What is leadership? Does Islam guide Muslims about how to become a good leader? Most people ask this question often. The answer to these questions is easier to find because two sources of law In Islam, the Quran and Sunnah guide us about leadership and the qualities of a good Muslim leader at various places. Apart from Quran and Sunnah, the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and His companions is a more practical guide for the concept of leadership in Islam.
Nowadays, terms of leadership, qualities of a good leader, etc. are more in demand in many national and international organizations. Apart from modern trends, leadership was important in history as well. As Islam is a perfect code of life, it guides all aspects of humanity. Hence, it guides about leadership.
Who is a leader?
Here arises the need to first understand who is a leader? A leader is any person who has someone or something under his influence. For being a leader, you don’t need to have millions of followers who follow you or hundreds of people who work under your supervision. You are a leader even if you are leading your family, a group of people, or your two-three colleagues. Hence, being a leader, you must practice justice and equity.
What is leadership?
The term leadership is widely understood in a broader sense. For example, leaders of states or countries. In Arabic, the appropriate word for a leader is 'Imam’. He is the leading person who leads others while following his religion. There are many characteristics of personality connected to a leader in Islam. For example, Truthfulness, Amanah, justice, equity, humbleness, and most important the religion embedded in his personality.
According to Islam, a leader is not appointed by people but it is the appointment of Allah that he selects few for leading others. In this case, when a leader is appointed by God, leadership is a responsibility of a Muslim that Allah assigns him.
Everyone is a leader in Islam:
This phrase seems a bit illogical but no, it is justified. Islam prefers community over individualism and it is important for the maintenance of the community that every person feels responsible. When everyone is a leader, he is abided to follow all those rules and regulations that a leader has to follow. In the same way, he has to take care of the community as a leader does. The following hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) explains this concept in the following words:
“Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. No doubt, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.”
Qualities of a good leader:
A good leader possesses some qualities that make him different from others. These qualities enable him to influence others and lead them in the right direction. There are some of those qualities:
A leader should have some personal characteristics i.e., Taqwah (Fear of Allah), Hikmah (being able to make wise decisions), Adl and Rahmah, Shura (The process of consultation with Ulma and leaders of other institutions. i.e., Army, etc.), resolution and decisiveness, the spirit of sacrifice and Sabr. When a leader exhibits all these personal qualities, where he needs to do some actions of collective well-being. For instance,
1. A greater vision
2. Long-term policies
3. Understanding of the needs of people
4. Flexibility in strategic actions over time
5. Social well being
6. Decentralization of authority
When a leader possesses the above-mentioned qualities and practices them properly, he is a leader in true sense.