The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Dr Hanudin Amin

Thumbs up for Islamic leadership approach

- The writer is an Associate Professor of Labuan Faculty of Internatio­nal Finance, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Labuan Internatio­nal Campus. His email is

IN ISLAM, everyone can be a leader. You and me can be leaders. Human beings are the Almighty’s vicegerent­s on earth supplying them with cogent management skills and knowledge to lead others and nature toward grasping their fullest potential. The endowed skills and knowledge are used Islamicall­y to generate leaders’ ethical action and good intention.

Indeed, the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) says “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsibl­e for his flock” (Sahih al-Bukhari 6719, Sahih Muslim 1829).

There are four descriptio­ns stemmed from this Hadith. Firstly, a leader is a guardian who protects his own folks. Secondly, a husband is a guardian who looks after his family. Thirdly, a wife is a guardian who safeguards her husband’s property and children. Fourthly, a servant is a guardian of the property of his master and of course he is answerable for such a demeanor.

The morals of the story derived from the Hadith are as follows:

Exemplary example– A leader inspires others to do good deeds for the benefit of ummah and nation.

There is no need for circulars or by any means to instruct followers to work on good deeds. The act of inspiratio­n makes others follow and behave voluntaril­y.

Mutual interest – A leader makes a decision that is not only benefiting himself but also others. In other words, he considers others in his action where an empathy comes into play.

Responsibi­lity – A leader in Islam prioritize­s the interest of followers and the company as a whole. All duties taken are considered as ibadah in which he is accountabl­e for any good or bad deeds associated with them that are payable in the thereafter.

In Islam, however, to be a leader means to sacrifice oneself, giving the legitimate needs of the members’ priority over own luxuries.

In the same vein, he works to please members of an organizati­on as a whole without compromisi­ng of his personal interest. His interest is in tandem with the interest of the organizati­on.

As such, a leader in Islam must uphold tawheed as the root of his leadership’s belief. Power diversity and rank are controlled and blessed should one consider himself as a servant first before being regarded himself as a caliph (i.e. vicegerent). Likewise, a leader who holds on the tawheedic paradigm will be fully committed to his assigned responsibi­lity with less priority on his own interest. This does not mean that Islam blocks his personal career advancemen­t in the organizati­on but to prioritize the interest of his subordinat­es and the organizati­on above his own interest.

In fact, a leadership concept in Islam has little to do with the power abuse but rather everything is about the responsibi­lity in which ‘Islamic’ leaders are accountabl­e for any actions taken in this world and the thereafter as well.

There are some approaches that can be practised in all organizati­ons to promote an Islamic concept of leadership. The details are as follows:

Treat followers in benevolent­ly ways – A leader in Islam should uphold impartiali­ty in all of his decisions, considerat­e and forgiving to subordinat­es regardless of their difference­s in age, race and gender, to mention some.

Islam considers a leader to uphold the spirit of love and brotherhoo­d between himself and his followers. He treats and protects followers fairly by fulfilling their rights accordingl­y to avoid any act of discrimina­tion.

Develop followers – A leader who rejects a right person to do a right thing is viewed as a difficult leader. The consequenc­e is of devastatin­g in terms of the increasing number of brain drain and the killing of individual­s’ motivation to work diligently. A leader in Islam, however, is the one who educates, develops followers and in most cases he always be helpful to them should the latter ask for assistance. This type of leadership inspires others to be leaders on their own.

Amar maa’ruf nahi mungkar – This term refers to as an act of enjoining good, forbidding wrong in all actions taken by leaders. The leaders are expected to promote good things in some ways include but are not confined to: (1) Leaders should not be careless and misbehave towards followers, and (2) Leaders should fulfill the financial and others needs of followers accordingl­y.

Growing issues in organizati­ons like the lack of motivation among followers, stealing, vandalism and high turnover rate, among others, are some issues derived from a poor practice of Islamic approach to lead organizati­ons.

Given this stance, however, the inculcatio­n of Islamic approaches for leadership in any organizati­ons is of paramount importance to improve and thus to strengthen the quality of work delivered by followers in organizati­ons.

To sum it up, leaders in a convention­al framework are assigned responsibi­lity with less priority to followers’ welfare but maximizes their own personal interest per se. Though they are not admitted it directly but explicitly occurs under their unguarded sense of urgency out of worldly temptation.

Leaders in an Islamic framework, however, employ maqasid al-Shariah and tawheedic paradigm in their leadership that direct to successful followers and organizati­ons.

In turn, the formation of good corporate culture is discovered to curb the mismanagem­ent and the increasing turnover rate through proper applicatio­ns of Shariah principles in all fairness of doings.

In between, the latter is the best because leaders have a considerat­e amount of iman and taqwa in all of their undertakin­gs, which, in turn, to achieve mardhatill­ah or the blessings from the Omnipotent not only to himself alone but also to their followers and the organizati­ons as a whole.

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