Pumwani Riadha Masjid




By Ali Abdulmajid


As-Salaamu'Alaikum Wa-Rahmatullaahi Wa-Barakaatuh dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters.
I hope all of you are in an increasing state of Eemaan and good health, Insha Allaah.

Good leaders are those who uphold the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] as enshrined in the holy Qur'an.

“Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the scale of the believer than good manners….” (Tirmidhi).

Muslim has reported that Ibn Malik said the best leader is the one where mutual love exists between him and the people, and the worst leader generates mutual hate.


Leadership is defined in many ways. Richards and Engle define it as articulating visions, embodying values, and creating the environment within which things can be accomplished. Schein refer it as the ability to step outside the culture, while Drath and Plus say that it is a process of making sense of what people are doing together for people to understand and be committed. There have been several studies and concepts about it for years now, may it be leadership roles, traits and theories but do not say much about Leadership in the Islamic Perspective. Islam, a religion of peace but often misjudged and misunderstood has a very comprehensive concept of leadership that is centered on faith and values according to Allah (God). Often mistaken as a religion of terrorism, its true meaning and principles say otherwise.

Islam is one of the religions that few people understand but has left a negative mark already in their state of minds. Leadership in Islam is not that different as most would think it would be. This article intends to give you an overview of a true Muslim Leader and how a Muslim manifests his own kind of leadership.


Let us literally take Schein’s definition of leadership of STEPPING OUTSIDE THE CULTURE. We have already been familiarized with the Western Concept of Leadership and acquainted with an increasing number of studies by our own leaders and researchers; it’s about time that we step forward towards understanding the Islamic Way of Leadership with an open mind and heart.


The Essence of Islam


Islam is a Muslim’s Way of Life. We, (Muslims) foster Islamic ideals and values in everything we do. IT is both a deen (religion) and a code of life that is adherent to Allah’s commands without objections. IT also means “Peace through Submission to Allah” and that a Muslim completely submits oneself to His will. A Muslim also believes in all the prophets and revelations, with Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) as the last prophet who completed Allah’s message to humanity through the Qur’an (sacred scripture of Islam).The two sources of principles and practices that make up Islam are the Qur’an and Mohammad’s (PBUH) example (Sunnah) as written in the Hadith (record of actions and sayings of the Prophet and his companions) that constitutes the Shari’ah (Islamic Law from Qur’an and Traditions). This law includes guiding principles in ways of worship, family, dress, finance and social relationships.
Such basic practices of Muslims are called the five pillars of Islam – the testimony, offering prayers, paying Zakat (alms-giving to the poor), performing Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) and Sawm (Fasting).


Leadership in Islam


As Islam is a comprehensive system of life, its roots of leadership generally exist in the primary and secondary resources of the Shari’ah in addition to the early practices of the early Muslims. With this concept, a leader in Islam is said to be not free to act as he chooses, nor must he submit to the desires of others --- he must act in accordance to Allah’s laws like how Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) exemplified his kind of leadership. Allah said in the Qur’an,

And We made them leaders guiding men by Our Command and We sent inspiration to do good deeds, to establish prayers and to practice charity; and they constantly served Us only

(Qur’an 21:37).

It is a trust both guardianship and service-oriented that denotes doing what’s best for your people, protect them and treat them in a just manner. The main focus of leadership in Islam is doing positive actions for the sake of Allah and the whole of humanity --- as a man and a woman go along the journey of life, they both begin to hold an ideal of selflessness centered on faith and service of humanity. One of the main principles, which Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) taught Muslims, is the principle of leadership through service. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, “A ruler who has been entrusted with the affairs of the Muslims, but makes no endeavor for their
material and moral upliftment and is not sincerely concerned or their welfare will not enter Paradise along with them” (Al Bukhari, 1997).


Principles of Islamic Leadership


According to the research conducted by Adnan Aabed of Brigham Young University, in Islam, the two main roles of leadership based on the Shari’ah are servant-leader role and guardian-leader role. In these roles, certain leadership principles and traits constitute the Islamic leadership principles:


1.       Leadership in Islam is rooted in the belief and willing submission to the Creator, Allah. It centers on serving Him (Beekun and Badawi, 1999). Iman (faith in God), Islam (Peace and Submission), Taqwa (inner consciousness of a person toward Allah), and Ihsan (love of Allah) are the four moral bases of Islamic Leadership (Beekun and Badawi, 1999). The degree of commitment of the organization’s leader to ethical conduct is very important
to influence the followers and the organization in a positive way.


2.       Leaders have to provide direction (a vision) to their organization.


3.       Leaders should communicate their vision to others in ways designed to generate strong commitment needed to serve as a support to achieve the desired goals.

4.       Leaders have a major role in creating and maintaining the culture of the organization (Jabnoun, 1994).


From an Islamic perspective, culture is a system of shared values and beliefs that produce norms of behavior (Smircich, 1983) towards achieving the goals and objectives of Muslims within the framework. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) played a vital role in forming the culture of his companions by stressing the importance of the change and purifications of the values and the manners.

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “A perfect Muslim is neither a taunter (teaser, sneer, insulter, ridiculer etc), curser nor an abuser nor one having a long tongue” (An-Nawawi, 1993).

It was a culture based on unity of mankind and destiny.


5.       Leaders have a role of sustaining the organization over the long-term.

The Prophet (PBUH) succeeded to defend the sustainability of the Islamic state for many years by achieving continuous cooperation between the Answar (host) and the Muhajiroon (newcomers) and protected the Muslims from troublemakers and hypocrites. Giving satisfaction is a task that leaders use to motivate followers to make greater sacrifices (Aabed 2006).


6.       Leaders should maintain the unity and co-operation among the followers in
their organization and the momentum of their progress (Safi, 1995, Bangash


The Qur’an speaks of unity: 

O Mankind! We created you from a single pair of male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may seek mutual understanding, not that you despise each other. Indeed, the most honored among you in the Sight of Allah is the one who is the most God-fearing. Indeed, Allah is all knowing, All Aware

(Qur’an 49:13).


7.       Leaders should provide space for, and even should invite constructive criticisms (Atalib, 1991; Safi, 1995).


Leaders are responsible to encourage the people to speak out their minds. The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, “Religion is sincere advice. We said. ‘To Whom?’ He said. ‘To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, the leaders of Muslims and to their common folk’”

(An-Nawawai, 1993).


8.       Leaders should be able to initiate, guide and control change in order to achieve the stated objectives.


Leaders should take changes in a positive way despite all the negativity around them. Prophet Mohammad’s life in Madinah prevailed over the hypocrites in the ranks of the Muslims and was very consistent in his actions no matter how difficult the situations were. The Prophet (PBUH) is truly a good example of this principle.


9.       Effective Islamic Leaders should have some leadership qualities such as conviction, justice, sacrifice, eloquence, sound decision –making, etc.


According to some researchers, leaders in the Islamic perspective have been identified to have some leadership qualities geared towards the Holy Qur’an.


There are 25 characteristics necessary for leadership based on The ways and traditions of the prophet (pbuh) and the Qur’an as follows:



1.       ABILITY

2.       BRAVERY

3.       CALMNESS

4.       DEPENDABILITY (reliable, loyal, steadfast)


6.       FAIRNESS


8.       HONESTY




12.    LIBERALISM (Tolerant, open minded)

13.    MODESTY

14.    NOBILITY (Dignity, graciousness, decency, goodness)



17.    QUALITY





22.    VERSATILITY (easy to adapt to new situations/conditions, resourceful)

23.    WISDOM


25.    ZEAL (full of passion, fervor, eagerness)


A Leader may it be in different strokes or folks, from North to South, Black or White, Muslim or Christian or how different one seem to be, it just says one thing – SERVICE FOR HUMANITY. A True Leader does not seek for his own interest but for the best welfare of others. He does not serve for himself but for what God made him to do so. It is only God, Allah, that you call HIM that tells our purpose and mission in this world. As Morshed Abul Ala would define Islamic Leadership, “It is leading and serving humanity to the way of Allah the Almighty”. This definition just shows our commonality. YOU and ME are different, but that’s just a part of life. The fact is our humanness connects us. It is what makes us step outside our culture, just like what you did now…

While different sects of Islam had differing views of what constituted a good Moslem leader, all could agree

that Prophet Muhammad could be used as an exemplar of all the qualities they desired. He was a pious man, leading by example, and showing both justice and courage in his faith. Yet he was not inflexible: he showed prudence when

dealing with the Jews of Medina and other Moslem leaders followed his lead. He promoted loyalty and showed

bravery and those qualities together with physical fitness and sharp senses were expected in all good leaders. 

To all of the Islamic sects one of the most important qualities in a Moslem leader is to follow the example of

Prophet Muhammad and show piety, probity and justice. In the life of Prophet Mohammad, there were many instances of the prophet’s piety and sense of justice. Prophet Muhammad was shown to lead a life not only of leadership but of prayer and charity. He taught Muslims to pray and to perform their ablutions. He was also shown to provide charity to the poor and urged his followers to do likewise. Moreover, Prophet Muhammad demonstrated his piety in public, despite the potential backlash from Meccan traditionalists, praying at the Ka’ba where any could see.


Prophet Muhammad extended his piety into a sense of justice and probity in both his public and private life. When Aisha was accused, Prophet Muhammad did not believe those that lied about her, but rather turned to God for the answers. Future caliphs were expected to follow his example, looking to faith in God for judgment. Aisha was proven innocent in Prophet Mohammad’s eyes, and he was careful to punish with a flogging those that accused her. He set a precedent in Sharia law that not only punished the guilty but protected the innocent from false accusation. Had Aisha been guilty, However, we can be sure that he would have been as stern with her as he was otherwise with her accusers. Before her innocence was established, he isolated himself from her: clearly Prophet Muhammad and no caliph that followed should abide adultery or other sin in his house.


To the main sect, the Sunni, however, there were more qualities required in a good caliph. al-Mawardi writes that:

“The conditions of eligibility for supreme leadership include:


1.       First justice of probity (goodness, decency, honesty, integrity, honor, virtue) with all its attributes;

2.       Second, knowledge conducive to the exercise of independent judgment in crises or decision making;

3.       Third, sound hearing, vision and speech so that perception could serve as a correct basis for action;

4.       Fourth, physical fitness and freedom from handicaps to movement or agility of action;

5.      Fifth, prudence (carefulness, care, caution, cautiousness, discretion, good sense and forethought) that ensures wise handling of the subjects and able maintenance of their interests;

6.      Sixth, dauntless courage in defence of the homeland and repulsion of enemies.


Many of these qualities are drawn from their experience of Prophet Mohammad. Certainly, Prophet Muhammad was able to show sound judgment and prudence. Despite being a religious leader, he was not determined to force conversion on other faiths of the Book: actions that may have caused irreparable harm to his new faith. When he first arrived in Medina, he forged a covenant with the Jews living there, which “established them in their religion and their property”. He Was thus able to solidify the Muslims position in Medina. Following Prophet Mohammad’s example, similar covenants that allowed the continuation of religious practice by Jews and Christians were vital to the expansion of the Moslem Empire in the subsequent two centuries, for example in Egypt. Prophet Muhammad was diligent in pursuing the interests of Muslims. He worked against poverty and was careful to speak in favor of paying redemption money. When a tribe of Jews defied the Muslims, he was quick to form war parties and squash their revolt: it was on a war party that Aisha’s name was defiled. Future caliphs were encouraged to show the same courage and willingness to fight that Prophet Muhammad had. This bravery was considered especially important when there were many rebellions or when the Empire was stretched and had “a multiplicity of border towns”.


In other circumstances, however, according to al-Mawardi, while courage was still a requirement, knowledge and learning became more important. This was especially important when there is “popular lethargy and the proliferation of heretics”. To al-Mawardi, a combination of all these qualities would lead to a leader that was “the best and most

excellently qualified, the one people will immediately obey and are not likely to forsake”.


 Loyalty to the caliph was fostered from Prophet Muhammad on, and the prophet was keen to ensure loyalty in his followers, or “Loyalty is a protection against treachery”. A caliph would understand that, who could muster the qualities of faith, learning, courage and prudence, was considered by most Muslims as the epitome of a good leader. 

In summary, a good Muslim leader should at least have the following qualities:

  • A person or a group that will lead humanity from the brink of destruction to the way of Allah the Almighty.

Importance of Islamic Leadership

  • Every movement has a need for leadership.
  • Importance of leadership is like the engine of a train. The train doesn't move anywhere without the engine moving.
  • Only Islamic leadership can solve the problems of humanity.

Difference between Islamic and secular leadership

  • Secular leadership's target is self-establishment. Islamic Leadership's target is Jannatul Firdaws (Highest position in Paradise)
  • Secular leaderships work for the respect of people. Islamic Leaderships work for the pleasure of Allah.

Why is there scarcity of Islamic Leadership?

  • The basic qualities of leadership are inherited by birth. Allah creates few people like the engine.
  • Most of those who are born leaders do not want to sacrifice for any ideology. They spend their intellect and ability for self-establishment.
  • Most of those among them who come to Islamic Movement also try to establish themselves.

How to overcome this problem?

  • Those born leaders are to be searched and organized while they are young and haven't acquired the addiction to self-establishment. They should be encouraged to follow Islam.


Primary assets of an Ideal worker

  1. I'lm (Knowledge) of Al-Qur'an, al-Hadith, Islamic Literature
  2. Iman (Faith): taqwa (consciousness of Allah)
  3. A'mal (Deeds): salah with khushoo (humility), night prayers, remembrance of Allah, du'a (supplication), infaaq (spending in the way of Allah), voluntary fasting, etc.

Basic qualities of an ideal worker

  1. Courageous
  2. Sincere (ikhlaas)
  3. Humane
  4. Organized
  5. Determined
  6. Hard-working
  7. Punctual
  8. Good conduct
  9. Good habit
  10. Good in lecture and writing

Assets to improve qualities of an ideal worker

  1. Sabr (Patience)
  2. Hikmah (Wisdom)
  3. Tawakkul (Reliance on Allah)
  4. Bai'yah (Allegiance)
  5. Ihtisab (Accountability)


Basic Qualities

  1. Ability to command with respect
  2. Trusted on sincerity of purpose
  3. Confidence on ability
  4. Approachable for suggestion
  5. Acceptability as a leader
  6. Ready to sacrifice
  7. Open-minded
  8. Understanding of responsibilities
  9. Optimism

Practical Qualities

  1. Ability to help understand efficiently
  2. Ability to answer questions adequately
  3. Ability to acquire love and affection of the members
  4. Habit of making decisions after consultation (Shura)
  5. Courage to encourage criticism
  6. Dynamic
  7. Serious
  8. Keen perception

Technical Qualities

  1. Planning – balance between idealism and realism, target and resource
  2. Organizing – utilizing the resources to achieve target
  3. Implementing – guidance, supervision, and control

Special Qualities of Islamic Leadership

  1. Example for Iman (faith), I'lm (knowledge), and A'mal (action)
  2. Awareness of the responsibilities of the Deen
  3. Give preference to the task of iqaamat-ad-Deen (establishment of Islam) over others.

Scale to measure the increase of the qualities

  1. Ability to increase the number of people with the qualities of Islamic Leadership in the Jama'ah (organization)
  2. Selection as a rightful person for higher responsibilities of the Jama'ah (WARNING: One should never aspire to it)


Search for Leaderships

  • Those who already have the responsibilities of leadership must look for people more suitable for their position.


  • Should try to increase / improve the qualities of leadership in himself.


  • Should try to organize the area he is responsible for.


  • Should try to develop more people for Islamic leadership.

Establish Bait-ul-Maal

  • Should strengthen finance of the organization.


  • Should help out in the community with proper planning.

Establish Unity

  • Should have good relation with all Islamic personalities of his locality.
  • Should try to unite Muslims.

Islamic Leadership should be aware of the diseases that affect Islamic Workers


  1. Pride and arrogance
  2. Boast
  3. Faulty Intention
  4. Self-worship
    1. Self-love
    2. Jealousies
    3. Suspicion
    4. Backbiting (Gheebah)
    5. Slander
  1. Imbalance of attitude: stubborn
  1. Narrow-mindedness
  2. Weak determination


  1. Repentance
  2. Disclosure of truth

What about those who are not born leaders but have responsibilities?

  • They should try to acquire the required qualities of leadership.
  • We don't ask for position, yet it's not allowed to escape from the responsibility.
  • We know that the position is not attractive, but full of responsibilities.
  • We should have firm faith in Allah. He is the one who gave us this responsibility and he will help us to fulfill it.


"Movement, Organization, and Workers" by Sayyid Abul 'Ala Mawdudi
"Study Circle" by Ghulam Azam
"Islamic Organisation"  by Sirajul Islam
"Self-development, Worker-development, and Leadership" by Nazeer Ahmed
"Problems faced by the Da'wah and the Da'yiah" by Fathi Yakun
"Stepping Outside the Culture" by By Rohaniza M. Sumndad

"Principles of Islamic Leadership" By Morshed Abul Ala

Effective Leadership principles of Prophet Muhammad” by Muhammad W. Khan