In the last Leadership Legacies session (Session 3), we discussed the quality of competence. The key points we looked at were Ihsan, Knowledge, Strategy, Teamwork, time management and problem solving.
When the ummah lacks competence, Muslims are not at the forefront of development and knowledge. This has a severe impact on education – the estimated adult literacy rate in Muslim countries is 38% (the international average is 84%). We now see that lots of Muslim countries are facing issues such as corruption and civil uprising which are leading into socio-economic issues within countries and the wider world. An example of a lack of competence is spending large amounts of money on huge firework displays for New Year’s when there are people in need across the globe. Can this be flipped and turned around? Can we be better than this?
The short answer? Yes! We have so many examples of competence in our deen – therefore we can replicate this again, inshaAllah. We all hear about the Golden Age of Islam where Muslims were at the forefront of the world in so many different fields – from Ibn Sina (Mathematics and Astronomy), to Al Khwarizmi (Geography) to Fatima Al-Fihri (who set up the first university in the world). We have seen that when the Ottomans were at their peak that they were the ruling empire of the world and even conquered some parts of Spain! When we have competence, we can see that the ummah produces the best environment to thrive in, thus producing the best men and women who are not only able to debate on an intellectual level (as well as an Islamic one) but are also able to win the hearts of people by being at the top of their field.
Competence of the Prophet SAW
Pre-Prophethood we learnt that the Prophet SAW was a highly skilled and reputable trader and a helpful and fair husband. We learnt about his ability to resolve conflict and please multiple stakeholders, exhibited when he was in charge of placing the Hajr Aswad (the black stone) and used all the tribes of Makkah to do so. We looked at his ability to peacefully negotiate the constitution of Madinah, the first written constitution in history, facilitating the first ever multi-religious and multi-ethnic state of Madinah (bear in mind that he could not read or write!) This can make us think when we are making decisions in our life – what factors are we working with? What is the desired outcome?
On a CW level – how are we using our teams and we utilising the skillsets they have? Does someone have natural flair for a particular task?
Competence of the sahaba
We looked at about the competence the sahaba, from Khalid bin Waleed (RA) who was an effective military leader and never lost a battle, Jafar bin Talib (RA) who was well versed in diplomacy and Aisha bint Abu Bakr (RA) who contributed to the memorisation and teaching of Hadith. These examples show us that while it is important to be competent in multiple fields, we all have at least one speciality that we should focus on improving and perfecting.
We addressed the concept of action centred learning where the task, individual and team are all interlinked and how we can apply this to CW. We took the example of the migration to Abyssinia being the task and how the Prophet SAW had to support and motivate the Muslims for a better life fleeing from persecution (team). Despite all these challenges the Prophet SAW still looked at people on an individual level and selected the best people to take ownership in their own right. Jafar (RA) was sent to speak to the King of Abysinnia to seek refuge there as he was known to be competent at tact and public speaking. We looked at how we could apply this ACL model to planning an Annual Dinner.
Our action points included; Strategising your life and the importance of having an end goal – breaking that down into easy bite size chunks to improve productivity whilst making it achievable and overcoming laziness.
Utilising your team was another – by getting to know their strengths and weaknesses and helping them to reach their own personal goals and meritocratically delegating tasks. The key is also to inspire them through times of ease and motivate them through times of hardship, just like the Prophet SAW.
Finally, the importance of personal development by investing into perfecting your strengths whilst improving your weaknesses to become a well-rounded leader. Most importantly we learnt the importance of having Ihsan, excellence and perfection, in all of our work which is the epitome of competence.
“Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death”
(Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim)
May Allah allow us to be competent in all aspects of our lives and allow us to take advantage of the blessings and opportunities which we have been given. May we learn from the shining example of the Prophet SAW and the sahaba. Together we can try and bring back the successes of the Golden Age of Islam and build on the pillars of previous generations and be at the forefront of society in all fields.