Shura and Democracy

Osman Fathi

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
Shura and Democracy

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Egyptian-born scholar and a graduate of Cairo and of Al-Azhar University, he received a doctorate from Princeton University and taught in the Muslim world as well as in the United States. For many years, Fathi Osman was editor of Arabia magazine as well as Vice President of the American Association of Muslim Social Scientists. His publications include Islamic Legal Thinking Between the Permanent Divine Sources and the Changing Juristic Contributions, Islamic Thought and Human Change, The Muslim World: Issues and Challenges, Jihad: A Legitimate Struggle for Human Rights, and The Children of Adam.

Though the meaning of shura (consultation) is highly contested, here Fathi Osman simply asserts that it is a serious and effective participation in making a decision. He believes that the Prophet laid the groundwork for it when he asked the advice of his Companions regarding tactics in various battles against the Meccans in the period between 624 and 630 a.d. Muslims can materialize the principle of shura in their community through the modern mechanism of elections. In Osmans opinion the early Muslims followed majority opinion in the matter of the selection of the original caliphs, who each received the oath of allegiance (bayah) from leaders of the community: this act was a manifestation of consultation. Osman in turn finds Islamic, mainly Qurnic, justifications for such things as multiparty tendenciesas against the Islamists rejection of multiplicity of parties on the grounds that it conflicts with Islams requirement for unity to protect against seditionlegislation to clarify broad principles in the Qurn and Sunnah (traditions of the Prophet), and public oversight.

Chapter.  4000 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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