion.
Is shura compulsory?
The question is, how mandatory is the shura? There is no end to the confusion in Muslim society. Shura literally means to consult. At the individual level, a friend may ask another friend for advice on marriage. In this case, whatever the advice of a friend, it is not mandatory. It is not at all acceptable to take personal advice on who one will live with for the rest of one’s life. However, when it comes to personal decision making in the light of the Qur’an, shura is important. Allah has instructed the Prophet (peace be upon him) as a prophet to take personal decisions in military, political or social matters. In this case Shura has two characteristics – one. Shura is an orderly system, which is not a personal matter. Two. Shura is a way of making a good decision, about which there is no direct guidance from Allah. Therefore, the Shura is binding on the overall political, economic and social decision making of the Islamic society.
The point is, there is no point in refraining from trying to figure out how to make the Islamic society and the state more successful and effective in the face of the need to establish the Shura system. Because welfare is in the shura. And we should not forget that Shura is the lifeblood of Islamic society and state system. In today’s world, Islamic law has lost much of its importance as a matter of urgency. May Allah understand the importance of our shura and grant us the grace of effective remedy of this system. Amen.