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LEADERSHIP: What Is It and How to Deal with It? [Part One]

DR.PASHA | August 18, 2003 | Section: Articles | 2054 reads

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For those who don’t believe in Islam, leadership is simply the difference between success and failure; between poverty and prosperity; and between life and death.

Leadership is integral to Islam – unbeknownst, alas, like so many other wonderful things to which Islam is home, to many Muslims.

And, of course, to most non-Muslims.

But in Islam, leadership is simply part of being a Muslim. It is part of a Muslim’s everyday life. It is part of every Muslim’s core belief and behavior – at least in theory if not in practice.

But certainly more, also, in practice than most Muslims – or non-Muslims – realize.

And so is the concept, as we indicated earlier, that lies at the heart of leadership – accountability.

It is a concept that is central to Islam on the one hand and to leadership on the other hand.

That is why I said at the beginning of this section that Islam is leadership.

Another way of stating this is to say Islam is accountability.

Muslims are accountable – both before God and his creation – for everything they do in this world, every minute of their earthly existence.


Leadership: A Scale of Fairness and Equality

Another translation of the same basic idea is law and order and a culture and an entire way of life based on laws and principles and not on people and personalities.

That is what Islam is – so little known, alas, by so many people in this world, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

It is also equality of all human beings before the law and the notion of the celebrated blindness of justice.

That means, if you are a leader, you must work to create the best laws and enforce them with an equal hand – upholding the scale of fairness and equality.

“Use a perfectly balanced scale!”
says the Qur’an (Surah Al-Isra’, 17, Ayah 35; Surah Ashu’ara’, 26, Ayah 182).

Elsewhere – in Soorah Arrahmaan, 55, Ayah 8 – the Qur’an places the question of justice, equality, fairness, balance and nonpartisanship in a broader cosmic context.

Here a paraphrase:

He then raised the sky and put down the scale, so that you will not commit
excesses and transgressions against the scale (55:8).

Those with eyes to see can see what a sad transcript the whole of human history is of human transgressions against the scale of justice, fairness and equality created by God.

It is a history of leadership in most instances gone astray.

Islam came to precisely address this lopsided situation in human affairs.

It came to give the long-suffering humanity – denied justice and deprived of equality – a new lease of life.

And a new hope of liberty.

This, therefore, is what Islam is. And this, also, is what leadership at bottom is.

And what applies to leadership also applies to its foil or counterpart – discipline; obedience; respect for authority and for law and order; and, above all, a peaceful, reasoned and negotiated approach to problem solving and conflict resolution.

In fact, a Muslim, by definition, is both a leader and a follower – perhaps more so than in any other system of thought, belief and behavior.

And in either situation – whether as a leader or a follower – goodwill, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, peace, reason, tact, wisdom, the better and the nobler way, are his tools of trade.

Therefore, talking about leadership, anywhere and in any context, is in effect talking about Islam and Muslims.

This is another one of those fading frontiers that Muslims, sadly, are far from crossing. But cross this frontier they must, for, few other peoples of the world are challenged today as seriously, and with more serious or disastrous consequences, than are the Muslims.

Muslims have trouble with the leadership question mostly because many Muslims don’t have a clear understanding of Islam itself – of what it is to be a Muslim at a given time and in a given place.


Riding a Train Called Islam

Most Muslims go through Islam as if they were riding a train.

Often they have no clear idea where the train is headed or even what their own destination is. Nor do they really know why and how they got on the train in the first place.

Many of them even lack proper documents for travel – a valid passport, a visa or a ticket. Many of them are there just because that is where they found themselves – on a train called Islam.

Going who knows where.

It just happens that this thing on which many Muslims find themselves is indeed a train called Islam – and a fast-paced one. And like all high-speed trains in motion, this hyperfast train also is hurtling along at breakneck speed – into the future.

A future few Muslims fully comprehend and fewer still are equipped to deal with.


Islam’s Space-Time Coordinates

This is what I call Islam’s space-time coordinates – and the space-time coordinates of individual Muslims as well as of Muslim groups, organizations and societies.

This is the supreme challenge of being Muslim – understanding and practicing Islam successfully in the environment in which Muslims, as individuals, groups and societies, find themselves.

That means, Islam as it manifests itself in its adherents and in a society at a certain point of time, in a given physical and geographical area, and in a certain cultural environment.

This environment – reality at every time and place – is a dynamic thing. It is always in flux.

Living organisms – humans are at the top of that list and Muslims are right at the heart of the human race – must understand, accommodate, even anticipate and cope with their changing environment if they have to be successful.




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