Quarterly: Issue No 58
MUSLIM LEADERSHIP CRISIS
In the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allah (Glorified be His Name), and peace and blessings be upon his beloved Messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions. Ameen!
One often hears Muslims complain that they suffer from a leadership crisis, that they have no leaders, in the true sense of the term, to guide and represent them. Let us analyse the reasons for the lack of progressive Muslim leaders in the world today. Undeniably, there is a serious leadership crisis among Muslims, but I don't think this problem is specific to Muslims in South Africa alone. Rather, it is one that affects the Muslim World globally. The reason is that, generally, Muslims worldwide do not live by the aims and objectives of Islam. They all live by their selfish motives of nationalism and sectarianism. The states as well as Muslim Organizations have done little or nothing to improve this condition. So, to expect a progressive leadership to emerge from such ranks is not very promising unless we change our state and conditions as true Muslims. Allah says: Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls). (Surah Ar-Ra’d: Chapter 13: Verse 11)
The rise of European Colonialism changed the perception of life wherever it reached. It brought modern Western ideas and concepts to countries which were not known to them. Some of those new ideas were indeed responsible for bringing revolutionary changes in the people’s lives of the conquered land. But what it left on the face of it were divided groups of people with conflicting interests. No doubt, nation-state and its concomitant bureaucratic structure, ambitious political theories, human rights and new economic opportunities came as an excellent package to the new born nations but what they completely lost was their self confidence, identity, cultural values and most importantly potential as a nation to groom honest and dedicated leadership.
The current uprising in the Arab world is indeed a sign of people coming out of a dangerous intellectual crisis, which was forced upon them after the fall of British Empire. One thing that is very important to note is that it took them nearly a century to do this. The decline of the end of colonialism and the fall of Ottoman Empire happened more or less simultaneously, and this changed the world map. The fall of Ottoman Empire immediately after the Second World War dramatically shifted anarchy from Europe to the Muslim world. This was mainly due to selfish individualism of Western and American society pouring and settling in Muslims lands. It took more than two generations to entirely wipe out the ill effects and now the political dynamics of the Muslim world is changing spectacularly and swiftly. The question arises why it took so long? It is yet another point to understand that the end of British colonialism was the beginning of American’s neo-Colonialism in the garb of Imperialism. This covert form of Colonialism acted as a breather for westerners especially Europeans, which took its effect by controlling the political theatre of the world through trained, tamed and corrupt leadership.
From the Islamic Republic of Iran to secular republics in the Arab world or Indonesia, from monarchies in the Arab world, Malaysia, Nigeria (where monarchies rule over provinces), and Brunei, to democracies in Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia, current Muslim States have great diversity in the methods of implementing politics and governments. One thing which is purely common in these states is Islam, not only as a Faith but also as a source of identity and an important factor in social relations and politics. The next thing that is more common amongst them is an impurity in the form of democratic dictators or dictatorial democrats with the following important character traits:
· Chosen and placed by neo-Colonial (American) powers by hook or by crook
· Most of them dishonest and corrupt
· Extremely lacking in self confidence for decision making and
· They rule and work for vested interests
It is believed, by and large, in most parts of the world that political upheaval in Arab world is a well designed act by Americans and is a continuation of pick and choose theory adopted by Americans since a very long time ago. Even before the fall of Communism, this theory has indeed worked miracles for them – especially in the Muslim parts of the world. The main reason for this unprecedented success is the deplorable economic condition of the people of these countries that paved the American way for this deadly power game of changing leadership.
However, it is very obvious that not all the Arab dictators have lost their utility and faith for Americans. Truly speaking, the absence of quality leadership remains imminent in Arab world as well. Despite of their booming economics, there is no alternative in the shape of credible leadership available to control the damage, especially with reference to the volatile situation in Egypt and Libya. Therefore, American interests in the region will be taken care of by filling up this vacuum - by different viable options - prompted and supported by westerners. But, on the other hand, this quagmire can be a source of great inspiration for Muslims in general where vibrant media can trigger public opinion by making them realize all the pros and cons in the case of an absence of true and quality leadership. This vibrant media can also help to do the most important job of awaking the Muslim masses in bringing back the true “khilaafah” in our Muslim States; and prepare the region for the arrival of Imam Mahdi (Alayhis Salaam). Here are a few suggestions worth pondering to overcome our leadership crisis:
1. Let us make plans to recreate the Ummah. Bridge the gap between Ulama and others. Create a Jamiat-ul-Ummah by including others who are knowledgeable and have leadership qualities - as the slogan goes; ‘one for all and all for one’. Put this concept into practice and act accordingly as and when required to do so. Let us create platforms of common interest and learn to live with differences – of course within the confines of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
2. Let us change our attitudes, but the basic principles must always take precedence. Everything should begin with moral authority. Encourage critical dissent and analysis because blind obedience creates paralyzed minds. Let us all learn how to dispute effectively - disagreeing without being disagreeable. Learn and teach others how to think in order to draw lessons from our Islamic History and create strategies for the Ummah at large.
3. Make sincere efforts to change our lifestyles. Primary obedience should only be to Allah alone. Boycott the wilfully disobedient. Let us value knowledge and those who possess it because knowledge is the source of all power. Value and encourage social service as Islam can only triumph by winning the hearts of people.
4. Change our method and curriculum of teaching. Curricula in our teaching institutions must be reviewed with a focus on application in today’s modern world. Our teaching methods must be changed to use the best of modern methods and tools. We just cannot afford to cast a blind eye on this very important but effective communication methods and tools of educating the Muslim masses.
5. Change our focus in life. Let us actively seek to ‘lead’ in all walks of life. Develop the skills to inspire leadership. Let us enter politics, administration and even the army in Muslim countries. Wealth without power is a recipe for disaster. Put expiry dates on elderly leaders and make succession planning a part of our life. Put our focus on higher education and seek to influence by leveraging on knowledge.
6. Change our self-definition. Define ourselves in terms of global impact for that is the definition of us in the Noble Qur’an. Do a contribution audit in all spheres of life – and make plans to replace ineffective leaders for the sake of the Ummah – not for personal, racial or national reasons. Put our focus on providing solutions – rather than in-fighting - because people generally love problem solvers.
It is an accepted fact that unless we solve our leadership crisis we will never be able to control our affairs or take decisions that are beneficial for us. This is a fundamental right of all people anywhere in the world. It is the very definition of the concepts of freedom and liberty. But history shows us that whenever people wanted to enjoy this freedom, they had to fight for it. The Qur’an also tells us that this fight is internal more than external for the destiny of nations depends on their character. Allah says: Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls). (Surah Ar-Ra’d: Chapter 13: Verse 11)
IMPORTANCE OF ZIKRULLAH
Allah (Glory be to Him, the Most High) mentions in the Noble Qur’an the qualities of His beloved servants Mu’minoon (Believers). One of them He says is that they are in remembrance of Almighty Allah whether they are standing, sitting or lying down. In other words it means that they are in remembrance of Allah continuously because a person can either be standing or sitting or in lying down position. Allah loves this quality of Mu’min (believer) to be in the state of Zikrullah (remembrance of Allah) at all times.
Allah (Exalted be His Name) says: “Those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): ‘O Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose. Glory be to You! Give us salvation from the punishment of the Fire.” (Surah Ale Imraan: Chapter 3: Verse 191)
In this verse, we learn the sequence of events that follow the Zikrullah. It is an established fact that as the eyes can see only in the presence of the external light, similarly the human heart (Qalb) perceives things only in the presence of some sort of Spiritual Light (Noor). As eyes, though normal, are functionless in the darkness; so is the heart functionless in Spiritual Darkness. Thus a person, whose heart (Qalb) is enveloped in darkness, has very limited range of thinking and has highly narrowed inner vision.
Many Saints (Awliya-ul-Kiraam) and true Islamic Sufis in Islam have stated in their commentaries of the above verse that since Zikrullah is a Noor, it illuminates and enlightens the Zakir’s heart (Qalb) and removes darkness from it. When the heart gets illuminated and enlightened, its range of vision increases tremendously. It now starts thinking in the creation of the skies and the earth; i.e. from the stage of Zikr, he gets elevated to the next higher stage which is called the stage of reflection and contemplation (Fikr). His Fikr , which was dead, has now become revived because of the Zikr of Allah.
This is the next higher stage in the spiritual ascendance of a Mu’min (Believer). This is the higher faculty of Qalb having wide ranging capabilities. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) stated in a Hadith that Tafakkur (Process of Fikr) for a moment is better than sixty or seventy years of worship (Ibaadah). From this Hadith, one can imagine the value of Fikr i.e. the reflection and contemplation of the creation of the universe and all that it consists of.
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said in a Hadith: “The world has been created for you, but you have been created for the akhirah (hereafter).”. Therefore, A Mu’min does not make the accumulation of material things his goal but entirely dedicates himself to the real purpose of humanity. He soars higher and higher in this objective. He does not leave this world and adopt what is called renunciation (Rahbaaniyah), but he uses this world as a means to achieve his ultimate goal. This great lesson we learn from the Qur’an and Hadith. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to invoke Almighty Allah in the following words: “O Allah! Help me in my Deen (religion) by the Dunyah (World) and in my Aakhirah (Hereafter) by Taqwa (Piety).” Here one can understand that our beloved Prophet teaches us that the worldly gains are also of importance for a believer (Mu’min) but, of course with a difference i.e. it is not the ultimate goal of a believer (Mu’min) but is a means of achieving the real goal, that is why our beloved Prophet asks Allah to help us in Deen (religion) by Dunyah (world) and not vice versa.
Allah ordains every soul in the Quran to perform Zikrullah. It is only through Zikr-e-Qalbi that Prophetic Noor reaches the depths of human soul and purify it from all vice and evil. Zikrullah infuses a realization of constant Divine Presence and a seeker feels great improvement in the level of sincerity and love towards his most beloved Allah. Such levels of sincerity, love and feelings of Divine Presence can never be obtained without Zikrullah. It would also be a mistake to believe that Zikrullah is only a requirement for the very pious and virtuous people. Zikrullah provides the Prophetic blessings which are in effect the life line of every human soul. It transforms even the most corrupt humans into virtuous beings by bringing out the best in them.
The fact is that Zikrullah is the only way to achieve true contentment and satisfaction in life. The holy Quran has pointed to this established fact that it is only through Zikrullah that hearts can find satisfaction. Such satisfaction and peace are the ultimate requirements of every person. Practicing Zikrullah regularly removes all traces of anxiety and restlessness, and guides the human soul to Eternal Bliss and Peace. Allah (Glorified be His Name) says in the Noble Qur’an:
Those who believe, and whose hearts find peace and satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah! Behold, in the Remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace and satisfaction. (Surah Ar-Ra’d: Chapter 13: Verse 28)
O you who have Imaan! Let not your wealth or your children divert you from the Remembrance of Allah. If anyone acts thus, the loss is their own. (Surah Al-Munafiqoon: Chapter 63: Verse 9)
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
“The difference between the one who makes Zikr and the one who doesn’t make Zikr is like the difference between the living and the dead.” (Al-Bukhari)
“The best remembrance of Allah is to repeat LA ILAAHA ILLALLAH and the best prayer (du’a) is AL HAMDU LILLAH (All praise belongs to Allah).” (Narrated by Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, and Hakim who declared its chain sound)
May Allah give us the tawfeeq to be among those who say “we heard and we obey”! Ameen!
Requesting your humble duas!
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Umhlanga Rocks, KZN