THE TRAITS OF A SUPREME LEADER
The guidance that comes from Allah is a practicable verity and not a dreamer’s ideal. Muhammad SAW received Divine Revelation and translated it into action through his own example (2:129 & 151). He was the first to obey these guiding principles (39:11-14) and led others to pursue the path of guidance. How many of us claiming to be his followers practice what he advised us to do and how many of us emulate his leadership qualities? This verse exemplifies the gentleness and affectionate trait of his character and personality that is essential in all leaders at all levels of social, economic, political and even family life.
Those who were close to the Messenger SAW loved and respected him far beyond the concerns of their own lives. When they made a mistake acting against his instructions, they could lose hope of mercy, especially when they realized their mistake and how disobedient they had been to the command of their leader. Their act of disobedience also hurt the Messenger SAW. It was likely that these two factors would have contributed to making him unhappy and angry with his companions which, in turn, may have become a hindrance and obstacle in his mission to teach, guide and lead them. In order to counter this likelihood, Muhammad SAW was asked to forego their mistakes and forgive their shortcomings from the depth of his heart and deal with them gently and affectionately in future as well.
The verse establishes the Divinely gifted qualities of gentleness, leniency, good morals, forgiving and generous nature In the Messenger SAW. These qualities served a purpose. Had Allah not bestowed him with these qualities the mission of guiding human beings would never have been achieved. Rather than seek to correct and raise the level of their morals in the Messenger’s company, people would have run away from him. A possible ‘rough’ and ‘hard-hearted’ approach, even if it happens to come from the very dear Messenger of Allah, has not been considered fit by the Almighty. Allah reminds the Messenger SAW ‘Had you been rough and hard-hearted, they would have dispersed from you’. This indicates that harshness, in conduct and or language is sheer poison for a leader conveying Allah’s message to people. Allah directs the Messenger SAW to pardon and forgive. As a leader, he was asked to rise higher and treat his tormentors with compassion and leniency.
The seeking of forgiveness by the Messenger for such people from Allah stresses an unusual and uncommon rule of human behavior.Not only that he should remain patient in what is painful, but he was asked by Allah not to forget seeking their good with utmost sincerity so that Allah spares them from punishment. This trait of Muhammad’s character provides guiding principle for head of states and government, heads of corporate organizations, families, clans and tribes. Allah endowed gentleness, affection and leniency in Muhammad’s SAW heart as He Himself is kind, forgiving, affectionate and merciful.
Muhammad SAW gave all that he possessed with a smile and a cheerful heart. His forbearance, compassion, care and sympathy were extended to all. Everyone who came in contact with him returned full of love and respect for him because of his gentle, kind, affectionate and truthful behavior.
Lastly, the verse says, ’And consult them in the matter’, which means that the Messenger SAW is to seek advice in matters of importance so that they are fully satisfied and emotionally at peace. The act of his asking them to sit in consultation with him will become an act of mollifying grace. In consultation lies sympathy, development of talents, recognition of friends from enemies, selecting the best attitude, creation of mutual kindness and love and a practical lesson for all. This leadership quality keeps the unity of the people and creates an atmosphere of trust. This concept of ‘Shura’ or consultation paved the way for a whole regime of consultative processes in all walks of life. Coupled with the principles of consultation is the important step of frim resolution of implementing whatever has been decided after consultation. When you finally decide to go ahead and do that has to be done, that is the time you should place your trust in Allah alone for all the considered plans are in the direct control of the Supreme Planner of all affairs and matters.
Mutual consultation is a Sunnah of Muhammad SAW which we should all follow. His guiding principles of gentleness, compassion and forgiveness should be emulated by all Muslims. Those stuck in the quagmire of anger, disrespectful behavior, intolerance and impatience must follow the personality traits of the Messenger SAW.
The Messenger’s mission of leading mankind, in accordance with the dictates of ‘Wahi’ (Divine Revelation) and thus bringing about a universal revolution to mould the course of history is no light task. It is with reference to this heavy burden of responsibility that the Quran observes, ‘Have we not caused your bosom to broaden and eased you of all burden which weighed down your back?’ (94:1-3).
Inspired by the radiant and fervent faith which Muhammad SAW kindled in them, his followers were fired with the ambition to live a purer, nobler and higher life. They gathered around him and earnestly strove to shape their lives in the light of his teachings. His leadership qualities set about building a society which gives man full opportunity for self-expression and self-development, a society worthy of free men who are conscious of their dignity as human beings. The verse (3:159) particularly refers to the comfort zone that Muhammad SAW had created in the light of Divine guidance. It also guides us to be gentle, kind, affectionate and forgiving in our lives. Modern man, with his mature mind, needs this guidance in the form of ideas and principles which are valid for all times and for all mankind. These principles and values are preserved in the Quran for mankind.