On Leadership

October 5, 2021

 

 “The Prophet used to sit with his companions as one of them. A stranger would come in but he would not know which of them was the Prophet until he asked and was told.” (Abu Dawood)

While discussing the ideal qualities of a leader Umar (r.a) once said. The only person that is suited for this job is one who is gentle without being weak, and who is strong without being harsh.” True leaders command and are trusted with authority because of their calm oversight and alignment between their words and deeds. In fact, integrity is perhaps the most potent ingredient behind their influence. Living in alignment of what they profess gives them credibility and inspires trust among people because they lead by example. They possess an inner strength and stewardship, and only assert themselves when necessary. Like a shepherd, a true leader makes decisions for the safety, and wellbeing of their flock. Speaking on the same topic, Umar further stated that: “The kind of leader I want is a man who if he is among his people while being their leader, will be thought of (by an outside observer) as nothing more than one of them, and who if he is among them while being nothing more than one of them, will be thought of (by an outside observer) as their leader.”

Popular culture has painted leaders as competitive for positions, and influence, domineering, aggressive and violent. However,  true leaders are not necessarily the biggest or most distinguished members within a group. In fact, if an individual has to bully, suppress and attack people into submission, they do not have the qualities of leadership- it actually signals that they are not in control at all. True leaders on the other hand, understand that no value comes from belittling, shaming and bullying, because it leaves people bitter, confused and less likely to improve their own behaviour. They work intimately with the people they lead to understand them and with this knowledge, they avoid assigning responsibilities to people that are beyond their ability;

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr who said: I said to the Prophet: Messenger of Allah, “Will you not appoint me to a public office?” He stroked my shoulder with his hand and said: “Abu Dharr, you are weak and authority is a trust. And on the day of judgment it (worldly authority) is a cause of disgrace and remorse except for one who fulfills its obligations and (properly discharges its duties.” [Sahih Muslim]

But they do assign tasks that incite people they care about to stretch their capabilities.  Ultimately,  love and a genuine desire to help them become more balanced is a sine qua non of a true leader:

“I have only been sent to perfect good character.” Musnad Ahmad (8595)

May Allah grant us understanding

 

Adab Ad- Dunyaa wad-Deen p311. Faraaid al Kalaam p111


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