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Attributes of an Advisor

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
What is the Islamic ruling on appointing an advisor in a public institution merely to please him, elevate his status or facilitate material benefits for him?

Praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.

One of the duties of an official is to do what is better for the citizens in regards to religion and worldly life. However, he may not be able to perform this difficult mission by himself because of the diverse circumstances of life, which are reflected in the economic, legal, political, religious, social and cultural aspects. Thus, he is at liberty to consult experts who excel at different fields and from here the need was felt for having specialized professionals to help the decision maker take the right decision.

Islam has encouraged seeking counsel where Allah the Almighty said to His Messenger (PBUH)," It was by the mercy of Allah that thou wast lenient with them (O Muhammad), for if thou hadst been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about thee. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And when thou art resolved, then put thy trust in Allah. Lo! Allah loveth those who put their trust (in Him).'{Al-Emran, 156}. He the Almighty also said, "And those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them,'{Ash-Shura, 38}.

In these verses, Allah has made clear the advantages of consultation, commanded adopting it and made it an attribute of the believing slaves. Al-Razi said, "The apparent meaning of the command is obligation." At-Tahir Ibn Ashoor said, "The obligatory consultation commanded here relates to the affairs and interests of the Muslim nation." Allah commanded Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to seek counsel although he is the most perfect of His creatures and receives the revelation from Him. Thus, what about others! According to scholars, Allah commanded His Prophet (PBUH) to seek counsel to set a good example for others to follow and turn that into a common practice.

The wisdom behind seeking counsel is to choose the best way to achieve common good of the Muslim nation through following the decision that the specialized professionals feel right and agree upon.

The person whose counsel is sought about the affairs of the Muslim nation must fulfill several conditions:

1-Justice, good manners, honesty and righteousness.

2-Knowledge in Sharia sciences and the ability to differentiate between what Allah has made lawful and what He has made unlawful.

3-Expert in his field.

4-Reasonable, prudent and not easily overwhelmed by emotions.

5-Not a follower of whim, innovation or personal benefit.

6-Even-tempered and careful.

7-Conscious of the huge weight of the responsibility he is shouldering and that he will be called to account for the opinions that he gives.

8-Spares no effort in offering advice to the ruler since he is entrusted to do so. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "He who is consulted is trustworthy."{Related by Tirmithi}.

It is imperative that these conditions are taken into consideration upon appointing advisors. Moreover, whoever appoints an advisor who doesn`t fulfill these conditions incurs sin.

In addition, it is forbidden to appoint someone as an advisor to please him, elevate his status or make him benefit materially. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The deen (religion) is naseehah (advice, sincerity).” We said, “To whom?” He (PBUH) said, “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.” [Muslim].

It is incumbent upon an advisor to do his job with sincerity and kindness and not worry about criticism. His motto in life and work should be the words of the Prophet (PBUH), who said, " Indeed, Allah loves one who when he does a work, he does it with itqan(Proficiency). {Related by Al-Baihaqi in Sho`ab Al-Eman}. And Allah the Almighty knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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