STEPPING OUTSIDE THE CULTURE: THE ISLAMIC WAY OF LEADERSHIP By Rohaniza M. Sumndad Leadership is defined in many ways. Richards and Engle define it as articulating visions, embodying values, and creating the environment within which things can be accomplished. Schein refer it as the ability to step outside the culture, while Drath and Plus say that it is a process of making sense of what people are doing together for people to understand and be committed. There have been several studies and concepts about it for years now, may it be leadership roles, traits and theories but do not say much about Leadership in the Islamic Perspective.
Islam, a religion of peace but often misjudged and misunderstood has a very comprehensive concept of leadership that is centered on faith and values according to Allah (God). Often mistaken as a religion of terrorism, its true meaning and principles say otherwise. As a Maranao Muslim myself with the Christian roots of my Mother and being able to deal with all kinds of cultures with my work, I can conclude that Islam is one of the religions that few people understand but has left a negative mark already in their state of minds. Leadership in Islam is not that different as most would think it would be.
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This article intends to give you an overview of a true Muslim Leader and how a Muslim manifests his own kind of leadership. Let us literally take Schein’s definition of leadership of STEPPING OUTSIDE THE CULTURE. We have already been familiarized with the Western Concept of Leadership and acquainted with an increasing number of studies by our own leaders and researchers; it’s about time that we step forward towards understanding the Islamic Way of Leadership with an open mind and heart. The Essence of Islam Islam is a Muslim’s Way of Life. They (Muslims) foster Islamic ideals and values in everything they do.
IT is both a deen (religion) and a code of life that is adherent to Allah’s commands without objections. IT also means “Peace through Submission to Allah” and that a Muslim completely submits oneself to His will. A Muslim also believes in all the prophets and revelations, with Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) as the last prophet who completed Allah’s message to humanity through the Qur’an (sacred scripture of Islam). The two sources of principles and practices that make up Islam are the Qur’an and Mohammad’s (PBUH) example as written in the Hadith (record of actions and sayings of the Prophet and his companions) that constitutes the
Shari’ah (Islamic Law from Qur’an and Traditions). This law includes guiding principles in ways of worship, family, dress, finance and social relationships. Such basic practices of Muslims are called the five pillars of Islam ??? the testimony, offering prayers, paying Zakat (alms-giving to the poor), performing Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah)and Sawm (Fasting) as already indicated in the facts about Islam of Mindanaw Bantula. Leadership in Islam As Islam is a comprehensive system of life, its roots of leadership generally exist in the primary and secondary resources of the Shari’ah in addition to the early practices of the early Muslims.
With this concept, a leader in Islam is said to be not free to act as he chooses, nor must he submit to the desires of others — he must act in accordance to Allah’s laws like how Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) exemplified his kind of leadership. Allah said in the Qur’an, “And We made them leaders guiding men by Our Command and We sent inspiration to do good deeds, to establish prayers and to practice charity; and they constantly served Us only”(Qur’an 21:37). It is a trust both guardianship and service-oriented that denotes doing what’s best for your people, protect them and treat them in a just manner.
The main focus of leadership in Islam is doing positive actions for the sake of Allah and the whole of humanity — as a man and a woman go along the journey of life, they both begin to hold an ideal of selflessness centered on faith and service of humanity. One of the main principles, which Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) taught Muslims, is the principle of leadership through service. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, “A ruler who has been entrusted with the affairs of the Muslims, but makes no endeavor for their material and moral upliftment and is not sincerely concerned or their welfare will not enter Paradise along with them” (Al Bukhari, 1997).
Principles of Islamic Leadership According to the research conducted by Adnan Aabed of Brigham Young University, in Islam, the two main roles of leadership based on the Shari’ah are servant-leader role and guardian-leader role. In these roles, certain leadership principles and traits constitute the Islamic leadership principles: 1) Leadership in Islam is rooted in the belief and willing submission to the Creator, Allah. It centers on serving Him (Beekun and Badawi, 1999). Iman (faith in God), Islam (Peace and Submission), Taqwa (inner consciousness of a person toward Allah), and Ihsan (love of Allah) re the four moral bases of Islamic Leadership (Beekun and Badawi, 1999). The degree of commitment of the organization’s leader to ethical conduct is very important to influence the followers and the organization in a positive way. 2) Leaders have to provide direction (a vision) to their organization. 3) Leaders should communicate their vision to others in ways designed to generate strong commitment needed to serve as a support to achieve the desired goals. 4) Leaders have a major role in creating and maintaining the culture of the organization (Jabnoun, 1994).
From an Islamic perspective, culture is a system of shared values and beliefs that produce norms of behavior (Smircich, 1983) towards achieving the goals and objectives of Muslims within the framework. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) played a vital role in forming the culture of his companions by stressing the importance of the change and purifications of the values and the manners. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “A perfect Muslim is neither a taunter, curser nor an abuser nor one having a long tongue” (An-Nawawi, 1993). It was a culture based on unity of mankind and destiny. ) Leaders have a role of sustaining the organization over the long-term. The Prophet (PBUH) succeeded to defend the sustainability of the Islamic state for many years by achieving continuous cooperation between the Ansar (host) and the Muhajiron (newcomers) and protected the Muslims from troublemakers and hypocrites. Giving satisfaction is a task that leaders use to motivate followers to make greater sacrifices (Aabed 2006). 6) Leaders should maintain the unity and cooperation among the followers in their organization and the momentum of their progress (Safi, 1995, Bangash 2000).
The Qur’an speaks of unity: “O Mankind! We created you from a single pair of male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may seek mutual understanding, not that you despise each other. Indeed, the most honored among you in the Sight of Allah is the one who is the most Godfearing. Indeed, Allah is all knowing, All Aware” (Qur’an 49:13). 7) Leaders should provide space for, and even should invite constructive criticisms (Atalib, 1991; Safi, 1995). Leaders are responsible to encourage the people to speak out their minds.
The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, “Religion is sincere advice. We said. ‘To Whom? ‘ He said. ‘To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, the leaders of Muslims and to their common folk'” (An-Nawawai, 1993). 8) Leaders should be able to initiate, guide and control change in order to achieve the stated objectives. Leaders should take changes in a positive way despite all the negativity around them. Prophet Mohammad’s life in Madinah prevailed over the hypocrites in the ranks of the Muslims and was very consistent in his actions no matter how difficult the situations were.
The Prophet (PBUH) is truly a good example of this principle. 9) Effective Islamic Leaders should have some leadership qualities such as conviction, justice, sacrifice, eloquence, sound decision ???making, etc. According to some researchers, leaders in the Islamic perspective have been identified to have some leadership qualities geared towards the Holy Qur’an. THERE ARE 25 CHARACTERISTICS NECESSARY FOR LEADERSHIP BASED ON THE WAYS AND TRADITIONS OF THE PROPHET (PBUH) AND THE QUR’AN: ABILITY BRAVERY CALMNESS DEPENDABILITY
EXEMPLARINESS FAIRNESS GENUINENESS HONESTY INITIATIVE JUDGEMENT KNOWLEDGE LIBERALISM MODESTY NOBILITY ORGANIZATION PERSONALITY QUALITY RESPONSIBILITY SACRIFICE TEAMWORK UNDERSTANDING VERSATILITY WISDOM YOUTHFUL ZEAL A Leader may it be in different strokes or folks, from North to South, Black or White, Muslim or Christian or how different one seem to be, it just says one thing ??? SERVICE FOR HUMANITY A True Leader does not seek for his own interest but for the best . welfare of others.
He does not serve for himself but for what God made him to do so. It is only God, Allah, Bathala or may it be other different names that you call HIM that tells our purpose and mission in this world. As Morshed Abul Ala would define Islamic Leadership, “It is leading and serving humanity to the way of Allah the Almighty”. This definition just shows our commonality. YOU and ME are different, but that’s just a part of life. The fact is our humanness connects us. It is what makes us step outside our culture, just like what you did now…