[By Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai]

The western system of democracy is in total conflict with the Islamic system of government. In the Islamic system of Khilaafat, the ruler is one man whose function it is to govern in accordance with the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, i.e. the Shariah. The duty of the Islamic government headed by a pious, benign autocrat, is to enforce the laws which have already been divinely promulgated.


Shuraa or consultation is a Sunnah practice which the Khalifah adopts. But he is not constrained to succumb to the advices and decisions of those with whom he consults. In the ultimate end, the decision is made by only him.

Some misguided Muslims enamoured by westernism, are at pains to find Shar’i accommodation for western democracy in the Qur’aanic aayat which orders Shuraa. They fallaciously cite the Shuraa verse in substantiation of their belief that Islam accepts the western system of democracy. In this aayat, Allah Ta’ala says:

And, consult with them in affairs. Then when you (the Khalifah) have resolved (to adopt a particular course), repose trust on Allah.”

The resolution and final decision are the prerogatives of the Khalifah. The Islamic system precludes any parliament or legislative body from enforcing its decisions by majority vote on the Khalifah. He is fully empowered by the Qur’aan and Sunnah to act in accordance with his own determination

The purpose of consultation is to discuss and explore all angles of an issue. By mutual consultation with men of experience, knowledge and piety, all angles and aspects of a matter are highlighted. This allows the Khalifah to form a balanced and the correct decision.

Those with whom the Khalifah consults act in only an advisory capacity. They have absolutely no legislative power. If the Khalifa’s view is in conflict with the unanimous opinion of all his advisors, the Shariah does not bind him to accept such consensus. The Qur’aan vests him with all the authority to make decisions alone and to adopt his own view even if in opposition to what the entire nation believes is right.


For acting in accordance with the Qur’aanic order of consultation, the Khalifah is not required to establish a formal forum or a formal body of counsellors. The obligation of Shuraa is discharged by the Khalifah consulting on an informal basis with whomever he wishes, whenever he wishes, and wherever he wishes.

The concept of Shuraa does not envisage the establishment of a forum like a parliament or any other legislative body. The Khalifah discussing with one or two persons at his home, at the Musjid, outside the Musjid or anywhere else, satisfies the requirement of Shuraa.

It is also not a requirement that there be particular and permanent members whom the Khalifah has to consult. He is free to consult with anyone.

Commenting on the un-Islamic system of democracy, Hakimul Ummat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (rahmatullah alayh) said:

As evidence for their idea of the validity of democracy, they (its votaries) present the aayat, “Consult with them in affairs”. But, I refute their contention with this very same aayat. While this aayat orders mashwarah (consultation), it should be understood that consultation does not mean democracy. You (i.e. the votaries of democracy) regard yourselves to be wise men while in reality you are bereft of understanding. You should first prove that even one of the four righteous Khulafa or the government of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) was a democracy (in the western concept). The Khulafa were never bound and subservient to the advices/decisions of their advisors (with whom they would consult). According to the Shariah, the government of the individual is the rule. When the supporters of democracy cite the aayat of Shuraa, they stop midway, without reciting the whole aayat. They conveniently omit: “Then, when you (the Ruler) have finally decided (a matter), repose your trust in Allah (and act accordingly).” They either conveniently overlook this decisive portion of the aayat or they lack the ability to understand it.”

Thus, the concept of democracy or majority rule has absolutely no validity in the Shariah. Democracy is the system of juhala.

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