1. Islamic politics.
2. Daughter of Ted Hughes

An Arabic word for "consultation"; specifically the duty in Sharia (Islamic law) of the ruler to consult his followers in making decisions. It also refers to the assembly that meets for this purpose.

The duty of shura is founded on two suras (verses) of the Quran in which consultation is explicitly enjoined, and numerous instances in which the Prophet Muhammad did consult his followers; including instances in which he might have disagreed, and which led to failure in battle.

There is no clear agreement among Islamic scholars on numerous key points about shura. These bear on whether a modern Islamic government should more resemble a democracy or a dictatorship.

One of the suras fairly clearly says the Imam (ruler) must consult, but the other reads more as if he may or should consult.

Secondly, who should be consulted? All the faithful, or only men and not women, or only clerics, or only those with expertise in the matter under discussion, such as military affairs?

Thirdly, upon what subjects? Should all decisions of the Imam be put out to shura? This seems similar to the way Western governments can dispute over how much power parliamentarians and cabinets have to speak for their constituents, or whether a referendum may be necessary.

Fourthly, is the result of the consultation binding on the Imam? Again, the examples of the Prophet's behaviour do not make this entirely clear for modern scholars.

This is particularly pertinent right now, when the Emir of Afghanistan has summoned a Shura to discuss the fate of Osama bin Laden. Clerics have asked him to remove himself voluntarily from the country. Before this decision, outside observers felt the Shura would rubber-stamp the wishes of the Taleban leadership. It remains to be seen where Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Emir, stands on how bound he is by the shura. The Shura is a traditional form of assembly in Afghanistan, parallel to the secular loya jirga.

More detailed discussions of this may be found at two interesting websites:
http://www.salaam.co.uk/knowledge/shura.html (April 2003: Rats, the "knowledge" section no longer holds the old Shura article)

Shura (1965-1969) was the daughter of Ted Hughes and Assia Wevill. It was Assia that Ted was having an affair with when his wife Sylvia Plath committed suicide in 1963. On 25 March 1969 Assia doped Shura with sleeping pills, turned on the gas, and lay down with her on a mattress. Hughes's 1970 collection Crow, the blackest of all his works, is dedicated to the memories of Assia and Shura.