To lead in Islam means to take the initiative in a relationship with the followers, to actualize tawhid, which also means following and enforcing shari’ah, by achieving justice, socially and politically. In Islam, leadership is an honorably moral activity and a process of communication towards the achievement of a goal. Leaders are primarily distinguished from the followers by the knowledge they have, their commitment to the Islamic principles and their greater moral values. Thus, Islamic leadership establishes depth of reason connecting leaders and followers in actions that suit their needs for a strong sense of community and identity. Neither party should exert any effort to influence or to exploit the other. They are rather involved in a process in which the accomplishment of the ordinary reason is vital. The leader and the led both recognize the objective and agree to strive jointly for its attainment. Since the objective is to discover, they will be motivated through its beliefs and thus are constantly in the act of ‘ibadah’ (worship though not always physical). Hence, practicing genuine leadership in Islam is conceived as an ‘ibadah.
The concepts and theories of leadership originating from culture of the West and consolidated through various research and analysis through their respective secular societies can be classified as the Aqly sources by Islam. Today’s turbulent and complex environment has made the Aqly sources very relevant. But yet the primary source is still Naqly: those extracted from the Al Quran (610 AD), practices of the prophets and the Caliphs, and if not satisfactorily solved, will bring in the outcome from the Aqly sources. The combination of both still prevails and this is what is expected by the majority. Thus leadership perspective can be worlds apart when trying to understand it from the platform taken by Islam. The Naqly sources then would encompass the following:
3.2.1 The West tends to separate and distinguish leadership activities between spiritual and temporal affairs. However, Islam makes no distinction between these two and lays down the rules of human conduct encompassing all spheres of human life. “Religion is not a departmental affair. It is neither mere thought, nor feeling, nor action. It is an expression of the whole man” (Iqbal & Sheikh, 2001). The totality of Islam does not permit politics and leadership to be away of its furrow, nor would it permit them to become a dirty business.
Advice to Rulers and Leaders
This is advice from Allah, may He be exalted, to those who are in positions of authority. They should rule according to the truth and justice revealed from Him, they should not turn away from it and be led astray from the path of Allah. Allah has issued a stern warning of a severe punishment to those who go astray from His path and forget the Day of Resurrection. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibrahim Abu Zur`ah, who read the Scripture, reported that Al-Walid bin `Abd Al-Malik said to him: “Does anyone have the right to question the Khalifah You have read the first Scripture and the Qur’an, and you have understood them.” He replied, “May I speak, O Commander of the faithful” He said, “Speak, for you are under the protection of Allah.” I said, “O Commander of the faithful, are you more dear to Allah, or Dawud, peace be upon him For Allah gave him both prophethood and rulership, then He warned him in His Book:
O Dawud ! Verily, We have placed you as a successor on the earth; so judge you between men in truth (and justice) and follow not your desire — for it will mislead you from the path of Allah).” `Ikrimah said:
((Those shall) have a severe torment, because they forgot the Day of Reckoning.) “They will have a severe punishment on the Day of Reckoning because of what they forgot. ” As-Suddi said, “They will have a severe punishment because of what they neglected to do for the sake of the Day of Reckoning.” This interpretation is more in accordance with the apparent meaning of the Ayah. And Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, is the Guide to the Truth.