SHAFAQNA-Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as)Â is reported to have said:
â€œThe means of securing leadership is a generous heartâ€
What it means is that a good leader needs to have a kind and munificent but discerning heart whereby he does not act with emotion, does notÂ take hasty decisions, nor does he come under easy influence of others who may be trying to poison his ears. Being ever concerned with exercising fairplay and differentiating between what is right and wrong, he persistently displays forbearance and thinks more while he speaks less.
An ideal and true leader does not harbour in his heart personal interests or such inclinations and attachments which are likely to influence his decisions. His primary concern is the welfare of his people and pleasure of Allah. He does not worry about what people say or criticize on the mode and course of his action.
His motto is always service and not self-interest or self-glory. He acts calmly when faced with crises and with far-sightedness lest he aggravates a situation. He also aims at maintaining unity among his people even at the sacrifice of his own interest.
STRAIGHT WAYS OF LEADERSHIP
During his Caliphate, Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as) was once approached by frustrated well-wishers with a suggestion to bring down the treacherous and usurper Muaâ€™wiyah, his arch enemy, by means of some tricks and conspiracy. The Imam replied by explaining that divine laws and commands could only be exercised by the one who fulfils three conditions:
One who does not conspire and play tricks in the affairs of people.
One who abstains from falsehood and does wrap the garb of untruth over his action.
One who does not cast covetous eyes over properties of people.
From the foregoing, we learn that dishonest ways of dealings are anathema at all times even when facing an enemy. Concealing true nature of oneâ€™s actions and presenting false picture is undesirable and one should never cherish selfish interest in the properties of others. Should he not be free of such base character, he would not command respect and trust of the people whom he leads.
FAIR DEALING WITH PEOPLE
When Imam Ali (as) appointed Mohammed bin Abi Bakr as governor of Egypt, he gave him comprehensive instructions in regard to dealings with people during the course of his duties as their leader. The essence is:
-Behave humbly with people.
-Keep yourself lenient and meet with them whole-heartedly.
-Accord them equal treatment so that the affluent do not expect unjustified favour from you.The needy and the poor do not get disappointed of your justice.
Once during his reign as Caliph, Imam Ali (as) had proclaimed from the pulpit that he would not discriminate even by one dirham in the process of distribution of â€œBaytul-Maalâ€ (the state treasury).All were to be treated equitably. From the gathering, a very close relative of Ali stood up and yelled and irritably asked whether he too, was going to be treated on equal basis as a black man in Madina.
Being terribly annoyed with such an unfair question, Imam Ali (as) reacted sharply by asking him to sit down. He then asked him what superiority could be expected in Islam except on basis of Taqwa (piety), provided he had it.
For anyone to suggest discrimination on the basis of color or any high status in life was so abhorring to Imam Ali (as) that it made him react sharply. He condemned it on the spot even though it was raised by his own close relative among the people present. This shows the paramount importance for a leader to exercise absolute fairplay and justice.
â€œHave control over (your) sense of prestige, any outburst of anger, the might of your arm and sharpness of your tongue. Guard against all this by avoiding haste and by delaying severe action till your anger subsides and you regain your self-control. You cannot withhold yourself from this unless you bear in mind that you have to return to Allahâ€.
Anger has been described as a kind of madness. One who is overtaken by a fit of anger tends to lose self-control and act harshly and unfairly.
Imam Ali (as) advises leaders to exercise control over their tempers and accustom their minds to this by constant remembrance of Allah that to Him is the ultimate return when they would have to account for their misdeeds and injustice to others.
Readers are requested to recite suratul-Fatiha for Marhum Ahmed H Sheriff
Mulla Mujaheedali Sheriff