Mashwara (Consultation) –A forgotten Sunnah

by Hina Liaqat

We often encounter situations where decision making becomes THE MOST DIFFICULT task on earth! We are baffled with its pros and cons, anxious about the outcome and concerned about its executional process. In that case, we reach out to our relevant associates for consultation and seek their help in carefully reconsidering the matter. This is called ‘Mashwara’ – the act of consulting someone in order to seek their opinion.

Islam greatly presses upon the practice of this meritorious act in all important affairs of life, whether they concern business matters, individual issues, domestic affairs or communal questions. This practice is of great benefit and is encouraged by both the Quran and the Sunnah.

What is the reason that Rasulullah (S.A.W) consulted his companions when he was told everything directly by Allah SWT? The reason is that he wanted to emphasize the importance of Mashwara. So he carried it out and showed them the ways and etiquettes of this act. In this manner, the importance of Mashwara got embedded in the minds of the Sahaba (R.A) and hence, this practice gained prominence and priority in the lives of Companions and those who followed their practice.

 Islam has always advocated the policy of adopting the means first and then putting trust in Allah SWT. “Tie the camel first, and then place your trust in Allah.” This is the true conception of Tawakkul. It is this same principle which applies in the case of Mashwara, i.e., first adopt all the means: Consult, collect all the views and deliberate on the issue at hand from all angles, then take the decision and leave the rest to Allah SWT. Qur’an puts this as follows: “And consult them in affairs (of importance). Then when you have firmly decided, have trust on Allah. Verily Allah loves those who have trust (in Him)” (Qur’an 3:159)

Prophet (S.A.W) himself said: “Indeed Allah and His Prophet are not in need of counsel from anyone but Allah has made the practice of seeking opinions a mercy upon my ummah. He who seeks advice from others will find guidance and he who refuses will inevitably commit mistakes”. (Bayhaqi, Shu’b al-Iman, Hadith 7542)

However, it is important to be careful of whom you ask for an opinion. Make sure you ask only those whom you trust, so as not to disclose your matter before its completion and execution to someone who holds jealousy against you or may harm you. For in that case, the practice of Mashwara can do more harm than good to you. So choose to consult those whom you’ve known since long enough time. Consulting one’s parents is always the best choice. Or you may go to your teachers and mentors, and to your close, tested-for-sincerity friends.

As you start to practice this Sunnah, you will see it strengthening the ties of brotherhood also, as seeking someone’s opinion on your important matter makes them feel privileged and honored. And over and above that, if you’ve approached the right person in terms of their sincerity for you, they will try to give an opinion that goes in your best interest. It will be their way of expressing gratitude for the honor.

Thus, we all must strive to bring alive this vital practice in all facets and matters of their individual and collective lives. Whenever any issue of importance arises, before taking any decision, do resort to Mashwara. Give it a go and explore its farther benefits!