Our Leader

Our Leader

Close to Election Day of May 11th, we pine for a leader.  Never in history have nations built themselves into significance without a leader. Even with the best of systems, the need of a leader exists and without that the system falters. 

So when people say that Pakistanis should not wait for a leader, but move on and do things ourselves, sadly they are mistaken, it will not happen thus. We must, and Inshallah will, find a leader. Just have to try harder! I think we are close to it, Inshallah.

In looking for a leader, what are the sterling qualities which needs be exhibited, without which our leader will be another failure? Of course, for each their own, but a few basics just cannot be denied.

The leader should be a servant of the people. Our own Prophet (saw) has been described as such. Today this has become a ‘mantra’ in universities, who concentrate on this servant leadership role. A servant leader has empathy, feels the needs of people, resolves problems, motivates and thus achieves success. Just a humble servant leader!

Once the leader is humble and has no ego, it is likely their personal needs are low. If needs are low, then it is highly likely the leader will be honest. Our eyes just search the horizon for a leader who is honest. No looting the baitul-maal, no factories, no umrah and foreign trips on country account, no personal hidden foreign accounts. Just a plain honest leader, who is not motivated to build a fortune, and like Abu Bakr (ra), he will find the lowest paid, and then match his compensation to that person. Now would you not want such a leader?

So this leader then will be sincere. If there is no ego and no money, nothing but sincerity drives this person. I have written in the past on sincerity and taken the example of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, the Umayyad ruler, whose effects prevailed 500 years, though he ruled for less than three years(http://www.borderlinegreen.com/2012/05/22/what-price-sincerity/) . Sincerity ushers in forces which are not land locked and therefore difficult to rationalize. It also causes teams to form, who will sacrifice life and limb for the leader and nation. This is the sweetest, powerful force to be created. History has seen sincerity succeed eventually, sometimes as in Italy and Garibaldi it might take 150 years. But it happens.

Next is being visionary. The leader need not be creative, but will need to consult, understand and formulate a vision. The vision encapsulates our ideas and will bind us to a common theme. Without this understanding, no goal will be possible. Our leader plays a part of the visionary; a picture is painted, which entrances the population, builds its passion and makes it rise above the normal. The leader is therefore passionate, speaks well and is able to create faith and trust. The Quaid was just such a person.

Now we have a team; sincere and honest people at its helm and a leader who understands what the team/nation wants, we have a vision and a direction to take. Here now come the important implementation factors. Once in the seat of power, the leader needs rigor. Without this factor, no nation will be built. Cyrus spent a whole lifetime, in making the Persian Empire. As did Julius Caesar! The building phase requires one who can not only lead, but role up the sleeves and get into action themselves. Later when nations are built up, there is time enough for delegation, pomp and show, but early nation building requires participation and rigor. Honest diligence to get things done, barriers broken and the feeling of oneness created.

This leader will have further qualities. He/she will feel for the people and like many early Caliphs, would want to roam the streets at night. Now that’s not probable in today’s world. So, they will have myriads of trusted individuals who will give feedback that the people are happy, sad, in pain etc. Today it is possible by getting continuous independent research done, which will feed back to the leader, who will then try and tackle the on-going problems.

The leader will be an icon of justice. There are many in our history. Umar (ra) dealing lashes to his own son, Sher Shah Suri punishing his Muslim subordinate, as against a common Hindus traders claim etc. Justice is the basis of progress. It is the one implementable, which must not go wrong. If it does, we end up like we have today in Pakistan. No wonder that one of Allah’s name is Al-Adl. So this is a must for our leader.

Lastly our leader must be brave. There is no getting away with a leadership, which cannot take risks. Without risk nothing happens in Allah’s world. Everything stagnates! The leader must be brave, take decisions and we may even teeter on disaster, but that will be his/her calling. It may also require personal physical courage. Our history is full of these. Ali (ra), Babur, Khalid bin Waleed (ra), Ahmed Shah Abdali and myriads more. So our leader will be physically brave.

The eventual test will come, when power is achieved, as Inshallah it will. Ibn Kathir said 700 years ago, the great leader will not require guards and Muslims downfall will come when guards will be posted on their rulers.  Our leader will be able to live and work without guards!

Picture from Wylio (free site) belongs to Hamed Saber http://www.flickr.com/photos/hamed..http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

From Enemy to Friend – Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl

Yarmuk Valley

Yarmuk Valley

When Ikrimah looked up at the sky, as the storm raged and called on Allah the one to help, the shades fell from his eyes. Two decades of virulent opposition to the Prophet (saw) turned into belief in Allah. The flashes of Badr, his father’s body undone , the triumph at Uhad as assistant to Khalid bin Waleed, the retreat from Khandaq and his flight from Mecca all cascaded by. What a waste! So let him go back to Mecca and profess the shehadah.

This seminal event was to change history, resulting in hundreds of millions of lives being influenced in these past 1400 years.

On arriving at Mecca, Umm Hakim, his wife, took Ikrimah to the Prophet (saw). Already the Prophet (saw) feeling the momentous event, had told his companions Ikrimah approaches with belief in his heart, so do not revile his father. The meeting was close and Ikrimah asked for forgiveness and promised to devote his life to Islam.

Six years later, the Muslim armies positioned in Yarmuk valley, north of Jerusalem and east of Lake Tiberius, were barely clinging on with their finger nails across a broad front of 7 miles. The Romans outnumbering them – some say 5 to 1- had been pushing them back for four days. Favourable ground and higher numbers had taken toll.

Vahan had decided that today was the day to break the enemy lines and encircle the Arab armies. Heracles orders were clear, destroy these Arabs and drive them into the desert, so that they never return. A march further south into the Arabian heartland was also conceivable.  Having done a feint on the Arab right, he had forced Khalid bin Waleed to send the reserves into action.  Then, putting together all his strength Vahan focused on the Arab left centre, attacking Yazid’s (not the same one!) divisions. The Muslims outnumbered and without reserves, were spread thin. During this attack, Abu Sufyan and some 100 others lost an eye under a barrage of arrows- also known as Day of the Lost Eyes. Under pressure, the Muslim left centre was in wholesale retreat, the Arab lines were about to break.

Left facing the approaching Roman cavalry was the sole regiment (400 strong) of Ikrimah, son of Abu Jahl – former great enemy of the Prophet (saw).

The situation is clear. If Ikrimah’s men break, the battle is lost and the future is bleak. If they hold, there is hope yet. Not since Uhad, has Islam faced such a cataclysmic moment. Ikrimah decides to use the Arab tradition and take baith from all 400. Today, no one will retreat, rather they shall die. The Roman ranks crash against the Arab 400. As the day drags, Vahan intent on victory throws lines after lines on the enemy, only for them to stand firm. Losses are heavy, but the Arab lines hold and as the night falls, a perplexed Vahan withdraws.

Lying somewhere in the middle of the carnage is the broken body of Ikrimah, his triumph complete and his debt to Islam paid in full. His regiment have achieved shehadat and also forced the Romans to withdraw. Not only the Roman strength has been used up, but the enemy is exhausted and demoralised, they have let victory escape out of their grasp.

The rest of the story is recorded as a gory tale, when the Roman armies in retreat are boxed in and slaughtered and are never able to recover. Khalid bin Waleed’s resounding victory leaves the road open west and north. One of the greatest victories of Islam leads to massive conquests over the next century. Not till Tours – just 18 miles from present day Paris- and some 96 years later were the Muslim armies to be stopped.

Khalid’s maneuverings at Yarmuk are taught even today in various military academies. But in those few hours, Ikrimah and his companions made that success possible, where otherwise defeat stared in the face. Yarmuk changed history and while today European historians using their own logic (rather than facts) try and review numbers, even they agree to the significance of the event.

Above all stands the phenomena of belief, where one man went from being the most persistent enemy to being the saviour of Islam. May Allah accept the sacrifice of Ikrimah and his companions.

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