52. From the point of view of the Qur’an, what is the relationship between the leader and the people?

There are two types of obedience. Sometimes people are obedient to someone because of fear or greed or lack of self-confidence, just like the people of Pharaoh were obedient to him

فَاسْتَخَفَّ قَوْمَهُ فَأَطَاعُوهُ

“So he made his people unsteady, and they obeyed him.”1

And sometimes their obedience is based upon faith, love and passion, for otherwise, as the Qur’an says to the Prophet SAWA

وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ

“Had you been harsh and hard of heart, they would have scattered from about you.2

In Islam, the relation between the people and the leader is called “Wilayat”. The word “Wilayat” means following with which alongside there is love. Divine Leaders do not take anything for themselves;

وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُتَكَلِّفِينَ

“Neither am I of those who take things upon themselves.”3

Nor do they prefer themselves over others

إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ

“I am only a mortal like you.”4

Nor do they consider themselves having more rights over others.

During times of danger, the leader does not abandon his followers. Imam Ali AS states that the Prophet SAWA was closer to the enemy than the rest of us. He was Divinely ordered by Allah SWT to send his blessings upon people and to pray for them5,

وَصَلِّ عَلَيْهِمْ

And likewise people have been order to send their blessings upon the Prophet SAWA

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا

“O believers, do you also bless him, and pray him peace.”6

So the relationship between the leader and the people is one of love and blessings, not of fear and terror.