Islam

Friday Sermon: Of Leadership, Legacy and Service

By Babatunde Jose

“O Prophet! Truly We have sent thee as a Witness, a Bearer of Glad Tidings, and a Warner, And as one who invites to Allah’s (Grace) by His leave, and as a Lamp spreading Light. (Quran 33:45-46)

In this verse of the Quran, Allah summarizes the legacy of Prophet Muhammad as the harbinger of good tidings, the Warner, the Summoner unto Allah, and as the lamp spreading light in a world that was plunged in darkness; a man who delivered a message to humanity that enlightened every aspect of human life, carrying with it solutions to every problem that humanity would ever face – political, economic, social, judicial, moral and spiritual – for all times, places and people, to take mankind from the darkness and oppression of man-made ways of life and systems to the light and justice of the System from the Lord of the Worlds.

There are many great characters in history, but none of their legacies impacted the world nor shaped the politics and lives of nations to the extent that the life and legacy of Prophet Muhammad. Indeed he was the most influential man in history, as agreed by many historians and writers, including Michael H. Hart, the American author, who ranked Muhammad as number 1 in his book, “The 100 Most Influential Persons in History”, writing, “Of humble origins, Muhammad founded and promulgated one of the world’s great religions and became an immensely effective political leader. Today, thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive.”

First, is the unparalleled political system he pioneered and left behind through the Revelation of Allah – a system that was emulated by the Muslims following his death – and continued for 1300 years – right from the Khilafah Rashidun of Abu Bakr, Umar bin Al Khattab, Uthman bin Affan, and Ali ibn Abu Talib, through the Umayyad, Abbasid, and Uthmani Khilafah until the destruction of this magnificent state at the hands of the western colonialists and their agents in 1924.

It was a political system that was the embodiment of guardianship and care of the people and whose distinctive qualities were justice and accountability in governance as acknowledged by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. A system fashioned upon the words of Allah in Surah an-Nisa: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: For Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do.” (Quran 4:135)

Apart from leaving a legacy of a sound political system based on justice, fairness and equity, the Prophet also left a legacy of good leadership. The Caliber of Leaders the Prophet left behind can be gleaned from the life of the Khalifs: Leaders who truly understood their heavy duty to be the guardians and servants of their people, caring for their every need.  The prophet said: “Each of you is a guardian and each of you is questioned over his subjects, the Imam is responsible over the people and he is questioned over his responsibility.”

Leaders such as Khalifah Umar bin Al Khattab who during the famine in Medina refused to eat anything but coarse food. His health began to deteriorate and he was advised to take care of himself, but he replied, “If I don’t taste suffering, how can I know the suffering of others?”  This was a ruler who would patrol the streets at night to ensure every single one of his citizens had their needs met and was cared for.

He left behind a legacy of leaders who would use their own wealth to make their people rich even if they died poor – like Khalifah Umar bin Abdul Aziz. Before he became a ruler he was a rich man; in fact it took 100 camels to bring his possessions to the city. But he died with only one shirt to his name despite the Khalifah enjoying economic prosperity at the time, because he had spent his wealth for the sake of his Ummah. This was a man who refused to use even a drop of public oil to fuel his lamp for his personal affairs or even use water heated with the state charcoal for his ablution due to his immense sense of accountability over state funds. Subhanallah!

Can we say these about our leaders? Do they even understand what it means to leave a legacy of service? “Current leaders appeared to be consumed by lust for power and the pursuit of creature comfort as manifested by the possession of private jets, flashy cars, a harem of nubile girls and other indicators of conspicuous consumption (and hedonism).

“Their lack of care for the good of Nigeria is the reason they continue to shatter the hopes of citizens and foist numbing frustrations on all of us. The despondency that arose out of broken dreams, perhaps, explains much of the ‘siddon look’ disposition of citizens to governance in the mistaken belief that nothing will change in Nigeria, ‘except God intervenes.’ Our leaders, too, are quick to promote excessive, even violent belief in the ‘God Factor’ for the redemption of Nigeria, knowing that religion shifts attention from their mediocre performance.”-Olatunde Johnson, Reflections on Princeton Lyman’s view on Nigeria’s growing Irrelevance, PM News 20th August 2020.

A leader’s legacy is established by leaving something of enduring quality behind for the organization and its people. Effective leadership occurs when the leader strengthens others’ capacity to learn, to reflect and to extract meaning from their learning.

In essence, “legacy” is what you leave behind when you’re gone. It’s that “thing” that you did either for better or worse, and it’s most often the “thing” for which you are most remembered. It determines your epitaph.

Integrity is perhaps the most important principle of leadership because it demands truthfulness and honesty. … Integrity means telling the truth even if the truth is ugly. Better to be honest than to delude others, because then you are probably deluding yourself, too. Do our leaders pass this benchmark?

Legacy is fundamental to what it is to be human. Research shows that without a sense of working to create a legacy, adults lose meaning in their life. … Being reminded of death is actually a good thing, because death informs life. It gives you a perspective on what’s important.

Let us live to leave a lasting legacy. May Allah guide us a right.

Hijrah,: “Migration” or “Emigration”) also spelled Hejira or Hijra, Latin Hegira, the Prophet Muhammad’s migration (622 CE) from Mecca to Yathrib (Medina) upon invitation in order to escape persecution. After arriving, Muhammad negotiated the Constitution of Medina with the local clans, thereby establishing the Muslim community as a sociopolitical entity for the first time.

The date represents the starting point of the Muslim era. Muhammad himself dated his correspondence, treaties, and proclamations after other events of his life. It was ʿUmar I, the second caliph, who in the year 639 CE introduced the Hijra era (now distinguished by the initials AH, for Latin Anno Hegirae, “in the year of the Hijra”). ʿUmar started the first year AH with the first day of the lunar month of Muḥarram, which corresponds to July 16, 622, on the Julian calendar. In 1677–78 (AH 1088) the Ottoman government, still keeping the Hijra era, began to use the solar (Julian) year, eventually creating two different Hijra era dates, resulting from the differences between a solar and a lunar year.

As we begin another Islamic year today, we pray that Allah will use this occasion to ease our pains and problems occasioned by the Coronavirus, Covid-19 ravaging the world.

Oh Allah, the New Year is upon us as You had planned it to be. As Your creations who constantly seek Your blessings, the coming of the New Year has given us yet another opportunity to raise our hands in entreaty seeking Your Mercy. We seek Your continued guidance and knowledge just like how you have guided us through our existence. You have perfected our lives and livelihoods with your bountiful provisions. Make us, our hearts, and physical selves strong, just as how you have strengthened those who you have chosen. We desire protection against wrongs be it physically or spiritually through this strength.

Oh Allah Almighty, we implore you to grant us intellectual strength, peace, potency in our confidence, steadfastness in upholding our religion, and goodness for ourselves and those amongst us.

Oh Allah, protect us from anything that troubles us, thoughts that confuse us, experiences that sadden us and constrict our hearts. Safeguard us from all wrongdoings, harm and confusion.

Oh Allah, forgive us for all our wrongdoings and please accept our good deeds. Bless our time, moments, movements and stillness.

Oh Allah, protect our country from harm, eradicate, remove and exterminate all those that may disrupt our peacefulness and progress. Ameen!

Barka Juma’at and a happy New Islamic Year

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