Selected Notes and Reflections on the Concept of Leadership in Islam (Series)

By Dean Macacuna A. Moslem

(Third of a Series)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever of you did an evil action, let him change it with his hand, and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue, and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith”

Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Islam, on his election declared in his policy speech:

“O people! Behold me with the cares of government. I am not the best among you. I need all your advice and all your help. If I do well support me, if I commit mistake counsel me. To tell the truth to person commissioned to rule is faithful allegiance; to conceal it is a treason. In my right, the powerful and the weak are alike, and both. I wish to render justice as I obey God and his Prophet, obey me; if I neglect the law of God and his Prophet, don’t obey me. I have no more right to your obedience.”

Mutual respect and responsibility between the ruler and the ruled is imperative for peace and development. Everybody must know that whatever action taken by him must be for the sake of God and not for any other purpose. When the rulers sincerely open their hearts to advise, the subjects will be more enthusiastic to give their cooperation.

Amanah (trustworthiness) is one of the significant factors in administration. Amanah and justice must not be separated from each other. Both should be simultaneously applied.  Anyone who successfully observes justice fulfills a trust given to him by God.

“Say o God, Lord of power (and rule), thou givest power to whom they please and thou strippest power from whom thou pleases and thou bringest low to when thou pleases. In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things thou hast power” (Al-Quran: 3:26)

A leader or public official is at all times accountable to Allah (S.W.T) as bestower of trust to whoever is chosen or elected to render public service. This accountability principle requires strict adherence once public office is entrusted to anyone in whatever way or mode.

In carrying out his duties, it is incumbent upon public official or leader to comply with his responsibilities in a right manner otherwise he deserves the punishment of God for such betrayal of trust.

God doth command you to render back your trust to those whom they are due and ye judge between man and man that ye judge with justice; verily how excellent is the teaching which he given to you, for God is the hearer and seer of all things. (Al-Quran: 4:58)

“Trustworthiness and Justice of those who are in power are significant elements in maintaining peace and order in any society”

Corollarywise, it is the obligation of the people to obey and respect the decision and regulation of the ruler, Allah said:

“O ye who believe, obey God and obey the Apostle and those in charge with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and his apostle, if you do believe in God and the last day; that is the best suitable for final determination” (Al-Quran, 4:59)

Consultation or Mashuara is essential in public administration. It behooves every leader to consult his subjects or subordinates. It is a must between the ruler and the ruled. One-man show or dictatorship is not only prohibited but condemned as well.

“Those who hearken to their lord and establish regular prayer, who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what we bestow on them for sustenance” (Al-Quran: 42:38)

“And consult them in affairs of government. Then when thou have taken a decision, put thy trust in God, for God loves those who put their trust in Him.” (Al-Quran 3: 159)

The Muslim conduct of life is open and transparent and determined by mutual consultations among those who are entitled to the expression of opinion, e.g. in private affairs and domestic affairs between husband and wife and other responsible members of the household; in business affairs between partners or parties interested; and in state affairs between rulers and the ruled or between different department in order to preserve the unity of administration. Through Mashuara there will be suggestion of the ideal way in which good man should conduct his affairs so that he may not lightly abandon the responsibilities which devolve upon him as a person whose development counts in the sight of God.

More often than not the concept of Mashuara is neglected by the leaders. As a result, the decision taken fails normally to achieve the desired goal. This attitude causes the leader to commit more errors and disasters to the nation.

Under the concept of Mashuara people are given the right to express their opinion toward their leaders for the sake of God and for the sake of truth.

“And (join together) in the mutual teachings of truth, and patience and constancy” (Al-Quran: 103:3). Failure to fulfill their obligation is ingratitude. “Allah said: obey God, the Prophet and the rulers.”


Dean Macacuna A. Moslem is Assistant Secretary, Office of the President, Malacañang, Manila.

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