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Importance of Shura in Islamic political system



[ August 21, 2015 ]
Shura is a crucial part of the Islamic political system. It allows common people to participate in the decision-making process. It helps create a society that engages actively with leaders. Consultation is important in building a solid relationship between the leader and the people ensuring that the leader does not go astray or regress into an authoritarian government.



The Almighty Allah encouraged the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to use shura: Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular Prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for Sustenance (Quran 42:38). There are several examples of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) taking counsel from his companions and following their opinions. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) held many councils of war before going into battle. At one point, he believed that they should fight only if the enemy entered Madinah. However, his companions opined that they should go out and meet the army. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) accepted the latter opinion even though they lost. Despite this, Almighty Allah revealed shortly afterwards a verse which stressed the importance of shura: It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). (Quran 3:159).In the next battle, the muslims decided to stay put in Madinah. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) again consulted his people regarding the best way to protect themselves against the enemy. Many suggestions came, including one which required the building of an extensive trench. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) agreed to this option and actively participated in its construction. This time, they won. It is the perfect time to re-establish shura, a cornerstone teaching of Islam that was once inherently implemented in governance from the time of the Prophet (pbuh), and his close companions. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used both consultation as well as consensus when making decisions. However, the opinion of the majority was not always taken if it conflicted with the tenets of the faith or went against the overall benefit of the people. At the same time, when the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) acted according to the commands of the Almighty Allah, he did not heed to opposing viewpoints. For instance, when a seemingly disadvantageous treaty was signed with the Meccans, his people vehemently opposed it. However, the Prophet Muhammas (SAW) stuck to the decision and eventually his companions realized that the treaty worked in their favor. This indicates a key principle in shura: it must not contradict or override the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), known as Sunnah. It is the perfect time to re-establish shura, a cornerstone teaching of Islam that was once inherently implemented in governance from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and his close companions.