Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Trust of Leadership

The trust of leadership

Ikim Views
By Dr Mohd Sani Badron

Betrayal of trust of leadership, abuse of public funds and having no concern for the welfare of the economically needy renders even one’s religious rituals and profession of faith hypocritical.

ISLAMIC history is rich with traditions and anecdotes which contain sufficient counsel for people of power and holders of authority.

According to al-Ghazali, in his work Nasihat al-Muluk, how effective those traditions are depends on the strength of their faith. If faith is firmly established in the heart of those people of power, then these traditions will be impactful and influential to their behaviour and conduct.

If those religious traditions are not effective, however, this will be because the heart is devoid of faith. Indeed, nothing remains of it except profession of faith with the tongue. In reality, merely talking that one has faith is one thing, but true faith that is receptive to religious counsel on trust and leadership is another thing altogether.

On his administrative experience, al-Ghazali recorded in his work Kimiya al-Sa‘adat, “I do not know what sort of faith really exists in the heart of a Finance Officer who holds the treasury in trust for the people but instead gives the money away only to some (undeserving) individuals. This action is an utmost limit of neglect of God’s commands and un-Muslim conduct.”

In contrast with the notion of sociopolitical leadership as trust is the notion that politics is “who gets what, when, and how”, with all forms of power play, manoeuvring and machinations.

Indeed, there is the Prophet Muhammad’s reminder that there are three signs of a munafiq (hypocrite): “When he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he breaks the promise; and when he is entrusted with something, he betrays that trust, even if he ritually observes canonical fasting, prayers, haj (pilgrimage), umrah (lesser pilgrimage), and asserts that he is a Muslim.”

As the Caliph ‘Umar b. al-Khattab reminded, “Don’t let a man’s humming prayer during the night deceive you. A true man is the one who keeps his trust and returns it to its owner, and from whose tongue and hand Muslims are safe.”

Another prophetic tradition on additional signs of hypocrites is, “When he gets financial opportunity, he acts unfaithfully in taking from the property; when he is commanded in religious matters, he disobeys; and when he encounters challenging situation, he becomes a coward.”

Betrayal of trust of leadership, abuse of public funds and having no concern for the welfare of the economically needy renders even one’s religious rituals and profession of faith hypocritical.

Having political power is an immense trust because if the power is conducted in a just way, it is the vicegerency of God on the earth (khilafatullah fi al-ard). Indeed, it is an objective of Islam to establish an ethical and a just social order.

Having considered all relevant religious texts, al-Ghazali concluded that “there is no act of religious worship greater to God than just governance.”

Prophet Muhammad said: “One day of justice by a just ruler (or leader) is better than the continual worship of sixty years.”

The Prophet declared that “the man most beloved and closest to God is the just leader, and that the man who is most hateful and contemptible in the sight of God is the unjust leader”.

The Prophet once said to his Companions, “The best of leaders are those who like you and whom you like, the worst of leaders are those who hate you and whom you hate, they curse you and you curse them.”

But al-Ghazali warned that if the power is devoid of justice and compassion, it is the vicegerency of Satan.

While countless people have died in the history of mankind, the Quran makes a special mention of the death of individuals like Pharaoh or Korah, because their political and economic injustice means destruction of their right to exist in a socio-historical context.

There is no greater cause of corruption than the injustice of a leader.

On the one hand, there is a tacit undertaking of a leader, defined as “he who has commanding authority or influence” over his subjects.

Leaders must neither neglect nor be ignorant of the rights of their subordinates, but ought rather to be just, righteous and equitable, and act in the best interests of all.

Most importantly, leaders must be able to liberate human capabilities, so that every citizen can participate positively in the system of governance. Governing the Community is indeed a collective responsibility (shura).

Leaders need to remind themselves that the governed possess the right to be governed as free men.

Human beings are governed by consent; even for the minority or dissenting groups, there must be the protection of their rights as long as they act in a peaceful, civil, and legitimate way according to the due process of law within the framework of the basic laws of the community.

What is most important is that a leader ought to prepare his people to contribute through their intelligent and meaningful participation as citizens, in peaceful cooperation.

Leaders must be mindful that for a nation to be prosperous there must be a fair distribution of income as well as a just distribution of power.

Just as there is the human right to security and the right to peace, there is also the right to earn a decent subsistence and the right to a decent livelihood.

If and when gross socio-economic disparities are found at the heart of social discord, a leader must be persuaded that it is imperative to execute specific social reforms for the benefit of the weaker segments within a community, whoever they are.

On the other hand, there is also a tacit undertaking of people to be sincere in manners towards their leaders.

It alludes to the fact that armed rebellion is not the manner preferred. God also forbids mankind from deceiving their leaders through flattery for self-interest.

On the contrary, the sincere conduct refers to being helpful and loyal as far as it is just, and to advise them towards goodness and to enjoin them to be truthful and equitable.
Dr Mohd Sani Badron is Senior Fellow/Director, Centre for Economics and Social Studies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are no bad Islam..only betrayal by bad people who claim to be MUSLIMS!