Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
15 February 2013 / 4 Rabiulakhir 1431
Lessons from the Obedience and Leadership of
Khalid Ibn Al-Walid r.a.
Dear Friday Jemaah blessed by Allah,
Obeying Allah and His Messenger is a characteristic of a believer. It is a quality taught by Rasulullah s.a.w. to his Companions. This is because; a good leader starts off as a good follower. Let us aim to increase our taqwa toward Allah, by fulfilling His commandments and avoiding what He has forbidden upon us, and strive to be firm believers who obey Allah and His Messenger at all times. Indeed, Allah s.w.t places emphasis on obedience, as He mentioned in the Quran:
Which means: “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” [An-Nisa’: 59]
My brothers blessed by Allah,
Let us study the leadership traits and obedience of a known Companion, a Companion whose name alone will make enemies shiver in fear, a Companion who has been bestowed by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w with the title of ‘Saifullah’ which means the sword of Allah. He is none other than Khalid Ibn Al-Walid r.a.
My dear brothers,
Before he embraced Islam, Khalid Ibn Al-Walid was hostile toward Rasulullah s.a.w. and the Muslims, treating them as his enemies. However, upon embracing Islam, he devoted his entire heart and soul toward the cause of spreading the teachings of Islam.
He had outstanding leadership qualities and was often appointed by Prophet s.a.w. to spread dakwah. In fact, after Prophet s.a.w. passed on, Abu Bakar As-Siddiq appointed Khalid Ibn Al-Walid as the commander of the Muslim army to face the Persian army, and later on the Roman military. Indeed, the number of battles and numerous proof of Khalid Ibn Al-Walid’s bravery are too lengthy for us to touch on within this short period. Perhaps it is enough for us to refer to the description by Imam Az-Zahabi in his book ‘Siyar A’lam An-Nubala’:“There is no span of space on the body of Khalid Ibn Walid, which does not bear his scars (from battles).”
Do not ever assume that Rasulullah’s noble Companions were motivated by glory, rank and power behind their struggles in these battles. And this is the difference between the concept of leadership in Islam and the concept of leadership understood by most people.
It was narrated that during the time of Sayyidina ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab r.a. as the caliphate, he had stripped Khalid Ibn Al-Walid of every position the latter held, and replaced him with another Companion, Abu ‘Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarrah r.a.
For many others who are caught in such a situation, he may whine and complain that all his contributions were not appreciated. He may even protest and display his unhappiness by asking his closest followers and friends to move along with him. But that was not what Khalid ibn Al-Walid did. Living with Rasulullah s.a.w. taught him the true meaning of obedience and loyalty. Khalid accepted Umar’s decision wholeheartedly and sincerely, in fact he continued to serve as a loyal and brave soldier under the leadership of Abu Ubaidah r.a.
Let us reflect upon this hadith, whereby Rasulullah responded to a Companion who asked to be given a position:
إِنَّكَ ضَعيفٌ ، وإِنَّها أمَانَةٌ ، وإنها يومَ القيامةِ خِزيٌ وَنَدَامَةٌ ، إِلا مَنْ أَخذَها بِحَقِّها ، وَأدَّى الَّذِي عليه فِيهَا
Which means: “Verily you are weak and it (the position) is a trust, and it will be a humiliation and regret on the Day of Judgement, unless it is taken by someone rightfully and he performs all the responsibilities given to him.” Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim and Abu Daud.
Dear Friday jemaah,
There are several lessons we can conclude from the story of Khalid ibn Al-Walid:
First, Leadership is not simply an honour. In Islam, it is a trust or amanah from Allah s.w.t. to His humble servants. Those given the amanah must fulfill his responsibilities to the best of his abilities. This is because he will be questioned about his leadership during the Day of Judgement, no matter what kind of leadership position it was, he could have been a corporate leader, a leader within an organisation, and even a leader to his family and so on.
Second, Khalid Ibn Al-Walid’s undivided sense of obedience showed the true faith of a Mukmin. Faith or Iman leads to an individual with good akhlak, who does not only care about himself but more importantly, the maslahat or benefits to those around him. In fact, he will strive to emulate Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. who always thought about his followers, the general public and this ummah.
May Allah s.w.t. grant us the strength to fulfill all the responsibilities given to us, to the best of our abilities, and may He grant us success in this world and the Hereafter. Amin