1. If we want to find out the Islamic equivalents of the technical terms, leadership and management in their modern expanded sense, we should say irshad (direction) and rushd (maturity), or hidayat (guidance) and rushd. According to Islamic terminology the capability of leadership is called hidayat and irshad, and the capability of management is the same as what is called rushd in Islamic jurisprudence.
In ordinary use and day to day Persian parlance 'rushd' is a physical quality relating to body and stature, but as a term of Islamic jurisprudence it is a quality related to mental development. It means maturity of understanding as distinguished from physical maturity. When a child has attained this maturity, his property is handed over to him. The jurists (Fuqaha) say that physical maturity is not enough for contracting a marriage. Mental maturity is also required for this purpose. In this sense rushd means possessing discrimination and common sense and having the capacity of utilizing and taking care of the means of life.
2. The second point is that the guidance of man has two aspects, one stable and the other changing. While discussing Islam and the requirements of time we have said that human life has some stable aspects fitting in a stable framework. These aspects are represented by moral principles and inviolable Islamic laws. In other words human life has a fixed orbit as well as changing stages. The guidance and leadership of the Prophets fall within a fixed orbit, but human guidance and leadership operate within the range of specific questions and changeable details. For example the Holy Qur'an gives instructions about Jihad. It lays down against what people and under what circumstances holy war is to be waged, and under what conditions peace is to be concluded. This type of directions and guidance are given by the Prophets. But at what time, under whose command and with what equipment the army is to march, are the questions of detail. They are related to the movement within a fixed orbit.
3. We have said that the word, 'Wali' is synonymous with leader. It is possible that somebody says that 'Hidayat' means guidance, not leadership. Guidance has an instructional and propagative aspect, whereas leadership implies the sense of mobilization and giving a forward motion along a certain path. The conception of leadership covers such acts as those of formulating the ideas, mobilizing the forces, organizing the individuals and launching a movement.
Our reply is that it is correct that the word 'Hidayat' signifies guidance but it is used in the sense of leadership also. Not only that, but it is used to convey the sense of leading to the desired goal too. Perhaps the words, Siyadat, Qiyadat and Imamat convey the sense of leadership better.
4. There is one more question. It is the question of the need of leadership and a leader. This pivotal point is the basis of the Prophets' teachings. In the Shi'ah creed the question of Imamat is based on the permanent need of the existence of an infallible and impeccable person.
5. Another question is that of the conditions, means and principles of leadership.
6. One more question is that of the objectives of leadership.
7. Another question is that of the types of leadership.
8. "Thorough knowledge of human physiognomy is essential for a leader, and for that matter for any man who works with other people on any level, whether in the house, in the school, in the factory or in any other organization".1
9. We have cited a well-known tradition regarding travelling. The Holy Prophet has said that if two (or three) persons travel together, they should choose one of them as their chief and the manager. This tradition shows how much importance Islam attaches to leadership and to discipline.
10. Relationship between leadership on the one hand and organization and discipline on the other.
11. Leadership is an art that can be learnt like any other arts.
12. "Human behaviour has its own laws or mechanism. Every action produces a corresponding reaction. If we want to work smoothly with other people, we must know the laws and the mechanism that govern their behaviour. Men are like a mystery box, to open which a special key is required. Their cooperation can be secured by means of knowledge and graceful manners, not by force. The laws of human behaviour are not to be formulated. They are to be discovered like the laws of physics, chemistry and physiology. The rules and regulations made to guide human conduct will be received well only if they are in consonance with the laws of human nature and human behaviour"2.
The same book quotes a high official of the secretariat as having said: "Our office equipment has been modernized, but unfortunately our men are worn out."
13. Ref: No. 4 & 11: "Nowadays the need of leadership is discussed under the general heading of management. Industrial management, commercial management, technical management and administrative management are all probably classified as administrative sciences. Our age is the age of administration and management"3.
14. "Do not cross this stage unaccompanied by a Khizr (true guide). It is a dark place; beware of going astray."
15. "He will perish who does not have a wise man to guide him and a foolish man to support him."
16. The famous Persian poet, Hafiz says: "Try to learn if you do not know. Unless you walk yourself, how will you be able to lead others?"
17. DescriIbng the qualifications required for a leader, Plato says that the kings must be philosophers. The eminence of a philosopher must be comIbned with the grandeur of a king.
18. Conditions and Means of Leadership
"A leader must be able to play a creative role in:
(i) Organizing divergent human forces,
(ii) And utilizing them for achieving the desired objectives, both individual and collective." (Preface to Leadership, p. 45)
19. The following Qur'anic verse explicitly shows the active and reformative leadership of the Holy Prophet of Islam:
"It was by the Mercy of Allah that you were lenient with them, for if you had been stern and fierce of heart, they would have dispersed from you. So pardon them and seek forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And when you are resolved, then put your trust in Allah. Surely Allah loves those who put their trust in Him." (Surah Ale Imran, 3:159).
20. The incident of Abu Lubabah and his repentance and the incident of the three persons who lagged behind at the time of the Battle of Tabuk, and were subsequently excommunicated by the order of the Holy Prophet. They were left isolated and so took shelter in the hills.
"And to the three also (did He turn in mercy) who were left behind, when the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for them, and their own souls were straitened for them, till they bethought them that there is not refuge from Allah save towards Him." (Surah at-Taubah, 9:118).
The incidents of Sa'd ibn Rabi', Abu Dharr and Abd Allah ibn Jumu' are unique examples of securing general cooperation and carrying out public affairs and relationship.
21. One of the requirements of a leader is his possessing of cooperative spirit and his practical participation in general effort. Initiative is all the more necessary. Example is more important than precept.
22. Relating to the importance of the right action at the right time, 'Preface To Leadership' says: '"nine factor plays the basic role in leadership. Time-consciousness is an essential quality of a successful leadership."
23. The Holy Prophet was the bearer of the Divine Message and the leader of Divine movement. Imam Husayn son of Imam Ali was the leader of a revolutionary uprising in Islam. The Holy Prophet undertook the task of awakening a slumbering society and Imam Husayn rose to bring back a straying society to the right path. Both of them displayed high qualities of leadership. The Holy Prophet was a leader having a mission, a message and an ideology. He organized the necessary forces and mobilized them. He conveyed the Divine Message to the people of the world and shattered their ideological and social shackles. Imam Husayn led a Holy revolution against ostentation, hypocrisy and falsehood, and guided a reformatory uprising in order to enjoin what is right and to forbid what is wrong.
With reference to No. 22 - Ali and time-consciousness -- In reply to Abu Sufyan Imam Ali said: "Successful is he who either rose up with a wing or resigned and relaxed. This water is polluted. It is a morsel which chokes its eater. The one who plucks the fruit before it is ripe is like the man who sows in the land which does not belong to him."4
25. Self-confidence is one of the essential qualities of a leader. In other words a leader must have faith in his success. The Holy Prophet in the early days of his apostleship used to talk of the forthcoming submission of the Romans and the Iranians. At that time the Quraysh and the Bani Hashim ridiculed him.
"The messenger believes in that which has been revealed to him from his Lord." (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:285) .
What had been revealed included this verse:
"He it is who has sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, so that He may cause it to prevail over all religion." (Surah al-Fath, 48:28).
Imam Husayn was fully confident of the result of his uprising. He said to Abu Hirrah or someone else that his opponents would kill him, but afterwards they would be disgraced and would bring shame on themselves. On the day of Ashura (10th Muharram) he told his companions that they had only that much time left to them as a rider takes in riding his horse and getting off it. He also said to his family members: "Note that only Allah is your protector and saviour."
26. For the essential qualities of a leader refer to the notes 5 on the qualities of a reformer, especially to Imam Ali's saying:
"Nobody can establish Allah's command except he who does not compromise on principles, is not a specimen of depravity and is not greedy."6
A number of positive and negative qualities of a leader have been mentioned in 'Preface to Leadership', p. 66. The positive qualities include correct and quick appraisal of the situation, being firm and quick in decision, bold and quick action, visualization of precautionary measures in case of failure, preparedness to face criticism, tolerance of opposite views, courage of taking responsibility and accepting the consequences in case of failure, fair distribution of human labour, handing over authority commensurate with ability, organization, eagerness to obtain the latest information relevant to his functions, leniency mixed with sternness, dignity accompanied with simplicity, encouragement of the subordinates and the promotion of their capabilities, attention to the emotional problems of the individuals and the feeling of delight at their success. [Some of these items are the duties of a good leader, not his essential qualities].
The negative qualities of a reformer are lack of self-confidence, faltering decisions, fear of the possible consequences, getting perplexed when faced with an unexpected development, intolerance of criticism and of the views contrary to his own, impatience for achieving results, having a complex of leadership, demanding blind obedience from every body, self-praise, unsociability, abstaining from studies and acquiring information, getting depressed at the success of others and indifference to the human and emotional needs of the people.
He who lacks the above mentioned positive qualities cannot organize and mobilize the unfolded, but marvellous human forces for constructive purposes. Before everything else a man aspiring to become a leader should evaluate his positive and negative qualities.
27. The style of leadership may be despotic, dictatorial or 100 per cent individualistic. It may also be consultative, cooperative and based on common thinking.
Naturally ordinary people having individualistic and despotic tendencies dictate their laws and policies to their followers and do not care for the opinion of others. They encourage their followers and chide them in accordance with their own decisions and personal feelings. In the words of "The Preface to Leadership" such people are self-appointed leaders.
A consultative leadership always discovers the necessary solutions to the problems coming before it out of the suggestions advanced by its followers. Such a leadership, according to the same book is a popular and democratic leadership.
Besides, a leader who consults his followers and gives due importance to their suggestions, accords a personality to his followers, encourages them to follow him willingly and secures their whole-hearted cooperation.
"The style of a leader is different from his objectives. It is possible that the objectives of a leader may be noble, but his style of leadership be despotic and objectionable. It is also possible that his objectives may be objectionable, but the method adopted by him to implement them be democratic."7
28. There is another useful and interesting discussion in 'The Preface on Leadership'. "Some leaders pay exclusive attention to their objective and almost pay no attention to their followers. The policy of some other leaders is entirely contrary to that. The first group thinks of the desired results only and pays no attention to the individual wishes, emotional longings and special aspirations of its followers. Not only that but occasionally treats them sternly. The second group regards the winning of the hearts of its followers more important than anything else and just to please them often deviates from its basic goal in the middle of the way.
To keep a balance between these two tendencies is one of the most basic duties of a good leader and his success depends on his finding a solution to this problem."8
29. Under the heading "Prosperity -A Common Desire Of All Men", this book makes an improper interpretation of the root-cause of the success of the great leaders. It says: "All men usually keep waiting for a better day and a more opportune time when they may secure every thing to their heart's liking and may find no trace of oppression and tyranny, corruption and poverty, grief and disease. After all what are all the uprisings, revolts, yearnings, hopes, vexations, excitements, waiting and suffering for? Are they not for a better day, a more prosperous time and a more dignified future?"9
The writer does not explain what he means by a better day. Does he mean a day when better and more profuse means of living would be available or does he believe that man has a higher ideal also in the depth of his soul, for the achievement of which he is always consciously or unconsciously striving? Or is it that he does not go beyond the limits of bread and butter?
Discussing the impulse that induces man to look for a leader and a saviour, to admire the leader and the saviour and to indulge in hero-worship, the author says: "What usually induces man to look for a leader, is his desire to obtain prosperity. For this purpose man makes every effort to find the best possible leader, and when he thinks that he has found one, he does all that he can to praise him and applaud him.
The author believes that hero-worship results from man's desire to find a saviour. In his opinion man lauds a hero as a means of getting better livelihood. But this is a very debatable point. Hero-worship is different from admiring a hero. A hero-worshipper is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the hero whom he worships. He does not merely like him as a means of his own prosperity. The cause of the author's mistake is that he has not paid due attention to the sense of worship or has not attached enough importance to it.
30. The Qur'an says:
"And (remember) when his Lord tried Ibrahim with His Commands, and he fulfilled them, He said: Surely I have appointed you an Imam for mankind. Ibrahim said: 'And of my offspring' (will there be Imams)? He said: 'My covenant includes not the wrongdoers." (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:124)
This verse indicates the importance of leadership and man-management. Prophet Ibrahim had to pass through many trials because of his faith. He was thrown into a burning fire; he had to fight a whole nation single-handedly; he broke the idols and he went to the extent that he was about to slaughter his own son. After he had passed through all these trials successfully, Allah called him an Imam and a leader. From this an idea of the extraordinary importance of leadership can be easily gathered. There is a tradition which says: "Allah appointed Ibrahim a Prophet before He appointed him His Messenger; He appointed him His Messenger before He appointed him His Friend; and He appointed him His Friend before He appointed him an Imam."
There is a well-known tradition according to which the Holy Prophet said: "If more than two persons travel together, let them elect one of them as their leader." This tradition shows the importance which Islam attaches to organization, management and leadership.
It is a fact that to mobilize the dormant human forces and leading men along the path of perfection are the most noble and the most difficult tasks both from the viewpoint of this worldly social life and from the viewpoint of moral and spiritual life. That is why no one is worthy of an all round and perfect leadership but such men as Prophet Ibrahim, the last Holy Prophet of Islam and Imam Ali (Peace be on them).
31. We have said that maturity means capability of utilizing and managing the assets and the means of life and looking after them. Now we say that the most important of all assets are human assets and the most important and the most basic type of maturity is one's capability of correctly exploiting and looking after one's own personal and moral resources. That is why we see that when Ibrahim asked Allah to appoint some of his descendants also Imams and leaders, he was told:
"My covenant does not include the wrongdoers" (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:124).
In other words, those who lack individual and personal maturity, which is those who lack human and moral maturity cannot become the leaders of others. He who is not himself a man, cannot be a man-maker, man-engineer and a cultivator of men. (Like plants putting forth their shoots).
Organization of human resources, their exploitation and utilization, their motivation and mobilization means breaking off man's moral and spiritual shackles:
"He will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear." (Surah al-A'raf, 7:157).
It is this maturity that is called today management or leadership.
In respect of individual maturity it must be made clear that man's mental and intellectual faculties are one of his assets. They require good management for being utilized well. For example there is a faculty of memory. How should it be utilized? Some people think that it is enough to have a good and strong memory. Others think that as their memory is weak, it is no use doing any intellectual work. They do not think that memory also requires management and training. It needs a special method to promote it. If it is supposed that memory was like an unorganized store, it would not be of much use. But if man guides his memory and uses it methodically, it will be like a well-managed library in which books have been arranged systematically in the racks and shelves according to their subjects and sizes and not heaped together haphazardly.
Those who study all sorts of books unmethodically and read a book of history today, a book of psychology next day, a political book on the third day and a religious book some other day, do not acquire any knowledge. The correct method is to select books for study consciously according to one's personal needs and not to leave the selection of books to any chance. One should not study whatever book falls into one's hand. The second point is that after studying a book, the reader should check whether its contents have actually been committed to his memory. The third point is that even if one has a very strong memory, it is not enough to study a book only once. Consecutive study of a book at least twice is necessary for a strong memory and more than two times for a weak memory.
The fourth point is that study must be subject wise. Every time a particular subject should be selected for deep study. A number of relevant books should be chosen and studied. Notes should be taken and a summary should be compiled. Then that summary and the results of that study should be deposited in one of the cages of memory. Only then it can be said that optimum use of memory has been made and that the person concerned has the capability of directing and managing one of the faculties at his disposal. There is a well-known sentence in Nahjul Balaghah, which throws some light on the method of study and the management of thinking. Imam Ali says: "Like the bodies the hearts also get bored. Therefore seek for them interesting pieces of knowledge."10
Another example of personal guidance and self-management is exercising a control over one's feelings, emotions and inclinations. We can say that a sensitive man who cannot control his feelings is as imperfect as a licentious man. Basically personality is nothing but the ability of self-control. A man who cannot manage his desires of eating and sleeping and cannot control his tongue, eyes, ears and sexual drive, is not a man in the real sense.
As we have stated in our treatise on Wilas and Wilayat 11, sometimes man is able to acquire so much self-control that he becomes the master of his thoughts and thinking power, as the famous Persian poet Mowlawi says:
"I am master of my thoughts, not a slave of them,
Like a mason who is master of what he builds."
Sometimes man may acquire so much self-control, which he can bring about any change he likes in his body. He can cast off his body if he so wants. Man can bring about changes in the outside world too, but that question is beyond the scope of what we are discussing now.
Man must exercise self-control even in respect of his acts of worship. There is a well-known Prophetic tradition addressed to Jabir in respect of the preservation of interest in devotional acts. The Holy Prophet said: "Do not make worship of Allah hateful to yourself, for with coercion you can neither pass any stage, nor can keep the spirit intact."
As for managing other people, the modern age believes in its importance so much that in Dr. Abu Talib's words, "our age is the age of management." This importance given to management is based on several considerations:
(i) Human assets are the most important assets of every society. Imam Ali says that knowledge is more important than wealth, for knowledge is a human force and a human asset, whereas wealth is a non-human force and a non-human asset. Without this human asset that non-human asset is a calamity. If the non-human asset is missing, it can be acquired with the help of human asset but not vice versa. We see today that illiterate but rich nations possessing huge subterranean resources like Iran 12 and Saudi Arabia are helpless before the world powers lacking these resources and are being exploited by them. A tradition says: "Men are like mines of gold and silver."
(ii) Just like petrol, which is discovered, extracted, refined and then used, the human assets, which is men are also in need of being managed, guided, discovered and turned to account. Unlike the animals that are equipped with instinct, man lacks instinct and requires learning. In other words he is in need of guidance and being led. Man's need of guidance is the basis of the teachings of the Prophets and the philosophy of their mission. The Holy Prophet's mission is also based on this philosophy.
(iii) The third point is that, as we have stated earlier, men, in their behaviour and their spiritual life, have special laws or mechanism and a special system of actions and reactions. If we want to work with human beings, we must know their mechanism and the laws governing their behaviour. Men are like mystery boxes. To open the box of their spirit and to gain their cooperation, more than anything else knowledge and tact are required, but not force. The laws of human behaviour are not to be formulated they are to be discovered like the laws of physics, chemistry and physiology.
It may clearly be seen that Islam has paid due attention to all these three points. The importance of human assets is illustrated by what Islam states about the position of man, who has been described as the vicegerent of Allah before whom the angels prostrate themselves and who has a Divine spirit in him. The Prophets have come to disclose the hidden treasures of human intellect. Allah says to man: "I have created all things for you and have created you for Myself. He has made available to you all that is in the heavens and the earth. We have created for you all that is in the earth. We have made your livelihood in it. He has created you from the earth and settled you in it."
The second principle is that about which we have said that it is the basis of the Prophets' mission. The third principle is the same that is nowadays called the principle of management. It can be inferred from two Islamic sources, the first of them being the marvellous life account 13 of the Holy Prophet, Imam Ali and the rest of the Holy Imams, and the second source being the instructions issued by these great personalities to their representatives, whom they appointed them as the guides of the people. According to the Sirah Ibn Hisham the Holy Prophet told Mu'az Ibn Jabal: "Make things easy for the people; do not make them difficult; win their hearts by telling them pleasing things; do not scare them away; and when you offer prayers with them, your prayers should be such as suit the weakest of them."
In the policy instructions issued by Imam Ali to his governors and administrators such as Uthman Ibn Hunaif, Qutham Ibn Abbas, Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr, Abd Allah Ibn Abbas and especially to Malik Ashtar, hundreds of psychological and social points relating to the principles of management and leadership can be discovered.
Unfortunately we are not aware of the philosophy of these instructions. For example we do not know the basic philosophy of austerity closely connected with leadership. We often describe voluntary austerity as an escape from this world and life. The well-known event of Imam Ali narrated in Nahjul Balagha, which we have reproduced in our article on ascetism, makes this philosophy quite clear. Imam Ali once went to 'Ala Ibn Ziyad Harithi's house where after some conversation 'Ala made a complain against his brother, Asim Ibn Ziyad. Imam Ali sent for him and addressed him as “O enemy of yourself". The Imam reproached 'Asim for his self-imposed asceticism. In reply 'Asim cited Imam Ali's own example. The Imam said: "Allah has made it incumbent on the Imams of the Muslims to keep themselves at the level of the poorest men, so that the poor may not feel ashamed of their poverty."14
In the charter he issued to Malik Ashtar, Imam Ali throws light on the spirit of the elite and the masses. He says: "Do not rely on those who are self-satisfied, having two much expectations and ever demanding more and more. Instead of them rely on the masses who know the value of service and are ready to follow the truth."15
In the same charter he discusses some points relating to administration and issues instructions in regard to the manner of dealing with different section of society such as the secretariat staff, army, craftsmen, judges, merchants etc. He throws light on the spirit and the value of each of them.
32. The capability of leadership is either innate or acquired. In fact it is innate as well as acquired. Some persons from childhood show a natural aptitude for leadership. They induce other children to follow their plans, both personal and general. They bring other children under their influence and make them obey them. It is, said that the Iranian king, Nadir while still a child used to draw his plans of invasion and conquest using his herd of sheep as his army. Some people believe that all or most upright Prophets have at some time in their life worked as shepherds in order to gain practical experience of leadership. Of course even an inherent leader if not infallible, needs to gain experience and learn the art of leadership. When Prophets have to be shepherds, it is evident what others will be required to do.
A point that shows ridiculous ignorance of our people is that anybody who for some time has studied jurisprudence and theology, acquired a limited knowledge in this field and writes a small book, is at once proclaimed by his followers the "outstanding leader of Shi'ism." For this very reason the question of marja' (religious authority) is one of the basic problems of the Shi'ah world.
We propose to discuss it, Allah Willing, in a separate article under the heading "One of the Basic Problems of Divinity". The fact that our society regards as leaders even those divines who are at the most fit to convey only the formal religious opinion, has stagnated the Shi'ah forces. In fact those who convey the juristic opinion, are successors to the Holy Prophet (only as far as a section of the rules of law is concerned) whereas leadership means succession to the Imam. (A successor to the Imam is responsible for issuing juristic opinion as well as assuming leadership of the Muslims.)
33. Consequences of immaturity:16 - As we have stated in the article on Islamic Maturity, No. 5, he who does not possess financial maturity, a custodian and guardian is appointed for him. Similarly in the case of an immature nation another nation comes and immediately become its guardian either overtly or covertly. The old colonialism was an open and unconcealed guardianship whereas the new colonialism is a disguised and concealed one. The guardian nation carries away every thing including the religion of the world nation. What these guardian nations have given to the Muslim nations under their hegemony is only a distorted form of Islam.
In our article on asceticism we have said that compassion is one of the rationales of austerity. In other words when it is not possible to render material help to the needy, at least moral help must be rendered. This sort of asceticism is incumbent, on the leaders.
To this effect we have quoted a tradition from Imam Ali. He said: "Allah, the Almighty has appointed me an Imam of His creation. As such He has made it incumbent on me to be on a level with the poorest so that a poor man may remain content with his poverty and the riches of a rich man may not distract him."
1. Imam Ali Addressing Uthman said: "The best man in the sight of Allah is a just ruler, who has been guided by Islam and who guides others - towards it, who keeps up the Holy Prophet's traditions and who exterminates the vile innovations. The worst man in the sight of Allah is a despotic ruler, who himself is misguided and who misguides other, who exterminated the accepted traditions and reintroduces the discarded innovations. I beseech you in the Name of Allah not to be such a leader of this ummah as to be killed by the oppressed, for it has been predicted that a leader of the ummah who will open the gates of ever lasting bloodshed and sanguinary feuds, would be killed. He will create doubts among the ummah and will cause widespread disturbances, with the result that people will not be able to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. They will be agitated and confused. Therefore with your age and experience do not be a pet animal to Marwan and do not allow him to drive you wherever he likes."17
The last sentence signifies that a leader must have an independent thinking and must not be a tool in the hands of the people surrounding him. The earlier sentences refer to the importance of the spirit of justice which a leader must possess.
2. Imam Ali's Instructions To One Of His Functionaries Whom He Had Sent To Collect Zakat. After giving him certain instructions and advising him to be sincere in his words and deeds, Imam Ali said: "I order you not to be hostile to them, not to oppress them and not to keep yourself away from them, showing your superiority to them because you are a government officer. They are your brethren in faith and are expected to help you in the collection of dues… Woe be to the person against whom the poor, the destitute, the beggars, the under-privileged, the sufferers and the way-farers complain before Allah! The worst form of treachery is the embezzlement of public funds and the most despicable form of faithlessness is to deceive the Imam." 18
3. Imam Ali has said: "In comparison to enjoining what is right and restraining from what is evil, all virtuous deeds and Jihad in the way of Allah, are no more than a breath in an unfathomable ocean. Enjoining what is right and restraining from what is evil do not bring any one closer to his death nor do they diminish the subsistence of anybody. But what is more valuable than all this is a just word before a cruel ruler."
Hence, internal reform (enjoining what is right and retraining from what is wrong) is more important than waging a holy war against the external infidels, but what is all the more important is the struggle against the deviations of a leader.
However, it may be noted that enjoining what is right is a stage of Jihad, and similarly a just word before a cruel ruler is also a sort of "enjoining right and forbidding wrong."
4. "Imam Ali expressly says that the view of the Khawarij that the Qur’an is enough and that there is no need of a government, any administrative machinery and any leader is wrong. The Khawarij used to say that "there is no arbiter and judge except Allah". Imam Ali said: "Their slogan is right but they draw a wrong conclusion from it. They say that there should be no government except that of Allah. But the people must have a ruler, whether virtuous or wicked, under whose rule both the faithful and the disbeliever may work and enjoy life."19
The administrative machinery is called government because it maintains internal and external peace and enforces law and order. It is called Imamat because it is headed by a leader who mobilizes the dormant forces and unfolds the hidden capabilities.
In Nahjul Balaghah expression of Wali and Ra'iyyat has been used for the ruler and the subjects. The expression implies that the duty of the ruler is to protect and take care of his subjects. Imam Ali says: "The greatest claim prescribed by Allah is the claim of the ruler on the subjects and the claim of the subjects on the ruler."20
5. "The requirements of a human being are not confined to food and shelter. The requirements of man are entirely different from those of a pigeon or a deer. Man has a number of psychological needs also which must be attended to. Therefore it is not enough for a government which wants to be normal, popular and tolerable, to meet only the material needs of the people. It is equally necessary to pay attention to their human and spiritual needs also. What is important is how the government looks at the people. Does it regard them as lifeless tools - which are also incidentally to be maintained; or as beasts of burden and milk-giving animals - that require medical care too, or as human beings having equal rights and privileges. In short, are the people for the leader or the leader for the people?"21
In the above mentioned article we have said that the recognition of the rights of the people and abstinence from anything that is detrimental to their authority is the first essential condition of a sound and normal leadership that wants to satisfy the people and gain their confidence.
We have said in the above mentioned article that the artificial link that the Church maintains between a belief in God and the rejection of the sovereignty of the people and as a corollary of that, between the sovereignty of the people and the rejection of God, has been an important factor in turning the people away from religion and faith.
The Roman Emperor Kaligola (the first century A.C. or the first century B.C.) used to say that rulers had the same kind of superiority over the people as the shepherd over the sheep. The rulers were like gods and the subjects like the cattle.
Some Western philosophers also believe that the rulers do not hold power for the benefit of their subjects. They think that the rulers have a divine right, which is to say that the subjects have been created for the convenience of the rulers.
6. In the above mentioned article we have said that although the word Ra'iyyat which has been used by Imam Ali, has in Persian lately acquired a disgusting sense, it actually implies the conception that the ruler is for the people, not that the people are for the ruler.
7. We have also said that it is gathered from the verse: "Allah commands you that you restore trusts to their owners, and if you judge between people, judge justly." (Surah an-Nisa, 4:58), that the rulers are the custodians of the people. In other words it enunciates the principle: the ruler for the people, not the people for the ruler. The book, Majma' quotes Imam Muhammad Baqir and Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq to have said that this verse is addressed to the Imams and the next verse: "Obey Allah and obey the Messenger"(Surah an-Nisa, 4:59), is addressed to the people. Imam Muhammad Baqir has said: "One of these two verses belongs to us (our rights) and the other belongs to you (your rights)."
Imam Ali has said: "It is essential for the Imam to judge according to what Allah has revealed and to restore the trust. If he does that it is incumbent on the people to listen to him, to obey him and to respond whenever they are called."22
8. Imam Ali wrote to his governor in Azerbaijan: "Your job is not a juicy morsel provided to you. It is only a trust committed to your care. You have been appointed by your superior a shepherd (to look after the flock of people placed under you.) As such you have no right to deal with the people in a despotic manner."23
In his circular letter addressed to all tax collectors, Imam Ali says:
"Do justice to the people on your part, and look after their needs patiently, for you are a treasurer of the people, a representatives of the Ummah and an ambassador of the Imams".24
From what has been said in No. 6 - 9 it is clear that from the viewpoint of Nahjul Balaghah the basis of leadership is that the leader is for the people, not the people for the leader.
1. The sense of leadership is synonymous with that of Imamat. While Hidayat (guidance) means to guide to the goal and management is a sort of maturity.
2. The phrase financial maturity is generally used with reference to orphans, although it applies to other individuals also. Matrimonial maturity applies to everybody.
3. Definition of maturity: Competence to take care of and to exploit the existing potentialities. This requires knowledge on the one hand and will-power on the other. Knowledge means the knowledge of the meaning, objective, value and the result of a work and ability to choose it.
4. Life is an asset. Longevity is an asset. Man has a marvellous and untapped power. His limbs, organs, and physical and spiritual faculties are all assets. History, culture, time, literature, books, technology, arts and civilization also are assets.
5. Every kind of maturity means some kind of ability of management, but when the word management is used in the sense of man-management, its sense comes closer to that of Imamat.
6. Man-management and leadership are the art of better mobilization, better organization, better control and better employment of human forces.
It is the power of management that turns weakest nations into the most strong nations. The great world leaders are not those who curb their nation and do not allow it to raise its voice. The best leader is he who mobilize, the individuals forces, motivates them, co-ordinates them and create an ideal for all the people. For an ideal two things are necessary. First the people are made ideal-minded and secondly large groups of them are induced to accept the ideal introduced to them.
7. Management is required more by man than it is required by the animals. A flock of sheep can be managed by an illiterate shepherd who knows the pastures and watering places, can prevent the sheep from being scattered and protects them from being attacked by a wolf. If any sheep falls sick, he should be able to give it some treatment. But the sheep have no mysterious spiritual world. They neither have any restless forces stored within them nor do they have any complex morals to learn. They are not the vicegerents of Allah or the manifestations of His Names and Attributes, nor have they been "created of the best stature." That is the reason why the sheep require a shepherd while man needs a leader, and that leader must be more superior to other men than a shepherd is to the sheep.
8. The difference between Prophethood and Imamat is that the first is guidance and the second is leadership. The first is conveying, intimating, apprising and showing the right path. The second is directing by going in front and mobilizing the available forces and organizing them. Some Prophets were guides as well as leaders like Ibrahim, Musa, 'Isa and the last Prophet Muhammad (Peace be on them). Some others were only guides, but the Imams are only leaders. They are guided by the guidance given by the last Prophet.
9. Difference between the concept of leadership in the modern world and in the terminology of Islam.
10. Three important points about men: (i) Men are great treasures. "They discover for them mental treasures." (ii) Instinct is not enough for human being. (iii) The laws of man's spirit are so complex that a leader cannot be successful without knowing the laws governing human life. The knowledge of these laws is the key of dominating the hearts of the people. Often it is necessary to remove the complexes, fetters and shackles. "He will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear." (Surah al-A'raf, 7:15). The Holy Prophet's man-management in his family, among his companions and in connection with preparing the troops. He knew how to manage and conduct man.
The Holy Prophet's inspiring instructions, regarding preaching and management, to Mu'az Ibn Jabal: "Make things easy; do not make them difficult; win the hearts of the people by telling them pleasing things; do not scare them away; and when you offer prayers with them, your prayers should be such as suit the weakest of them."
The incident of Imam Ali and 'Asim Ibn Ziyad. Imam Ali's extraordinary austerity was a part of his administration.
11. The essential qualities of a leader are: Initiative, creative power of organization, power of attracting people and gaining their love and faith. (Refer to point no. 15).
12. The Holy Prophet's leadership astonished Abu Sufyan. The story of three different persons at Tabuk - The story of Abuzhar.
13. The Holy Prophet has said that if three persons travel together, they should make one of them their leader. This shows the importance which Islam attaches to man-management. Addressing the Holy Prophet, Allah has said if he does not specify who would be the Leader, he would not have conveyed Allah's Message.
14. Imam Husayn's life is a superb example of leadership.
15. Qualities of a Leader:
(b) Sympathy - Story of Imam Ali and 'Asim ibn Ziyad - public life,
(c) Power of organization,
(d) Ability of selecting the right man for the right job,
(e) Ability of gaining the love and loyalty of the people,
(f) Ability of convincing people of the importance and necessity of achieving his objective.
(g) Understanding the prevailing conditions. …"Brackish water and choking morsel."
(h) Faith and confidence in the objective,
(i) Faith and confidence in the success - No wavering - Self confidence (The Holy Prophet and full faith in his mission. Imam Husayn also was confident of the result of what he was doing.
(j) Correct choice of an action.
(k) Correct choice,
(k) Quick choice,
(m) Determination No wavering in the choice of any step nor in the choice of the goal itself,
(n) Boldness and no fear of the consequences,
(p) Advance planning of the measures to be taken in case of failure,
(q) Magnanimity and broad-mindedness. "Broad-mindedness is essential for leadership."
(r) Courage of accepting defeat,
(s) Appropriate distribution of work and human force,
(t) Will-power and a personality strong enough to inspire and influence other people. A power of delivering the message in a convincing way goes along with such a personality. That was the reason why the pagans thought that the Holy Prophet possessed some mysterious magical power.
Imam Ali addressing to Ibn Abbas said: "This Caliphate is more trivial to me than an old shoe unless I restore a right or redress a wrong."25
"The greatest right prescribed by Allah in that which the ruler can claim on the ruled and that which the ruled can claim on the ruler. It is an obligation prescribed by Allah which each of them owes to the other. This system has been set for the development of love between them and for the glory of their religion. The ruled will not be good unless the rulers are sound, and the rulers will not be good unless the ruled are honest."26
The real position of a ruler is that of a trustee.
Out of all the qualities of an Imam, the most important qualities are two: justice and guidance. These two are the main objectives for which the Prophets have been raised, so that the people may set up justice. The Holy Prophet has been described as a preacher calling to Allah and an illuminating lamp. From the viewpoint of justice an Imam is a protector and trustee; and from the viewpoint of guidance he is a leader and chief. From both the angles he is a model and an example. His personality is a perfect manifestation of justice as well as a perfect manifestation of progress, maturity and sound leadership.
The most pertinent question in regard to Imamat is what need it satisfies. As Prophethood is the product of a definite need, so is Imamat.
Four assignments of the Holy Prophet: Religious authority, political leadership, dispensation of justice and supervision of the condition and its idea.
The Qur’anic verse saying that the example of the Holy Prophet is to be followed.
The truth about infallibility and its connection with perfect faith. Hadith of Thaqalayn and its relation to infallibility. The verse, "Your master is only Allah" (Surah At-Tawbah, 9:51), and its connection with infallibility.
Different uses of the word, "Imam" in connection with religious authority and political leadership - the rightful Imam and the false and despotic Imam.
Rational proof of Imamat and Wilayat in the sense of having power to take independent action - Wilayat a part of the cosmic laws. A Comparative study of the arguments advanced by such scholastic theologians as Allamah Hilli and Shaykh Mufid and the argument of Allamah Tabatabai which we have reproduced in the Khilafat and Wilayat, p. 380.
The Shi'ah discuss the question of Wilayat and Imamat from three angles: religious authority, political leadership and a belief in the perfect man and master of the time.
The question of the master of the time and the question of the friend of Allah - AscriIbng administration to someone other than Allah - AscriIbng failure to someone other than Allah - AscriIbng revelation or bounties to someone other than Allah - There is no question of man's discretion - Meaning of the verse, "for myself I have no power to benefit."
The Qur'an and man - What is the position of man according to the Qur'an? He is before whom the angels prostrated, themselves.
The discussion of 'Divine favour' (Lutf) and the 'more appropriate' - Through this discussion the existence of an infallible Imam is proved - The discussion of the real position of man - Imamat in the sense of spiritual guardianship shows man's importance, and hence its discussion is the discussion of man.
Man in fact has two lives, one external and the other spiritual. Both the lives are actual. It is not that man's spiritual life is something unreal or phenomenal.
Difference between Prophethood and Wilayat27
The Holy Qur’an has given the reason why the Prophets have always been the human beings. The gist of the matter is that the Prophets besides being a medium of conveyance of the Divine message are a medium of imparting knowledge also. Man can receive knowledge from a non-human being but he can neither love him, nor can he emulate him.
"How comes it that religion has made history, brought a culture into existence, trained innumerable men and many generations as it wanted, but it has not been able over history to bring into existence a single ideal city? The sociologists say and the historians admit that since Plato's time till today and even during Mesopotamian civilization, not a single ideal city of this type has ever existed. The reason is that an ideal city is that in which there should not be a Divine Leader (Imam)"28
The question is why an ideal city as conceived by the philosophers does not have an Imam. Actually it is a drawback of the school of philosophers. Their school has no spiritual basis. It has only rational basis.
The difference between the religious ideology and other ideologies is not exclusively that of having and not having an Imam. Further, such a model should be looked for among the companions and the followers of the Holy Prophet, not in the exceptional personality of an Imam or the Prophet. If it is possible for everybody to become an Imam, then why one individual only? If it is not possible, then an Imam cannot be an example for others. Anyhow, he can be a supreme model.
It appears that the thesis of the book "Ummah and Imamah" has been drawn from A Preface to Leadership. The only difference is that the Ummah and Imamah is a book that is committed to the support of a religious theory, whereas the book, A Preface to Leadership has no such commitment and is exclusively based on psychological aspects. It expressly says that Imam, especially the Hidden Imam meets the spiritual requirement of man, who needs a leader.
One of the proofs of Imamat is the Divine knowledge of an Imam and the extraordinary respect that the eminent Alawis and others showed to the Imams while they were still children. When it was said to Ali ibn Jafar, an uncle of Imam Jawad's father: "In spite of being a grand old man and son of Ja'far ibn Muhammad you say so about this chief”, he said: "I think you are a devil." He then took hold of his beard and said: "What can I do, when Allah considered him fit for this position and did not consider me fit in spite of my grey hair?"29
- 1. Preface to Leadership, p. 25.
- 2. Preface to Leadership, p. 25.
- 3. Preface to Leadership, p. 35.
- 4. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 5.
- 5. A compromise on principles may be in the name of expedience which includes undue regard for someone. A compromise may also be due to making discrimination in showing favour or accepting an intercession. It is a known fact that the Holy Prophet awarded legal punishment even to prominent men of the Quraysh. He abstained from showing undue favour to anybody. There are three main reasons of a compromise on principles: One is fear; another is greed. Therefore a reformer must be bold, and must not be liable to be influenced by any kind of bribe including money, flattery, women etc. The third cause of compromise on principles is nepotism and showing undue favour to friends. A reformer's friendship must be for the sake of Allah only. It may be noted that undue favour has been described in the Qur'an as 'idhan' which originally meant lubricating and oiling, and hence includes flattery and deceit, and is used in the sense of compromising also. Who wish you to compromise so that they may also compromise.
A compromise on principles may be conscious but tacit or may be unconscious. Another form of a compromise on principles is the exploitation of the weak points of society instead of combating them, and being carried away by the prevailing trend of society. The examples of this attitude are the acceptance of the kissing of hands and showing too much sensitiveness to the questions of dispute between the Shi'ah and the Sunnis.
The story of the late Mirza Muhammad Arbab can be cited as an example. The following Qur'anic verse also refers to this subject:
"My people, I delivered my Lord's message to you and gave you good advice, but you do not like those who give you good advice." (Surah al-A'raf, 7:79).
Sufyan Thawri says: "If you find a scholar having many friends, you can be sure that he is indiscriminate. Had he been telling the truth only, people would not have liked him." Abuzar said: "Enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong have left for me no friends." Imam Ali said: "Do not try to use artificial manners to be intimate with me and do not address me with those words with which the tyrants are addressed."
These words of the Imam show that to like flattery and the use of high sounding titles is also a sort of a compromise on principles. Those who like such cheap things do not succeed in reforming society. Imam Ali further said: "For me the strong is weak till I force him to restore the rights of others." He means to say that he is not one of those who compromise on principles. We frequently meet with the word compromise in connection with the Mu'awiya affair and the proposals put to Imam Ali to come to terms with him. Imam Ali said that a leader must not be a specimen of the depravity of his people.
"He should not be an impious man commanding others to piety or an ailing physician treating other people." How can a man who is eating dates himself ask others not to eat them. "He who puts himself as a leader of the people, should begin the reform with himself...." A leader must not be greedy for avarice means permanent bondage, which is contrary to spiritual and moral freedom. In respect of Christ Imam Ali says: "He had no wife to seduce him, no child to grieve him, no property to divert his attention and no cupidity to disgrace him." (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 160).
In short, a man who is morally a materialist cannot be a true reformer and a materialist philosopher cannot morally be a 100 per cent non materialistic. Other qualities of a reformer: Calmness in spite of sensitiveness. An example of calmness in Imam Ali's behaviour. A woman from Basrah and a Kharijite once abused him, but he paid no attention to their foul language. A reformer must be iron-clad. He should not be delicate, but he should be sensitive. An example of being sensitive without being delicate is the story of Sufiyan Ghamidi, who arrived in Anbar. "If any Muslim dies henceforth on account of sorrow ........ "Should I pass the night while I have overeaten and there are hungry stomachs around me?"
- 6. Nahjul Balagha, Saying 109.
- 7. The Preface to Leadership, p. 80.
- 8. The Preface to Leadership, p. 81.
- 9. The Preface to Leadership, p. 86.
- 10. Nahjul Balagha, Saying 91.
- 11. Master and Mastership, I.S.P. 1984.
- 12. It may be noted that these notes were written before Islamic revolution had taken place in Iran.
- 13. A part of the life account of the Holy Prophet should be studied from the viewpoint of the principles of leadership.
- 14. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 209.
- 15. Nahjul Balagha, Letter 53.
- 16. Item No. 33 deals with signs of immaturity, which have been mentioned in the article on Islamic maturity in the Book, Divine Succur in Human Life.
- 17. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon164.
- 18. Nahjul Balagha, Letter 26.
- 19. Article 10 on Nahjul Balagha, Murtadha Mutahhari.
- 20. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 216.
- 21. Article 5 on Nahjul Balagha, Murtadha Mutahhari.
- 22. al-Mizan, quoted from Durr al-Manthur.
- 23. Nahjul Balagha, Letter 5.
- 24. Nahjul Balagha, Letter 51.
- 25. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 33.
- 26. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 216.
- 27. The Khilafat and Wilayat, P. 379 and See, Master and Mastership.
- 28. Ummah and Imam p. 100.
- 29. Imam Al-Sadiq p. 150.