Foundation of Democracy / Peoples' Rule in the NOBLE QURAN

"And those who  answer the call of their Rabb and establish worship, and whose affairs  are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on  them,"  (42:38)  Surah Ash-Shura or Consultation.
(Translation by M.M. Pickthall)

Corpus Quran translates the underlined portion of the above Verse as follows with original Arabic words in brackets.

"and their affairs {wa-amruhum} (are conducted by) consultation {shūrā} among them {baynahum},"  (42:38).

The  wide connotation of the Quranic expression "mutual consultation" is the  earliest conceptual establishment of equality and egalitarian  values alluding to peoples' choice & decisions.  It's the first  conceptual framework limiting the authority of any single individual, be it the head of a state, tribe, community or family.

Our Muslim jurists and  scholars seldom or never state this fact in an upfront manner that the Quran has already established the  foundation of the concept of governance by a group and not a  single individual as early as the 7th century.    The reason  they hesitate to confirm it is because they do not take the Quran  as the Sole Criterion.  Being distracted by a load of extra-Quranic literature that have piled up  over the past centuries, which unlike the Noble Quran, prefer absolutism over mutual consultation, most of our jurists adjudge collective  decision-making outside the bounds of Islam.  That's how much Islam (which authentically comes only from the Quran) has been misinterpreted.

The word "Ash-Shura"  or Consultation mentioned in Verse 38 of Surah 42 has been taken as the  title of this Surah.  The precept of  teamwork has been highlighted in the Verse with a pronounced gesture of  looking upon your family, friends, comrades, colleagues, juniors and all  citizens as your confidantes, seeking their opinion/advise in all  relevant matters.  It doesn't necessarily imply that you must implement  the opinion of just about every single person you consult in your final  decision.  But it's incumbent upon a patriarch or matriarch of a family  or the leader of a country, tribe or community to collectively entertain  every person's view (either directly or via their counsel of  representatives) and mutually construct a decision which must be an  amalgam of collective views.

The Quran holds the doctrine of consultation in preference to traditional despotism where a person pushes ahead to decide or speak for everyone regardless of their opinion and feelings; that being the only method of governance known to the powerful of that era not only in Arabia but throughout the world. 

Renouncing the  Quranic ideology and embracing absolutism was initiated in the Islamic  political world by the Ummayads, also introducing the ideology of  kingship or the hereditary system of rule.  The Islamic school of  Mu'tazilah that originated in Basra and Baghdad bitterly opposed the  Ummayad approach promoting docility of the people.  The Mu'tazilah  accepted the conditions for al-amr wa al nahy by not limiting it to the 'heart and tongue.'  They maintained that if the state becomes widely corrupt, oppressive and  unjust, it is obligatory for the people to rise and protest.  If that  doesn't work, then a revolt to confront/eradicate corruption and oppression is justifiable as the next move.  But the Ummayads adhered to a very  autocratic style, identical to the European and English monarchies of  the time including the Tudors of the 1400s onward.  Their own  political blunders made it  necessary for the Ummayads to stifle the  opinion of members of their own government, a negative shift that  gradually became a system in complete violation of the Quran.

Prophet Muhammad  (pbuh) never appointed his successor prior to his passing.  Though he had close relatives, friends, four daughters and two young grandsons, his  vision was vastly different from all other contemporary heads of state,  that after him it was up to the people of Medinah and Makkah through  their representatives in the Shura or Counsel to select the person they  wanted as their political leader.

Soon  after Abu Bakr Sidiq was chosen as the first righteous Caliph by the Shura after  the passing of the Prophet (pbuh), he addressed a crowd of Muslims who  gathered at the Prophet's mosque:  "I have been given the authority over you, and I am not the best of you.  If I do well, help me;  and IF I DO WRONG, SET ME RIGHT."

Imam  Ali's (the fourth righteous Caliph) eagerness for upholding people's opinion is just as well-known.   Although he had many opponents, he flatly stated that he had NO  authority to punish anyone simply for their opinions or disagreements.

The  importance of consultation is again elucidated in Verse 3:159 (quoted  below) where the Prophet (pbuh) is told by Allah Almighty to decide relevant matters in consultation with the administration of his town,  expounding the  necessity of reciprocal discussions for believers in all social and  political matters.  The following Verse 3:159 defines precisely the same concept of the same topic as in Verse 42:38 except that it's a bit more  specific alluding to a political sphere where The Divine Power informs the  Prophet (pbuh) the significance of mutual decision-making and power sharing within the government instead of a centralized rule which would only lead to a fallout having a negative impact on the first and nascent Islamic State.

"It was by the mercy of Allah that thou wast lenient with them (O Muhammad), for if thou hadst been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about thee.  So  pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the  conduct of affairs. And when thou art resolved, then put thy trust in  Allah. Lo! Allah loveth those who put their trust (in Him)."  (3:159)   Surah Al-Imran.

Undoubtedly the Noble Quran laid the cornerstone of the concept of peoples' will  & rule through bilateral talks and collective decision-making much  before any other institution in this world even came close to it.

Late Pope John Paul kisses the Glorious Quran.

May 14, 1999 a delegation of Christian and  Muslim leaders  from Iraq visited Pope John Paul II in Rome.  A Muslim representative brought the Holy Quran,  and the Pope kissed it in front of all the participants.

Source:  Photobucket