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Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad documents a practical set of rules
for the governance of Islamic societies.
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Islamic Rules of Order to:
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I know, from my involvement in the birth and on-going struggles of a number of Muslim organizations, the intense need for rules of order that Muslims can understand and easily accept. Yet, I have no doubts that this volume, which seeks to fulfill that purpose, will raise eyebrows. Non-Muslims will wonder why the widely adopted Robert’s Rules of Order will not suffice, while certain Muslims will protest, “Are not the Qur’an and the Sunnah sufficient for us?”
Robert’s Rules could be, and has been, incorporated into the governing rules of Muslim organizations. Such terminology or provisions as some Muslims deem unIslamic may be overridden by express clauses in the bylaws or constitution of particular Muslim organizations. My years of experience as Parliamentarian and/or chairman of many organizations (both Muslim and of a general constituency) have convinced me that two problems stand in the way of this actually happening. The first is that there always seems to be an intransigent minority that refuses to believe that a non-Muslim institution (especially one developed by a Western military man, as General Robert was) can possibly be reformed to become a part of an Islamic institution. The second is that Robert’s Rules are in fact truly confusing and cumbersome.
As to the Muslims who object to any “rules of order” as a Western concept, they should learn that the Prophet himself (peace be upon him) negotiated formalized rules in the justly famous Medina compact. Clearly he did not do this because the Qur’an was incomplete, he did it because the Qur’an is not a set of rules of order. When Muslims negotiate the bylaws of their own organizations they are following the Prophet's example. A wise man will understand that one does not wish to burden the drafters of an organization's constitution with articulating all the rules of procedure upon which the members must agree to insure smooth consultation. The Qur’an demands that Muslims engage in shûrah (consultation) in their affairs, yet does not specify precisely how such consultation is conducted. Even if one believes that the Prophet (pbuh) has answered every question of procedure, only an extreme naïf or complete fool would pretend that all Muslims know those answers or agree on their interpretation in every case.
Muslims use modern rules of order all the time when they vote on an issue or when they “make a motion.” There is no virtue in pretending that we do not. What is virtuous is to openly publish the rules by which we operate so that all have a fair and equal opportunity to participate in shuratic process.
other Muslims who have had to wrestle with these issues, especially our
brother Imam Faizal
has convinced me that the solution lies in the
booklet you hold in your hands. Here is a set of rules of order
accord with the Qur’an and Sunnah and yet which borrow freely from those elements
of Western rules
of procedure which are consistent with that basis. Although those who
familiar with Robert’s Rules will be comfortable with the rule outlined here,
I have in fact
relied not on Robert’s Rules,
but on the rules of the
American Institute of Parliamentarians (Sturgis’
Standard Code of
Parliamentary Procedure) as my main resource. Those rules are
more consistent with Islamic principles. The principle differences are
the end of Appendix A.
I believe these rules are workable because they accord with the practice of Muslims in successful American Muslim organizations. Any organization that considers adopting these rules should understand that any particular rule or procedure would be superceded by the organization's own bylaws. Anyone who feels that I have erred in any way (and truly, only Allah is perfect) may put an overriding provision in their constitution or bylaws.
Finally, I am grateful to Dr. Taha Jabir Al-Alwani for reviewing these rules for consistency with the Islamic law and to the Minaret of Freedom Institute for undertaking this project and to amana publications for publishing this booklet.