Islamic Leadership

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Rajab 12, 1431 2010-06-25

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

Muslim peoples in the past generations display an inferiority attitude when it comes to rulers, officials and decision makers. It seems like ever since we have been growing up in the past fourteen centuries we have not been able to conquer the intimidation (from) rulers- whether they are Kings, Princes, Chief Executives and Presidents. We haven’t had in ourselves the collective mind that would shed our attention on their behaviour and the decisions that they make. Even the Islamic Fiqh that lives on among us concentrates on the individual in the street/the run of the mill Muslim, (so to speak), but it does not bring into its literature the position of those who are at the helm of Islamic decision making- they’re sort of beyond the fiqh of the fuqaha’. This has been a growing problem that has taken root Islamic societies in times that have past and in our living times. Therefore when we read the ayaat of the Qur’an- Allah’s revealed words- we understand an ayah or a few ayaat as they may apply to ourselves/neighbours/circles of acquaintances but it never occurs to us to think about the meanings of these ayaat as they apply to those who rule us. This is the transition that has to be made. There has to be at tectonic shift in our mentality so that we can also think about these ayaat as they apply to despots/tyrants. Let’s take a few ayaat from the guiding book.

وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تَرَى الَّذِينَ كَذَبُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ وُجُوهُهُم مُّسْوَدَّةٌ

And on the Day of Resurrection you will see the faces of those who were lying about Allah blackened… (Surah Az Zumar verse 60)

We know and we’re conscious of the fact that we live in a racist society, but there’s no racist meaning to the word blackened in the Qur’an. Don’t let the racism that comes from Ash Shaytaan influence your understanding of Allah. It’s another way of saying that

وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تَرَى الَّذِينَ كَذَبُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ وُجُوهُهُم مُّسْوَدَّةٌ

On the final day the faces of these people who were lying about Allah are going to be darkened or blackened… (Surah Az Zumar verse 60)

And the question is

أَلَيْسَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَثْوًى لِّلْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ

… is there not in hell a place for those who are arrogant? (Surah Az Zumar verse 60)

The average Muslim reads this ayah and he thinks about the average person. We don’t have hundreds of millions of Muslims who read this ayah and then think about those who are ruling! This ayah applies to Governors/Presidents/Monarchs. Think about the meaning of this ayah while you think about the ruling classes in the Muslim world.

وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تَرَى الَّذِينَ كَذَبُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ

On the final day you will see those who were lying about Allah… (Surah Az Zumar verse 60)

Now, we have Kings/Presidents who are lying about Allah more than the average Muslim. So why don’t we have the thinking capacity to bring in these mega liars about Allah and place them in the meanings of this ayah? Yes. All of these Kings/Presidents/their Majesties/Excellencies/Eminences are going to be on the Day of Resurrection people with faces that are as dark as night. And then the question is

أَلَيْسَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَثْوًى لِّلْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ

… isn’t there a place in Jahannum for these types of hubris people? (Surah Az Zumar verse 60)

Of course there is!

Another ayah says the same thing. When Muslims recite this ayah in the Qur’an, they usually understand them to apply to the common Muslim?!

ذَٰلِكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَفْرَحُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَبِمَا كُنتُمْ تَمْرَحُونَ

That is due to your ecstatic psychology in this world without ground-sort, truth and validity to it; that’s how ecstatic you were in your Earthly life. (Surah Al Ghafir verse 75)

OK- Muslims understand this as pertaining to the run of the mill Muslim, but let’s elevate our thoughts. Let’s attach these meanings to those who are ecstatic with the power and the wealth that they have. Let us put into this ayah the Kings/Presidents who rule in the contravention to Allah and His Prophet. And this is due to what?

ذَٰلِكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَفْرَحُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ

That is due to your worldly behaviour that was joyful and coming-and-going… (Surah Al Ghafir verse 75)

What is the divine words to them on the Day of Accountability?

ادْخُلُوا أَبْوَابَ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۖ فَبِئْسَ مَثْوَى الْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ

Enter the doors to Hell, there to stay forever and an awful place for those who are arrogant and supercilious. (Surah Al Ghafir verse 76)

An apt description of those who are in the higher offices of the land. So brothers and sisters this question: “why can’t we think inclusively- not think with exceptions?” The way we are conditioned to think is that we exclude the big shots from the meanings of the words that come to us from Allah and His Prophet and we should not be doing that.

Another ayah

إِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۚ فَالَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ قُلُوبُهُم مُّنكِرَةٌ وَهُم مُّسْتَكْبِرُونَ

لَا جَرَمَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا يُسِرُّونَ وَمَا يُعْلِنُونَ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْتَكْبِرِينَ

Your Deity (or) God is one Deity or one God. The hearts of those who are not committed to the life-to-come are in denial and they are arrogant and condescending. Of course Allah knows what they keep secret and Allah knows what they express for Allah doesn’t favour or like or tend those who are haughty and highfalutined. (Surah An Nahl verse 23-24)

Notice that all of these ayaat sometimes/a couple of times apply to mutakabbirin and mustakbirin i.e. those who are sleeky/pompous/out-and-out patronising and arrogant. Who are these? From elementary school, through the Masajid/Khutbahs/Manabir that we have, our education and religious institutions and the media- all of them come together to try to make sure that we never-ever extend the meanings of the Qur’an to those who are truly/really/factually/actually arrogant i.e. mutakabbirin and mustakbirin. Yes- you will encounter a person in life who has an attitude/thinks of himself in a self-centred way. There are individuals who are arrogant/condescending i.e. mutakabbirin and mustakbirin, but don’t let these individuals stand between you and the mega mutakabbireen and the mega mustakbirin in life and existence i.e. the higher/ruling/power/wealth classes. These ayaat apply succinctly to them. This is where we, the Muslim populations, are deficient because we don’t automatically think of these people who want to be above the law and above Allah! They don’t want to be analysed in light of the ayaat and ahadith that we have. The Prophet of Allah says no one is going to enter Al Jannah if he has what amounts to a scintilla of arrogance. We don’t know about you but normally if you take a look at their Highnesses, their Majesties and their Excellencies- you would think that these are all words that belong to Allah and His Prophet. No! No! These words belong to criminals who owe their allegiance and alliance to Ash Shaytaan and his forces i.e. those who rule over almost two-billion Muslims in the world.

The meaning of another hadith qudsi goes roughly as follows Allah is saying: Grand pride belongs to Me- it is My garment and higher honour is it’s belt and anyone who competes with Me concerning these two- Al Kibriya’ and Al Izzah- I shall cause him to suffer/inflict him with pain. If we just take these ayaat and ahadith as a sample- before these apply to anyone else, don’t these apply to those human beings who are acting like gods on Earth who have these broad official titles? If we speak about al kibriya’ and istikbaar, the first place you will find these descriptions located in is in the highest offices in the land.

The Prophet of Allah says… let’s give you the context… When Allah’s Prophet was commissioned in Arabia, (so to speak), human beings there just like now had an inferiority psychology when it comes to rulers. “Oh- this is a ruler. You have to bend down or you have to kiss their hand or you have to tremble/shake in front of them.” In other words you can’t be normal. You’re not permitted to be your normal self when it comes to these despots/authoritarians. The Prophet of Allah, (among other things), came to have us and the rest of humanity live at the bare minimum- a normal life. So at one time the Prophet of Allah was sitting with his supporters and a nomad/person from deep down in the desert approaches this council/aggregate of Muslims and he walks up to Allah’s Prophet and he’s shaking. The Prophet notices that he is not his normal self. He’s not calm or in an Arab serenity. Why is he like this? And before this person could speak, (and probably he was struggling with himself to try to express himself), the Prophet of Allah said to him take it easy. I’m not a King. I’m only a son of a woman from Quraysh who used to eat dried meat. Now, you compare that character of Allah’s Prophet who is calming a person down, wanting him to be his normal/natural self. There’s nothing to be agitated/nervous about if you are in the presence of these types of people. The Prophet of Allah says to him take it easy. I’m not a King. Rather, I’m only a son of a woman from Quraysh. Now, notice- this is what happens to us when we leave gaps in even understanding what Allah’s Prophet is telling us- that Allah’s Prophet was a son of one of the highest families in Makkah i.e. Quraysh. He didn’t say “I’m the son of Abdillah ibn Abd Al Mutt’talib”- which he was. Had he used those words, it would have the connotation of coming from an upper-class of families. So, even to avoid that, he referred himself to his mother. Rather, I’m only a son of a woman who is related to Quraysh… which takes away the pomp and false pride that is plugged in to the way rulers behave. … and she used to eat simple food- it wasn’t fresh meat, it was dried meat. We’ll just take a couple of examples so that we can see how Muslim rulers should behave as opposed to the rulers who rule over Muslims in today’s world. We’ll leave it up to you to do the comparison/contrast.

The first successor to Allah’s Prophet- Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu)- said this after he assumed the highest office in the Islamic State. Listen to this- this comes from a student of Allah’s Prophet who understood how he should be behaving. These were the words of the first ruler after Allah’s Prophet who ruled in the tradition/manner/character of Allah’s Prophet. What did he say to the Muslim public- you and me. I have been placed in a position of becoming your ruler/decision maker and I’m not the best one of you so if you see that I am right in what I am doing from the position that I am in, help me. This is the leader of the Muslims. He’s asking/begging the Muslims for help. And if you see me behaving, deciding and implementing a policy falsely, then correct me. A ruler is asking his people to correct him when he is wrong. And then he says The strongest/most powerful person amongst you is the weakest until I gain his rights for him and the weakest person among you is the strongest until I obtain the rights that belong to him for him. In other words/to rephrase all of this, society has people that are powerful. Look into the society around us. There are people who have power/money/wealth/force/military/economics and all of this. These are strong people in society. Abu Bakr was saying from my position I look at all these strong people you see in society as being weak/feeble until I take away from them the rights that belong to others. Then this is reversed. There are people in society who are poor/marginalised/powerless. He says as far as I am concerned, these types are strong/have power on their side until I give them the rights that they have been denied. In other words, they will be equalised. Those who are in the social eye of people who appear to be strong- you can give the name of politicians/tycoons that you know. You can fill in the blanks. You don’t need someone to think for you. These are Abu Bakr’s words that relate to the Prophet’s words and Allah’s words but there are people who fit the description in our time/society, but who’s the ruler that looks at people of finances/military prowess and says “these are weak/nothing.” The rulers that we have see these people and they bow down to them. They worship them- not in the religious sense, in the civic/social sense of the word. What a far cry from these rulers who have the character of Allah’s Prophet and the rulers that we have today.

The second successor to Allah’s Prophet- Umar (radi Allahu anhu)- said addressing the Islamic society and the constituents of the Islamic State i.e. you and me, (being that we are part of the Muslim public there-and-then and now-and-here), Umar was known for his harsh/tough character and he’s saying to them be advised/know that you’ve known this character that I have in me and you’ve known it for all of these years. Now that I carry the responsibility of ruling this harshness/tough attitude has been multiplied many times against adh dhaalim and al mu’tadi i.e. an oppressor/tyrant/aggressor. In today’s public talks/khutbahs no one speaks about oppressors/offenders/violators of justice. “No. Don’t enter that into your speech!” Why? What’s wrong? These people who understood Allah’s Prophet were saying these words normally like we should be saying them normally. Umar said what I mean to do with this strong attitude and determination that I have is to take from the Muslims who appear to be strong and give to those Muslims who are weak. You tell us which ruler in today’s world is concerned with the plight of the weak? They are run down by the wheels of power in their society. No one asks about them. Then he says to them help me against my own self. In other words, he’s confessing, (like everyone of us should be doing), that we have tendencies inside ourselves that want us to do what is wrong. He is asking the Muslim public/citizens help me. If my nafs wants to go in the wrong direction, don’t let it go in the wrong direction... What an exemplar statement of how the ruler and the ruled are blended together. He’s not on his own, doing his own thing like the rulers of today are doing. How? By Amr bi Al Ma’ruf wa An Nahi An Al Munkar (we hope you know what that means) and bring me advice and counsel. Look at what he is saying and asking the Muslims to do and compare/contrast it with today’s rulers. They don’t want to hear any advice or what you/me/the other Muslim has to say about our own affairs! We don’t want to speak to rulers about their private affairs; we want to speak to them about the public affairs/interest. Abu Bakr/Umar/Ali (radi Allahu anhum) and the rest wanted to hear what we have to say. These rulers today don’t want to hear what we have to say and we remain silent. Many of us know the truth. (Can’t you) see brothers and sisters: the issue is not knowing al haqq. Many people know al haqq the issue is how many of us are going to go public with al haqq? How many of us are going to express this truth/validity that we have from Allah to the general people/public? Now you find many people falling silent. Why? You know the truth and you can’t express it from the Mimbar?! That is what we have i.e. many people knowing the truth and they ascend the Mimbar of Allah’s Prophet on Fridays and when it comes to expressing this truth they are silent. That’s the problem. Many of the times it is not knowledge- it’s courage that they lack. Umar’s concluding words no one who has gained the right will ever gain a right of obedience while he is disobeying Allah. Listen to that. Even when you have the right to rule you don’t have the right to disobey Allah and people do not have the right to act like ostriches and bury their heads under the sand and make believe nothing has happened when the world is coming apart.

Brothers and sisters on As Sirat Al Mustaqeem…

We listened to these ayaat and ahadith and we reckoned that we have understood these ayaat and ahadith and no doubt understanding them is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t stop there. What is required is to try to build/change the world based on this God-given and Prophetically explained information that we have. We have rulers in Arabia The reason we speak about rulers in Arabia in particular is because that is where Allah revealed the Qur’an, where the Prophet of Allah came from, where the two Harams in Makkah and Al Madinah is, where we learnt our Islam at the time when it was the Islam that it was meant to be. We have these rulers in Arabia that say/try to make a sectarian issue among the Muslims. They say “this person is a Sunni and this person is a Shi’i” and they tell us either directly or indirectly “there is an unbridgeable gap between the Muslims” so they condemn us to division by what they are saying. We know this to be a trait of those who have power in the world.

إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا

As a matter of fact, the Pharoah had reached unprecedented heights in his rule/control of Earthly affairs. He rendered the populations of the Earth/land into factions… (Surah Al Qasas verse 4)

So they’re acting like Phiraun. They reach this position of rank in this world and then they want to divide people. They use everything possible to divide us. If they begin with a Shi’i/Sunni polarisation, then they will go to nationalist/ethnic/linguistic/gender/class differences/particulars and on-and-on. You name it; anything that will divide and this is in contradiction/conflict with the Qur’an and the Sunnah. There is nothing in the Qur’an and the Sunnah that inspires Muslims to be divided/divisive. To the contrary, everything in the Qur’an and the Sunnah inspires Muslims to be consolidated/solidified/united. The ayaat we’ve covered on many other occasions. So they come and tell us “they’re the heirs to Islam. They’re the protectors of Al Haramayn in Makkah and Al Madinah.” They present this image to the world that “they’re the custodians to the Holy places in Arabia.” OK- then they glorify the Khulafa’, but not in this area. You will never find the meanings of the khutbah that you just listened to as it applies to these autocrats who are ruling in Arabia. Why? Because they will expose themselves and they naturally should be exposed. But we can expect them to behave like that. Have they ever said to the Muslims You obey me as long as I obey Allah in the administration of your affairs? OK- here you praise Aba Bakr and Umar like they should be praised, but do you ever say what they said much less do you behave they way they behave?! The Muslims suffered from famine for years during the time of Umar and he used to eat what any other Muslim ate. He used to dress just like every other Muslim dressed. Look at you in Arabia! Muslims are starving/dying because they don’t have anything and you have all of this wealth; it’s not your wealth but you claimed it and you have it because you are supported by- we know whom. What are you doing? The other Muslims/people in the world don’t exist? There’s news that they are giving military concessions and an airbase that is only two-hundred kilometres from Occupied Palestine, (that’s one-hundred-and-twenty miles, in Tabuk),to the enemies of Allah, the Prophet, the Muslims and Allah. Tabuk is also a word that comes to us from the Seerah. They are renting the Seerah to the Zionists and they want us to look the other way as if nothing is happening and many Muslims are looking the other way because they have individuals who ascend the Mimbar who don’t want us to think. The time of thinking has come and beyond the time of thinking there will be a time of reckoning; and the time of reckoning is approaching. It will be a high Holy day for humanity- when the human race will be rid of these criminals in Arabia.

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