Islam and the struggle for power

By Atty. Bayan G. Balt

Election fever is within us, with 73 more days before the May 9, 2022 elections, some candidates cannot cope with the rigorous campaign, there are reports, some have withdrawn or reported to withdraw.

Following, the Islamic point of view, election is not a contest of who have the party’s machinery, neither who have the money or goons. Islam sets a very comprehensive condition in choosing a leader. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) exemplary leadership, has these qualities: Integrity and Trust — built a reputation for honesty and truthfulness role modelled; Vision — a strategic mind offering vision and direction through inspiration; Courage — showed incredible bravery and confidence in the face of adversity and Competence — was effective, reliable and made an impact.

According to the Hadith of the prophet (pbuh), he mentioned two most important qualities of a leader, these are (1). skill and competence, (2). integrity and trustworthy. While it not easy to find one with both qualities, some Muslim scholars suggested that a leader with skill and competence is better than an incompetent leader, despite later trustworthiness, this is because a skill and competent leader actions or policy could be review and audited by the people.   The fact that a candidate is a learned religious leader who lack skills and competence may not be enough to lead, likewise the same is true to skill and competent leader who is dishonest and corrupt.

Some candidates have plan of actions to convince the electorates such as reducing poverty, ending insurgency, improving the economy and creating jobs. We have learned from promises, but some of them were not realized despite being elected.   

But what is worst is when elected leader raise himself above the electorates, he thus personalized his office to the prejudice of the people. This has been the problem in a Democratic government like ours as when a Punong Barangay is elected to his post, he considered his IRA personal property and utilized them for his personal and family gains, this is also true to appointed officials in some of our Bureaucracy.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said: “The leader of a people is their servant. Leadership in Islam is based on the principle of trust (Amanah). The leader is trusted to lead a group and is accountable to both the group members and to God”.

During the golden years of Islam, prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to appoint leaders or Governors in areas conquered by the Muslims. Many applied to be appointed as Governors or rulers of Egypt, Damascus or Yemen.

Further, the prophet (pbuh) announced that appointed person will only receive an “allowance while any excess earned or received while in office is an ill-gotten wealth”. Many who learned the prophet’s announcement have withdrawn his application, simply people have inherent desire to earned more than what he deserves. Sad to say that in our present democratic system, there are report of elected and appointed officials who become rich while in office, who owned a fleet of cars and buildings or send their children to foreign schools. These people don’t believe in honesty. On the contrary, “No legacy is so rich as honesty” said by William Shakespeare.


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*Atty. Bayan G. Balt is past Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, 2013-2015) Chairman of the Ranao Federal State Movement (RFSM) and President of the Alliance of Regional Coalitions Against People’s Poverty (ARCAPP).

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