Juma Khutba 06/12/19 summary & video – Shaykh Jaffer LadakIn: Jum'a
Islam & Politics: Part 6 What are the qualities in a leader that Muslims are encouraged to elect on?
Sermon’s 1-5 looked at how Islam support the building a society, encourages political engagement and creating a hierarchy of priorities of Islamic values by which to judge party manifestos.
In this discussion we will look at the qualities that a leader should have and what is prohibited to base the choice of leadership on.
The Qur’an provides the arguments of the disbelievers in rejecting the leadership of the Prophets for their own, tribal leadership. There is a common thread amongst these verses and that is wealth; they believed the wealthier the person, the more appropriate he is for leadership. There are also secondary reasons for leadership in their view: the size of the family and number of followers – or popularity. All of these are rejected by Allah (swt).
قَالَ نُوحٌ رَّبِّ إِنَّهُمْ عَصَوْنِي وَاتَّبَعُوا مَن لَّمْ يَزِدْهُ مَالُهُ وَوَلَدُهُ إِلَّا خَسَارًا
“Noah continued: “O my Sustainer! Behold, they have opposed me [throughout], for they follow people whose wealth and children lead them increasingly into ruin.” (71:21)
وَكَانَ لَهُ ثَمَرٌ فَقَالَ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالًا وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرًا
“And so the man who had fruit in abundance said to his companion, bandying about his views: I have more wealth than you and am mightier in followers.” (18:34)
وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا قَالُوَاْ أَنَّى يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِّنَ الْمَالِ قَالَ إِنَّ اللّهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ وَاللّهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“And their prophet said unto those elders: “Behold, now God has raised up Saul to be your king.” They said: “How can he have dominion over us when we have a better claim to dominion than he, and he has not [even] been endowed with abundant wealth?” [The prophet] replied: “Behold, God has exalted him above you, and endowed him abundantly with knowledge and bodily strength and perfection.” (2:247)
This third verse provides significant guidance on the necessary qualities of leadership. In response to the claim of wealth, the response is knowledge is superior. Bodily strength is also stated. This is because in that period part of leadership required strength on the battlefield. Given that this may not be a criterion today as leadership in warfare has changed, this means that knowledge is always the permanent and a primary requirement, whilst secondarily there may be relativity in requirements.
Muhammad Rayshari writes, “Honesty is the most fundamental principle in the administrative policies of Imam Ali (a). He set up honesty and truthfulness as a steadfast principle. In the Umayyad culture, honesty is meaningless. All sorts of fabrication, lies and imposture are the motif of their politics.” (Imam Ali and Political Leadership, pg 27)
Based on this Rayshari quotes a number of narrations to support this as being the central quality when electing your leadership. Under the chapter ‘Election of Righteous Administrators’, he writes:
Imam Ali (a) in his his instruction to Malik al-Ashtar wrote: For every person there is a right over the ruler, such that if it (the right) is set correctly, the persons life will be set aright to that same extent. But the ruler will not accomplish what God has enjoined upon him except by resolutely striving for God’s help, by making himself adhere to the truth and being patient in enforcing the right, be it easy for him or burdensome.
Appoint as commander the one who in your sight is the most sincere in the way of God, the most chaste of heart and the most outstanding in intelligence, slow to anger, accepts pardon, is gentle to the weak and harsh to the strong.
Look into the affairs of your administrators. Employ them after having tested them and do not appoint them with favouritism or arbitrariness. Whatever fault of your administrators you overlook will come to be attached to you.” (Nahj al-Balaghah, Letter 53).
The Qur’an states that a person is responsible for their actions and will have a share in it, for the good or evil they attach themselves to (4:85) “Whoever rallies to a good cause shall have a share in its blessings and whoever rallies to an evil cause shall be answerable for his part in it.” مَّن يَشْفَعْ شَفَاعَةً حَسَنَةً يَكُن لَّهُ نَصِيبٌ مِّنْهَا وَمَن يَشْفَعْ شَفَاعَةً سَيِّئَةً يَكُن لَّهُ كِفْلٌ مِّنْهَا
Based on this, Imam Ali (a) also said, “Appoint the pious, the knowledgable and people of good policy for taking charge of the works.” (Tuhuf al-Uqool, pg 137)
In the chapter ‘Refraining from Employing (electing) the Treacherous and Feeble’, Rayshari also mentions the following narration from Imam Ali (a)
“Know, O Rifa’a that this position of governance is a trust, so whoever betrays it on him will be the curse of God until the Day of Judgement. And whoever employs (elects) a traitor (of this trust), truly [Prophet] Muhammad (s) will despise him both in this world and the world to come.”
The Muslim is obligated to know the character and trustworthiness of the candidate they vote for, to the best of their ability.