SHAFAQNA-In Islam leadership rests mainly upon two things â€“ Knowledge and Justice.
It is obvious that without sufficient knowledge about the people whom he is to lead, their conditions and requirements, a leader would not be able guide them aright. For this, a leader needs not only right informants but also to remain personally in closer and constant touch with his people and be concerned about their affairs.
Besides unless a leader possesses a full sense of justice and fairplay and is free of constraints of sentiments of blood, commercial, monetory or any worldly attachments, he would not be expected to act fairly and justly with his people nor enjoy their confidence and respect. The olden past history of Iran prior to the advent of Islam has recorded Nawsherwan as the most just and fair-minded person having ever lived in the world. So strict was his sense of justice over the people over whom he ruled that his name became synonymous with JUSTICE. Interesting tales about his rule of justice have been told. During his days of childhood, Nawsherwan had a teacher who was exceedingly farsighted and concious of practical ways of training his students.
Once the teacher without any reason suddenly embarked upon scolding and even canning Nawsherwan. So severe was the beating that he cried loudly and the hatred and prejudice for this remained for ever in his heart. When Nawsherwan grew up and became the king of Iran, he thought of taking a revenge. He called upon that teacher and inquired to know the reasons for that undue punishment and beating during his childhood.The reply from the teacher was:
â€œI noticed that you were paying exceedingly good attention in doing your lessons. I was confident of your ability in future and that you were going to inherit the kingdom after your father had passed away. I preferred to see you taste beforehand the pang of oppression and injustice so that you do no injustice to anyone when you become the king.â€
On hearing this, Nawsherwan was amused and he smiled. When asked wherefrom did he learn the strict and deep sense of justice, Nawsherwan replied:
â€œOnce during the early days of my kingship, I had gone out to the woods for hunting accompanied by my armymen. I witnessed a strange incident. I saw someone hitting a dog with a stone which broke its leg. After a short while I saw a horse galloping by and kicking that man thereby breaking his leg. And hardly a few steps had that horse run when suddenly its leg ran into a ditch and fracturing itself. On watching this sequence of events and the â€œtit for tatâ€, I learnt a lesson that oppression and injustice in this world is swiftly repaid in the same coin hence I resolved to rule and tolerate no injustice whatsoever in my kingdom.â€
So famous did he become as Nawsherwane Aadil (a just ruler) in the world that even the Prophet of Islam is mentioned to have said,
â€œI was born during the time of the just king.â€
What can be concluded from the above tales is that would-be leaders need to be trained to inculcate in their minds the deep sense of acting justly and fairly with all people.
THE OUTLOOK OF A LEADER
What sort of an outlook should a leader of an institution have can best be learnt from the following words of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as). In his detailed letter of instructions to his last Governor designate of Egypt Malik bin al-Harith al-Ashtar:
â€œYou should avoid self admiration having reliance in what appears good in yourself and love or exaggerated praise because this is one of the most reliable opportunities for satan to obliterate the good deeds of the virtuous.â€
A self-esteemed and over-confident leader is not likely to listen to the views of people nor would he tolerate their criticisms. As such he may run the risk of misjudgement and taking dangerous decisions harmful to their welfare. And if he also succumbs to flattery and cheap praise of people around him, he is likely to become biased and act unfairly. Therefore the paramount need for a leader is to inculcate in himself a sense of deep humility if he is to succeed.
â€œAvoid showing (the existence of) obligation on your subjects for having done good to them or praising your own actions or making promises and then breaking them because showing obligation destroys good, self-praise takes away the light of truth and breaking promises earns the hatred of Allah and of the people.â€
Obviously a kind act loses its charm and reward from Allah when done under obligation because of impure aim. The one who is accustomed to exaggerate in his own words is not truthful and would not easily be trusted. And the one who is in the habit of breaking promises is not only liable to be mistrusted but also to earn hatred of people.
Readers are requested to recite suratul-Fatiha for Marhum Ahmed H Sheriff.
Mulla Mujaheedali Sheriff