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

DR.PASHA | August 18, 2003 | Section: Articles | 2075 reads

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That is the law of this world – the law of nature and of nature’s God, as Thomas Jefferson would put it.

And it is Sunnatullah, as the Qur’an puts it in Soorah Al-Isra’, 17, Ayah 77.

This does not mean that Muslims change their Deen – the way of life that Allah chose for them and for everyone else.

What it means for Muslims is studying their environment carefully and scientifically; understanding it as clearly and fully as possible; and mastering the skills, techniques and technologies – physical, social, cultural, political, financial, economic, legal, electronic, other – needed to master the environment and optimize its use.

Nor should the Muslims forget the historical context – how Islam and Muslims are juxtaposed at a given time and place to all other peoples and cultures around them at that particular point in human history.

People and societies so juxtaposed have mutual obligations and rights, according to Islam.

Without an adequate understanding and harnessing of one’s environment, human beings compromise their power to act rationally. Instead of being the masters of the environment, they become its slaves and victims.

In other words, they simply lose the power to be Muslims – effective, successful, real Muslims.

Much of Islam then becomes a cliché and Muslims end up being either fatalistic robots or rebels without focus or direction with little to guide their steps or fuel their fire except a generalized disgruntlement with the world – the environment.

Many of them at that point seek a quick escape to the next world instead of living their lives to the full on this earthly abode, of which Allah made them the masters and vicegerents – a life full of compassion and benefit to all the denizens of this world, human as well as nonhuman.

A proper grasp of one’s space-time coordinates, therefore, is a critical requirement for living a successful life on earth in any truly meaningful sense of that expression.

It is also a critical requirement if anyone has to become a successful practitioner of Islam.

Good and great leaders, Muslim or otherwise – and successful people in general – have a great sense of their environment and of the times in which they live.

Leadership without a proper grasp of space-time coordinates is generally a formula for failure. And it does not matter whether that leadership is Muslim or non-Muslim.


Leadership Crisis in the Modern World

The modern world is a leadership world. For, there is a general leadership crisis – and paucity of good leadership – in the world today – among both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Everywhere, people are paying a heavy price for leadership that is flawed, tainted or inadequate, either by design or default.

Islam and Muslims are among the foremost and major victims of flawed leadership.

This is ironic because Islamic teachings provide all the leadership ideas and methods anyone would ever want. But sometimes Muslims are among the last to know about some of these things – which again comes down to the question of leadership.

In general, Muslims have not been able to produce the kind of leadership that will transform Muslim groups, organizations and societies into models of political, economic, cultural, social and technological success. Even though numerous Muslim individuals have attained great personal success in these areas.

Yet, Muslim history is full of examples of great leaders who had a major impact not only locally but also globally, not only on their own people, but also on others.

Nor are the non-Muslims immune to the problems of flawed or tainted leadership.


Leadership Failure: Some Examples

The scandals that have rocked a predominantly non-Muslim Wall Street in the United States, so persistently over the past few years, are a glaring example of leadership failure – economic, social, religious as well as political.

Examples include Savings and Loans bailouts of the past and the energy giant Enron and the communication giant WorldCom crises of the present (2001-2002).

They are joint manifestations of corporate corruption and greed on the one hand and regulatory ineptitude, oversight failure and political expediency on the other hand. They are at bottom failures of the nation’s moral fiber.

They are all problems of the failure of leadership at all levels.

Regardless of their specific cause – or combination of causes – the fact is that these leadership failures have ruined countless lives and families.

So also, problems of pollution, environmental degradation, inadequate healthcare, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, violence, discrimination and police brutality are all traceable, at least in part, to problematic leadership at one level or another.

And so were the attempted genocide, some years ago, of Bosnian Muslims and mass rapes of Bosnian women in organized rape camps as instruments of war at the hands of Serbian war criminals – leadership failures on the part of the United Nations, NATO, the mass media and their affiliate or parent nations and societies.

Similarly, an essential failure of political, cultural and moral leadership locally and globally lies at the heart of the persistent massacres of Indian Muslims by Hindu mobs in India. These massacres, largely ignored by the various echelons and varieties of world leadership, take the form of repetitive pogroms that border on genocide.

Failure of Muslims in many parts of the world to break out of a culture of poverty, ignorance and corruption is also indicative of a generalized leadership failure at a number of levels on the part of the Muslims – at the level of government as well as at the level of cultural, business, communication and religious organizations and elites.

Muslim leadership in the West – Europe, America and the Caribbean – and elsewhere has plodded to keep pace with a world that spun around them with whirlwind speed. Little wonder it could not stop, forestall or foresee a global catastrophe of the nature and dimensions of Nine Eleven.




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