Shura and democracy in Islam


I came across this beautiful piece of write up by Haroon Balogun in the Vanguard newspaper and I felt I was something really worth of it to share with our 1one4 readers.

Read full text below;

There is no doubt that Shura is the Islamic way of making decisions. Shura is basically a decision making process, a consultative decision making in Islam. But in a society where democracy has become the norm, not only in choosing leaders by in deciding issues that affect the lives of others. How is the Shura process entrenched in the lives of Muslims in Nigeria?

 islamHow have the scholars too preach and enlighten the Muslim Ummah on the gains and benefits of the Shura process bringing out lessons how Prophet Muhammad used the process to make decisions and run the affairs of world Muslims during his life-time. Is it part of the Islamic values that every Muslim must imbibe?How compatible is Shura and democracy?

To what extent have Muslim organisations and emulate this process not only as alternative to democracy but drive it in the consciousness of believers. This is why we sought the opinions of scholars to proffer answers to these questions. Aderonke Adeyeri reports

SHURA is Allah’s approved way of selecting leaders— Sulaiman Ridwanullah

Shura is a central issue in the on-going debate among Muslims over political reform. It’s one of the most cardinal principle for electing a leader in socio-political organization called Nigeria. Islamic jurisprudential frame work introduces these basic precepts in this regard. Rida al awam a popular concept which is a prerequisite to the establishment of legitimate political authority. Mas’huliyyah Jam’iyyah (collective responsibility) which means maintaining the public good of society and by affirming all human as equal before Allah.

Lastly, Ijtihad Jamahah (collective deliberation), a requisite to the proper administration of public affairs. All these put together indicate the difference between Shura and democracy. Democracy stipulates that the rule of people should be assumed by people; people should draft their own constitution and laws; and people are the judicial authority that judges among people through the application of positive laws.

In order for people to assume legislative authority, set laws and separate between authorities, general elections are held to select a group of individuals who are able to monitor all authorities. Those elected individuals have the right to depose ministers and bring officials to account, including the head of state. Where as, Shura has a different perception. It is based on Allah’s rules revealed to his Messenger, Prophet Mohammed (s.a.w) that adherence to that rule is the basis of faith. Scholars are the people of power and decision.

They come at the top of the people of Shura. Scholars work diligently to prove the text, understand accurately and draw systematic plans for application. In fact, the democratic system can be easily circumvented through the control by certain powers or parties over the political action in a country. Thus, this or that party would impose its view on the nation. The Islamic Shura, however, makes domination for Allah only. It prioritizes Allah’s rules over any other provisions and legislation. This leads to the emergence of men living in the company of Allah and fearing Him honestly.

Democracy is deficient, God’s guided law is better —Adeyanju Jamiu

“Democracy is a leadership selection process subjected to the decision of the majority of a given community. It is a system of government that is determined and guided by rules set by men themselves unlike Shura system that is guided by God’s law.’’ And take counsel with them concerning the (community’s) affairs’’ Q3:159

“Shura and democracy are two completely different systems by source and application. “However some aspects of one can be partially felt in the other. A scholar of Islam said: One of most important values of democracy is people’s right (majority) to choose their leader and not to be ruled by force or tyranny. The right of life, equality before the law, freedoms of belief and conscience as well as accountability of the chosen ruler are all also an Islamic values from Shura.

“Nonetheless, the magnificent and the perfection of God’s guided law (Shura) can never be compared to the deficient and imperfect human made democracy. Shura does not base its application on the majority rule which may be faulty but on the most viable and correct stands even if its the minority stands. The uncompromising God’s law, the fairness, justice and equality, giving opportunity to the less privileged and poor, eradication of two poles or parties system but open possibilities to sort for the best regardless of status. Shura is always in the point of looking for a peaceful solution. Democracy is but a stage in human invention but may not be the last one.”

Shura is built upon consultation —Iskil Makinde

Makinde, the Acting Provost, Civil Defence College of Security Management, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun opined that Shura is a derivative word from the Qur’an that connotes consultation. He stated that it is a process of mutual consultation, rooted as basic instruction to the believers to conduct their affairs and in particular to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) respectively. He said: “For instance, the Quran in chapter 42 verse 38 tagged “ As-shura (the consultation)” says that “ and those who answer the call of their Lord and perform the prayers, and who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation and who spend of what we have bestowed on them”.

“Specifically, Quraan chapter 3 verse 159 also points out that “ And by the mercy of Allah, you (Muhammad (peace be upon you))dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask Allaah’s forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. The when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allaah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust in Him”.

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