Chapter 5: Leadership
According to Islamic thought, the absence or presence of a just society is characteristically linked to the nature of leadership. This belief has shaped the psyche of Muslims for many centuries and guides their aspirations for farsighted and morally disciplined leaders. While the debate on the feasibility of attaining such leadership is not expected to reach a conclusion, the fact remains that ethical leaders are thought to steer organizations/groups to the right path, thus minimizing chances for setbacks and turmoil. The role of leadership in promoting purposeful and productive relationships in the context of a business organization has seldom been given priority in business ethics studies. This stems, perhaps, from the almost chronic upheavals that have characterized Muslim societies since the end of the Rightly Guided Caliphs’ era in 661 and the deepening of fragmentation after the Mongol invasion, which led to the collapse of the capital of the Abbasid caliphate, Baghdad, in 1258. Historically, while traditionally theological and philosophical studies have placed special emphasis on political and religious leadership, only in recent decades have countries with Muslim majorities witnessed the presence of large-scale domestic-based business organizations. In small business organizations where the owner/manager is in direct contact with customers and other market actors, one’s reputation in the marketplace, be it social or business, is essential for continuity and for a thriving operation. The owner/manager’s reputation is shaped based on ethical conduct and the relationships with others. In large organizations, this is difficult to maintain.
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