Shura in the family: why we need it, how to do it 
By Abdul Malik Mujahid, Soundvision, June 2003

Gender relations in Islam are not based on male-female competition as is seen in a number Western societies today. Rather, this relationship is based on gender cooperation. (Quran: 4:32).

In the context of the family, the husband is the leader (Qawwam) of the family as defined by Allah (Quran 4:34).

However, the power of this leader, like that of all other Islamic leaders, is bound on the one hand by the Quran and Sunnah, and on the other by Shura or mutual consultation - amruhum shura bainahum (Quran 42:38).

The Muslim family, therefore, like all other Muslim institutions, formal or informal, must be run with mutual consultation.

One major cause of problems in the Muslim Ummah today is the absence of Shura. The Shura process, if adopted as a personal behavior and nourished by the family as a way of life, will benefit the Ummah in the long run.

Some Guidelines for Informal Shura

Informal Shura is like talking to each other. It may happen at any place and at any time. Here are some examples of informal Shura and tips you can use:

Shura in a restaurant: Spouses may meet each other everyday without ever actually discussing issues. Set a time to go out and talk.

Walking Shura: What about an evening walk to discuss a topic?

Formal Shura

Formal Shura is a process to reach an agreement on an issue of mutual interest. Everyone should participate in Shura with an open mind.

Some pointers on how to do this are:

Consider a name change

My children suggest that "Family Meeting" or "Family Circle" is a better title for family Shura since "Shura" feels too serious.

They suggest that this forum should include discussion of any topic from the Quran, Sunnah or current affairs.

Nonverbal communication

Shura is about communicated effectively, both verbally and non-verbally. Here are some basic pointers on nonverbal communication:

Criticism is a type of Shura as well

Shura does not just entail basic discussion and positive comments. It can also include criticism.

However, it should be remembered that there is an Adab (etiquette) of giving input and feedback in Islam. Some of these are:

Just as it's important to know how to give criticism, it's crucial to know how to receive it. Here are some etiquette suggestions: Involving children in Shura

Children are intelligent, thinking beings who have much to contribute to discussions. Too often, parents dismiss the opinions and thoughts of their kids, thinking their youth and inexperience mean they are too young for Shura. Not so.

Doing Shura in the family helps kids learn how to communicate effectively in a safe, comfortable environment. Parents need to remember that their love is crucial in raising their children, but it's not enough to raise a well-adjusted, happy child. Communication is the key for successful development.

Here are some tips to help you encourage your kids to communicate effectively and participate in Shura in the family:

More resources on related topics

To discuss Muslim family issues on the internet visit's forums. You can anonymously participate in these discussions by contributing your experience and advice. Let's call it an anonymous Shura for the benefit of the Ummah.

There are several articles and essays on Sound Vision's website about parenting, the husband and wife relationship, and education. A detailed version of this paper will also be put there, insha Allah, in future.

Sound Vision has a set of three video documentaries about the Muslim Family on sale. The set includes: the Ideal Muslim Husband (the Prophet), Hijab, and Holiday Myths.

Khurram Murad's lecture: Saving Our Children in America has excellent advice for parents.

Related themes to study from the Quran and Sunnah are: Maroof, Munkar, Sabr, Tawakkul, Anger, Brotherhood, Gheebah, Zann, Tongue.

Related Quranic verses to study: 49:9-13; 41:34; 49:6; 20:43-44; 2:44; 61:2-3; 5:2; 3:110; 9:71; 9:67; 16:125; 31:17-19; 7:199.

Insha Allah (if Allah wills), I plan to write more on this topic, so please give me your input, criticism and advice.

You can e-mail me at or write to:

Abdul Malik Mujahid
1327 W. Washington Blvd. #105
Chicago, IL. 60607

© Abdul Malik Mujahid

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