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Living The Quran

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From Issue: 1011 [Read full issue]

Leniency and Consultation
Al-e-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 159

"It is part of the mercy of Allah that you are gentle with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would surely have dispersed from around you. So bear with them, and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in matters of public concern. Then, when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah. Verily, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Allah)."

This verse represents an aside following the harsh words used for the hypocrites. The attitude and conduct of the hypocrites was extremely objectionable and they misused and misinterpreted the leniency of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Essentially, however, they were sick people and therefore Allah wanted to grant them some respite so that if they had any good in them they would realise what was right and rectify their behaviour. The lenient attitude and kind treatment with which they were hitherto treated by the Prophet was for this very reason approved by Allah.

It is also noteworthy that while advising the Prophet to forgive and to pray for them, he is also commanded to consult them in public concern. There is a special reason for this commandment at this place. In matters of religion the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not depend on any advice from others. All his utterances, actions and functions were guided by Divine revelation. In political and administrative matters, however, he always consulted with his companions, thus setting an important precedent by his personal example for mutual consultation. Shura or consultation has, therefore, always been a fundamental feature of the political system of Islam.

The rider clause then, when you have taken a decision put your trust in Allah following the commandment and consult them in affairs (of moment), also suggests that the purpose of consultation in administrative and political matters is to lend strength to the rulers and to reinforce confidence in their decisions. Consultation is necessary, but after the consultation, a ruler may carry out whatever decision he is satisfied with and place his trust in Allah. It makes no difference whether majority or minority votes support the decision of the ruler. A majority per se is not a proof of the soundness of an opinion or its rectitude nor does a minority signify deficiency and a proof that it is always wrong. However, there is greater chance that a majority opinion would be more sound and correct. Therefore, if it is taken as conclusive in settling disputes and conflicts it is safer and comparatively more expedient, especially in the present times when desires and caprice play such a prominent part in people's lives. There are few who would use their power and authority within the confines of the law and not overstep the bounds.

Compiled From:
"Pondering Over The Qur'an: Surah Ali Imran" - Amin Ahsan Islahi

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