A Trait of True Leadership
Originally published on Mathabah.org
By Imam Mazhar Maḥmood
It is of utmost importance for community leaders; be it faith based or otherwise to have unity and tolerance amongst themselves. With the absence of unity, tolerance and harmony, communities; nay nations cease to exist.
At times, community leaders fall prey to the negative tendencies of human nature, which encompass egoistic elements. This causes them to unnecessarily point fingers at one another and point out shortcomings. This henceforth gives birth to chaos, hatred, bigotry and intolerance.
The giant scholar and the reformist of the fifth century, Imām Abū al Faraj ‘Abd al Raḥmān al Jawzī al Qurashī al Baghdādī (may Allāh have mercy on him) highlights the reverence community leaders of the past possessed for one another. This is recorded in an introductory chapter [Titled: The Scholars Yearning For The Hereafter Possess Love, Not Animosity] of his renowned personal manuscript, Ṣayd Al Khāṭir, in which he noted down inspirational thoughts.
He writes as follows:
“The Leaders Yearning For The Hereafter Possess Love, Not Animosity.”
“I pondered upon the reason behind the animosity among leaders, and found it to comprise of egoistic elements which encompasses the love of this ephemeral life. Leaders who yearn for the hereafter possess love, not animosity.”
“Allāh Almighty describes the faithful leaders in the Qur’ān, “They entertain no desire in their hearts for things bestowed to their contemporaries (i.e, they are content with whatever they possess, and show no greed or jealousy towards those whom the Almighty has blessed with affluence [in skills, positions, or material wealth]).” (Qur’ān 59:9)
“The Almighty also states, “Those [among the believers] who came after [accepted faith after] their predecessors would invoke the Almighty saying, “Our Lord! Forgive us, and our brethren who advanced towards faith before us, and leave not malice in our hearts against those who have believed.” (Qur’ān 59:10)
Examples of Genuine Leadership:
Abū al Dardā’ (may Allāh be pleased with him) would invoke the Almighty every night for the well being of his Companions.
Imām Aḥmad bin Al Ḥanbal (may Allāh’s mercy be upon him) once said to the son of Imām Al Shāfi’ī (may Allāh’s mercy be upon him), “Your honourable father is among the six luminaries for whom I invoke the Almighty every night.”
The prime distinction between the two groups (i.e, genuine and assumed leaders) is that the leaders who yearn for the worldly pleasures perpetually have their eyes on power. Their ultimate preference is to accumulate wealth and to receive complements.
“Greed for power and wealth cause tremendous amounts of moral deterioration, rancour resulting in the perpetrating of all sorts of evil.”
As for the leaders who yearn for the hereafter, they not only prefer abstaining from what the former seek, but concentrate upon being successful despite the temptations and tests of materialism and ego. This group is also sympathetic towards those who have been tested, learning lessons of steadfastness in the midst of challenges.
Genuine leaders pray and provide assistance for one another. This is due to the fact that they admire the fruitful efforts of one another. Hence, the passing of days and nights becomes their path to paradise.” (Ṣayd Al Khāṭir)
May Allāh Almighty ignite the spirit of love, unity, tolerance and reverence among our leaders which He bestowed to our pious predecessors. Āmīn!