Difference Between Shura and Democracy

Shura vs Democracy

Democracy is a system of governance that is made up of elected or nominated representatives of the people. Democracy is very popular around the world and is an accepted form of governance across societies and cultures. Shura is a word that means consultation and deliberation. It is an Arabic word that describes a process of decision making in Islam. The manner in which the word is described and explained makes it very similar to the concept of democracy. However, many remain confused between Shura and democracy on account of literal meanings of the two words. This article takes a closer look at the two concepts to come up with their differences.


The most basic definition of democracy is that it is a rule by the people, of the people, and for the people. People are allowed to vote for candidates making a choice between several for a single seat in the legislative assembly or the parliament. The chosen representatives raise the voice of the people in the assembly and make laws keeping their interests in mind. Thus, democracy becomes a tool in the hands of the people to govern themselves. The most common forms of democracies in the world are parliamentary and presidential. While USA is a presidential democracy with the President being the highest elected representative of the people, India is the best example of parliamentary form of democracy with the Prime Minister of the ruling party being the leader of the government.


Shura comes from Arabic where it means extracting honey from hives. The word also has secondary meanings that pertain to deliberation and consultation. If we go by linguistics, Shura is no more than a procedure to make decisions. However, western people get a feeling that Shura is a concept very similar to democracy that is the rule of the people. But Shura has nothing to do with political decision making and nowhere has it been described as compulsory in Muslim systems of governance. It is a mere procedure of decision making, and it can be used at any level and not necessarily by political rulers. Though the word has been described a few times in Quran, Shura is not completely a Muslim concept. It was practiced even before the arrival of Islam.

What is the difference between Shura and Democracy?

• Democracy is purely a western concept and ideal form of governance though, in reality it is never ideal.

• Democracy can be parliamentary or presidential.

• Shura is an Arabic word meaning deliberation or consultation.

• Shura is mentioned in Quran, but it is not purely an Islamic concept as it was in existence, in several tribes even before the arrival of Islam.

• Shura cannot be compared with democracy as it is not a political system or a system of governance.