Uploaded on August 4, 2021
COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP NEED OF THE DAY
Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam
Allah the Almighty has entrusted to the Muslim ummah the responsibility of the leadership of communities, their guidance and treading them on the straight path. The Holy Qur’an has made it clear that the Muslim ummah should feel concerned for communities, admonish them, bring them on the straight path, and to save those who have gone astray. Responsibility of performing this task is given to the Muslim ummah. Besides this, it is demanded from the collective leadership that it should implement the commands of Allah the Praiseworthy; the ummah is expected to give effect to the messages of Allah the Almighty on our land by means of collective leadership. The ummah is also required, in the wake of circumstances of the present time, to give precedence to collective leadership.
Islam is a worldwide religion relevant for all times. Islam is for the whole humankind; it doesn’t recogsnise any restraint on the ground of epoch, region, race and territory. Islam commands to do good to all human beings, to work for their progress, success and honour. The message of Islam is that the whole world should live in peace and security, and justice and equality should rule high. Islam doesn’t allow any kind of discrimination, emphasising the need for coexistence, insisting that all human beings should enjoy similar rights and those among them who are distinguished on account of knowledge and excellence must be looked upon with appreciation, they must be respected, benefit should be drawn from their experience and the whole world should be persuaded to reap benefit from their profound knowledge of various sciences and cumulative experience. Islam assigns the duty to hold humanity in high respect and insists that honour should be conferred on all human beings. Allah the Almighty has given a clear command in the Holy Qur’an that “Truly, We have honoured the Children of Islam” (17:70), meaning that humans are, by birth, made honourable and worthy of respect.
The Holy Qur’an and Islamic teachings are like an ocean. The more we study them and try to understand, our reflections, perception, sagacity and knowledge increases corresponding to our study and understanding and in all, it will become a source for the well-being of ummah; it will be for ummah’s benefit. It is a part of the teachings we follow and our reflections and thoughts direct us to focus on chosen leadership. We need to promote such a leadership that consists of people gifted with knowledge, intellectuals, men of reason and leading figures of the society. This leadership should be select and chosen. Foundation of this leadership should rest on knowledge, piety, general awareness and the attributes integral and akin to a leader. There is a clear example in the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), which proves beyond doubt that he always entrusted important assignments on the basis of competence and gravity of the situation. Thus, we learn that he appointed one of his Noble Companions Usama bin Zayd, to assume the command of the army in a battle, though the latter was quite young. The decision was however taken considering his ability and suitability for the task ahead. Abdullah bin Abbas, another Noble Companion, was of tender age, but Caliph Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, held him in high regard and used to offer a seat nearby because the young lad possessed immense knowledge and was inimitable in the Qur’anic exegesis. Similar was the case of Abdullah bin Umar who was held in high esteem by the Noble Companions and successors to the Holy Prophet’s Companions on account of the former’s knowledge and piety.
We should also bear in mind that in every period of time, proficiency and specialization have remained important. Experts and people with special abilities have created history. Their knowledge and excellence have impacted on the entire world. Therefore, in the task of building a collective leadership, we need to seek advice from experts/specialists in different areas and engage with them in dialogue. We should discuss what kind of problems are there? How to resolve issues is a big challenge? How should we conduct negotiations? How to address the issues, ummah is confronted with? We should not decide on all such issues all alone, nor can we form any opinion on them. Instead of this individual exercise, it will be appropriate and necessary to seek the advice of the experts to elicit their opinion. Let’s discuss the whole matter with select experts, persuading collective leadership and take decisions collectively.
Addressing the Muslims, Allah the Almighty exhorts them to think about the human welfare, and make joint and firm policy as a mission. Muslims have manifold obligations. The Muslim ummah has to perforce work to get success. To think just for one’s own good is contrary to the mission, purpose and creation of the Muslim ummah; it violates the Qur’anic injunctions and amounts to disobedience of the commands of the Lord of Bounty. It follows from this that Muslims shall have to consider doing good to all humans collectively. We as Muslims shall have to form sound strategies aiming at the well-being, advancement and success of different communities. True, problems are confronting Muslims; they are going through hardship, but we should recognize the fact besides Muslims, several other communities are also struggling against all the odds, finding themselves in troubled waters around them; they are denied their fundamental rights, like freedom, equality and justice. Some communities have been reduced to the sad state of subjugation in every region including India, Africa and America; they have already been targeted for practicing tyranny and forcing them to live like animals or rather worse than that; they are denied even basic rights. Therefore, Muslims are under the obligation to help such people get human rights, to obtain for them – honour, justice, freedom and equality. This will rightly entitle Muslims to be addressed as “the best community”. Why it is so, that society is witnessing confusion and turmoil, discrimination has become the rule of the day, people are graded as mean and contemptible on the ground of race, caste, territory and region; humanity is thus disgraced; human rights are flouted openly. In this situation, it is necessary that we promote the concept and belief of honour of humanity; we should assure respect of humanity; we should make sure that discrimination with all humans goes away; everyone should reap the fruits of justice, equality and freedom. At this juncture, another question strikes our mind as to how Muslims can fulfill this obligation; how they are going to carry out this mission; what shall be the planning to achieve this goal? Here it is suggested that the basic need is that Muslims should promote collective leadership in their ranks. That is to say that collective leadership should be built in the community.
Muslims constitute a grand community in the world. Muslims have always created history by means of mutual consultation, wisdom and joint responsibilities; they have encountered difficult situations, but they have saved the oppressed from the clutches of oppressors; they have delivered them from poverty and destitution; they have brought them out of the darkness of ignorance and lit the lamp of education among them to illuminate their condition; they have always helped the poor, meek and oppressed. In the context of existing conditions too, it is incumbent on Muslims to deliver them from oppression, to maintain equality of all, to eliminate economic deprivation, to liberate people from bondage, to adorn illiterate with education, and to make them strong in the society they live in. All this can be achieved if Muslims build and promote collective leadership. Collective leadership will bring revolution by means of a united plan of action. In this way, Muslims will be able to liberate humanity from the hold of oppressors and rightly make themselves eligible for being addressed as “the best community”.
(The writer is General Secretary, All India Milli Council)