Leadership Qualities of Prophet Muhammad
The leadership qualities I find most admirable were his humility, his recognition of talent, and his ability to think counter-intuitive, or ?outside the box,? as the current clich?ould have it. When the Prophet received his first revelation, he trembled with fear. He was fully aware of the awesome responsibility. So fearful was he that he could confide only to his wife Khatijah. In an era where females generally and wives in particular were mere chattels of men, that he took her in confidence was remarkable. It reflected his inner strength and confidence in judgment, regardless of the prevailing norms. He trusted and respected his wife, a rare trait in that time and place. It also reflected his deep humility. Lesser mortals who thought they had been chosen by God would undoubtedly proclaim that fact loudly for the world to hear, a la George Bush, Jr., or Pat Robertson. True to his humility, he preached initially only to his close family and friends. He was fully aware that his message would literally turn his society upside down, transforming it for the better. He risked dividing his community in the process. He had no desire to destroy his community in order to save it, to use a Vietnam-era maxim. Today?s leaders would do well to emulate the Prophet?s appreciation and recognition of talent ? meritocracy in its pristine form. His closest companions, later to be Caliphs, were truly worthy of the appellation, Radhi Allah anHu (May Allah Be Pleased with Them). Recognizing the beautiful voice of the hitherto slave, Bilal, the Prophet made him call the Azzan, a singular honor. The Azzan, beautifully executed, gives me goose bumps; simply hollered, it grates on the ears. In the early days of his mission, to spare his followers persecution, he arranged for them to migrate to Abyssinia for their safety. That was uppermost in his mind, a true leader. In a pivotal battle at Taif when he had the enemy under siege, he could have easily annihilated them especially considering that they had been brutal to him years earlier. Instead, listening to the counsel of his lieutenant about the fox cornered in a hole, he left them alone. You could smoke out the animal and destroy it, or you could leave it alone and it would do you no harm. The people of Taif later embraced Islam on their own volition. The Prophet intuitively recognized that in fighting for your cause, first create no new adversaries. A simple lesson, but difficult to learn. This is a lesson the world desperately needs to learn in battling terrorism. The Prophet (P) may have received the blessings and revelations from Allah, but he was not above listening to advice from his young subordinates. In preaching, the Prophet was careful in ensuring that his followers memorized only the divine revelations, not his commentaries. He forbade what would be considered today as a personality cult. Had he not done so, every Muslim home would be adorned with his portrait, cities named after him, and statues erected in his honor. For added measure, Muslims would be sporting amulets bearing his name or likeness for protection and good luck charms. The tradition of recording his actions and sayings (seerah) began long after his death. Bukhari, whose collections of hadith were deemed most authentic, was not even born till about 200 years after the prophet?s death. It is more correct to say that the hadith are what one man ? Bukhari ? deemed to be what the Prophet s.a.w. purportedly said, rather than what he actually said. The only authentic ones are those recorded in the Quran, the hadith qudsi. The Prophet was no ordinary mortal, but a mortal nonetheless. At the theological level, this means Muslims do not believe in the re-incarnation or the second coming. At the practical level, that too has significance. While Muslims duly and properly praise the prophet, we are careful not to deify the person or attribute perfection. Perfection is after all solely the...
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