By Fethullah Gulen
Prophet Muhammad (Sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) had all the necessary qualities for success in every aspect of life. But, more importantly, he was able to lead his community to success in every field. He is the source from which flowed all later developments related to command, statecraft, religion, spiritual development, and so on in the Muslim world.
In general, leaders should have the following qualities:
- Realism.They should understand prevailing conditions as they actually are and be aware of any advantages and disadvantages.
- Absolute belief in their message.Their conviction should never falter, and they should never renounce their mission.
- Personal courage.Even if left alone, they should have enough courage to persevere. When some of his pursuers reached the mouth of the cave in which they were hiding, Abu Bakr was afraid something would happen to the Messenger. However, the Prophet only said, “Grieve not, for God is with us” (At-Tawbah 9:40).
- Strong willpower and resolve.They should never experience even one moment of hopelessness.
- Awareness of personal responsibility.Everything should be directed toward fulfilling this responsibility. In no way should they be seduced by the world’s charms and life’s attractions.
- Far-sighted and goal-centered.Leaders should be able to discern and plan for potential developments. They should know how to evaluate the past, present, and future to reach a new synthesis. Those who frequently change their opinions only spread chaos in the community.
- Personal knowledge of each follower.Leaders should be fully aware of each follower’s disposition, character, abilities, shortcomings, ambitions, and weak points. If they lack this knowledge, how can they fill vacant posts with the appropriate people?
- Strong character and praiseworthy virtues.Leaders should be determined but flexible while carrying out decisions, and know when to be unyielding and implacable or relenting and compassionate. They should know when to be earnest and dignified, when to be modest, and they should always be upright, truthful, trustworthy, and just.
- No worldly ambitions or abuse of authority.Leaders should live like the poorest members of their community. They should never discriminate among their subjects; rather, they should strive to love them, prefer them over themselves, and act so that their people will love them sincerely. They should be faithful to their community, and secure their community’s loyalty and devotion in return.
The Messenger possessed all of these qualities and many more as well. To cite only a few examples, he never even thought of abandoning his mission when confronted with great hostility and tempting bribes. Instead, he would tell them,“Say: ‘There is no god but Allah,’ and prosper (in both worlds)”
When his Companions complained about the harsh conditions and persecution in Makkah, he answered,“By Allah, Allah will bring this matter (the establishment of Islam) to its consummation till a rider will travel from San`a’ (in Yemen) to Hadramaut fearing none but Allah, or a wolf as regards his sheep, but you (people) are hasty”(Al-Bukhari).