[Joseph] said, “Appoint me over the storehouses of the land. Indeed, I will be a knowing guardian.” (12:55)
And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect. (18:28)
And We have certainly given you, [O Muhammad], seven of the often repeated [verses] and the great Qur’an.
Do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to [certain] categories of the disbelievers, and do not grieve over them. And lower your wing to the believers. (15:87-8)
Sura Shuara 215-220
And lower your wing to those who follow you of the believers.
And if they disobey you, then say, “Indeed, I am disassociated from what you are doing.”
And rely upon the Exalted in Might, the Merciful,
Who sees you when you arise
And your movement among those who prostrate.
Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.
So by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].
Trustworthy and Fit For The Job
The first ayat recited belongs to Sura Yusuf. Yusuf (as) come out of prison as a result of interpreting dreams and when he was brought before the king not only did he establish his innocence but he actually presented his resume. Yusuf (as) actually asked for the job. He wasn’t given the job, he asked for it. He basically said, ‘Make me the treasurer. I would like to be the treasury secretary of Egypt, and here’s why; ‘Innee Hafeezun Ameen.’ ‘First of all I’ll guard this responsibility meaning, I’ll take it seriously and I won’t sleep on the job. I won’t have lame duck sessions in my congress. I’ll be honest about my job and I know what I am doing. The current guys around you are a bunch of jokers, they will make a mess of this issue and it will create a fiscal crisis and people will die. So I need to take care of this business and I’ am qualified to handle it.’
So leadership is essentially about confidence. Too little and it’s not leadership but too much confidence and you have arrogance. But I before you take up a leadership role you need to understand that you and I are essentially abd or slaves to Allah which is the lowest position you can have. But when you realize that Allah has given you certain talents and abilities then it is your duty as a slave to use those talents to the best of your abilities. And if that means you have to take a position of leadership, so be it. If nobody is going to stand up and take the job, you have to take the job. That is not arrogance or greed but being true to what Allah has given you. Arrogance is when you are obsessed with holding your title or post and can’t let it go. The motivation Yusuf (a.s) has for leadership is because it is going to save lives not because he likes the treasury secretary or minister of finance post. He’s not in it for the titles. He wants to save lives. That’s true leadership. Not being in it for its own sake but for the sake of providing a service. If you truly believe you have something to offer in leadership, go for it.
Allah has created some of you natural born leaders. Kids cut class when you cut class in school. You are a leader. People go to the restaurant you suggest. They don’t go to any other. You are leader. You have a personality that is charismatic people look up to you, listen to you, and do what you say. You are a leader. You have influence over the opinions of others. You are a leader. Allah has given leadership qualities to some and not to others. And some of you are not leaders. Some of you are extremely good followers. You guys are like machines. And you should acknowledge and accept that as a gift from Allah because the world doesn’t just work on leaders. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians will lead to problems and too many cooks will spoil the both. So the world needs good followers too. Some of you are neither followers nor leaders. You need to do istighfar and find yourself, because you need to do something and you need to fit somewhere.
The qualities which Yusuf (as) described about himself which justify his leadership role are hafeez and ameen. He will guard and take care of his role seriously and he knows you knows what he’s doing. So sincerity is implied. if you are a slave of Allah, sincerity does not have to be talked about because it is understood. It is the foundation for all actions but on top of that and to recap, to be a leader you to have two things; a very serious attitude towards the job and knowledge of the job. So religious fervor, piety and Islamic learning, being extremely religious or righteous or being a hafiz of Quran doesn’t mean you are a leader. You may be an extreme Zahid who makes dua for hours and hours, but that does not mean you are a leader, because leadership requires sincerity with the job and knowledge of the job .
Abu Zar Ghifari was so spiritual that the Prophet (s) compared his spirituality to the spirituality of Isa(as) but would not give him a leadership position. He gave it to Saad Ibn Abi Waqqass, an eighteen year old kid who was a natural leader. He got a leadership position. Because the Prophet (s) saw people for what they were.
And that’s another quality of true leader. The ability to recognize and pick a leader from your flock. To see potential in people and say, ‘Hey come here I want you to do this work.’ Allocating talent that’s a quality of leadership. That’s part of management. People do masters degrees and PhDs in human resource management but we have all this and more in the Sunnah of Messenger (s). What an amazing human resource allocator. For example he says, ‘Abu Bakr lead the Salat,’ and he himself prays behind him. That’s producing a leader.
Now we get to the tough part. You see in Islamic law there are two kinds of support; on the one hand you have the volunteers for an organization and on the other financial, social support , advertising support which usually come from the donors or from some celebrity who is going to come and give your organization a boost. In the case of the Prophet (s) he’s got the sahabah who are his volunteers and then he’s hoping if some of the leadership of the Quraish become Muslim then it will give Islam a huge boost. If even one celebrity from Makkah becomes a Muslim that’s a big deal. How much help did we get from Umar ® becoming a Muslim? It was a big deal. Even Abu Zar Ghafari ® becoming a Muslim was a big deal.
Volunteers Most Important Assets
Now the ayat under discussion are from Surah Kahf. They say, ‘You remain patient with those who call upon their Master day night, they only want his face, they only want to see Allah.’ As for the Sahabah that are poor Allah instructs the Prophet, ‘Don’t allow your eyes to turn away from them . Don’t pay too much to the leaders. In other words, don’t start getting over-concerned with them thinking, ‘I want the leaders to become Muslim.’ Why was He and are most leaders interested in celebrities. Because leaders have connections or influence.
Allah started the Sura by saying these Sahabah have a connection with me and that should be enough for you. Day and Night they are connected to me. All they want to do is see my face. Those are my people . ‘Don’t turn away from them.’ That’s the most valuable asset you have. In other words don’t be impressed by wealth and status and don’t think that, that will give your organization a boost because sincere volunteers and sincere workers are the biggest asset you will ever have . Don’t overlook this. So a true leader is one who values those grunt or ordinary workers that are neither famous nor rich but are ready to give every bit of their effort for you. You have to appreciate them.
Wala taadoo ankum. Here we are learning about the Prophets (s) as a leader specifically. As leader your job is very sensitive. You might not even realise it. People are always looking at you and people have an emotional attachment to you. so if He (s) pays too much attention to the wealthy, the ordinary Sahabah might start feeling unimportant and may think, ‘I mean we’re here but those rich guys are the really important people.’ And if that feeling of, ‘We are less valuable and they are more valuable sets in, the work or the mission is finished. If they start feeling that the Prophet(s) has more admiration and value for the rich and the powerful, for the big wigs of Quraish and less for us then the mission is over. And the prophet(s) did not even do that. He did not even give that impression. But Allah is so worried about the morale of the Sahabah that he is very tough with the Rasool (s) when it comes to even giving that impression. So much so that He says, to the Prophet (s) ‘Tureedo Zinat Ul Hay tudunya or You want the glitter of the worldy life?’ What does the Prophet (s) want? Does he want this worldly life? No. Does he want kingship? No. He wants Islam to win in this world. But the way Allah said it, is almost like a warning to the Messenger (s) because his standards are really high.
The same thing happens in Sura Abasa. When a blind Sahabi came and the Prophet(s) frowned could he see the Prophet (s)frowning? No. If I frown at you and you can see it, you may get upset, but how is a blind Sahabi going to know that the Prophet(s) is frowning? Is he going to be offended? No. But the standard of leadership is so high that even the remotest possibility that you might make them feel unimportant will not go unnoticed by Allah.
What are we learning? That the Sunna of Prophet(s) as a leader and the Sunna of Allah to perfect Prophet(s) is that you give the highest regard to your volunteers. To the ones who appear most insignificant, the ones who have no official backing or financial clout nor power. All they have to offer you is their sincerity and there dua’s or supplications to Allah. Those are your most important assets. ‘Wa la tu tighna man Agh falna..’ ‘And let me tell you about the other guys you are trying impress. ‘We have made them heedless of our remembrance. He follows only his desires .’
Don’t Run After Superstars
The elites are worthless. They are not worth anything. Don’t way about them. Then look at Sura Hijr, ‘We have given you seven highly prized ones.’ We have given you the Holy Quran meaning, Fatihaa, so Wala tamoodana, ‘Don’t let your eyes turn torwards some groups among them. Don’t even look at their wealth , their strength or their status. But before this Allah (swt) tells, ‘I have given you the Quran, so we shouldn’t go anywhere else. Then He says, ‘Wahfiz Junahaka this is used in Arabic for a bird lowering its wings for its young. It’s used for parents, meaning be humble to parents. He (s) is being told, ‘Be Humble to the Sahabah who are following you.’ The Prophet(s) is being told to be humble (as) to the Sahabah! Please hear me. It’s not incorrect English. It’s not saying to the companions to be humble to the Prophet (s). Allah is commanding his Prophet (s) to be humble to the followers. ‘Whoever follows you from among the believers, be extremely humble to them, be appreciative of them. That’s a command of Allah to his Messenger (s). Don’t look anywhere else these are the people you have to be best to.
Subhanallah look at our leadership. Ameer sahib is yelling at everybody. People are scared of him. He’s intimidating. He’s not humble. He’s not approachable. That’s not the Sunnah of our Prophet(s) and it’s not once that Allah stressed this but twice. Lower you wings is mentioned in Surah Shura again. ‘Humble your wings to whoever follows you among the believers and if they disobey you, tell them I have nothing to do with what you are doing.’ So long as you are with me I will be the humblest to you and if you leave my mission, I will say I have nothing to do with you. I am not going to be an authoritative figure over you. I am not going to do that. This is such a hard thing to internalize.
Then the jewel of it all. If you understand these next few verses then you will understand what it means to a leader in Islam. This one ayat says it all. Sura Al Imran verse 159. Fa be rahmatin min Allah. ‘What incredible unimaginable mercy it is from Allah, That you (s) are lenient towards them.’ (linta lahum).
Dealing With Those Who Get On Your Nerves
You know the Prophet(s) had deep love for his uncle Hamza. And you also know that what happened at Uhud, Hamza ® was made Sahaheed or martyred. Because of the innocent mistake and haste of some Sahabah the loss of seventy Muslim lives including the uncle of the Prophet (s) resulted. The prophet (s) was knocked out. His tooth fell out of his mouth and there was a rumor spread that he’d been killed. The Muslims started giving up on the battlefield. Finally he got up and then he had to make a humiliating retreat up the mountain. ‘You were climbing up and not tuning back see anybody.’ Was that humiliating or what? The messenger is calling you from behind you ( Fasssbakum) Then Allah hit you with calamity upon calamity. One on top of the other. This was a catastrophe. So when it’s all over, does the Prophet (s) have the right to be mad?
Those few archers who left their position, does he have the right to be mad at them? And these Sahabah must have been feeling the guilt of their life . The prophet almost got killed, his uncle is gone, and seventy Sahabah have been made Shaheed. A battle that was nearly won has been miserably lost . He should be extremely upset . Now they were waiting. The Prophet (s) was going to talk to them .Can you imagine the fear they must have had. And before the Messenger had a meeting with them Allah had a meeting with Him (s).
And Allah revealed to him, ‘Wait it is by the special mercy of Allah That you are you are lenient towards them. The Arabic word for leniency, Linta comes from a word which means a soft date. Some dates are like a rock and there are other dates which melt in your mouth. So it means you are soft towards them. You are lenient towards them. The Prophet(s) is about to go and express his frustrations therein and Allah says, ‘It is by the special mercy of Allah that you are incredibly lenient towards these people.’ Towards which people?
Towards the ones you have a right to be angry about . Not because they failed some tiny little task you gave them. They cost Muslim lives. They were given explicit orders. They cost the life of your beloved uncle. It’s not something small. You have all the right to be mad. Allah doesn’t even say, ‘Don’t be mad.’ He says, ‘It is by his special mercy that you are lenient or nice to them.’ And He continues, ‘Lo Kunta Fadun, this means harsh or insensitive of the heart. Ghaleez means so tough that nothing penetrates it. So whatever excuses they make won’t go inside your heart. So if you tough or harsh or scolding when you met them they would disperse. Like if you break a glass and its pieces scatter in every direction, the spreading of the glass is infidaad and this is used to describe the running away of the Sahabah. And if a glass breaks can you recover it. No. Likewise the sahabah would have run away and not come back.
Let’s think about this for a second. We are talking about the people who laid their lives for Islam. They believed in the Quran , they knew its miracle in the Arab language. They had full iman that this is the haqq or truth. And Allah says, if you the leader (s) was mean, They would have run away from you even if it was the truth.’ That is that the best generation would have run away. It’s a special mercy of Allah that you are so nice to them. That’s leadership.
That’s the special expectation of the leadership and if you can’t be nice, you can’t be merciful especially at the time when you are supposed be angry then you are falling short of this standard. We may hear today’s leaders say, ‘I’m normally nice, but it’s just that they make me really upset . They make you more upset than the archers at Uhud? really ?
What did your volunteers do? Did they leave their post at the top of the Masjid ? Why are you so angry ? because when the Prophet had the right to be angry. He nearly got killed. The work of Islam almost came to an end. The mission had almost failed. Are you that angry? Is their mistake that serious? Allah says, ‘You should be nice to these . you should not be harsh to them. They would have run away from you. The Sahabah would have run away from you .
And what should do before you meet them. Allah says let me orient you, ‘Lovingly forgive them. Lovingly pardon them . You go and say to them it’s ok. Koi baat nahi . Miti pao. It’s ok , don’t worry about it. I got nothing against you. Before they even apologise . He did not reveal an ayat about the munafiqoon. when they are told to make is istighfar, they turn their heads , and Allah did not reveal an ayat in this passage telling the Sahabah they should seek forgiveness but he revealed an ayat to the Prophet (s) to forgive them. And that’s not all. When you are done forgiving them, make dua for them in private that Allah forgives them too . Not only do your forgive them but you make dua for them that’ll be proof that you forgave them because it’s very hard to make dua for someone you are angry at. It’s very difficult to do it. But you as a leader, have to make dua for your people. The ones that make you angry, you have to make istighfaar for them . That should be done in private not in public. It’s not like the Sahabah are standing embarrassed in front of everybody and the Prophet(s) says, ‘May Allah forgive you.’ But make sincere du’a for them in private.
The next part of the verse is, Then place you trust in Allah. No Doubt Allah loves those who place their trust him.’ The last part is critical.
Trust Not In Yourself But In…
The Prophet(s) is the best decision-maker who ever lived on the face of this earth. Allah says to the Prophet(s) that even through you should take consultation, at the end of the day you have the right to make your decision by yourself. But even then you shall not trust your own decision. You will put your trust in Allah . Because at the end of the day whatever decisions we take, we don’t know if they are good or bad. Even the Messenger doesn’t know whether they are good or bad. You put your trust in Allah . Allah loves those put their trust in him . Every time Shura comes up, what else keeps coming up? Tawakal or trust in Allah. Every time. So there is a strong relationship between giving opinion and trusting Allah . Allah is telling us give your opinion based on your knowledge experience and sincerity but you don’t rely only on your opinion. Success will not come because of your opinion and failure will not come because your opinion was not followed. Success and failure will come from Allah. Our reliance is upon Allah. That’s a heavy lesson to learn here.
This is the leadership of the Prophet (s). Sensitive, concerned about the feelings of the Sahabah. The sahabah did not come and say anything, Allah Himself tended to their feelings . These are qualities we have to instill in ourselves. This doesn’t just apply when you are a general of an army with soldiers underneath you. Every member of a household, every head of a household is a leader. It also applies when you’re a dad, a husband, an older brother and you have siblings under you or when a you are a grandfather, a father in law and mother in law. This applies to you too when you are an imam of the Masjid or a teacher at the Sunday school or at the Arabic class. You are a teacher with students who make you mad or they will boil you blood.
If you believe in these ayahs, you have to go make dua for them, not dua against them but for them. For the one that made you mad, make dua for him. Islamic School teachers listen up. The kid that crawls under your skin and his picture comes in your head and he’s there winking at you, make dua for that kid. Not in front of everyone, like, ‘May Allah help you and not make you Shaytan,’ not like that, but in your own privacy, you make dua for him.
I Hope you can see why this is the golden ayat for Muslim leadership. It’s about leadership in crisis situations because that’s when leadership is proven. When your followers didn’t follow you and everything’s gone wrong, now what do you as a leader do? Now you turn to Allah’s guidance. So we have to be people of confidence and competence. People of reliance upon Allah and people of the utmost mercy and courtesy to those that we are leading in every way shape or form.
I sincerely pray that Allah guides us and gives us the ability to apply these principles and gems of wisdom in our organizations, institutions, homes, and businesses that pave the way for us to build a strong future and a strong tomorrow. Because currently there are so many disputes and problems in our masajid and institutions. It is so sad. And when you talk to people in a dispute you realize both sides mean well and they have good intentions but Shaytan comes in and causes dissent amongst them. That’s why we need this orientation over and over again not just once so we can fix our intentions and mend those ties.
If you have had a fight in an organization go give them a hug, apologise and start over again. we can’t afford in-fighting and disputes. This fight is not worth it because we want to stand next to each other on the day of Judgment. I want you and your family to be in Jannat and I want you to be in Jannat and this quarrel is not worth it. these are just worldly things, it’s not worth it. Let these petty things go. Don’t hold onto them, don’t hold grudges go back to the organization you quit and make up. May Allah cause unity amongst us, and unite us with our brothers and sisters. May Allah bless all organizations and volunteers and unite all of us on judgment day as believers in his shade.