Consultation in the Islamic Political System up to the End of the First Abbasid Age (1 – 232 AH / 622 – 846 AD)

Discussion Committee: 
Dr. Adnan Mulhem
Tawfeeq Mohammad Said Darweesh
Consultation concept has been known since ancient times by the Greek, the Romans, the Persians and the pre-Islamic Arabs. It refers to providing the ruler with advice in order to reach the right opinion. It seems that the term (Shura) was used by the Arab of northern Arabia and therefore it was connected with the tribal system as the sheikh (lord) of the tribe sought advice from the tribal council in matters related to the tribe. The literary meaning of the term consultation (Shura) in Arabic refers to abstracting something and showing its defects, or seeking opinions for the purpose of advice in order to reach the right opinion. Figuratively, it refers to the ruler's consultation of the elite, the scholars and jurisprudents in affairs that are ambiguous to him outside the text. Consultation differs from democracy since consultation is dedicated to a group of people but not obligatory to the one seeking it while democracy refers to the rule of people by people for the interest of people and obligatory by the majority. In the Holy Quran and the Prophetic traditions (Hadith) and biography, Islam concentrates on praising the consultation concept, considering it as one of the faith characteristics. During the Apostle (PBUH) time, consultation was limited by the Text (the Revelation). Consultation was not prominent in the political aspect due to the presence of the Revelation and the leadership of the Apostle (PBUH). Upon his death (PBUH), Muslims faced the political vacuum resulting from his death (PBUH). Therefore, his companions had a meeting to deliberate the matter that ended by selecting Abu Baker and acknowledging him as a Caliph. It was agreed unanimously that the Caliphate should be restricted in Quraish. During the Orthodox period, it seems that the consultation concept and people was limited for the Apostle's (PBUH) companions of Immigrants (Muhajiren) and supporters (Ansar) who were residents of Medina only since they were the people who took over the political authority of the young state and they were the only people who were authorized to appoint the Caliph and the other Muslims had to submit to that. The nation's role started to emerge in the Caliphate institution during the events of the first ordeal (30-40 AH / 650/660 AD). Consequently, the role of Medina was marginalized following the success of the conquest movement and the establishment of the new urban centers, and the emergence of the social, economical, and military centers of power in those new cities. As a result, the consultation people comprised of the Apostle's (PBUH) companions became subordinates of the new powers that intervened directly in the murder of Othman Bin Affan, the battles of Saffeen and Al-Jamal (the Camel). Their first role emerged for the first time in the public coronation and ended in transferring the consultation people to Syria and other cities when Muaweya Bin Abe Sufian was acknowledged as a Caliph in (40-41 AH / 660-661 AD). That year was called the Year of the Agreement, meaning that the nation had agreed on Muaweya Bin Abe Sufian as the Prince of the Believers through the acknowledgment. Accordingly, consultation was restricted during the Umayyad Age in the Umayyads and the heads of tribes in Syria. The consultation was transferred from Medina to the cities where the new power emerged. Priority in Islam ceased to be a stipulation in selecting the consultation people and the Caliphate was transferred to a right of the Umayyad dynasty. The consultation affairs became matters of confronting the opposition and suppressing the revolts against the authority. The consultation concept and demands for consultation by the movements opposing the authority continued during the first Abbasid Age. The Abbasids tended to consider the Caliphate as their divine right that was transferred to them as an inheritance form the Apostle (PBUH). Determinism was enhanced, considering that God selected them for caliphate, and that revolting against them was a revolt against God wish. Consequently, the Caliphate turned to inherited property that was inherited from fathers to sons without a need to consultation of Muslims. Transfer of the Caliphate to inheritance within the Umayyad dynasty and especially within the Abbasid dynasty to absenting consultation of selecting the Caliph in the political Islamic system. Talk about consultation turned from the books of Sultan Regulations to advice for kings. In the Islamic State, the consultation concept in selecting the caliph and in the political system had ceased to exist. This situation continued until the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1343 AH / 1924 AD.
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