Islamic concepts

Shūrá — counsel, advice, mutual consultation

Shūrá or Mashwarah مشورة

Shura in the Islamic Way of Life Islam teaches that God alone is the One who is All-knowing, All-powerful and must be obeyed unconditionally according to a genuine conviction and belief. 19 Human beings have relative knowledge and no absolute power. They are all equal and enjoy dignity granted to them by God since their creation, and each is accountable in this life and in the life to come for his or her deeds. Every matter, even the faith itself, should rely on one’s conviction about what is right and what is wrong without any coercion or intimidation. As the Quran says, “No coercion is [allowed] in matters of faith.” 20 Based on these beliefs, any human being cannot decide arbitrarily and independently a matter that concerns others and not himself or herself alone, nor claim if he or she does so, an immunity from accountability. The Quran makes “shura” or “participation with others in making a decision that concerns them,” subsequent to and a consequence of the faith in God. It represents the positive response to His message and comes next to making prayers to Him, “and those, who respond to [the call of] their Lord, and keep up the prayers, and whose rule in a matter [of common concern] comes out of consultation among themselves...” (emphasis added). 21 The initiative of involving others in making a decision of common interest has to come from those who are responsible for leadership and making such decisions. However, those concerned people take the initiative to offer their nasiha (advice) to the leadership in a suitable way when they find this necessary, since giving advice is an obligation of every individual towards leaders and the public as well “a’imat al-Muslimin wa ‘ammatihim,” according to a tradition of the Prophet reported by Muslims. Enjoining the doing of what is right and good and forbidding the doing of what is wrong and evil is the responsibility of the state authorities as well as the people and any group of them. 22 Shura is not limited to the political field; it has to be developed starting with the family base to be a general way of life in all areas. Spouses, even in the case of divorce, have to conduct family matters “by mutual consent and counsel” (emphasis added). 23 Both requirements have to be fulfilled together without split, since consent must be based on mutual consultation and not taken for granted, and consultation should lead to mutual consent and not be exercised as a superficial formality. The child has to be educated to express himself or herself freely but properly about what ought to be done or avoided. 24 The family and the school have essential roles in developing shura as a way of life.

The primary area for shura is in choosing the head of the state. In our times, the state leader may be directly chosen by the people or by their elected representatives, and may be the head of the executive branch, or just a symbol for the state while the actual authority is given to the prime minister. In the last case, the prime minister is the leader of the political party whose candidates have won the majority of the seats of the representative body, which may also be called the “parliament.” The Quran states: “O you have attained to faith! Obey God, and obey the Conveyor of the Message [of God] and those from among you who have been entrusted with authority by you; and if you are at variance over any matter, refer it to God and the Conveyor of the M