Publisher: Islam International Publications
The book in review here is the English rendering of the Urdu book titled Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Ka Mushawarati Nizam.
As institutions flourish, it becomes imperative that their history is preserved so that the vision at the time of their inception is upheld throughout its various phases of development.
Although the Majlis-e-Mushawarat was formally initiated as a body in the Jamaat by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra in 1922, its history has its roots in the time of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, and every scheme introduced by the Promised Messiahas can be traced back to the Holy Quran and the practices of the Holy Prophetsa.
This book takes us back to the Holy Quran where the injunction for consultation to be carried out in matters to do with the Jamaat of the faithful was initially revealed.
It goes on to show how this commandment of Allah was obeyed by the Holy Prophetsa and what benefits of it have been witnessed by history.
Chapter one goes on to cover the nature of Mushawarat as it was in the early days of Islam, up to the time of the four rightly guided Khulafa.
The second chapter sets off by explaining how the Promised Messiahas, from the early days of the Jamaat, had established a consultative body. The first Jalsa Salana, held in 1891 had Shura (consultation in various matters) on agenda.
During the second Jalsa in 1892, it is recorded in history that the Promised Messiahas asked attendees to come up with suggestions relating to the propagation of Islam in Europe and America. Various suggestions were put forward by the attendees among which was one to start publishing a newspaper from Qadian.
The first fiscal budget of the Jamaat was presented and approved during one such meeting on the occasion of Jalsa Salana on 28 December 1907, for the year 1908. The tradition of budgets being presented in the Majlis-e-Shura and then being forwarded for final approval continues to this very day.
So at the start, up to the year 1922, Jalsa Salana served the same purpose as Majlis-e-Mushawarat, along with the many purposes that it served in terms of the wellbeing of the Jamaat.
The first Majlis-e-Mushawarat in the era of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira was held in December 1908, during Jalsa Salana, Qadian. The most pressing issue of this Majlis was whether the Madrasah-e-Ahmadiyya (established by the Promised Messiahas) should be kept running or whether it should be shut down. It was in this Shura that a young Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra firmly stood for the decision of the Promised Messiahas to be upheld whatsoever.
Similar was the practice in the time of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra until in 1922 when he felt that the expansion of the Jamaat and its matters required a dedicated body and a separately allocated time for matters to be presented, considered, suggested and sent for final approval.
The book, with eleven chapters in total, covers how the institution of Majls-e-Shura has evolved under the direct guidance of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya. From a centralised Shura in the Markaz, to a decentralised institution running in every country and Shura among auxiliary organisations, it is a faith-inspiring story.
The final chapter on “The Legal Status of Majlis-e-Shura” is of particular importance where the difference in the Islamic form of Shura and Western democracy is brought to light. The fact that the Shura can only make suggestions and it is for the Khalifatul Masih to keep, reject or give a new directive altogether is a topic that needs to be read not only by Shura delegates but all Ahmadis in general; it is a good reminder of what Bai‘at stands for and how we need to know what it means to remain behind the Imam, who is undoubtedly a shield for all believers.