Prophet’s consultation with his companions

In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Dear brothers, we are discussing “Prophetic traits”.
Allah the Almighty said addressing the prophet PBUH:

(And consult them in the affairs)

[Aal-’Imran, 159]

Hence, Allah the Almighty orders the prophet PBUH to consult his companions. Let me ask here: who is the prophet? He is the master of mankind, the most beloved creature to Allah, the one who is gifted with shrewdness, the best of Adam’s sons, the one whom revelation was sent upon, and he is the infallible, yet, and despite all these characteristics and privileges, he is ordered by Allah to consult his companions, Allah said:

(Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).)

[Aal-’Imran, 159]

What is the wisdom behind consulting?

What is the point here? Why, despite the endless wisdom included in Allah’s Words, Allah asked the prophet PBUH to consult his companions?

First: to sooth their souls by consulting them:

When you order someone and he has to carry out your orders, he feels as if he was a tool in your hands. However, when you consult him, you give him the feeling that he is your partner, and this is an educational way.
Therefore, consulting soothes the souls of the consultants.
When you ask your wife for her opinion on something you are intending to do she feels that you are equal partners.
Hence, the first aim of the prophet’s consultation with his companions is soothing their souls.
Whenever Allah orders the believers to do something, he shows them the wisdom behind this order, and by doing so, Allah soothes their hearts.

Second: to get strength with his companions’ opinion:

This exactly what the prophet PBUH meant when he said to Abu Bakr and Umar:

If you two are agree upon an opinion I would not oppose you

[Ahmad, by Abu Bakr and Omar]

What does this mean? It means that when the prophet PBUH said those words, he was then choosing the wise and the prudent among his companions to ask for their opinion (or else he wouldn’t say: “I would not oppose you”), and by this act, he was supporting their opinion. Al Nu’man Ibn Basheer said: the prophet PBUH said on the pulpit:

He who is not grateful for a little cannot be grateful for the abundance, and he who is not grateful to people cannot be grateful to Allah [whereas]to talk about Allah’s blessings is gratitude, and leaving it is ingratitude (kufr). The community (jama’ah) [leads to] is mercy, and dissension [leads to] is debasement

[Ahmad, by Nu’man Ibn Basheer]

When you have an opinion which is right, then you consult someone and he recommends the same opinion, your opinion gets stronger.
Hence, you feel supported when you see an opinion and consult a friend who agrees upon what you are going to do, thus, you get confident of your opinion, and this is called “strengthening”.
Therefore, the first purpose of consulting is soothing the souls, whereas the second purpose is that the prophet PBUH feels strength because of his companions’ opinion.
For example, when someone asks me a question, for which I know the answer, and I answer his with evidence from from the Quran or Sunna or the opinion of schools of thoughts, I feel more confident when I ask a scholar and he give me the same answer. Man is supported with his brothers. He should not choose individual opinion, week evidence, or a weard opinion. He should be with the majority of scholars.
Anas Ibn Malik said: I’ve heard the prophet PBUH saying:

My nation will never agree upon misguidance, and if you witness any conflict, then follow the majority of my nation

[Ibn Majah, by Anas Ibn Malek]

You should know that the prophbet PBUH is individually infallible, while his nation is collectively infallible through Muslims’ agreement, and they never agree on something wrong.
Whenever you read interpretation books, they say in it most of the time: The majority of scholars said so and so, hence, be with the majority (of course not the majority of people but the majority of believers), as the Majority of people may go astray.
Allah the Almighty says:

(And most of them follow nothing but conjecture)

[Yunus, 36]

Hence, first: consulting soothes the souls, second: it strengthens the consulted, assuring him that he is on the right path, as consulting gives strength and self-confidence.

Third: To legislate consulting among his nation after his death:

The delicate point in the whole matter is that when the prophet PBUH consulted his companions carrying out Allah’s order to him, he put a law by this act, so that it would be carried out by his nation after him.
If he was a prophet who is infallible and never makes mistakes, he is guided by revelation, he is supported by Allah, he is protected by the divine providence, and he is gifted with unlimited wisdom, what about the generations of rulers and scholars who would come after him? They are not like him, they may be confused, so they need to resort to consultation. Hence, he made consultation a Sunnah and he set up an example for them.
Though the prophet PBUH wasn’t in need for consulting his companions because of his wisdom and his infallibility, he consulted them in order to set up an example for scholars and rulers, who will come after his death. Thereby, he laid down a law in consulting others.
Again, the prophet PBUH consulted his companions to sooth their souls, to get support from their opinions, but definitely, he didn’t need their opinion and recommendations, as he was infallible, supported with revelation, and gifted with wisdom. He could do without their reasoning, yet he did so in order to set up a good example for them.
You all remember that the prophet PBUH borrowed money from a Jew, and to this, a narrow minded person might say: Is it rational that the prophet took money from a Jew, whereas he was surrounded with his companions who were ready to sacrifice their souls and hearts for him? The answer is so simple: The prophet PBUH didn’t borrow money from a Jew out of need, or because his companions were negligent to his needs, but he meant to lay down a law that you can deal with people of the book (buy from them and sell them).
If the prophet PBUH had never dealt with people of the book, you would not have been allowed to do so, hence he set up an example for you and lied down a law by such an act.
Another example to clarify this idea is the following: what do you think about the prophet’s courage? He was described by his companions as follows:

When the battle used to become fierce and the eyes seemed to be coming out of the sockets, we were to look for the Prophet in order to find a shelter behind him, as he was the closest one among us to the enemy

This means that the courage of all the companions wasn’t up to the prophet’s courage PBUH, yet, how did he migrate from Mecca to Madinah?
He did that undercover, he hid in the cave of Thawr, asked someone to bring him news, asked another to bring him food, and a third to wipe off his traces, why do you think he did that?
Why didn’t he migrate like Umar who challenged all the infidels? Umar said:
((Whoever wants to cause grief for his mother and leave his children as orphans, then let him meet me behind that valley))
One might wonder: who was more couragous, the prophet, or this noble companion?
The companion (Umar) was challenging the infidels, whereas the prophet PBUH was sneaking out of Mecca and hiding in the cave of Thawr spending three days in it.
The answer to this is very simple: had the prophet migrated as Umar did, then rushing into danger would have been mandatory for a Muslim, and caution would have been impermissible, which could lead people to death.
Because the prophet’s acts would be legislations till the Day of Judgment, the prophet was cautious, he considered the causes, and he didn’t challenge Quraish. He resorted to the cave of Thawr, stayed in it for three days, he asked someone to bring him news, another to wipe off his traces, and a third to bring him food, not to mention that he hired a non-Muslim expert in trace tracking (he preferred expertise).
In other words, the prophet PBUH was a legislator, and when he consulted his companions, he laid down a law for us, for rulers after him, and for scholars, in order to consult in our affairs.
In another incident, the prophet PBUH set up a practical example. It was in Badr Battle, as he had chosen a loction. One might say: O Lord, wasn’t it better to send Gabriel to the prophet with the right location for the battle? Well, it was possible, but why did not Allah send Gabriel? Wasn’t it possible to inspire the prophet of the most suitable location for the battle? Well, it was possible as well, but why didn’t any of this happen? After the prophet PBUH had chosen a location according to his own judgment, a polite enthusiastic companion of best quality asked him:
“Has Allah inspired you to choose this very spot or is it an opinion and strategy of war and a matter of consultation?”
Pay attention to the accuracy of the companion. Had the location been chosen by Revelation, he wouldn’t have said a word.
The Prophet (PBUH) replied

“It is strategy of war and a matter of consultation.” The man said: “This place is no good”

As simple, humble, spontaneous, and friendly as he was, and without neglecting, bashing or dismissing the adviser, the prophet never considered that question as an act of discrediting to his judgment.
The prophet asked:

“Where is the best place?” And the man pointed to the perfect place so that the Prophet (PBUH) approved his plan and agreed to carry it out, and he moved the army to that spot.

Forth: You show respect to the person you consult with:

Also the wisdom behind consulting someone is to raise high his self-esteem, to let him feel the importance and acceptance of his opinion, and to feel that he is contributing through his opinion to this family, company, school, or hospital.
This is called: ”the democratic management”, it is when a hospital manager, for example, asks doctors around him: what do you think of so and so? Considering the following Ayah:

(And consult them in the affairs Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah)

[Aal-’Imran, 159]

Fifth: you test people by consulting them:

We should not miss an important point. As we said before that the wisdom behind consulting others (either you were a principal, hospital manager, company owner, father, business manager, or merchant) is to sooth their hearts, strengthen your opinion, and raise high their self-esteem, we still have another wisdom which unfolds a great educational purpose, as when you consult others you have the chance to get to know their reasoning, their points of view, and you can sift the narrow minded from the wise, the short-sighted from the long-sighted, and the sincere from the unfaithful. Hence, when you consult other, you are testing them in the process.

The believer accepts the advice and thanks the adviser:

This is leadership, and this is how the prophet PBUH set up an example for his nation after him.
If you happened to be advised by a sincere and enthusiastic person, bringing all the needed evidence to support his advice, be ware of going arrogant, rejecting, or turning away from him, and don’t ever do what breaks him because he dared to advise you.
Dear brothers, pay attention to the following point:
Those who praise you won’t improve you. On the other hand, those who criticize you are those who improve you. Whenever you are criticized for doing something you avoid it so you get better, but when you are praised for something you are satisfied with it and you don’t get improved.
I always recall our Master Umar’s saying: “I love the person who gives me my blemishes as a present”.
This is the how believer should do, he should be flexible towards advice, a good listener to it, grateful to the person who offers it. He should never despise him, nor should he bash or abandon him. He should never consider the advice as an act of crossing a red line, rather, he should thank the adviser.
As a legislator, the prophet PBUH consulted his companions to lay down a law to be a Sunnah after his death.
Nowadays, you can make use of this law practically. If you have a family you can consult your wife in fundamental matters, and there is no harm in doing so.
Along with the same line, the prophet PBUH consulted Umm Salamah (his wife) in the Agreement of Hudibiya, and adopted her opinion, so there is no harm in consulting your elder sons in order to sooth their souls, strengthen your opinion, and make them feel as partners in the family, and above all you teach them to humble down in their life, to consult others, and to accept consultation and advice.
Dear brothers, he who accepts the sincere advice, will attain the same reward of the person who offers it.
When you offer your advice you will get a reward, and he, who accepts it politely and thank you for it will get a reward as well.
Reported by Ibn Uday and Baihakee in the Shu’ab, authenticated by Ibn Abbas, May Allah be pleased with both of them, he said:

When the Ayah “and consult them in the affairs” was descended, the prophet PBUH said: Allah and his messenger (Muhammad PBUH) don’t need consulting, however, Allah descended this Ayah out of mercy on my nation. Whoever consults others will never lack reasoning, and whoever doesn’t abide by it, might be afflicted with aberrance

Consultation doesn’t mean chaos:

In order to avoid turning consultation into chaos, dispersal, business obstruction, and disputes, we should consult and brain storm, as leadership sometimes needs people’s opinion, yet, in the end, you should do what is right, taking into consideration all the opinions. Hence, consulting is for taking hints and it is not a mandatory to take. This is because Allah said in the following Ayah:

(Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah)

[Aal-’Imran, 159]

Consultation is a crucial part of the believer’s life:

Reported by Al Shaf’ee, from Abu Huraira, May Allah be pleased with him, he said:

I’ve never seen someone keener on consulting his companions than the prophet PBUH

Consulting is a crucial matter, and Allah the Almighty described the believer saying: they conduct affairs by mutual consultation, Allah said:

(and who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation)

[Ash-Shura, 38]

And Allah ordered the prophet PBUH in the following Ayah:

(and consult them in the affairs)

[Aal-‘Imran, 159]

This means that Shuraa (Consulting) should be part of the believer’s life.
When the person, you offer your advice to, accepts it, makes use of it, and praises you for it, he will be encouraging this righteous behavior which is enjoined by the noble Sunnah, and mentioned in Quran.

The prophet encouraged his companions to seek consultation:

The prophet PBUH encouraged his companions to consult each other. Aisha, May Allah pleased with her, said: The prophet PBUH said:

The consultee is aid seeker, and the consultant must be trustworthy, so whenever you are consulted, you should consult with the same opinion you would consult yourself with

[Kashf Al Khafa’a, by Aisha]

I know some merchants who wear pants made of a stagnant color of stock fabric just to tell their customers when they ask if this fabric is good or not: Don’t you see that I am wearing it. So he is wearing those pants in order to sell the fabric, and this is dishonesty.
One should advise others with the same thing he will consult himself with, and that should be for real not just to display the goods, or out of malice.
Scholars said: Consultation draws out the sweetest of opinions, and the best of what is hidden in chests, exactly like when we take honey from the bee hive.
Therefore, when you consult a believer, you are bringing out his wise opinion.
Two days ago in Tawoosyah mosque a brother asked me about a land he bought, but after a while someone claimed to own part of it and he filed a suit case. When he asked the owner about that, his papers weren’t complete, and though this brother won the case and became the owner of the whole land, yet he was not comfortable that part of it is not owned by the main owner who sold it to him, and kept feeling worried for three years.
The main owner of the land died and this brother asked me what to do? I said: it is easy, sell the part that you doubt owning and give it to the poor as Sadaqah, in that case if the land was yours then you paid Sadaqah and will be rewarded for it on the Day of Judgment, and if it wasn’t yours, then it was kept for its owner to be rewarded in the Hereafter (because he is now dead and if he were alive he would have given it to him), and by doing so you will be relieved of worry. This man was touched deeply by this solution which he couldn’t figure out himself, as he was worried that he has eaten ill-gotten money, given that he who transgresses a part of land will be in hell, so how about 2000 sq. m. (half acre) of land?
There is a solution for any problem, but you need to seek it in order to find it.

Who should we consult?

It was mentioned in the relic:

Polish your minds by deliberation, and seek an aid in your matters through consulting

Best of times is when you deliberate knowledge with others, consult them, ask for their evidence to support the matter in question, ask for their hints, and swap notes between your opinion and theirs, in that case, you are polishing your mind by deliberation, and seeking aid in your matters through consulting. However, don’t consult just any one; rather you should know who to consult.

(And obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, one who follows his own lusts and whose affair (deeds) has been lostً)

[Al- Kahf, 28]

You should consult the believers. Scholars said: the consultant should be trustworthy, respectful, adviser, steadfast, non self-absorbed, not hesitant, not a liar, and he should not be fond of the matter he is consulted in (there is no conflict of interests).
In other words, if the matter of consulting is a garden, then you shouldn’t ask someone who is fond of gardens by saying: this garden is for me and for my neighbor, so what should I do? In this case, he might say to you: take it, out of his love to gardens, and he would be driven by his love instead of being just. Same goes for he who is ascetic about worldly life matters, like when you say to him: there is a disagreement between me and the owner of this store, what should I do? As he might say to you: leave it to him, because he is not interested in tangible things, and by this he is giving an opinion that might be not just for you if you have kids and the store should be yours according to law. Both men will be giving opinion very far from rightness, as the fond of the first will blind him from the truth, and the distance of the second will do the same.
Also don’t consult a stingy person in money related matters, as he will say to you: keep your money for a rainy day, hence, the stingy can’t be a consultant.
Instead, you should consult someone who is trustworthy, respectful, adviser, steadfast, non self-absorbed, non hesitant, and not a liar.
The prophet PBUH said:

The consultee is an aid seeker, and the consultant must be trustworthy, so whenever you are consulted, you should consult of the same opinion you would consult yourself with

[Kashf Al Khafa’a, by Aisha]

You are free to pardon yourself from giving any opinion. Keeping silent might be the answer, and remember that you are trusted if consulted. Hence, if consulting could lead to a conflict, you should pardon yourself from giving any opinion as this is better than giving an opinion you are not convinced with, or giving an opinion opposite to what you know, as this is a major sin, so beware of advising others with the opposite of what you know.
At-Tabaranee reported through Anas Ibn Malek, that the prophet PBUH said:

The one who asks Allah for guidance by performing Istikhara prayer would never be disappointed, and the one who consults others would never regret

[At-Tabaranee by Anas]

Istikharah is all about seeking aid form Allah, whereas consulting is sought from experts believers.
Being a believer only is not enough, and being an expert only is not enough, you should have both to be consulted. If the consultant was not a believer, then he wouldn’t be a good adviser, as in his advice, he might have a conflict of interests, so he would hinder it from you. On the other hand, the believer who has no experience gives you his opinion out of ignorance. Therefore, Guidance is sought from Allah and advice is sought from experts.

Consultation is borrowing minds and experiences:

“The one who consults wise men is borrowing their minds”.
You can gain fifty years of experience from someone by asking him nicely: What do you think of this matter sir? And remember, he who consults wise men will be borrowing their minds.
Do you know that by asking a question to an expert, you are able to summaries fifty years of his experience? If he is an expert in commerce or industry, and you are about to start a business of yours, consult him, and, in general, always consult the believers who are honest and wise.


Some have said a nice statement in this respect: “Despotism in opinion wastes the sane, and obliges the choosers”.
When someone acts autocratically despite the fact of being surrounded by wise people, he cancels their reasoning by such an act. Hence, Despotism abolishes the reasoning of wise people and turns the free choice of choosers into obligation. In other words, acting autocratically turns the sane into a fool.
I hope that we make use of this lecture practically in our daily life, and get ourselves used to consulting others, to asking, to brain storming, to resorting to the experts, to the pious, and to the believers, whether in you business or traveling, and beware of acting autocratically, as this will lead you to the worst of your deeds.

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds

Prepared by: Noora Al Sharabi
Edited by: Maha Sulieman




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