Seek counsel and consultation

Sura Shuraa verse 42:38. And their rule is to take counsel among themselves.

Reflection: This sentence in verse 38 is part of a passage that describes the people for whom the Hereafter will be so much better than the world. One of their qualities is that they seek counsel from one another.

Islam recommends that believers seek advice from each other, and discuss things to get the opinions of others.

Why: When we are in the midst of a situation or a problem, it is often challenging to see the big picture or reflect on how our behaviour is playing out in the situation. Our own self interest and ego often results in tunnel vision, which leads to actions not in our ultimate best interest.

Seeking counsel and consultation from a spouse, a good friend, a trusted colleague or a trained professional at such a time can be hugely beneficial. (There is a reason that the most successful CEOs and leaders all have personal coaches and consultants . . .)

This sounds like a modern idea, doesn't it? Islam has recommended this 14 centuries ago.

Imam Ali (as) said: Whoever seeks advice of the intelligent ones becomes enlightened with the lights of [many] intelligences.(LOVE this - can you imagine, becoming enlightened with many intelligences? How cool is that?)

He also said: It is right that the intelligent one should add to his opinion the opinions of the intelligent ones, and add the knowledge of the wise ones to his knowledge.

The Holy Prophet (saw) himself often consulted his family and companions. He would consult on military strategy from those who were in the trenches. He also established the seeking of counsel as a role model and encouraged it to nurture the wisdom and insight of his followers. Commentators believe that this quality helped the Prophet (saw) win over people and made him a successful leader.

Possible barriers: Shame, ego and stubbornness are perhaps the biggest barriers to seeking counsel. We become very attached to our thoughts and desires and simply do not want anyone to tell us that might be a better way.

When we really want to follow a path and suspect that others whom we trust will give us a different suggestion, we may not want to consult them.

Such thinking itself is a huge sign that we need counsel more than ever!

How: We need to remind ourselves that consultation and counsel are a spiritual injunction from Him.

Far from showing weakness, it is a sign of courage and maturity to consult with others and seek guidance and help when appropriate.

The most difficult part of seeking consultation is the first step. Once we initiate it, though, we experience a huge sense of relief and support.

Ayat in action: If we were living this ayat, we would frequently consult with those who had experience, training or wisdom in dealing with what we may be facing. We would have the courage to ask for help and support and the wisdom to act upon that advice.

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