The Prophet of Islam (SAW): The Model of Leadership
One of the distinct features of the Prophet (SAW) is that he was the teacher, founder, and leader of his nation (Ummah).
His behavior towards people is worth consideration as an example for both people and governments to follow. The base of our discussion is from the Holy Qur’an, which states:
“Certainly an apostle has come to you from among yourselves; grievous to him is your falling into distress, excessively solicitous respecting you; to the believers (he is) Compassionate, Merciful.” (9:128)
In the above Holy Verse, Almighty Allah (SWT) mentions some of the Prophet’s (SAW) characteristics:
1. “From yourselves” means that the Prophet (SAW) is from among the people so that he is not foreign to them. And there is no race or class discrimination between him and his Ummah. He is a human being like others. As a leader being from and among the people is one of the factors for his success. If the leader is in any way distant from his people, he will not be successful in his leadership.
2. “Grievous to him is your falling into distress” means that he suffers with his Ummah and as a leader, he tries to decrease the factors which result in people’s distress and hardships. This is one of the characteristics of an Islamic leader.
3. “Excessively solicitous respecting you” means that he is eager to rescue and guide the people. Towards this end he makes the greatest effort to lead the people to the straight path and suffers much in this way.
4. “To the believers (he is) compassionate, merciful” shows that he is compassionate and kind towards his followers and believers. This character must be a model for leaders in all societies.
Leaders of the world should and must follow him in order to achieve the final objective of their leadership and to also attain the appreciation of the people.
According to moral and spiritual duties, in addition to the leaders’ legal and official responsibilities, they must see themselves as being from amongst the people and should not discriminate against them. They should suffer right along with the people whom they rule over. If this simple rule is followed, then most of the criminal activities from which people of the world suffer, will be brought to an end.
The issue of human rights rather than stemming from the relationship between individual people of a society, deals with the relationship between leaders and their people. The behavior of the leaders of the world and their indifference to those over whom they rule leads to a violation of human rights.
The event in Iraq is one of these examples. These leaders were imposed upon the people and not for one minute do they consider the rights of the oppressed. When there is no justice between government and people, then the necessary ties within the society collapse.
Egotism, selfishness and the disregarding of human rights by the leaders of Iraq and particularly by Saddam, caused unhappiness and distress to the people of that country. This pattern was followed by the so called “saviors” of the Iraqi people. They at least have the partial excuse of not being from the people and therefore lack compassion and feelings of sympathy for the people. It is this lack of consideration and deliberation about the rights of others that has brought about the many wars and conflicts that the world has experienced thus far. Saddam’s toppling and the American presence in Iraq seems a bitter sweet victory for the Iraqi people, who have been freed from the oppressive grip of Saddam but have for the moment not gained their long awaited independence. Whereas in the example of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we see that the people were able to sacrifice themselves for their leader, in Iraq the opposite holds. That is all evidence to the fact that leaders of the world need to consider the rights and needs of the common people before their own such as did the Holy Prophet of Islam (SAW).