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It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).

Asad writes,

Lit., “with them” – i.e., with those of his followers who had failed in their duty before
and during the disaster at Uhud. According to all available accounts, the Prophet did not
even reproach any of them for what they had done.

This injunction, implying government by consent and council, must be regarded as one of
the fundamental clauses of all Qur’anic legislation relating to statecraft. The pronoun
“them” relates to the believers, that is, to the whole community; while the word al-amr
occurring in this context – as well as in the much earlier-revealed phrase amruhum shura
baynahum in 42:38 – denotes all affairs of public concern, including state administration.
All authorities agree in that the above ordinance, although addressed in the first instance
to the Prophet, is binding on all Muslims and for all times. (For its wider implications
see State and Government in Islam, pp. 44 ff.) Some Muslim scholars conclude from the
wording of this ordinance that the leader of the community, although obliged to take counsel,
is nevertheless free to accept or to reject it; but the arbitrariness of this conclusion
becomes obvious as soon as we recall that even the Prophet considered himself bound by
the decisions of his council (see note 90 above). Moreover, when he was asked – according
to a Tradition on the authority of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib – to explain the implications of the
word ‘azm (“deciding upon a course of action”) which occurs in the above verse, the Prophet
replied, “[It means] taking counsel with knowledgeable people (ahl ar-ra’y) and thereupon
following them [therein]” (see Ibn Kathir’s commentary on this verse).


Asad, Muhammad (1980). The Message of the Quran.

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