Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
25 January 2013 / 13 Rabiulawal 1434
Lessons from the Sunnah of Rasulullah s.a.w. in Developing Leadership of the Ummah
Dear Friday Jemaah,
In commemorating the month of Rabi’ Al-Awwal, the birth month of the chosen one, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., let us profess our love for the Prophet s.a.w. This can be done by emulating his noble teachings, and this includes following the beautiful akhlak of Rasulullah s.a.w.
As an ummah that claims to love the Prophet deeply, we have to uphold the Prophet’s message of having taqwa toward Allah, therefore let us increase our taqwa to Allah, abide by His commandments and avoid what Allah has prohibited upon us.
My dear brothers blessed by Allah,
Rasulullah s.a.w is the beacon of noble character- one that we, as his ummah, should aspire to take after. From young, he was nurtured, educated and protected by Allah s.w.t. Thus, it is of no surprise that the conduct and mannerisms of Rasulullah s.a.w. serve as an excellent example for all of us, and he will continue to be the role model for all of humankind for eternity. Listen to what Allah s.w.t. has said in surah Al-Ahzaab verse 21:
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.”
My dear brothers,
Among the lessons we can learn from the Prophet s.a.w. is his way of communicating and interacting with his companions. They serve as useful and practical guidelines for us today.
If we reflect upon the life of Prophet s.a.w., throughout his prophethood, Rasulullah s.a.w. often sought the opinions of his companions. He encouraged all his companions to share their views, and would pay full attention to their opinions.
There are many accounts which have shown how the Prophet would ask several questions regarding various matters, and he would only explain and clarify the issue after the companions have voiced their thoughts on a particular topic.
For example, Rasulullah said: “Help your brother who is unjust or is oppressed”. The Prophet then paused for a while before continuing his sentence, as if he was waiting for a response or questions from the companions.
And true enough, the companions could not hide their confusion on how should they help one who is unjust?
Thus, a man asked Rasulullah: “Ya Rasulullah, I will help a person who was oppressed, but how do I help someone who is unjust?” And the Prophet s.a.w. replied: “You can prevent him from committing injustice, indeed that means you have helped him”. Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim.
The same happened in another event narrated in the book of ‘Al-Raheeq Al-Makhtum’, which is the story of Khabbab Bin Al-Mundzir r.a.
During the Battle of Badar, Rasulullah had chosen to set up the their base near the well of Badar. However, Khabbab Bin Al-Munzir came to meet Rasulullah and asked: “Ya Rasulullah, is this place that you have chosen based on the guidance from Allah, that we are not to take a step forward or backward? Or it is only based on your strategy and opinion?” And Rasulullah admitted that it was his opinion and was a strategy.
Then Khabbab spoke again: “If that is so O Rasulullah, then this is not a good place.” Rasulullah replied: “A good opinion is as what you have suggested”. Then Rasulullah instructed the companions to move to another place to set up their base.
Dear blessed jemaah,
There are meaningful lessons and profound messages that we can unveil from the two short stories that I have just shared. Among the lessons learned are:
First – The communication between Rasulullah s.a.w. and his companions was not a one-way interaction. The Prophet often sought the views of his companions before making a decision, even if they had different opinions.
This indirectly encouraged the companions to voice their views and concerns, and each opinion was taken into serious consideration by Rasullah s.a.w.
That is why, at times we find that the Prophet would purposely ask a question, and would give the answer and solution only after the companions have discussed the matter.
Second - By posing difficult questions to the companions, the Prophet s.a.w. indirectly challenged and encouraged intellectual thought among them, thus developing their leadership potential.
Rasulullah s.a.w. did not simply give directives or advise, but encouraged the companions to ponder and think critically over his words.
By developing their intellectual capabilities and giving them the space to voice their opinions, Rasullah s.a.w. had actually created a platform whereby the companions can learn to stand out and take initiative in any issue that was being discussed.
Third – The Prophet’s style of leadership was of a consultative nature or syura. Rasulullah gave the companions the space and the opportunity to question his decisions, as long as it was not a revelation from Allah.
Rasulullah accorded this freedom to all his companions, regardless of gender, and he did not view their feedback as a lack of respect to his status as a Prophet and the leader of the Muslim ummah.
My brothers, indeed this is the right attitude which we should practise. We are taught to be tawadhu’ and humble. As a leader at home, at work or organisation, we must be open toward feedback, reprimands and even criticisms. Uphold the culture of exchanging opinions and views, so that it will be inculcated as a practice in making decisions.
Hopefully by following the leadership qualities and style of Rasulullah s.a.w., we can become better leaders who are well-respected and can develop potential leaders within our family, fellow colleagues and peers. May we be placed among those who love Rasulullah and enliven his sunnah. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.