THE LOST HERITAGES: ISLAMIC STRUCTURE AND LEADERSHIP
When a body is sick or battling with sickness the best approach is to subject it to medical test to diagnose the real cause of the problem to avoid wasting of time in administering wrong medication for the treatment.
As Muslims, there is no gainsaying to the fact that we are sick as Ummah and we are yet to nip the problems on bud because of our wrong approach and wrong medical prescriptions by our so called leaders who are known to possess the knowledge needed to lead the Ummah.
The problem is not lack of leadership (I mean leaders on various fields of Islamic studies) but leaders who understand the real problems, their causes and right medication which needs to be applied. We lost leadership, let go of our structures and they both (Leadership and structure) are the spinal cord for Islamic growth and development.
It has to be known that every human endeavour needs a unifying and driving force for success and that driving force is ultimately traced to good leadership. The Quran declares that the whole of humanity is created to the station of Khalifatullah. The collapse of the Caliphate robbed Muslims of a central institution and a symbol of power. It eroded the cohesive nature of the Muslim community and left them without effective leadership.
The leadership concept in Islam goes beyond selecting or electing anyone as a leader. One needs to understand the ideological philosophy of Almighty Allah behind assuming the position of leadership.
The leadership style of the Prophet Muhammad, the period of his emergence and the types and nature of those he was commanded to lead cannot be compare with those before him and after him. The issues he was sent to address also were different, even from those that took the mantle of leadership after him.
The assignment of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was to make Islam a living ideology. This is because before his arrival, there was no Islam. So he came to establish Islam and to build the power for the oppressed Muslim.
During the period of Umar bn Khatob, Islam had been established they only needed someone to challenge the power of the oppressors and that was what he did. He organized the armies to defend against the then world super powers (Persian and Roman Empires). His period witnessed rapid geographical expansion of Islam.
This means, the types of people, the nature of the period and what to be led against, which are major factors that determine who a leader should be or things needed a leader for varies from one generation to the other. So, it makes it difficult, since those factors are not static, to have leaders by appointment or selection because they might not suitable for the job due to the dynamic nature of our existence.
So it was this leadership of the Prophet and those who led after him that established a structure for Islam. This is because as a new religion it cannot live and exist on a structure of the existing Roman and Persian Empires and succeed. Its own land has to be cleared, cultivated and ploughed.
This means, as Muslims, when we have leader who understands the message and mission of Islam his assignment must be to establish a structure from which other branches would develop. It was after the structure had been put in place in Medina that Islam was able to spread, rule and succeed for more 800 years.
So, this book is to establish the fact that no matter how committed we are to the defense of Islam on media, no matter how prayer groups or associations we organize or our call and struggle to spiritual development of Muslims, without a leader (who understands the message and Islamic mission) and establishing Islamic structure, all those activities would be a futile efforts and neither would they make Islam grow nor develop. This is because the system created and its structure, where we are practising Islam was not created to protect Islam. That is why its own land has to be cleared, cultivated and ploughed for its structure to be erected. Never expect Islam to grow on a foreign land and with a foreign structure.
WHY THE UMMAH IS IN NEED OF LEADERSHIP
Islam, the complete code of life, declares leadership as a trust (Amanah), and gives a detailed description about it. According to the Islamic view, leadership is a sacred position that can solve the problems of humanity and guide them to the eternal betterment of here and hereafter. It is a person or a group of people who guide and lead the followers, the humanity from the brink of destruction to the way of Allah. It is the ability to see beyond assumed boundaries, and to come up with
solutions or paths that few can visualize. A leader must then project this vision for everyone to see and pursue.
In Islamic Shariah, leadership is mentioned specially by the word Khilafa and Imama. Though there remain another words used as the meaning of a Leader in various Islamic verses and speeches such as Amir-ul-Muminin, Amir, Za`eem, Sayyid, Qa`eed, Malik, Sheikh etc, but yet the words mentioned earlier are the most famous and most important in describing the state of leadership. With some differences in practice all of these words are used interchangeably to indicate a leader. Muslim thinkers of the modern era differentiate among these synonymous words which are clarified in the area of their application.
Firstly, Khalifa (Caliph), derived from the word Khilafa (Caliphate-system of governance established in Islam), means, literally, the successor, the vicegerent or the representative while as the term of Islamic literature it means the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the leader of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari’ah. Al Qura‟an uses this term with two different meanings. In the following verse Khalifa refers to Hazrat Adam (s) including whole mankind and the prophets. Allah says- “And when (after creating heaven and earth) Allah told the angel that he was about to create a vicegerent (khalifah) and to assign him to the earth (Al-Quran 2 vs 30).
In another verse Allah addressed Hazrat Dawood (s) as both, role of the leader of his state and the Prophet. Allah says- “(And it was said unto him): O David! We have set thee as a viceroy (Leader) in the earth; therefore judge aright between mankind, and follow not desire that it beguile thee
from the way of Allah. Verily, those who wander from the way of Allah have an awful doom, for as much as they forgot the Day of Reckoning.” Quran 38 26
However, Khalifa is now a day used to indicate the position of the head and supreme political leader of the state by the Muslim thinkers. It is asserted by Muslim historians that the term Khalifa was first used as the title of “the successor of Muhammad” by Abu Bakr. From the reign of Umar bn al Khattab, however, Khalifat rasul Allah, successor of the messenger of God, became the common designation of the leader of the community.
Likewise, Imamah, the office of Imam, is another common term used in the holy Qura‟an to describe the leadership as Allah says- “And (remember) when his lord tried Abraham with (His) commands and he fulfilled them, He said: verily, I am going to make you an Imam (a leader) for mankind.” (Quran 2 vs 124)
At the early stage of Islam Imamah or Imam was used in the meaning of the supreme authority of the Muslim community. But in course of time these terms, Khalifa and Imam, have had its own distinguish features. Currently, Khalifa refers to the broader sense of authority which includes all types of power and leadership, specially the political supremacy over the Muslim Ummah and Imam represents as the leader of prayers, religious rituals and spiritual matters. Besides this, the term Imam also gets preference in Islamic Shariah and Fiqh literature to Khalifa.
In a nutshell, it may clarify the idea of Khalifa and Imam that the former is primarily applied to the supreme leader of the Muslim community as the ruler of the community exercising the temporal functions of Muhammad, while the later is applied to him as the religious leader of the community and derives from his function of leading the prayers of the community which, in the view of the Sunnis, was his most important function.
There also exist some terms that are used to indicate the role and function of a leader in Islam. Among these, Amir is the most important one. It means the commander, governor, general, prince, leader etc. Al Qura‟an declares a verse in this regard- “O! You believers! Obey God and obey the messenger and those of you who are in charge of affairs (ulil-`amr).” This term is usually considered as a high title of nobility or office. It does not hold the complete power and authority of a state, but deserves autonomous leadership over a smaller unit of statecraft. During the caliphate of Medina, the commanders of armies, and occasionally of divisions of an army were called Amir (or amir al djaysh or amir al djund) and so were the governors who were initially the conquering generals.
Another important term that may be used for leadership is Ra`i, which literary means a guardian and employed to mean „the person in charge, leader or administer‟ as the Prophet (s) said:
“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible of his flock. The Amir (ruler) who is over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them; and a man’s slave is a shepherd in charge of his master’s property and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.”
Similarly, the terms Sheikh, Sayyid, Qa`eed, Malik, Za`eem are also used in the meaning of a leader in various occasions. Among these, Sheikh literally means “elder” and commonly used to designate an elder of a tribe, a revered wise man, or an Islamic scholar. The term Sayyid is also an honorific title that referred to a person to whom belong, the leading power of his tribe for his experiences, wisdom and piousness. Moreover, the remained terms are also designed to mean leadership and action of a leader in their practices, directly or indirectly, either over a smaller group or a large group.
Today, the leadership in the Muslim world is in zero level and that is why there is no direction for Muslims.
WHAT MAKES LEADERSHIP SIGNIFICANT FOR THE UMMAH
From the beginning of human creation, the main purpose of Almighty Allah, having us created is to have His representatives on earth, a leader or a manager that will be righting the wrongs and putting things aright while also protecting His properties. Starting from Prophet Adam to the last Prophet of Almighty Allah, leaders were raised from generation to generation to fulfil these wills with aim of uniting the heaven with the earth. This agenda of unifying system separated our world and its administrators into two due to the conflicting ideologies; The world of believers (reformers) and the world of unbelievers (destroyers.)
Allah says, “Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will surely make them rulers in the earth as He made those before them rulers……… (Q 24 vs 55)
The leadership importance in Islam is a must and mandated on Muslims, those who are trying to make Islam well established on earth. Its importance is related to the present period, the condition of the Ummah and the area of our existence.
There are three reasons that make leadership vital in the life of the present Muslim Ummah:
- It is Allah’s commandment (Amru-illa-hi) and nature of human creation:- It is an order from Allah that we must be led. He knows the nature of our world and gives a command that “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you….” (Q 4 vs 59).
In one hadith, Muslim reported that Abu Hazim said: I accompanied Abu Hurayra for five years and heard him talking about the Messenger of Allah (saw), he said: “The children of Israel have been governed by Prophets; whenever a Prophet died another Prophet succeeded him; but there will be no prophet after me. There will soon be Khulafa’a and they will number many (in one time); they asked: What then do you order us? He (saw) said: Fulfil allegiance to them, the first of them, and give them their dues; for verily Allah will ask them about what he entrusted them with”. [Muslim],
This tells how Almighty Allah values the position of leadership in any society that has Muslims in multitudes. And proves that men are not designed to rule themselves but to be led by those Allah has chosen for them.
Apart from this, the existence of human and the division of our world between the believers and unbelievers makes it a must for Muslims to bring humanity out of darkness into light as Allah commands.
- It is what the Ummah lost (Fukdanul ummah)- Loosing something can be annoying and inconvenient and there is no how one would not be disturbed psychologically especially when what got missing is something which really values. Khalifah, Imam and Amir were once the route through which Muslims were ruled and coordinated until 1924. It was this year Muslims got robbed and those systems got replaced. The loosing of something value in the life of Ummah makes it a must for its return if Ummah is to be upright.
- Because we need liberation from colonial hegemony and its system- it was said by the children of Israel, “….appoint for us a king….” (Q 2 vs 246) it was not that the Prophet was not among them when they were asking for this. Just like us, it is not that there are no such people acting like leaders among us, but the fact is, they are not the one needed by the ummah to coordinate, organise and lead them to establish what is known as structure which the Prophet did in Medina to give Islam a shape it needed for its expansion.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE UNIVERSE
Almighty Allah creates the order of the universe. He arranges it in a best way that living is not made difficult. He establishes Himself as Supreme Being; creates His angels to supervise us; gives us air to breath; brings raining and dry season at right time; ensures the sun rises in the East and sets in West; likewise, He sees that rotation and revolution of earth are not bringing darkness and other things are not tangle.
These arrangements are Allah owns structure perfected for human beings and they are the ones that give shape and tell how Allah structures our world. Because of those, human beings keep expanding in population and size. Which means, if anything has to live and last, it has to be organized, structured and supervised before it would have a shape.
As Allah establishes Himself in the heaven and appoints His ministers (Angels) to supervise and give details account of His creations, He also, creates us, as His ambassadors on earth in order to unite the authority of heaven with earth. That is what Allah wants and how He wants the universe to be structured.
At the time that Allah (SWT) had sent Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to humanity, the world was sleeping in a dark period of impulse and ignorance. Disunited and rotting in their own lack of education, people remained steadfast in their own ways and showed no hope of progressing towards a brighter future. It was then that Allah (SWT) blessed humanity with a man who would transform the world and relinquish it from the darkness with only the power of God and the light of one single message.
The world was a divided East and West. The East was under the control of the Persian Empire, and the West was ruled by the Romans. The two empires were constantly contentious towards one another, creating a divided and broken world. People were also suffering under these two empires, enduring occupation, corruption, and injustice. These divides caused the empires to become weak and fragmented, and their regimes did little to rectify the situation.
At the time, the Persians worshipped fire like a god. With an uncertainty in beliefs, new religious movements were popping up across the land, including those of Mani, Zoroaster, and Mazdak. Social thought viewed women as the common property of all men. The priestly class itself was corrupt, and the reigning officials joined together to oppress the people and burden them with heavy taxes.
Spiritually, the Byzantines also found themselves in clashing and dogged ideologies. Their leader had absolute and unchecked power, ruling by whatever way he deemed necessary. Though it was an empire founded upon Christian beliefs, the pagan Greek and Roman tradition was applied to Jesus’s (RAA) monotheistic message, resulting in modern-day Christianity. Conceived by the Greco-Roman Church Council in 381 CE, God and Jesus (RAA) were to be considered of the same substance and thus be regarded as co-existent. The Church was divided, and there grew a hostile separation between Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics. Jewish communities were scattered across the continent, remaining steadfast in their religious practice by laws sent by Moses (RAA) which had become distorted by the people.
Beyond the lands of these two empires along their borders was Arabia… and the Arabs were no better off. Divided into individual tribes with no sense of unity or even self-restraint, they were swayed only by their inclinations. The tribes rivaled and feuded with each other, often clashing and feuling blood feuds that would last for generations. They committed raids and thievery, with no morals to restrain them. Out of shame and a belief that girls were inferior to sons, fathers would bury their baby daughters alive. The people of Mecca charged high interest rates, and those unable to pay were forced into slavery or made to give up their wives or daughters to the will of their creditors.
The Arabs were polytheistic in spite of Abraham’s (RAA) message of monotheism and regressed into mainly idol worshippers. The Kaaba, which was built to worship the one and true God, was transformed into a temple for their idols. They idolized sculptures made of stone, food, and even turned to stars as gods. The Arabs were basically stagnant, stuck in old habits and mentalities.
But later, a chosen man was raised from these people with a mission. And, because of his message (to unite heaven and earth), he organized his people, establish a structure in Medina and the earth which had witnessed oppression and atrocities began to be purified and later became the only lit torch of civilization in a world of darkness.
MUHAMMAD IN MEDINA
In medina, Muhammad’s first structure put in place was the construction of a mosque which also served as a headquarters of administrative activities. He sketched out the constitution of Medina when independent community was formed. He established a comprehensive finance management system based on economic justice and law of equality. He made appointment to different offices needed at that time, including security department to run the affairs of the State created. All these later extended when Islam began to spread after Medina had been secured as an administrative state for Islam.
After the death of the Prophet, Rashidun Caliphate (Rightly Guided) proceeded to make expansion as a result of world advancement and development. They established Public Treasury, levied al Ushr (the Custom or Import duty), improved agriculture, economics and founded the educational system.
The Umayyad Caliphate was characterized by territory expansion. It extended his rule over three continents (Africa, Europe and Asia) and saw the construction of masterpieces of al-Andalus (Spain) architecture.
The Abbasid caliphate was the golden age of Islamic civilization. Under this, Badhdad in Iraq became the world’s most important centre for science, philosophy, medicine and education and the Bayt Al-Hikma (House of wisdom) established served as a centre where important ideas from around the world came together.
During this period, a number of very practical innovations took place, especially in the field of agriculture. Improved methods of irrigation allowed more land to be cultivated, and new types of mills and turbines were used to reduce the need for labor. Likewise, crops and farming techniques were adopted.
The Ottoman Caliphate, marked the last Sunni Islamic Caliphate of the late medieval and modern era and its collapse in 1924 left Muslim in desperate situation, with no one to protect what Islam had established as structure and put in place as system for more than 800 years of its ruling.
THE EMERGENCE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
Western civilization traces its root back to Europe. It is linked to the Roman Empire, those who had once caused mischief on earth before the coming of Prophet Muhammad.
Having studied and realized that the power of Muslims was centered on people who are well organized with the same system and ideology under one leadership, through secret societies which turned into political parties, the EUROPE introduced what is known as Nationalism to divide Muslim lands which were once united under Caliphate and from there, colonization began.
Almost every Muslim country on the planet was conquered and colonized by Europeans. Most of those countries became free of the colonizer only after the end of World War II, when perfections had been made to ensure Muslims are disorganized and let go of their system and structure.
During this period, every legacy laid down by Muslims was shattered. Andalusia that was exact opposite of Europe at that time, which had produced magnificent Muslim civilization, likewise, embodiment of the Islamic compulsion to seek ilm, or knowledge was destroyed.
Around the time when Muslims were facing defeat in Spain (Andalusia), the Mongols also erupted from the East to attack the heart of the Muslims world. Libraries and books in Baghdad were also subjected to destruction and centuries of civilization were razed to the ground. Once the destruction began in the West and East, it could not be stopped. It spreads like the apocalypse.
Mosques, libraries and anything that reminded people of Islam were systematically destroyed and some were replaced with European names. This was done with aim of pulling down the structure of Muslims and erase anything remain of Islamic legacy from their memory.
WHY THERE IS NEED FOR REBIRTH OF ISLAMIC STRUCTURE
The system, the structure and the people’s way of thinking, everything changed after destruction of Ottoman Empire and dismembered of its constituent nations in 1924. The power shifted from the Muslim world to the Christian world (Europe) and the Islamic system was replaced with Democracy. This system was presented to the world and it was well accepted by nations that were subjected to colonization.
Years have gone and century is almost reached since democracy is being nurtured by those who destroyed what previous it, Islam and as a result of that destruction that was brought to Islam, only few among Muslims could even think there was once an Islamic system which was made the people’s way of life.
Constitution was made, people were organized under political parties to ensure the protection of democratic system and it was made the way of life of the people which provides job, determines how they live and what they eat.
As it grows and expands, what remains of Islam begin to decline and deteriorate in value and acceptability because the structures that give it shape have been destroyed and its people disorganized.
Democracy continues to grow in value because the well organized politicians (its people), stand by it to protect the system. They created structures like government schools, Industries, Hospitals, Universities and other amenities that people need. All these establishments provide different services for human development and they are what give Democracy its structure and the reasons why it establishes itself in the hearts of the people. As a result of this and the services it rendered, people find it difficult to turn their eyes against it despite its imperfections because the alternative was not provided.
In the past, when the world was sleeping in a dark period as we are having it today, the alternative provided was Islam through a leader, Muhammd (s.a.w). He went on to find a place, organise the people of Islam, create structures and through that Islam began to spread and from it, Empires were created and the earth which had witnessed oppression and atrocities then later purified.
This means, the alternative provided by God Almighty Allah to save humanity is Islam. But only needs Muslims to organize themselves (under a leader) and establish themselves through creation of different structures (needed by the people) that would influence or change people’s perspective about Islam or make them see Islam as an alternatives to democracy by providing the needed services that people want.
For Islam to grow, it has to be established (ideologically and structurally) and its establishment can only take place when Muslims are organized to practise the practical Islam.
THE STRUCTURES THAT WE NEED
The Biologists would say, humans and other complex multicellular organisms have systems of organs that work together, carrying out processes that keep human alive. Which means the body as a complete system has levels of organization (Cells make up tissues, tissues make up organs, and organs make up organ systems) that build on each other before it was made to be functioned.
Democracy as a system would not have survived if politicians are not alive and government structures are not put in place to give it shape or structure. Let assume there was no government secretariats, no government schools, no hospitals no construction of roads, water and other social services provided by the government to the people, no one would have recognized Democracy as a system. But as a result of these structures and the services rendering, everybody sees the system as a means to achieve and become great in life.
This means democracy only exists as a result of the services, structures and the people (politicians). Which means, if Muslims really want Islam to live, grow and develop, there is need for Physical structures and Muslims to be ideologically united before Islam can be set in motion.
When they are ideologically united for Islam i.e, having the same hearts and thinking in the same way that is when their mission can be protected.
In a country like Nigeria, where people are not living a normal life; where no one feels or knows the importance of government unless when it brings harsh economic policies like increase in fuel price, food and other things people cannot do without, there is need for Muslims to think twice if they are to live.
As at today, there is always alternative to whatever government provides or establishes as its structure. Be it electricity, schools, Institutions and other infrastructures, even including water. These alternatives are better by far when compare with government and majority of them are not coming from the Muslims community.
We must recall that the structures themselves (government) were established by the element of colonial agents who are Christians, and that is where majority of Muslims can be found (schools and Institutions)or where they are benefiting from. But now that the structures are deteriorating and other ones are being established at special centres where Muslims do not belong, is having or creating Muslims’s own a Must or not?
Remember, Nigeria, her system and structures are not stable and there is no how Muslim can live, spread their Islam and expand their territory with structures that are not stable or being destroyed without having theirs. So, if Muslims are to live there is need to organize themselves under a stable leader who understands their situation.