Given the view of Islaam on leadership and power, one would expect that Muslims rulers would perform creditably well in the positions of authority they occupy. Sadly though, the reality is contrary to this ideal. What then will ensure that a Muslim leader behaves ethically? The moral bases of Islamic leadership are expected to provide the inner core that guides leaders.
More Bases of Islamic Leadership
Leadership in Islaam is rooted in belief, willing submission to Allaah and establishing the will and Rule of Allaah over the earth. It centers on serving Him. Allaah say:
“ And We made them leaders, guiding (mankind) by our Command, and We inspired in them the doing of good deeds, performing Salaat and the giving of Zakat and of Us (Alone) they were worshippers.” (Q21 [Ambiyaa]:73)
To serve Allaah, a Muslim leader must act in accordance with His Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and must develop a strong Islamic moral character. This moral character will be reflected by his increasingly strong belief in Allaah. The framework for the Islamic moral system is provided by four major qualities:
At the core of islamic moral character is eeman or faith in Allaah. Eeman implies belief in the Oneness of Allaah and the prophethood of Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). A leader with a strong eeman will consider himself and all his possessions as belonging to Allaah. He will bow his ego, his thinking to him. Eaman also implies belief in the life hereafter and in one’s ultimate accountability for one’s deeds. A leader with a firm eeman will take responsibility for his actions and will continuously emphasize good deeds.
Building upon eeman, Islaam is the second layer of the moral personality of an Islamic leader. Islaam means the achievement of peace with the Creator, within oneself and with the creation of Allaah, through willing submission to Him. When a leader is imbued with eeman and practices Islaam, it will be difficult for him to see himself as supreme, definitive or autocratic.
As an individual submits to Alaah through Islaam, he develops an awe of Him. This inner consciousness of his duty toward his Creator and awareness o his accountability towards Him is referred to as taqwa. When imbued with taqwa, a person’s frame of mind his thoughts, emotions and inclinations will reflect Islaam.
Part of the fruits of taqwa is that it will restrain a Muslim leader from behaving unjustly to his people. Allaah says:
“Verily, Allaah enjoins Al-Adl (justice) and Al-Ihsan [to be patient in performing your duties to Allaah] and giving (help) to kith and kin and forbids Al-Fahsha (all evil deeds) and Al-Munkar (all that is prohibited by Islamic law) and Al-Baghy (all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed.” (Q16[Nahl]:90)
Whereas taqwa is the fear of Allah and the feeling of His presence, ihsan is the love of Him. This love of Allaah motivates the individual Muslim to work towards attaining His Pleasures. The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) describes ihsan as follows:
“To worship Allaah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you.” (Bukhari)
The constant feeling that Allaah is watching is likely to prompt a Muslim leader to behave at his best.