1. Islamic politics.
2. Daughter of Ted Hughes

An Arabic word for "consultation"; specifically the duty in Sharia (Islamic law) of the ruler to consult his followers in making decisions. It also refers to the assembly that meets for this purpose.

The duty of shura is founded on two suras (verses) of the Quran in which consultation is explicitly enjoined, and numerous instances in which the Prophet Muhammad did consult his followers; including instances in which he might have disagreed, and which led to failure in battle.

There is no clear agreement among Islamic scholars on numerous key points about shura. These bear on whether a modern Islamic government should more resemble a democracy or a dictatorship.

One of the suras fairly clearly says the Imam (ruler) must consult, but the other reads more as if he may or should consult.

Secondly, who should be consulted? All the faithful, or only men and not women, or only clerics, or only those with expertise in the matter under discussion, such as military affairs?

Thirdly, upon what subjects? Should all decisions of the Imam be put out to shura? This seems similar to the way Western governments can dispute over how much power parliamentarians and cabinets have to speak for their constituents, or whether a referendum may be necessary.

Fourthly, is the result of the consultation binding on the Imam? Again, the examples of the Prophet's behaviour do not make this entirely clear for modern scholars.

This is particularly pertinent right now, when the Emir of Afghanistan has summoned a Shura to discuss the fate of Osama bin Laden. Clerics have asked him to remove himself voluntarily from the country. Before this decision, outside observers felt the Shura would rubber-stamp the wishes of the Taleban leadership. It remains to be seen where Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Emir, stands on how bound he is by the shura. The Shura is a traditional form of assembly in Afghanistan, parallel to the secular loya jirga.

More detailed discussions of this may be found at two interesting websites:
http://www.salaam.co.uk/knowledge/shura.html (April 2003: Rats, the "knowledge" section no longer holds the old Shura article)

Shura (1965-1969) was the daughter of Ted Hughes and Assia Wevill. It was Assia that Ted was having an affair with when his wife Sylvia Plath committed suicide in 1963. On 25 March 1969 Assia doped Shura with sleeping pills, turned on the gas, and lay down with her on a mattress. Hughes's 1970 collection Crow, the blackest of all his works, is dedicated to the memories of Assia and Shura.

The rules of shura are used to solve every problem that a group of individuals faces starting from within the family, to the problems of the community and continuing even to the political affairs of a country.

The layout of shura is such, all the people who are responsible for making a decision and/or have some special ability or skill regarding the matter by which the decision is going to be made will form a group. This group will have one Amir. The Amir's responsibility is to hear the opinion of all the people in the group. Each person has the complete freedom to give his opinion. An individual doesn't have to be in agreement with the the Amir's opinion nor the opinion of any of the other individuals in the group. After every person has given their opinion the Amir has to take those opinions and form a precursory decision. This decision has to be made according to what he sees beneficial for the public. His decision does not need to be the same as the opinion that he originally presented to the group, nor any of the other opinions that where presented in the group. This leaves room for the possibiliy of a combination of several opinions, this is usually the outcome. Once the amir has made his precursory decision he has to let the others know what decision he has made. If there is any need of further discussion the opinions will be heard and the precursory decision will be modified accourdingly. If there is no room for any further discussion the Amir's decision will then become a rule. This decision, of course, must be in accourdance with sharia.

After the decision is made, every person's actions must be in accourdance with the Amir's decision, even if his opinion was different. The Amir's decision is a rule which must be enforced by all individuals. Any person can voice, be it in public or private, that his opinion is different then that of the Amir. Nevertheless, the rule cannot be openly broken.

I understand that there is a crucial piece of information missing here, and that is, rules for the selection of an Amir. I hope to do this at a later date. My apologies.

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