A Comprehensive Tafseer of the verse:
وَ اَمْرُہُمْ شُوْرٰی بَیۡنَہُمْ ۪
And their affairs are decided by mutual consultation.
(Al-Shoora 42, Verse 38)
In this verse, we Muslims are advised to work together in our affairs by mutual consultation. Hence, it’s an important aspect, therefore we are reminded about it at several occasions in the Holy Quran.
Let us analyze this concept as to:
- What does Shoora mean?
- In which matters should we seek advice?
- The excellence of Shoora.
The Meaning of Shoora:
It comes from the root word “شُوْرٌ” which means “To reveal something” or “To gain”, and hence, every member reveals his opinion in a mutual consultation and also clarity is gained in the matters under discussion, therefore it is called Shoora.
The Excellence of Shoora:
It has tremendous amount of values in the Holy texts, and on the other hand, it’s also logical to the intellect. It’s Allah’s Sunnah to make Shoora. When Allah Almighty ordained to create Hazrat Adam – peace be upon him – he undertook a mutual consultation with the angels, as He states:
اِنِّیۡ جَاعِلٌ فِی الۡاَرْضِ خَلِیۡفَۃً
I am about to place a vice-gerent in the earth.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 30)
It was a Shoora i.e. consultation, and not just a dictation of His intention. It was for this reason that the angels had the courage to present their views and said:
قَالُوۡۤا اَتَجْعَلُ فِیۡہَا مَنۡ یُّفْسِدُ فِیۡہَا وَیَسْفِکُ الدِّمَآءَ
They said, “will You place such who will spread disorder there in and shed blood’?
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 30)
And then they presented their suggestion:
وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِکَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَکَ
And we praise You commending You and sanctify You” (So we are more deserving of becoming Your vice-gerent)
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 30)
Although their argument was not worthy of acceptance, and He stated:
قَالَ اِنِّیۡۤ اَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُوۡنَ﴿۳۰﴾
He stated, ‘I know what you know not’.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 30)
If it were not by way of a mutual consultation, the angels would never present their opinions, for their nature is:
یَفْعَلُوۡنَ مَا یُؤْمَرُوۡنَ﴿۵۰﴾٪ٛ
They do what they are commanded.
(Al-Nahl 16, Verse 50)
However, it was a Shoora which was aimed at teaching the servants. Allah Almighty showed us that if He can consult, being All-Aware and All-Knowing, so you too, should work with this wisdom.
The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – is the wisest person in the whole universe. The wisdom and knowledge of the people of entire world is 1/10th portion compared to the wisdom and knowledge that is bestowed upon a Prophet, and the wisdom and knowledge of approximately 1,24,000 Prophets is 1/10th portion of what has been bestowed upon our Beloved Messenger – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him.
Realistically speaking, the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – civilized the uncivilized and barbaric nation of Arabia and the entire world which would not have been possible for anyone despite there were revolutionary philosophers and scientists in every age.
Despite him being so wise and knowledgeable Allah Almighty commanded:
وَشَاوِرْہُمْ فِی الۡاَمْرِ ۚ فَاِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَکَّلْ عَلَی اللہِ
And consult them (the companions) in the affairs; and when you have made up your mind for anything, then put your trust in Allah.
(Aale ‘Imraan 3, Verse 159)
It was for this reason that the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – used to consult the emigrants and Ansaar in the important matters of Jihaad etc. which proves that it’s the Sunnah of the Beloved Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – to consult and it was done as a lesson for the Ummah, that if he, being the recipient of the divine revelation, could seek advice then we also surely should do so in our matters.
The opinion of an individual is like a thin thread which cannot be utilized in a heavy duty work but when a large number of opinions are unanimous in a matter and when they get together then it takes the shape of a rope which can bear any burden. Therefore, it is stated in Hadeeth:
یَدُ اللّٰہِ عَلَی الْجَمَاعَۃِ
Allah’s Hand is on the team(work).
One who works with Shoora is saved against agony and reproof and is not abandoned to suffer alone at the time of difficulty. If we were to do something based entirely on our own opinion then we alone will be responsible for following its consequences in case of its failure and we will also become a laughing stalk thus becoming embarrassed in people’s eyes, and no one will come forward to help. They will rather pass such remarks that “Your have done it to yourself then follow its consequences too” but when we do something with mutual consultation and then even if it turns into a loss for some reason, then too at least people’s concern will be with us, for it was done with mutual understanding. Nowadays, the kingdoms, councils, courts, organizations and families and businesses are operational through mutual consultation. Allah Almighty grants a Counselor to a king whom He is pleased with and a minister to whom He is Merciful.
Once, someone asked Hazrat Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – during his caliphate, “There were Islamic victories in the caliphate of the other three Caliphs, what is the reason that in-fights are more common in your Caliphate?” He immediately replied, “They had people like me as their advisors and I have people like you advising me.”
It’s mentioned in the Hadeeth Shareef that as long as your deeds are good and your rich are generous and your affairs are managed with mutual consultation and understanding the back of the earth is better for you i.e. you are better of living than dead, and when your rulers are evil, your rich are miser and your affairs are handed over to women the belly of the earth is better for you i.e. you are better of dead than living.
The Ummah is organized through Shoora and they remain on truth, for even the inferior is considered as much important as a superior in Shoora and the inequality within the nation is more likely to perish, for the root of disunity, which is inequality among the nation, is because of negligence in this aspect. If a king were to invite even the poor people of his nation they will feel good, and on the other hand, the king will also have their concern and sympathy.
The apartheid governments were therefore never stable, for they did not have any sympathy towards the nation, and when the time arrived for its defense the public would say, “the king and subjects (favored ones) must go and sort it out by themselves. We are not subjected to defend the kingdom”, and even if the army came forward, it was just to fulfil the formality and collect wages. The entire nation that is run by democracy (the true democracy) can transform itself into an army, which is the blessing of Shoora.
Islam has established the concept of Shoora in the five times congregational Salah, so that the people of community get together at least five times a day and consult their issues with one another (but outside the Masjid). On Fridays, the urban community gets the opportunity to gather, and on the day of Eid, all the people of town and its suburbs get to meet one another, and at the occasion of Hajj people get a chance to exchange their views with the Muslims that come from across the globe.
The congregational Salahs are like daily conference for Muslims. Other nations spend millions to arrange a conference, why? Of course, for Shoora, but the grand conference of Muslims takes place every year in Makkah Mukarramah where everyone can share their opinions without having to spend a penny for it.
In the time of the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him, the Islamic courts were established in Masjids, and the laws were also made in Masjids. Troops were made within the boundaries of Masjids and they would return victorious. In short, Masjids in fact played the role of parliament. When the courts moved away from the Masjid, the standard of Shoora narrowed to accommodate the special ones and the value of justice decreased, therefore the nation became vulnerable to all sorts of corruption.
There are three aspects where Shoora is applicable or non-applicable:
- Things that are considered as compulsory or forbidden by Shariah
- Worldly and religious affairs
There is no room for Shoora in the first two, but it’s necessary in the third one.
If the whole world gets together and makes Shoora upon abandoning to give Zakaat, pray Salah, going for Hajj and stop Jihaad it’s absolutely wrong. These duties will definitely be carried on, for Allah Almighty and His Messenger – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – have established them, then where does this Shoora come into picture? When the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – individually spread the message of Allah’s Oneness the whole world’s opinion was unanimous on committing Shirk. Only He proclaimed the message of Tauheed. All those opinions were thrown out of the window and that One Noble Personality had spread the message of Tauheed, so do not listen to anyone against Allah.
This concept is proven from the following verse of the Holy Quran:
وَمَا کَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَّ لَا مُؤْمِنَۃٍ اِذَا قَضَی اللہُ وَ رَسُوۡلُہٗۤ اَمْرًا اَنۡ یَّکُوۡنَ لَہُمُ الْخِیَرَۃُ
And it is not befitting to a Muslim man or Muslim woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed something that they would have any choice.
(Al-Ahzaab 33, Verse 36)
There is no need for anyone’s opinion in Prophecy but yes, it’s needed in the affairs of a kingdom.
Similarly, it’s also not advisable to make Shoora in secret matters. It should not be told to anyone, for it’s not something for sharing.
Hazrat Abu Hurairah – may Allah be pleased with him – said:
“The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – has taught me two types of sciences:
- Which I share with you
- If I were to tell you any of it, you will squeeze my neck and kill me.”
This makes it clear that secrets are meant to be kept hidden from others. Shoora is permissible and recommended in the rest of things. Allah Almighty places blessings in something that is based on mutual consultation.
It’s of vital importance to seek Shoora from the right kind of people in a particular matter, or else it will tumbledown. One should not seek advice from police when affected by an ailment or a virus but rather from a doctor. One should seek advice of Ulama in Shariah matters, the advice of lawyers and attorneys in legal matters, architects in anything related to construction, police when reporting a crime or investigation instead of relying on one’s own opinion. Do not seek advice from an undeserving person. Doctor Iqbaal has very beautifully describes it:
گریز زطرز جمہوری غلام پختہ کارے شو
کہ از مغز دو صد خر فکر انسانے نہ می آید
Listen to one man instead of taking the advice of 200 donkeys.
In the British constitution, one’s riches is the criteria for having a say in their decision-making, i.e. only the tax-payer who pays x amount can become a member of the council etc.
Islamic criteria for having a say and presenting one’s opinion is based on one’s knowledge and wisdom, and not on one’s wealth. If intellect was only limited to the rich then Pharaoh, Shaddaad and Namrood were supposed to be very intelligent people, yet they were utter fools, and if the poor are to be considered as fools then the Prophets, Awliya and the pious would not be considered as intelligent beings. In the Masjid-e-Nabawi Shareef, Hazrat Bilal and Hazrat Salman Farsi had as much right to present their opinions as Hazrat Uthmaan Ghani – may Allah be pleased with them – had. The battle of trench underwent according to the opinion of Hazrat Salman Farsi – may Allah be pleased with him (a very poor Sahaabi who was slave).
When Hazrat Umar – may Allah be pleased with him – appointed a freed slave as the governor of Yemen, people raised objections saying, “Are you appointing a slave on the governing chair?” He replied, “Yes, because he is more knowledgeable in Quranic sciences. The Quran states that Bani Israel raised an objection when Hazrat Taloot was appointed as their king:
اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لَہُ الْمُلْکُ عَلَیۡنَا وَنَحْنُ اَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْکِ مِنْہُ وَلَمْ یُؤْتَ سَعَۃً مِّنَ الْمَالِؕ
‘How can there be kingship of him over us, whereas we are more entitled for the kingship than he, and nor he has been given abundance of wealth too’.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 247)
The response came:
بَسْطَۃً فِی الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِؕ
(He is given) abundant knowledge and (strong) body.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 247)
Therefore he is more deserving of the governing chair.” The knowledge of Hazrat Adam – peace be upon him – was the criteria for his high station.
In short, the riches should not be the criteria in order for one to have a say in a decision, and also, the ministers, officials and people in control should be righteous individuals. It will be the cause of all chaos to hand over the high positions in the hands of undeserving people. Hadeeth:
اِذَا وۃسِدَ الْاَمْرُ اِلٰی غَیْرِ اَھْلِہٖ فَانْتَظِرُوْا السَّاعَۃَ
When the matters are handed over to undeserving people, wait for the Qiyaamat!
There are some principals that need to be applied to the Shoora. The opinion of an individual must be independent and not suppressed under anyone’s impression nor in greed of something. In current days’ conferences, most of the members’ opinions are bought by paying heavy bucks, and the opinions of some are suppressed under someone’s impressions. Any such opinions are not worth counting on, for it’s not the opinion of the individuals but it’s the voice of someone else. It’s of high importance for even the most inferior ones to be able to raise objections against the opinion of an authoritative person when conducting Shoora.
Hazrat Bareerah – may Allah be pleased with her – was a slave-girl and she was in the Nikah of Mugheeth. When she was set free she had the legal right to either keep the marriage or break it. The Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon her – requested her to keep the marriage. She asked, “Is it your command or your advice? If it’s your command then I accept it whole-heartedly.” He replied, “No, it’s just my opinion.” She said, “I do not accept it. I will break the marriage.” And she broke the Nikah at last. The Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon her – did not get angry and tell her, “Why did you go against my opinion being a slave” etc. It actually provides a yardstick that independency is of vital importance in sharing opinions. This kind of independency is alien in advisories nowadays. This was the case of measuring opinions and their status while it’s a pre-requisite in being a witness to be independent of anyone’s pressure and favour. It is for this reason that the testimony of a son is not acceptable in favour of his father neither the testimony of a slave in favour of his master.
Hazrat Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – found his armor in the possession of a jew when Qaadi Shuraih was the magistrate of Kufa during the caliphate of Hazrat Ali – may Allah be pleased with him. Hazrat Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – claimed, “This armor is mine.” But he refused to give him. This matter was then taken into court.
Qaadi Shuraih asked Hazrat Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – to present his witnesses. He presented his son Imam Hasan – may Allah be pleased with him – and slave, Qanbar. Qaadi Shuraih said, “Although I do believe that the apple of Hazrat Fatimah’s eye, the beloved of Huzoor and the son of Ali – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him, his Household and all his Companions – will never utter a lie but it’s the law that the testimony of a son and a slave in favour of his father and master is not acceptable. Therefore, these testimonies are not acceptable in your favour, bring some other witnesses.”
He responded, “I do not have any other witnesses.” Therefore, the jew won the case against Hazrat Ali – may Allah be pleased with him. Coming out of the court the jew came and grabbed His feet and said, “Make me a Muslim. This armor is definitely yours. I just wanted to test your righteousness and honesty. I now know that Muslims are really just and fair.”
The lesson derived from this incident is that any opinion or testimony should not be given under pressure or in someone’s favour. It should rather be focused on the betterment of the community and not for the betterment of an individual.
It was in the beginning of the caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddeeq – may Allah be pleased with him – that a nation thought that the Zakaat of animals and their goat and sheep etc. should be no more given to the Islamic government, for Allah Almighty states:
خُذْ مِنْ اَمْوٰلِہِمْ صَدَقَۃً تُطَہِّرُہُمْ وَتُزَکِّیۡہِمۡ بِہَا
‘O beloved prophet! realise the poor-due (Zakat) out of their wealth, to purify them and cleanse them therewith.
(Al-Tubah 9, Verse 103)
Which unfolds that the right of its collection was exclusive to the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace blessings upon him – and now, that He has passed away, so we will not give Zakaat to the Islamic government.
Hazrat Siddeeq Akbar – may Allah be pleased with him – consulted the Companions on this matter in a meeting and said, “We should make Jihaad against them.” All their opinions and especially the opinion of Hazrat Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab – may Allah be pleased with them – went against him, that, “Hence, all these people read Kalimah then why make Jihaad against them?” But He could foresee that, “If we let this continue then later on, they will even abandon the Salah and then Kalimah also”. He said, “If no one will come with me then I will go alone” and when he left they joined him and overpowered those people. Only then did they realize and acknowledged as to how important this Jihaad was.
The opinion of everyone could go against the Islamic law but the Imam did not accept them.
When Yazeed took over the caliphate most of the Muslims of Hijaaz and Iraq pledged allegiance on his hands but the Shaheed of Karbala Hazrat Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – could foresee that if today, he shows negligence in this matter and a tyrant like Yazeed is appointed as a caliph then caliphate in future will become a child’s play and every tom, dick and harry will claim the caliphate.
After the denial of Hazrat Abdullah and other Companions he still went against Yazeed which costed him the loss of his immediate family but he never allowed any spec of injustice or alteration in the Islamic spirit.
These events disclose that mutual consultation or Shoora is definitely important but as long as it does not collide with any Islamic laws. The Muslims should value their votes and opinions taking these guidelines into consideration and must always remember that a vote is so valuable that Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – even sacrificed his life to preserve it.
سر داد نہ داد دست در دست یزید
حقا کہ بنائے لا الٰہ ہست حسین
He gave his head rather than giving his hands in the hands of Yazeed
The truth is that the foundation of Islamic spirit is Imam Husain
In this era, some Pakistanis came up with a fancy idea and formed an opinion that, “Qurbaani should be stopped in the country, and the money which is spent in this cause should rather be handed over to the government with the aid of which they may win the battle of Kashmir.” If they call this a progress then their next target will be Hajj, and then their opinion will be that hence, millions of Rupees go out of Pakistan for Hajj every year, so they should rather put a stop to it and dedicate the fund to the treasury, and then they are going to do the same with Zakaat. (Allah forbid!)
They are not eyeing on the Haraam that is happening in the cinema theatres, alcohol and gambling and all the other Haraam expenditures. If they said that if the people are seen gambling will be captured and will be forced to join the army and make themselves useful, for they are not serving any purpose any way, and put a stop to all the Haraam expenditures, and fill the treasury with that money, then we will also support this initiative of theirs. The conclusion is, not all the opinions are worth an approval.
Note: Three things are essential as a criteria for anyone to be appointed as a leader, ruler or caliph:
- Islamic inclination and piety
- Knowledge and wisdom
Only the aspect of piety should not be taken as a criteria for a leader otherwise the angels should have been made the vice-gerents and only having the knowledge of politics is also not sufficient, otherwise Iblees would have been made a vice-gerent, but no, it did not happen, and Hazrat Adam – peace be upon him – was chosen to be appointed as the vice-gerent because he was equipped with all the Islamic sciences, politics and had loyalty and all the other qualities that were bestowed upon him by Allah Almighty.
(Mu’allim-e-Taqreer p. 63-74)