By Omer As’ad Bajabar
The position of Leadership in Islam comes with great responsibility. A leader has the ultimate responsibility of Safety, Justice, and Welfare of his people. The privileges and power that come with the position of Leadership are for the service of the people, and in no circumstances can it be abused and misused for personal benefits or the benefits of his family or friends.
The teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet have laid out unambiguous instructions about the role and responsibilities of a leader. No person can assume the role of Leadership without the explicit acceptance of the people he is leading. It is the responsibility of the people to select (or elect) capable people to the position of trust.
A position of trust is any position that handles the collective responsibility of Muslims. It can be as small as leading people of a locality or as big as leading a nation. Allah SWT has ordained Muslims in Quran to elect/select a person who is most capable of that position. And the above instruction is immediately followed with a clear command for the leader. The requirement of a leader is that he must do justice between people. (Quran, An-Nisa -58)
A leader must spend all his capabilities in the welfare of his people and must remember the day of reckoning when he will stand all alone in front of his Lord and will be accounted for every action. None of his actions will be hidden from his Lord, and he will have no place to hide.
I spend the better part of my life studying history, especially Muslim history. Whenever I dig deeper to find reasons of major failures in our history, be it the loss of Jerusalem to Crusaders in 1099 AD or the fall of Baghdad in 1258 AD, or loss of Andalus in 1492 AD or the fall of Delhi to British Raj in 1857 AD or the current times when Muslims are facing existential threats. Each time, I found the reasons of failures were more internal than external. Yes, there were external factors too, but never external factors alone could bring such a horrible defeat. All these failures were the culmination of decades of decadence in morality and ethics; rampant injustice, corruption, promiscuity, cowardice, miserliness, and nepotism. Such filthy attributes became the norm of life. The rich were not compassionate towards the poor.
And whenever Muslims returned to the path of the Quran and Sunnah, implemented Islamic character in their lives, and chose Trustworthy people to the position of Leadership, they successfully defeated their enemies. They were superpowers for the better part of their history.
At a time when Indian Muslims are facing their darkest period of history and time ahead looks more challenging, it is critical that they realize the serious situation and take immediate measures to address it. The negative attributes in leadership ranks, which historically brought us so much misery and pain sadly, exist today in full glare among Muslim Leaders in India.
Individuals, groups, organizations, political and religious parties are busy in projecting self at the expense of Ummah and are engaged to earn some worldly benefits at the expense of Muslims. The environment of faithlessness, confusion, fear, and deep materialism and selfishness among rich have adversely impacted the pool of Leadership. The fertile Islamophobic situation in the country exasperated it further. Those who are unfit for leadership role became the aspirants of it. Such people became more aggressive, assertive, and shameless to try to achieve their personal goals at the expense of larger benefits of Muslims.
Love of this World over Akhira is the root cause of all evils. Any person who wishes to be a leader of Muslims at any level must realize the immense responsibility he would assume and the serious test that position will impose on him. And in Hereafter, he would be subjected to strenuous questioning. The fact is that most leaders would fail in their responsibilities, and the position of Leadership would bring them nothing but shame and punishment.
Except those who had no desire to force themselves on people and have been selected (elected) by the free will of the people because of their talent and capabilities, without any coercion. And after been given the leadership role, they worked hard and tried their best to fulfill the responsibilities, God willing, they would be among those whom Allah will help and will send HIS Nusra as HE had sent to HIS Prophet SAW and rightly guided servants before.
No one must assume any leadership position of Muslims affairs unless he meets the below requirements:
1-The intention behind assuming the leader position must be to please Allah SWT and to serve people.
2-He must possess the leadership qualities, expertise, wisdom, courage, and willingness to sacrifice self-interest for the larger benefit of people.
3-He must realize that once he assumes any leadership position, he will be subjected to higher standards than a non-leader person and will have no privacy, like that of an ordinary citizen. He will be accountable to people for all his actions.
4-He must be able to resist favors, bribes, and threats that would come his way to change his just stand.
5-He must exert all efforts which are humanly possible. The day he feels that he cannot fulfill the requirement, he must leave that position and allow Muslims to choose the best candidate for it.
6-All his finances (and finances of his immediate family members) must be made public each year and audited for any wrong doings.
8-None must be treated above the law; leaders are the first to surrender to the law of land.
The current leadership situation is anything but desirable and to expect leaders who are inept to leave themselves is like day dreaming. Muslims must develop parallel leadership at grassroots level by promoting God-fearing, capable, educated, wise, trustworthy individuals to leadership role. Youth and women must get due representation and empowerment.
If the primary purpose of any person is to earn Duniya. Let him do it elsewhere, there are many avenues for him. The worst people are those who want to earn their living and want to become rich by assuming the position of Leadership and by abusing power and privileges that come with the position. Such people are the worst of mankind, and they will be subjected to the worst punishment in the Hereafter.
Any person who is assuming any position of responsibility of Muslims must first cleanse self of the intense internal drive of fame, name, wealth, and power and replace it with Taqwa, Iman, Wisdom, Love & Fear of Allah, obedience to Prophet SAW and should feel the responsibility towards fellow beings. Muslims are the custodian of ‘The Final message of guidance,’ They will stand trial on this responsibility in Hereafter.
And if a Muslim would like to stand for election in any democratic setup, the above-mentioned requirements are applicable in word and spirit. In such situation, he is representing people of all faiths and if he gets elected, he must treat people of all faith equally with justice and respect. It doesn’t matter they voted for him or against him. He must honor the constitution of the country. He will be held responsible and accountable for his actions not just to the law of the land but also to Allah SWT in Hereafter. He must make sure that all his decisions are based on meritocracy, for the betterment of the people and the country he is representing. Personal gains and favoritism should never be allowed to impede his performance and decisions. Muslims must set an example of good governance, justice, fairness, and transparency. Our beloved Prophet SAW and his rightly guided Caliphs (may Allah be pleased with them) are the best example for Muslim leaders for all time to come.
Indian Muslims have contributed immensely to their motherland India; they are an equal citizen with equal responsibilities and equal rights. This period of severe trials and tribulations will not last long, provided they rise to the occasion and work hard to overcome it and be patient and trust Allah SWT. They must continue calling people towards Truth, being fair in dealings, implementing justice, electing non-corrupt and wise people to leadership roles, working hard towards achieving collective goals, taking care of the poor, and seeking help from Allah SWT. If they develop these attributes, there is no reason for them not to succeed. Allah SWT has promised that HIS Nusra is for those who strive hard in HIS path.
Today Muslims should live a life of purpose ready to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of Allah, His Apostle, His Deen, and for Justice and Truth, till we meet our Lord and may they be among the lucky ones who will be welcomed by Angels with following remarks:
O soul that art at rest! Return to your Lord, well-pleased (with your blissful destination), well-pleasing (to your Lord), So enter among My (righteous) servants. And enter into My Paradise. (Quran 89 – 27 to 30).
Brother Omer, spot on , right on target!]
The exemplary criteria of the 4 rightly-guided Khulafa e Rasheedeen like Hadhrat Abubakr Siddeeq Radhiallanhu, Hadhrat Umar Radhiallanhu, Hadhrat Usmaan Radhiallanhu, and Hadhrat Ali Radhiallanhu – the reluctant sincere exemplary brave wise leaders!
Actions speak louder than mere words! Leading by example.