“A real leader uses every issue, no matter how serious and sensitive, to ensure that at the end of the debate we should emerge stronger and more united than ever before.”30 Quotes on How to Be a Great Leader From Nelson Mandela
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand has used the very sensitive issue of the terrorist attack on Christchurch has a means to ensure unity of her people. Through it she has emerged stronger bolstered by the reassurance she gave her people. The reassurance of justice, peace and security. The leadership in this case has to be admired and imitated too.
The USA President, Donald Trump in his handling of the latest shootings of black people by police officers deflected the anger stating that the actions of protestors as domestic terror. His condemnation of the shootings and the Black Lives Matter campaign did not resonate justice therefore, the American people stand on a precipice of reassurance and hopelessness. Furthermore, the furore on his presidency is a cause for concern because as the leader of the most powerful nation currently, the tide of events on a global scale can escalate to greater instability taking just one case on how the USA’s support for the annexation of the West Bank in Palestine is on the pinnacle of the crescendo to reality.
The killing of the Nathaniel Julius in Eldorado Park on 28 August 2020 by policemen indicates the dire situation within South African communities with regards to safety and security. In South Africa the COVID-19 PPE looting has left the nation masked from the justice that should prevail because we have not witnessed decisive court action or justice served. The ruling party, the African National Congress, has left themselves looking like peons rather than leaders who must be sagacious. The events of each country display no serendipity but, illustrate the action points of leaders or the lack thereof proving their worth or unworthiness. Events determine how leaders will be judged and and example would be imperative to discuss.
The events of 15 March 2019 will forever mark the destructive behaviour of a man so deeply indoctrinated by hate that his consequent actions make it the darkest day in New Zealand. The 28-year-old Australian called Brenton Tarrant was not inveigled into becoming Islamophobiac by his country rather, by his own misunderstanding of Islam especially how it is presented in the media. It took courageous leadership to illustrate how prejudiced society has become as a result of constant anti-Islam rhetoric and how a people can identify with the essence of faiths by being perspicacious. In the wake of such a response people felt ethereal because in every other gruesome attack on innocent civilians, Islam became the target without any credible investigation and Muslims were again branded, labelled and stereotyped as fundamentalist villains.
Villains, fundamentalists and terrorists have become synonymous with Islam and Muslims such that leaders of nations use these words with such frequency that it piques every Muslim to the extent that faith and beliefs are challenged especially when weak and marginalised as a minority in society. Therefore to the world, it looks as if Muslims are a defeated people without a voice. However, when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern advocated justice and served it fairly. It leveraged the Muslims actions in the main in New Zealand as commendable such that the Prime Minister took the uncharted terrain and stood up for justice Muslims. Would this happen in other countries? The reality is not opaque but clear as the rising sun.
The sun still rises and sets on Guantanamo Bay with no justice ever seen for more than two decades. The sun rises and sets in Egypt and Mahmood Hoessein, the Al Jazeera journalist, still held without charge in prison and again, no justice in sight for the next rising of the sun which will mark his 1300 plus days of incarceration. The siege of Kashmir continues without justice for more than 365 days. The assassination of Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey is still a case unclear on the scales of justice. The explosion in Lebanon has not yielded a fine comb investigation but ignited a court case on the bomb style assassination of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafic Hariri on 14 February 2005. Where are the leaders? They all have great influence in the world currently in light of their alliances and counter alliances but, in the realm of justice their sun has set save that are they living in its the darkening rays. The world is not fooled and when we set aside our busy lives and look with the mind’s eye, we see that world leaders in the main are letting us down.
Juxtaposition! Set the world leaders side by side using Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the marker and what is it that you see? You see a courageous woman making a stand on a terrorist attack and set a precedent that will be a tough act to follow. Remember Timothy James McVeigh? He was the Oklahoma City bomber who killed 168 and convicted on charges of domestic terrorism is a marker that matches the justice served by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Two strikes of justice is a far cry to usher in peace. If we take all world leaders today and juxtapose them against Umar (ra) we have a schism between them and Umar (ra). Having said that, the saving grace of of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is that she took the pains to address the nation on the grounds of social justice and opened her nation’s eyes to the reality of injustice where precedents are set to ensure all New Zealanders know their fate before the law in the event of any deed that will disrupt the nation’s stability, peace and harmony. I think, Umar (ra) would be proud of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in this instance because the tone of justice has been set with clarity for generations to come.
What is to become of the 14 accused in the Charlie Hebdo in France with the trial underway? Justice must prevail. In the incident of violence seventeen people died in the attacks – 12 of them at the editorial offices – along with all three attackers. We know that Charlie Hebdo in 2015 printed the most offensive cartoons on Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) and are reprinting them to magnify the freedom of expression France prides itself on. The great audacity of the French President Emmanuel Macron in his visit to Iraq said that it is the seat of civilisation and went on to express the unbridled freedom of expression in France where satire of people no matter how great is allowed smacks of insensitivity. Insensitivity in light of how USA and it allies bombed the great civilisation to smithereens on a lie. A lie of WMD – weapons of mass destruction. The most appalling matter is how he is given a hero’s welcome in Iraq and Lebanon where in the main religion is cornerstone to social justice. The difficulty in juxtaposing how two predominantly Muslim sovereign states allows a man to give them advice on political change when he allows blasphemy of the highest order on the most revered Prophet. The lack of leadership poised on the knife’s edge of geo-politics is bound to sever relations of the people with the state. It is a juxtaposition best explained as a mixture of crude oil and water. In this juxtaposition it is throat gripping to fathom how political leaders of so called Muslim states leverage their former colonisers and fail to become independent. Due to a lack of independence and fortitude, the colonised will always be under the yoke of the coloniser all because superlative growth was never earmarked as an express reality. Is it like this because the sword of the coloniser is still over their necks?
Juxtapose the sword and the intellect – the one is the hand and other in mind. But the mind controls because its the leader.
Our necks are stretched to see what the future holds but, not humbled to note if the justice we served brought about unity or a stronger force of good. In all the scenarios listed above, the common line is the necessity for leadership to be strong. Strong enough to make decisions that would leverage independence and autonomy. Autonomy and independence as a leader is not a case of being an aficionado rather, it is responsibility being a servant of the people.
Prophet Muhammad salallahu alaihi wasallam said “The master or leader of the people (nation) is the one who serves them (sayyid al qawm khadimuhum).”
The concept of servant-leadership is the paragon of passion, resilience and grit because it illustrates how the character of a person can change the destiny of people. Servant-leadership is based on the understanding that the leader becomes great when he stands ‘with the people and not above the people’. Today, we don’t see this in the main with our leaders and when we juxtapose them with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s), there is difference like the distance between the east and west. Leave the leaders of the world out for a moment and reflect on ourselves and again, the difference is ditto to the above. The point made is who are our leaders’ role models and who are their mentors? Where are decisions made and who makes them are the nagging questions.
The United Nations does not sidle it strides with overwhelming confidence because it spurns its web on the world. The world caught like a fly in the stretched web. It struggles for freedom because it is agonised into suffocation as leaders make decisions in the name of resolutions and not on justice. Resolutions defer guilt and responsibility as nation states take blame while the right to veto is kept by five members only. Leaders slip into the background like phantoms of the opera and get their puppets on chains to mimic a symphony they want. All that leaders have done is honoured their superior masters in this council. Allah , the High the Great set the golden standard saying in the Holy Quran: Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is the one who is the most righteous of you (Al-Hujurat 49:13). The honour of leaders today must be juxtaposed with this ayat/evidence from the Holy Quran. Until we don’t have the right measuring instruments, our analysis are going to be wrong and out of sync with the needs. Should we then not study the leadership of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s)?
The leadership of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) needs an entire website therefore, the link is given for the discerning reader. The book is that of Mirza Yawar Baig titled, Leadership Lessons from Rasoolullah. Leadership training is the charm today for many because it rings with fame, fortune, success, legacies and a sense of immortality but, few know that it is path of trial, tribulation, introspection, test of grit, resilience and perseverance. Therefore, an indulgence in one aspect of the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (s) leadership will embellish our discussion of juxtaposing leaders with each other and then with the best – Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, the High the Great.
The Treaty of Hudaybiyah is our point of departure to illustrate the golden standard of leadership of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s). The treaty ensured that there will be 10 years of peace between the Muslims and the Meccans. However, two years into the treaty the Meccans killed some people allied to the Muslims and that dissolved the treaty. In 630CE the Prophet (s) marched with an army of 10 000 companions to Mecca. The army was formidable and struck fear into the hearts of the Meccans who surrendered.
In keeping with his title as Mercy to all Mankind, the Prophet Muhammad announced:
Those who shelter in the Ka’ba are safe; those who shelter in the house of Abu Sufyan are safe, and those who remain confined to their houses are also safe.
Abu Sufayan was a leader of Quraysh and one of the vehement enemies of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. When the Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims entered the area of the Kaba, he declared clemency for everyone in Mecca who no longer wished enmity with the Muslims:
This day no reproach shall be on you. God will forgive you; He is the Most Merciful of the Merciful. You can go away!Words of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) when he entered Mecca as victor.
The victor had sway to do as he pleased like the predecessors of his time – they vanquished, raped, pillaged and plundered the land until blood flowed like streams in the streets and they throned themselves with an aura of fear. This time, with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) it was unreservedly different. Mercy, forgiveness and clemency reigned supreme but, treason remained a punishment by law then and now. Take the leaders today, keep all the wars that ravaged the world from Operation Desert Storm to now and how the earth is polluted then juxtapose it all with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) and draw your own conclusions. You will be startled to know that we have harmed the earth, decimated populations, globalised poverty and made great advances yet, our greed is feeding our consumerist lifetsyle like vultures on carrion. For as long as you and I don’t face the brutal facts as Jim Collins posits in his book, Good to Great, we will not progress to meaningful change.
Change is the only constant and if we don’t see change in relation to everything that happens around us we will grow in isolation and repeat history again with even more devastating consequences. We need leadership and the world yearns for direction because at the moment the world cannot be quarantined to avoid further war contamination and vices that man’s hands have unleashed on it. The Achille’s Heel of the human race is the absurd and obtuse craving for supremacy and world dominance and until we don’t arrest this preposterous hankering; leadership will not in the main establish justice. The kaizen should now relate to you and I becoming more discerning with what we take from the leaders of the world and we become active spokespersons for justice, writers of truth and role models of excellence. When you juxtapose your life against the rest, you must stand out like a leader. That’s what we need, local action with a global intent for change. Juxtaposition is also how you compare with the rest!