By the Grace of Allāh, Jamā‘at Aḥmadiyya Canada will be holding its 40th National Majlis Shūrā from April 22 to 24, 2016. Representatives from all parts of Canada will be arriving to attend this blessed event, which (this year) would also include election of Office-Bearers. In light of this, portions of a Friday Sermon delivered on March 12, 2004 by His Holiness Ḥazrat Khalīfatul-Masīḥ Vaaarepresentedforthereaders, whichcovertheresponsibilitiesofthemembersofMajlisShūrā.
And those who hearken to their Lord, and observe Prayer, and whose affairs are decided by mutual consultation, and who spend out of what We have provided for them. (42:39)
There are some fundamental matters regarding Shūrā that I will present. Aside from the Shūrā delegates, in general terms it is befitting for these matters to be brought to the attention of Jamā‘at members. This is because, if from time to time Shūrā’s importance and method of conduct is not explained, then even those, who are experienced, tend to disregard some aspects of its importance and method of conduct. Similarly, sometimes new converts or the younger generation are not fully aware of its importance, which results in effecting the dignity and sanctity of Majlis Shūrā.
Consultation Should be Given
After Thinking, Understanding
and Deep Reflection
After the Institution of Khilāfat, the second most important and holy institution is Majlis Shūrā. Whenever Majlis Shūrā is called for deliberation, a great responsibility is placed upon it, upon its delegates. They are elected as delegates of a holy institution. For within the Jamā‘at, following the Niẓām Khilāfat, the institution of Shūrā is the most important and sacred. When the Khalīfa of the time calls a Shūrā meeting, and members of the Jamā‘at also elect and send representatives for this meeting, in effect saying, “The Khalīfa of the time has called you for counsel in order to serve humanity, in order to spread the teachings of Allāh, the Exalted, for the training of members of the Jamā‘at, to resolve issues. Go! Give him your counsel.” With this in mind [see] how much your responsibility as a delegate increases.
If you sit in Majlis Shūrā with this perception, then aside from completely listening to the proceedings, seeking Maghfirat, and invoking blessings on the Holy Prophetsa, nootherthoughtwillenteryourmind. WheneveryoustandinthisMajlis to provide your counsel, you will be able to do so with true and complete responsibility. Because your views will reach the Khalīfa of the time and the Khalīfa is optimistic that the Shūrā delegates must have formed their opinion on matters after deep reflection, thinking and understanding; it is for this reason that the Majlis Shūrā’s opinion is usually accepted as is, when such conditions are present, except in regards to such matters in which the Khalīfa has sure knowledge that accepting the opinion formed by the Shūrā can cause the Jamā‘at to suffer. And this [decision by the Khalīfa to decline a Shūrā recommendation] is not something which is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’ān or contrary to it because Allāh, the Exalted, has given permission for it.
Majlis Shūrā Has the Right to Make Recommendations, Only the Khalīfa Has the Right to Make a Decision
Indeed, there is a command to take counsel, so that a matter may be brought forward openly, but it is not necessary that the consultation also be accepted. In this way, the establishment of our institution of Shūrā is established on the Sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa. Khulafā’ take counsel so that matters maybe be looked at in great depth but it is not necessary that all conclusions also be accepted. It is for this reason that at the end of all Shūrā proceedings, under each discussed matter it is written, “The Shūrā makes the following recommendation.” They do not have the right to write, “The Shūrā has made the following decision.” The Shūrā has only the right to make recommendations. Only the Khalīfa of the time has the right to make a desision.
What Qualities Should
Those Who Give Counsel Possess
There is another narration that lets us gauge the importance of consultation. Ḥazrat Ali bin Abū Ṭālibranarratesthat, “IaddressedtheHolyProphetsasaying, ‘OMessengerofAllāh! AfteryouifwearefacedwithamatterregardingwhichthereisnorevelationintheHolyQur’ān, norhave we heard anything from you regarding it, then what should we do?’ The Holy Prophetsaresponded, ‘Inordertoresolveanysuchmatter, gatherthosewhoarelearnedorthosewhoaresincereworshipersandseektheircounselregardingthematteranddonotmakeadecisiononanysuchmatterbasedonlyupononeperson’sview.’” (Kanzul A‘māl Vol. 2, p. 340)
Members of the Jamā‘at should also pay attention to this ḥadīth and should pray that Allāh, the Exalted, allow always keeps such members in the Jamā‘at who are well versed in religious and secular knowledge; and that He makes us ‘Ibādur-Raḥmānsothereisneveranydifficulty in giving counsel to the Khalīfa of the time, and looking at the recommendations leaves no doubt that they were formed with pious intentions.
Instructions for Shūrā Delegates
His Holiness Ḥazrat Khalīfatul-Masīḥ VaafurtherstatesinhisFridaySermon:
Now I will briefly state some important points that Shūrā delegates should keep in mind, and other members of Jamā‘at should keep in view, as they too may be delegates of the Majlis Shūrā in future.
When you enter the Shūrā, do so completely for the sake of Allāh; that is offer opinion for the sake of Allāh.
When you enter, do so with a clear mind and offer supplications, abandoning any personal interests. To achieve this purpose, remain occupied in supplications during the the Shūrā proceedings
Do not have the intention of making others agree with you
Every opinion can be beneficial. This is not like a worldly parliament or assembly where debates and arguments occur. There is no right to debate, state your opinion and sit down. If your opinion has merit, people will favour it with consensus. If not, you played your part of sharing your views with rightful intention.
Listen to other opinions carefully. It is quite possible that listening to another viewpoint might lead you to agree and/or not feel the need to express your view.
Do not offer your opinion for the sake of agreeing with others. That is, do not agree with an opinion merely because it was given by a friend, a loved one, or a member of your local Jamā‘at. Opinions should be offered freely and for the sake of Allāh.
Never offer opinion as a ploy to achieve personal gain. Rather, dwell on the best resolution for the matter being discussed, not what you personally gain from it.
Do not hesitate to accept what is right, no matter who is presenting it. I have mentioned before, some people oppose simply because it was brought forth by one apparently less educated or knowledgeable.
Do not be haste in reaching a conclusion.
Never consider your opinion to be so strong that it can never be wrong; this would result in a bias
While presenting your opinion, do not follow your emotions, stating your feelings. Rather offer them with facts in view . . . when stating your opinion, present facts and figures by which others can form their own views.
State things which will have religious benefits. The purpose of stating your views is not to display knowledge, but to help in the progress of religion. All suggestions should be made keeping this in view.
Suggestions should be made after thinking and understanding.
The Shūrā agenda should contain items of high importance, and should be more effective as compared to the opponents. The Shūrā agenda should not include trivial matters. We are destined to contend against the world and spread Islām in the world; so our planning should be solid and comprehensive.
Do not start debating over the trivial details. Rather, observe the facts and determine whether a point is beneficial or harmful; this is what should be kept in focus.
As I have said before, it is not necessary to repeat a point that has already been stated.
Lastly, I would like to mention the most important aspect: Your every action and word should be for the sake of God.
I have briefly mentioned this before, Taqwā should always be kept in view. Give your suggestions humbly, asking God for His help. Pray, “O Allāh we do not encompass all types of knowledge, so help us Yourself and provide us true direction . . . “
If you sit in the Majlis and provide such counsel with such intentions, then Inshā’Allāh, Allāh will assist you greatly, and guide you to the right methods, and you will benefit from the blessings of this gathering.