Passing verdict according to the view of majority
Assalamu alaykum Mufti,
Our local Madrassah generally passes decisions by having a Shurah of 11 members, passing verdict according to what is voted by majority. Is this Islamic? How should decisions be made Islamically at meetings?
Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
In an Islamic organisation, decisions at meetings should ideally be made with mutual consultation in conjunction with the principles of “Shura.” In making such decisions, an Ameer will be appointed whose function will be to extract opinions from all the participants of the Shura. After pondering over all the different opinions, the Ameer will then opt for and implement that opinion which is in the best interest of the organisation. In other words, the final decision will rest in the hands of the Ameer and in arriving at that decision, he will not look at his convenience but look at the benefit of the organisation at large. This used to be the method of Shura as implemented by Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and also his illustrious Khulafa (may Allah be pleased with them all). For instance, when Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) migrated to Madinah al-Munawwarah, and the need arose to introduce a method for calling people towards prayer. Consultation was made with the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them all). Each Sahabi expressed his opinion and suggested a method for calling people towards prayer. After giving a hearing to all the various suggestions, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) himself – as the Ameer – made the final decision.
Although the above procedure is the ideal and most acceptable manner of arriving at decisions, it is not the ONLY acceptable manner. Thus, if expediency sometimes dictates the need for “majority vote” especially in the case when the Ameer himself is in a quandary as to what decision to take; then the method of majority vote will also be acceptable in Islam. If one studies Islamic history, one will find a number of occasions in which the procedure of “majority vote” was implemented when arriving at a decision. One example of basing a decision on “majority vote” is that of the election of Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) as the leader. Before his demise, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) appointed a Shura consisting of six companions and left instructions with them that the new Khalifa will be elected from amongst them by way of majority vote. Another example is that of the election of the next Khalifa, Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). this was also based on majority vote. These details can be found in Taarikh (History) Kitaabs such as Taarikh al-Khulafaa. Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Hasan Saheb Gangohi (may Allah have mercy on him) has beautifully explained the concept of majority vote in Islam in great detail. If you study Hadhrat Mufti Saheb’s Fatwa pertaining to this issue, a lot of doubts will be cleared. Hadhrat Mufti Saheb has emphasised that “majority vote” is NOT purely a western ideology as it has been implemented even by our Akaabir (pious elders) and is also used to make some decisions in our Madaaris; such as Darul Uloom Deoband and Mazahirul Uloom Saharanpur. The said Fatwa can be found in Volume 10 of Fataawa Mahmudiyya on Page 220 and I strongly recommend that you read it.