By Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.


Shurat al jama is used by the community uses to reach decisions binding on the leaders and individuals. It is is a legal obligation with its rules and procedures. Tashawur is discusion of different views to select what is the best without being binding. Being advisory it is neither obligatory nor binding. The prophet consulted his followers. He taught that he who consults does not regret and does not go wrong. The scope of shuur a was limited in the lifetime of the prophet because wahy was available. The khukafa al rashiddin used shuura extensively in reaching decisions. With the end of the rightly guided khilafat, shuura was suppressed by the dynastic dictatorships. The decline of the early Islamic state after the khilafat rashidat can be directly linked to weakening of shura. Return of shura is heralding the contemporary Islamic revival. Shura is very important in the community for the following reasons. Decisions reached through consultation are likely to be correct decisions. Shuura decisions that have the support of the people. They ensure unity of the ummah. They are easier to implement than imposed solutions.



Shura is a type of ijtihad that can be right or wrong. It is obligatory, wajib, and binding, mulzim. Participation in shuura is a political right for each citizen, male or female. The form of exercising this right is not defined to allow time and space flexibility. Shura can be undertaken by: ahl al hill wa al iqd, the whole jama’at, the ulama, or specialists in various fields. Ahl al hill wa al iqd who are knowledgeable and are accepted by people (election or appointment) decide on political matters. All people can participate in shuura if the matter is of public and general concern and it is understandable by an average citizen. Ummah's consensus is not in error if the issues is understood and emotions are not involved. Participation of the whole ummah is in the form of a plebiscite or a well conducted public opinion survey. The Ulama can represent the Ummah in issues of a legal nature. Ulama are subject experts in Law who advise and guide ahl al hill wa al iqd in political decisions.  Experts in various scientific, technological, medical, and social disciplines advise ahl al hill wa al iqd and do not make binding decisions on their own. The following principles must be observed in the shura process: justice, ‘adalah; objectivity; consideration of space-time factors; adherence to a system of higher values and objectives, balance, and public education. Shura must achieve balance between majority and minority views, between expertise, knowledge, and experience on one hand and public will on the other. Mistakes in shura are lessened if community is well educated and understands maqasid al sharia. Shura is undertaken on matters for which there is no textual evidence or where the text is not interpretable in a definitive way. Shura covers all matters of religion and the world but the main areas of shurat al jamaat are security, war, and peace; applications of the Law; installation of the imaam; financial policy; oversight of government; and new issues arising, al mustajiddaat. Shuura is concerned with policy and not administrative detail.



Shura is not confined to politics and government. It is a a social institution and a way of life to be followed in the home, economic activities, scholarship, and social life. Socialization for shura involves training and practice starting from the home. The community must stick to shura even if mistakes occur through following the shura process. Spread of knowledge and education enable all citizens to participate meaningfully in the shura process. The procedure of shuura is not defined in detail to allow flexibility to time-space factors. Generally a shura council should make most decisions. Very crucial and strategic decisions should be decided by plebiscite. The methods of reaching a decision are flexible. The majority view predominates not because of numbers but because it is right. The majority has to convince the minority and not impose on it. Basically the methodolgy of usul al fiqh based on Qur'an, sunnah, qiyas, ijma, and masalih mursala is followed.



Ijma is a type of ijtihad and a form of shuura. Generally ijma is made by representatives with the consent of the rest of the ummah. The consensus may be explicit, ijma qawli, or may be implicit, ijma sukuuti. Fiqh, ijtihad, ulama and mujtahidin must be in institutions independent of government to ensure freedom of thought. These institutions are academic resources that support the elected legislature. The ulama can be equally consulted by government and by ordinary people. The ulama cannot impose their ijtihad on any one. Individuals must be free to choose what opinions to follow.

(c) Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. 2004