By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam
This is a compilation of views of some Muslim scholars on the issue of Shura and Democracy.
On Wednesday, February 16, 2011, the Shaykh of Al-Azhar issued a telling statement setting forth the following: First, the Shaykh stated that Shari’a endorses the principle of majoritarian rule; therefore, whatever legal system is desired by the majority, as long as it upholds the principles of Shari’a, is also the Islamically mandated and required legal system. Second, the Shaykh went on to explain that the objectives and principles of Shari’a are to: (1) promote knowledge and ‘ilm (science), (2) establish justice and equity, and (3) protect liberty and human dignity. Third, he argued that a political system that upholds the basic moral values and natural principles of justice shared by all religions is mandated by Islam. Fourth, he argued that democracy is a fundamental and basic objective of any Shari’a-based system because it is the political system most likely to lead to upholding the dignity of all, to the prohibition of cruel and degrading treatment and torture, and to bringing an end to political and economic corruption and despotism. The Shaykh argued that the protection of human dignity, the prohibition of cruelty and torture, the elimination corruption, and the end to despotism are, in turn, basic and fundamental Shari’a values. Finally, the Shaykh stated that as an institution, Al-Azhar calls for a system of governance that respects the rights of all citizens and that despotism is inherently and fundamentally a breach of Shari’a. He explained that, among other things, despotism creates social ills such as cowardice, hypocrisy, social alienation, and a lack of a collective or communal ethos, all of which are contrary to Shari’a
For brief accounts of his speech in English, see Al Azhar Sheikh Calls for a Speedy Transition to Democracy, ISLAMOPEDIA (Feb. 16, 2011), http://www.islamopediaonline.org/news/alazhar- grand-sheikh-calls-speedy-transition-democracy; Al-Tayeb: Al-Azhar Supported Revolution, NEWSPUSHER (Feb. 16, 2011), http://www.newspusher.com/EN/post/1298400531-2/EN-/al-tayeb-al-azhar-supported-revolution.html.
A.K. Surush A Western democratic regime of government with separation of powers and checks and balances would be the ideal Shura-based system of government.
Surush, Abd al-Kar im, Mahmoud Sadri, and Ahmad Sadri , Reason, Freedom, & Democracy in Islam : Essential Writings of Abdolkarim Soroush (New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press,2000)
Shirazi argues that Islam cannot allow the unqualified to govern and rule either with the approval of the masses, as in Democracies, or against their wills as in aristocracies. This is simply un-Islamic. Islam’s way is to keep Allah as the only legislator and to allow people to apply Allah’s laws meaning Sharia. Thus the ruler abides by Allah’s imperatives; that is why there is no place for dictatorship in Islam. Rulers are good Muslims as far as they obey Allah more than they obey their own whims or even the people.
Shirazi, Imam, "Vellayet al-Faqeeh," Annabaa, 57, (2001).
Al Afghani introduced the idea that the principle of Shura rejects tyranny in A‘mal al-Kamila li-Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (Cairo, n.d),473–9.
Ali Belhaj, the second person in the Islamic Front of Algeria said: “I disbelieve in dictatorship as much as I disbelieve in democracy. Democracy is Shirk (polytheism)”.
Al-Gorshy, Salah Eldeen, "Deepening Democracy: A New Mission Ahead of Islamic Thought," Al'Arabi, 1997.
Ayman al-Zawahiri considers democracy to be “a new religion to allow God-like men to legislate for themselves… versus the religion of Allah that gave the right of legislation to Allah and Allah alone”.
Al-Zawahiri among others often quotes the following verse to argue against democracy-based legislations: “ How can they believe in others who ordain for them things which God has not sanctioned in the practice of their faith? ” (Chapter 42, verse 21) .
A famous quote by al-Zawahiri states that: The issues of governance against Islamic Sharia/Islamic legislation, democracy, and loyalty to non-Muslims are not matters of minutiae that are subject to scholars’ jurisprudential differences; rather they are germane to the principles of Iman/faith and the core of Islamic Aqeedah/creed which is al-Tauheed.”
Al-Zawahiri used this argument to wage a war of criticism against the somewhat modernist Muslim Brethren (mainly in Egypt) since they: support the rulers of Egypt, the constitution, democracy, beside their refusal of jihad against the disbelieving government, their acquiescence of secularist parties, their participation in elections and their acceptance of un-Islamic laws and legislations in Egypt and the Muslim world.
Al-Zawahri, Ayman,The Bitter Harverst of Muslim Brotherhood in Sixty Years (Arabic: al-Hassad al -Mor: al-Ekhwan al-Moslmoon fi Seteen 'Amah. NA.
Sheikh Ahmad al-Qubaissi considers that when it comes to politics, “Islam does not have a specific form of government.” This means that any government that applies sharia is Islamic even if it is republican, monarchic, caliphatic or something else. Part of Sharia/Islamic legislation is to guarantee people their freedoms and rights According to him, “if you contrast the founders of the U.S. and the founders of the early Islamic state [the companions of the prophet], you will find a lot of resemblance in their emphasis on freedom, power, commitment, and adherence to moral principles.”
Al-Qubassi, Ahmad,"Ijtiahd in Modern Age (Arabic),"2002, al-jazeera.net
Muhammad Abduh emphasized that implementing Shura is an Islamic obligation rather than imitation of foreigners. He noted that Islamic law does not stipulate exactly how Shura should be implemented, but his writing hinted at satisfaction with the limited consultative roles reserved to the assemblies of his time-
Muhammad ‘Imara, al-A‘mal al-Kamila lil-Imam Muhammad ‘Abduh (Beirut: al-Mu’assasa al-‘Arabiyya lil- Dirasat wal-Nashr, 1972), 350–66.
Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865–1935) also utilized Shura in rejecting the idea that religion is an enemy of democracy. He proclaimed that learning how government should operate and replacing tyranny with a Shura regime was the greatest benefit the people of the East gained from their interactions with Europeans, a benefit that might not had been achieved were it not for these interactions; but Rida also emphasized the Muslim origin of shura.9 In the regime he envisioned, political authority was reserved to a president while religious authority was reserved to a Khalifa; however, the president was to be nominated by the Khalifa from a shortlist submitted by an elected assembly-
Muhammad .R. Rida, Al-Khilafa (Cairo: al-Zahraa’ lil-Ii‘lam; al-‘Arabi, 1994; first published 1922),38–41
Hasan al Banna wrote that Islam allows for the election of parliamentary councils and emphasized the need for these elections to be universal and fair, but nevertheless emphasized that political parties should disband because they break the unity of nations. Drawing on the commands ‘seek their counsel’ and ‘settled by mutual consultation,’ he emphasized the obligation of the ruler to respect the will of his people and their right to supervise him.-
Hasan al-Banna, ‘Nizam al-Hukm’, in Majmu‘at Rasa’il al-Imam Hasan al-Banna (Beirut: Dar al- Andalus, 1965), 358–83
Sayyid Qutb (1906–66), Muslim system of government is different from all others. It is divine, complete and comprehensive, shaping society rather than being shaped by it. Although rejecting any compatibility between Shura and democracy, Qutb left ample room for acceptance of democratic principles and institutions. He wrote that during the times of the prophet and later on, the principle of Shura was materialized by different methods, but these do not necessarily define all the methods of its materialization, which can develop in accordance with the progress of Muslim society and its experience with previous methods. Thus, it is to be determined whether Shura should be materialized in a general vote regarding all issues at stake, or only some of them; by representatives of the nation, by committees and organizations, or by ministers. Elsewhere Qutb wrote about the need for Shura to reflect the opinions of the nation in its entirety. The principle of consultation applies only to material matters not dealt with by Islamic law, such as the art of warfare,
Sayed Qutb, Nahwa Mujtama‘Islami (Beirut and Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 2nd edition, 1975), pp.62–3, 68, 136–8,141, Also Sayed Qutb, Ma‘rakat al-Islam wal-Ra’smaliyya (Beirut, Cairo and Jeddah: Dar al-Shuruq, 4th edition, 1975), 86, 73–4, 84.
Muhammad ‘Imara (b. 1931–) writes that Shura is ‘Islam’s and Muslims’ democracy, that two are synonymous, or, at the very least, share many commonalities.’ Imara elaborates that by Shura he means nothing less than a system in which the nation elects its leaders, supervises them, and dismisses them should they fail in accomplishing their tasks. People do not have a right to practice Shura, he writes; rather, a system of Shura is a Muslim obligation. The Muslim nation, as ‘Imara emphasizes, can legislate only to the extent of not legalizing the prohibited or prohibiting the legal.‘Imara invokes the story of Queen Sheba’s reaction to a letter she received from King Solomon (27, 26–35) as an example for the application of Shura. Imara considers that Islamic democracy should be a ‘guided democracy’ – a middle ground between the absolute freedom offered by liberalism and absolute tyranny.
Muhammad ‘Imara, al-Islam wa Huquq al-Insan Darurat La Huquq (Damascus and Cairo: Markaz al-Raya, Dar al-Islam, 2004–5), 45-46,, 60-61.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi (b. 1926–), notes the Muslim state is based on the best principles of democracy. Al-Qaradawi notes that in the Muslim system, as is the case in the Western one, the nation elects its ruler, and the ruler cannot be imposed on the nation. Al-Qaradawi suggests that nothing prevents Muslims from adopting ideas or practical solutions from non-Muslims, as exemplified by the Prophet’s adoption of the Persian trench techniques in battles. Shura applies only where Allah did not give commands. Qaradawi advocates a plurality of political parties. He strongly defends this position, contending its foundations are rooted in the times of the righteous Khulafa’ as well as in the reality of contemporary Muslim societies, and comparing the plurality of parties in politics to the plurality of schools in Muslim law.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Min Fiqh al-Dawla fi al-Islam (Cairo and Beirut: Dar al-Shuruq, 2001), 14, 36,137-138
‘al-Qaradawi, invokes the story of Queen Sheba’s reaction to a letter she received from King Solomon (27, 26–35) as an example for the application of shura in Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Malamih al-Mujtama‘ al-Islami alladhi nanshuduhu (Beirut: al-Risala, 1996) ,135–46.
A blueprint for the Muslim Brothers’ political programme in Egypt, published on 25 August 2007, It claimed that Shura is the essence of democracy and a means for the nation to accomplish what is in its interest,55 and presented a long list of promises for democratic practices and values that will be guaranteed: to note only a few, a government elected by the people, political plurality and freedom of the press.56 freely elected parliament will legislate by majority in accordance with the Shari’a on all issues the Quran did not explicitly legislate (Ahkam Qat‘iyya). It will seek in all matters the advice of an independent committee of senior religious scholars, who will be elected in free elections by religious scholars. A law governing the qualification for participating in electing the committee of senior religious scholars will be enacted.
‘Barnamij Hizb al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin’, p. 7,13-24. Available at http://www.islamonline.net/arabic/Daawa/2007/08/ikhwan.pdf
For Muhammad Qutb (b.1919–), democracy is the equivalent not of shura but of jahiliyya (the pre-Islamic time), for it reduces religion to the sphere of rituals only.
Muhammad Qutb, al-‘Almaniyyun wal-Islam (Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 1994), 65.
A regime acceptable to Islam is only a regime that is governed solely by Allah’s law and that respects the principle of Shura.
Muhammad Qutb, al-Tatawwur wal-Thabat fi Hayat al-Bashr (Beirut and Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 1985),248
Muhsin ‘Abd al-Hamid, for example, argues that Islam respects human dignity; and, indeed, it allows people a distinguished role in running society’s affairs and encourages opposition to be heard. But although there are some similarities between democracy and Shura, the two contradict each other. In a democratic system, state and religion are separated, and it is impossible to outlaw political parties which oppose Islamic principles, as Islam ordains; furthermore, people are granted the personal freedom to commit immoral acts. The Muslim system of government and the Western one can and should therefore not be confused.63 M.A. al-Hamid, ‘al-Farq al-Jawhari bayna Nizam al-Shura wa Mustalah al-Dimuqratiyya’, al-Sharq al-Awsat, 15 March 1985, 14 Muhammad Mahmud Mandura, an Egyptian teaching at the Saudi King Saud University, wrote that Islam prohibits conversion to other religions, interests, mixing of men and women, prostitution, and homosexuality. All of these are legal in the West, where personal freedoms, rather than God’s word, are sacred. Thus, shura cannot be compared to democracy. Muhammad .M. Mandura, ‘al-Dimuqratiyya Mabda’ Yukhalifu al-Islam’, al-Sharq al-Awsat, 19 March 1985,14.
Fikri al-Jaziri, considers democracy, as opposed to shura, is a system of government that grants complete sovereignty to human beings, and adds that sovereignty and basic legislation are for Allah only. Thus, according to al-Jaziri, democracy, though it may be a nice word, should not be rejected because it is foreign or flawed, but because its essence contradicts Islam.
Fikri al-Jaziri, ‘Al-Dimuqratiyya laysa hiya al-Shura’, al-Sharq al-Awsat, 4 March 1985, 14.
Isam Tahir (alias Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi) emphasizes that democracy is shirk (heresy). Democracy is more than a system of government, he argues; it is a religious rival to Islam, with constitutions that legalize what the Quran has prohibited, constitutions which insist on doing so even if the will of the people calls for Allah’s word to be respected.69 In an essay warning against equating democracy and Shura as a means of legalizing the prohibited, he writes that Muslim groups claiming that by advocating ‘democracy’ they are advocating freedom of speech, and thus the spreading of Islam, are wrong: their manipulation of words cannot change the nature of democracy itself. Abu Muhammad al-Makdisi, ‘Al-Dimuqratiyya Din’, available at http://www.tawhed.ws/r?i¼8&c¼1791 He invokes a prophetic saying against those who drank wine but called it other names; Islamists, he writes, can describe democracy as anything, but its true nature – people enacting legislation, even though legislating is for Allah only – cannot be concealed.
Y.A. Halala, ‘Al-‘Unf Farida wal-Dimuqratiyya Shirk’ (Interview with Muhammad al-Maqdisi), al- Wasat, 29 July–4 August 1996 (No. 235), 11–14
‘Abd al-Mun‘am Mustafa Halima (alias Abu Basir), argues against paralleling Shura and democracy because, he argues, a lie disguising itself as truth nevertheless remains a lie. Shura is an Arab word appearing in the Quran more than once; democracy is a defiled Western word, which has no place in Arabic and in Allah’s religion. Abu Basir emphasizes that consultation in Islam is a process reserved to experts, while in democracy the masses – whatever their knowledge of the subject in question may be – have a say.
Abu Basir, Hukm al-Islam fi al-Dimuqratiyya wal-Ta‘adudiyya al-Hizbiyya, available at http://www.tawhed.ws/r?i¼1478&c¼5306
Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi, argues that in democracy, the majority must be respected even if it advocates blasphemy; but according to Islam, a Muslim must observe the Quran and the Sunna even if the whole of humanity opposes him.
Abu Mus'ab. al-Zarqawi, Al-Dimuqratiyya wa-ltastabina sabil al-Mujrimin, available at http://www.tawhed.ws/r?1-3800&PHPSESSID-6fb4f97bbadb194a967ff2f181f8
‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq, suggested that Muhammad was not a political leader and that Islam had no specific doctrine of government. ‘Ali ‘Abd . al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usul al-Hukm (Matba‘at Misr: 1925), pp.57, 72
Muhammad ‘Abed al-Jabri (1935–2010), there is a need for Arabs to realize that Allah is one, but heads of states are not. Anything but Allah is pluralistic, and so should human regimes be. These human regimes must be based, according to Islam, on the principle of shura, or pluralism and participation. The meaning of Shura and its application should thus be broadened to be in line with the modern democratic regime.
Muhammad Abed al-Jabri, ‘al-Mas’la al-Dimuqratiyya wa al-Awda‘ al-Rahina fi al-Watan al-‘Arabi’, al- Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi, 157 (1992), 6-14.
Isma‘il Sabri ‘Abdallah, He recognizes the Muslim context of Shura, but he does not regard this context as preceding Western democracy or equating it. To the contrary: he makes the point that an interpretation of Shura as democracy is not part of the Muslim intellectual legacy, although the door is open for it to become one. ‘Abdallah does not take an interest in Shura as a means to introduce Muslim values and institutions into society. Its merit, as suggested by him, goes only so far as it serves to convince a people suspicious of Western democracy that it is a cause worth fighting for.
Ismail S. ‘Abdallah, ‘Mustaqbal al-Dimuqratiyya fi al-Watan al-‘Arabi’, al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi, 137( 1990),9-13.
Shakir al-Nabulsi notes that Shura, as opposed to democracy, is not a comprehensive social system; that Shura reserves sovereignty to Allah, while in democracy sovereignty is for the people; that Shura does not separate the state and religion, while democracy forbids clerics from meddling in politics; and that Shura does not allow plurality of political parties, because all Muslims are one, while democracy does.
Shakir al-Nabulsi, ‘limadha Nusirru ‘ala al-Dimuqratiyya la al-Shura wa ma al-Farq bayna al-Shura wal- Dimuqratiyya?’ Elaph, 19 Jan 2004, available at http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/ Archive/1074499236651712300.htm?sectionarchive¼Culture
Historical Shura should be regarded in the context of this effort as a first step in the progress toward democracy – a first step taken by Muslims in what would have been their march to democracy, had they not stopped, and even retreated, in the Umayyad and Abbasid times, and after.
Shakir al-Nabulsi, ‘Al-‘Arab Bayna Tahadiyyat al-‘Asr wa ‘Awa’iq al-Taghyir’, published in Elaph, 13 May 2005, available at http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWriter/2005/4/54941.htm?sectionarchive¼ElaphWriter
Abou el Fadl
From Khaled Abou El fadl (ed.) “Islam and the Challenge of Democracy,” Can individual rights and popular sovereignty take root in faith? www.ihrr.net/files/.../Islam-and-the-Challenge-of-Democracy-ElFadl.pdf
• The Qur’an instructs the Prophet to consult regularly with Muslims on all significant matters and indicates that a society that conducts its affairs through some form of deliberative process is considered praiseworthy in the eyes of God (3:159; 42:38).
• The Qur’an itself did not specify a particular form of government. But it did identify a set of social and political values that are central to a Muslim polity. Three values are of particular importance: pursuing justice through social cooperation and mutual assistance (Qur’an 49:13; 11:119); establishing a non-autocratic, consultative method of governance; and institutionalizing mercy and compassion in social interactions (6:12, 54; 21:107; 27:77; 29:51; 45.20). So, all else equal, Muslims today ought to endorse the form of government that is most effective in helping them promote these values.
• Although the precise meaning of Shura in early historical narratives is unclear, the concept most certainly did not refer merely to a ruler’s solicitation of opinions from notables in society; it signified, more broadly, resistance to autocracy, government by force, or oppression. This is consistent with the juristic hostility towards despotism (al-istibdad) and whimsical and autocratic governance (al-hukm bi’l hawa wa al-tasallut).
• After the third/ninth century the concept of Shura took more concrete institutional shape in the discourses of Muslim jurists. Shura became the formal act of consulting ahl al-Shura (the people of consultation), who according to the juristic sources are the same group of people who constitute ahl al-‘aqd (the people who choose the ruler). Sunni jurists debated whether the results of the consultative process are binding (Shura Mulzima) or non-binding (ghayr mulzima). If the Shura is binding then the ruler must abide by the determinations made by ahl al-Shura. The majority of jurists, however, concluded that the determinations of ahl al-Shura are advisory and not compulsory. But, rather inconsistently, many jurists asserted that after consultation the ruler must follow the opinion that is most consistent with the Qur’an, Sunnah, and the consensus of jurists.
• The Islamic tradition of legal-political thought, then, suggests ideas of representation, consultation, and legal process.
• Central argument is that democracy—by assigning equal rights of speech, association, and suffrage to all—offers the greatest potential for promoting justice and protecting human dignity, without making God responsible for human injustice or the degradation of human beings by one another.
• God vested all of humanity with a kind of divinity by making all human beings the viceroys of God on this earth (2 :30)
• Arguing against the idea of possibility of God's unmediated sovereignty on earth To a believer, God is all-powerful and the ultimate owner of the heavens and earth. But when it comes to the laws in a political system, arguments claiming that God is the sole legislator endorse a fatal fiction that is indefensible from the point of view of Islamic theology. Such arguments pretend that (some) human agents have perfect access to God’s will, and that human beings could become the perfect executors of the divine will without inserting their own human judgments and inclinations in the process.- God’s sovereignty provides no escape from the burdens of human agency.
• God does not seek to regulate all human affairs, and instead leaves human beings considerable latitude in regulating their own affairs as long as they observe certain minimal standards of moral conduct, including the preservation and promotion of human dignity and well-being
Hasan al Turabi
“From Moussalli, Ahmad S. "Hasan al-Turabi's Islamist discourse on Democracy and Shura" Middle Eastern Studies 30, (1994): 52-63
• Forms the view that the construction and interpretation of Sharia must take place by political Shura.
• Considers that denotations of Shura and democracy are similar, their connotations are dissimilar. They both denote public participation in the making of political affairs; democracy connotes, however, the ultimate sovereignty of the people, Shura, the ultimate sovereignty of God as embodied in a divinely revealed textual authority. While democracy suffers from the shortcomings of human reason, Shura does not if its attempts to deal with constitutional, legal, social and economic matters as underpinned by the Sharia
• Al-Turabi disavows any exceptional authoritative status to religious scholars or to academicians
• Supports the view that Shura is methodologically to be generalized, at home, in academic life, and in religious circles.
• Democracy which has been introduced into Islam under Western domination must be tied to Islamic political jurisprudence and, in particular, to Shura. And although Shura has never been a conceptual or practical synonym for democracy, al-Turabi calls on the Muslim thinkers to do just that and to link it again to the two fundamental texts, the Qur'an and the Sunna.
• If Shura is subsumed under Tawhid then it indicates the equality of people before God and their political freedoms two essential components of democracy.
• Appropriation of democracy as indirect representation through parliaments was done under the influence of Islamic political thought which postulated the religious and political equality of Muslim on the basis of Ijma whose confirmation requires aqd al-bay'a (contract of allegiance) between the people and the designated ruler.
• Al-Turabi puts faith in the obligatory nature of common Shura as opposed to the advisory nature of elitist Shura and invests it into a parliament elected freely by the Muslims. Its being obligatory is derived from an Ijma that does not oppose a scriptural authority -- or authority which is to be represented by a constitutional council empowered to invalidate any law, contrary to Islam.
Al-Turabi, distinguishes in one of his works between four types of Shura: a) universal Shura, which is also the highest and strongest one, such as in referendums and general elections. This type of Shura constitutes Ijma‘– a consensus within the nation, which is legally binding so long as it does not contradict the Quran and the Sunna; b) Shura based on the people’s representatives in government; c) Shura based on experts; and d) Shura based on opinion polls. - In Hasan al-Turabi, Nazrat fi al-Fiqh al-Siyasi (Um al-Fahim: Markaz al-Dirasat al- Mu’asira, 1997), 117-118.
• That modern Western democracy was incompatible with Islam; and that Muslims should rather elect a head of state who should, through his own Ijtihad, interpret the Qur'an and the Sunna of the Prophet with the aid of an advisory council (Majlis-i-shurd) appointed by himself.
• Maududi believed that the Shura is to be appointed by the head rather than being elected. This is a clear retrogression from the classical Sunni theory of the state, since according to that theory the shard or the "people of loosening and binding (ahl al-hall wa'l-caqd)" have to elect a head of state and therefore pre exist him
• The opinion of the Shura is not to be binding on the ruler
• Islamic democracy according to him was to be the antithesis of secular Western democracy which transfers hakimiya (God's sovereignty) to the people
Abu al-A'la al-Mawdudi, Political Theory of Islam (Lahore: Islamic Publications, 1976), 13, 15–7, 38, 75–82
Mohammad Natsir (Indonesia):
From Iizamudin Ma-mur , “Abul –Ala Maududi’s and Mohammad Natsir views on Statehood”:A Comparative Study, (MA Thesis, Mc Gill University ,1995 ),119-121
• Employs 3: 159 and 43:38 to form the view that Islamic state should be based on Shura as its most basic principle
• Head of state should always consult Majlis ash-Shura on public matters
• Head of state bound by decision of Shura
• Ahl al hall wa al aqd not only experts on Islamic law but scholars from various disciplines
• Ijtihad can be taken collectively by an institution such as parliament
• Did not discuss the method of election specifically but entrusted it to people as long as it is in line with spirit of Islam and principle of justice
From Abd al-Hamid Mutawalli, Mabda' al-Shura fi'l Islam, (Cairo: 1972)
• Considers that Islamic concept of Shura cannot allow for "general elections" or the direct participation of the masses in the political process
• There is nothing in this verse (42:38) which asks Muslims to manage their affairs through Shura- (p. 30).
• Considers the verse “You [Muslims] are the best community brought out for mankind: you command good and prohibit evil and you believe in God" (3:11) contends that Shura is restricted to certain special groups in the community that are capable of this task. Thus, the term Umma, does not mean here the entire Muslim community, but only a special group or groups thereof (p.24)
• Also uses 3:104 to support this same view (p.12.)
• Quote from p.32.
In Islam, Sharia is not a question of numbers as the concept behind the system of general elections would indicate. In Islamic affairs, numerical majority is not the criterion of truth, for the Qur'an has repudiated any such idea. There are many Qur'anic verses which have clearly set out this truth. For example, the saying of God the Exalted, "most people do not understand" "if you were to follow most of those on the earth, they would lead you astray from God's path"; (6: 116) "We did not find in most of them any (reliability in their) pacts and we, indeed, found most of them unrighteous" ;(7 :102) "most of them are ignorant."(6:111) for this reason, God the Exalted said, "Ask the People of Admonition if you do not know."(16:43).
• considers that the question of sovereignty, whither it resides in Ummah or God, should not be raised in Islam for, "It is clear from the foregoing that Islam is not in need of raising this question or this difficulty, the raising of which does not solve any of its [i.e., Islam's] problems-indeed, it generates a fresh difficulty which is unnecessary for Islam" (p. 68)
Muhammad al Ghazali in Abd al-Hamid Mutawalli, Mabda' al-Shura fi'l Islam, (Cairo: 1972)
• Rejects the view that it is supererogatory on the part of a ruler to consult people and the view that consulting or seeking advice does not result in binding the ruler to a mandatory course p.47
• States that Shura is not something that Islam had originated for the first time since it is a perennial demand of man's nature as a social being. P.47
• According to him, the words of the Qur'an in the aforementioned verse-"Consult them [O Muhammad!] in the affair; when you have determined [upon a course], then put your trust in God" (3:159)-do not mean that, after consulting people, when the Prophet has determined upon a course which may be against the advice tendered, he should put trust in God. They rather mean that after obtaining advice from the community, the Prophet should determine upon a course in accordance with the advice tendered and for its practical consequences, whatever they be, he should put his trust in God p. 47
• As for the question of the participation of the generality of Muslims in the process of shard and not just the few elect, al-Ghazali states:
Quote: As for the Mutawalli-s contention concerning the [incapacity] of the general public [for] general elections, this has no meaning, since it contradicts the Qur'an and the Sunna. As for the Qur'an, there is no genuine interpretation which supports the view that the verse of the Qur'an [3:110], "You are the best community brought out for mankind ..." refers only to the Companions of the Prophet [and not to Muslims at large] ... There are, in fact, other verses of the Qur'an to the same effect-for example [2:143], "And even so have We appointed you as the Median Community, that you be witnesses upon mankind and the Messenger be a witness upon You..." -certain verses of the Qur'an for example "But most people are ignorant," such verses refer (not to Muslims but) to deviant peoples and to pagans (p.48)
• All matters which have not been explicitly and decisively covered by the Qur'an are the proper subject of Ijtihad, and in all such matters the ruler is duty bound to consult the community, since their well-being is tied to these decisions. Eg. Reported words of Abu Bakr upon his election-"You are the people who have put me in power when so willed, and when you so will, it is you who will depose me.... If you see good [in me], help me [in discharging my duties], but if you should find evil [in me], put me right"-al-Ghazal! says, "This is the meaning of the sovereignty of the Community viz. that the ruler is a person hired by the people and that the people must call him to account" (p. 49).
In Fazrul Rahman “A Recent Controversy over the Interpretation of "Shūrā": History of Religions, 20, (1981):291-301.
• considers that the term Umma (in verses 3 :104, 22 :41, 3:110 and 2:143) is that of the entire community, and “it will be impossible to put any restriction upon this general meaning by any amount of manipulation”,p.300.
• Quranic verses regarding God’s sovereignty on earth “convey the meaning of God's general power over the entire creation as creator, sustainer, guide, and judge, but have nothing to do with the specific concept of political sovereignty which is, indeed, a modern growth” p. 297
• Considers Maududi's designation of God as sovereign as an misunderstanding, “because God does not possess or does not exercise directly the effective political power” p.297.
Dr. Adis Duderija is a Visiting Senior Lecturer, Gender Department, University Malaya is the author of Constructing a Religiously Ideal Believer and Woman in Islam, (Palgrave, 2011