By Tasnim Nazeer
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Prophet Muhammad (sa) set a great example for us in the way he conducted his life and more importantly the way he led the Ummah. The Prophet (sa) and his Companions showed exemplary leadership skills. We all have leadership positions in our lives, as a parent, head of the family, a manager, or a farmer leading his animals. Effective leadership requires us to be responsible and acquire various positive traits. Here are some leadership lessons that we can learn from the Sunnah:
1. Responsibility is the key
Ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. The head of a people is a shepherd, and he is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of the people of his house, and he is responsible for his flock. A man’s slave is the shepherd of his master’s property, and he is responsible for it. Each of you is a shepherd, and each of you is responsible for his flock.” (al-Adab al-Mufrad; sound) This hadith teaches us the importance of responsibility. We need to understand our leadership roles in life and ensure that whoever we are responsible for is cared for efficiently whether our role is of a parent looking after a child or a manager looking after his employee. Being responsible is part of the Sunnah.
2. Accountability before Allah (swt)
Leadership in Islam is considered to be an Amanah (trust) and therefore those who lead have to understand that they are accountable before Allah (swt). Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an: “To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Whether you show what is within yourselves or conceal it, Allah will bring you to account for it. Then He will forgive whom He wills and punish whom He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:248)
3. Don’t aspire to be a leader
As Muslims, we are advised to not seek leadership or ruling over others. We are instructed to be aware of Allah (swt) in all our actions and be the leaders for the right reasons. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “O Abdur-Rahman! Do not ask for a position of leadership, for if you receive it as a result of asking, you will be left alone with it, and if you receive it without asking, you will be aided in it.” (at-Tirmidhi; authentic) Any good actions we do to take on the responsibility of a leadership role can elevate us to a better position. However, if we deliberately seek to become leaders for fame or to control others, this is against the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa).
4. Have good character traits
It is imperative for the leaders to follow the Sunnah by being honest and considerate of those who they care for or look after whether that is an employee or child. One of the reasons why Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his Companions were such great leaders were because they had exceptional character. Nowadays, many leaders fall prey to arrogance, negligence of those under them, or tendencies to be control freaks. Abdullah ibn Amr reported that the Prophet (sa) was neither coarse nor loud. He used to say: “The best of you is the one who has the best character.” (al-Adab al-Mufrad; sound)
5. Maintain your Salah
Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his Companions were exceptional leaders; they gave immense importance to Salah. The importance of Salah cannot be understated as Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “What differentiates us from the disbelievers and hypocrites is our performance of Salah. The one who abandons it becomes a disbeliever.” (at-Tirmidhi; authentic) Whether you are the leader of a busy family, a manager, or any person of authority, take this important lesson from the Sunnah and maintain your Salah.
Tasnim Nazeer is an award winning Freelance Journalist/Writer and Author who has written for a variety of print and online publications including CNN International, The Muslim News, Your Middle East, Islam Channel and many more. She was awarded The Muslim News Award for Excellence in Media 2013 and is an UN Universal Peace Federation Ambassador for Peace. For more information, visit her website at www.tasnimnazeer.com or follow her on Twitter: @tasnimnazeer1
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© IIPH 2015