Chapter 3: Leadership and Islam
Abbas J. Ali Whether in business or politics success is, to a large extent, attributed to effective leadership. Over centuries, a consensus has evolved that leadership is the most important factor in the continuity and growth of any organization and, for that matter, any nation. While the subject of leadership has always captured the attention of the masses and intellectuals its significance has, in recent years, reached an unprecedented turn. This is the inevitable result of the growing belief that the effective performance of groups or organizations is characteristically linked to the existence of sound leadership and, conversely, lack of performance is often attributed to an absence of leadership. Because leadership encompasses both practical and idealistic aspects, it plays a pivotal role in defining reality and designing and shaping events. Indeed, the importance of leadership stems not only from organizational competencies, but also from the ability to foster curiosity among followers; the courage to confront abuses and assume responsibility; and the foresight to articulate a purposeful vision to make change desirable and to regard new possibilities in a positive light. The importance attached to these functions and roles, however, differs over time and across cultures and civilizations. Nevertheless, leaders have to creatively maintain a balance of priorities, clarify possibilities, inspire followers and maintain focus on achieving goals. This chapter is designed to tackle the issue of leadership from an Islamic perspective. It examines leadership in light of the foundations of Islamic thought. Furthermore, it discusses forms of leadership in the...
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