Mistakes Are Part Of The Job
As a leader, you will make many mistakes. Some of these mistakes will be things you should have seen coming. Some of these mistakes will just come out of the blue and knock you off your feet.
Being a leader, especially a Muslim leader, you will have to know how to come back after these follies.
You should be quick to apologize when necessary. You should readily admit and accept fault (even if it isn’t really your fault). You should do whatever you can to fix the situation.
Generally speaking, people are pretty forgiving. Those who look up to you as a leader will forgive most of your mistakes. They know you’re human and that you’re not perfect.
And owning up to those mistakes makes it even easier to forgive you.
Just Don’t Make This Mistake
But there is one mistake that is hard to come back from. And it isn’t really a mistake. It’s more of an attitude.
People will forgive almost anything. But they will not forgive a breach of trust.
It’s very difficult to win back trust after you’ve lost it. In fact, it’s nearly impossible.
And the easiest way to lose trust is to convince your followers that it’s all about you. Once people believe that you only care about your personal success, then you’ve lost them.
We will have disagreements. We will have fallouts. We will have arguments and fights.
But if these disagreements, arguments and fights are about a higher purpose and a greater goal, most people will find a way to let bygones be bygones.
But if these disagreements, arguments, and fights are about your ego and your desires, then you can forget it.
Historical Egos In Quran And Sunnah
Let’s look at a few examples from the Quran and Sunnah.
When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was first charged with bringing the message of Islam to his people, he was ignored, chastised, and even humiliated. Most of the leaders of the Quraish thought he was lying or crazy.
Eventually, many of them began to realize that he was telling the truth. Even his uncle, Abu Talib, who was one of the Prophet’s strongest supporters, acknowledged he was telling the truth.
Yet, Abu Talib and most of the other Quraishi leaders refused to follow the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
Because of ego. They had a lot of pride in their clans and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was from the Bani Hashim clan. Therefore, those leaders from the Bani Makhzoom (Abu Jahl) and Bani Umayyah (Abu Sufyan) couldn’t bring themselves to follow the Prophet.
It was all about their ego and pride and social standing.
But the Messenger of Allah wasn’t just calling people to follow him. Of course all Muslims, then and now, must follow and obey Allah’s Messenger. However, his call wasn’t simply to follow him for the sake of following him.
The truth was that he was calling us to worship Allah alone and exhibit good behavior. The Prophet’s message was for a higher calling. It was for a higher purpose. And it certainly wasn’t ego driven.
At first, there were many people following Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan and very few following the Prophet. But as time went on and the Muslims continued to be successful, more and more people left the pagan Quraish and joined the Muslims.
People were willing to sacrifice and struggle and strive in the cause of Allah. But nobody wants to sacrifice and struggle and strive for the cause of Abu Jahl’s clan or Abu Sufyan’s pride.
Of course, there were many other reasons the Prophet was successful, most notably the fact that he was the Prophet and Allah promised him victory.
But as a leader, he was able to get his followers to focus on a bigger goal while his enemies were concerned about their own pride and success.
In the Quran Allah speaks of how Prophet Musa (AS) had to deal with Pharaoh. Just like the leaders of the Quraish hundreds of years later, Pharaoh was more concerned about his own ego than about what was best for his people.
We can see how egotistical he was by examining his speech.
When Musa came to Pharaoh with the news that he was to let the Children of Israel go and that he should worship Allah as well, Pharaoh decided to hold a duel. He had his magicians agreed to a sorcery joust with Musa on a day of celebration.
Upon dueling, the magicians threw down their ropes and they began to wriggle and coil about like snakes.
And when Musa (AS) threw his staff it turned into a real snake and ate the false snakes of the magicians.
When the magicians saw this, they knew this was no corner store magic trick. They knew it was the real deal and immediately prostrated themselves to Musa and his brother Haroon.
What was Pharaoh’s reaction when they did this?
You believed in him before I gave you permission? Indeed this is a conspiracy which you conspired in the city to expel therefrom its people. But you are going to know. I will certainly cut off your hands and feet from opposite sides, then I will certainly crucify you all.
Chapter 7, verses 123-124.
Yowzers. Talk about extreme egos.
Pharaoh made it all about him. He couldn’t believe his magicians would dare believe Musa without his permission. He was so insulted by this, he threatened to cut off their limbs and execute them.
How can anyone be a leader with this sort of attitude?
Show, Don’t Tell
So keep these examples in mind as you grow in your role as a Muslim leader.
Communicate to your followers that you’re not in this for yourself. Let them know that there’s a bigger picture and you’re all working towards something greater than any one individual.
By the way, saying this isn’t enough.
Saying that you’re working for a “greater good” doesn’t mean much. You have to communicate this with your actions and your attitude.
If you can do this, your followers will go wherever you lead them.by