The trust of leadership

Betrayal of trust of leadership, abuse of public funds and having no concern for the welfare of the economically needy renders even one’s religious rituals and profession of faith hypocritical.

ISLAMIC history is rich with traditions and anecdotes which contain sufficient counsel for people of power and holders of authority.

According to al-Ghazali, in his work Nasihat al-Muluk, how effective those traditions are depends on the strength of their faith. If faith is firmly established in the heart of those people of power, then these traditions will be impactful and influential to their behaviour and conduct.

If those religious traditions are not effective, however, this will be because the heart is devoid of faith. Indeed, nothing remains of it except profession of faith with the tongue. In reality, merely talking that one has faith is one thing, but true faith that is receptive to religious counsel on trust and leadership is another thing altogether.

On his administrative experience, al-Ghazali recorded in his work Kimiya al-Sa‘adat, “I do not know what sort of faith really exists in the heart of a Finance Officer who holds the treasury in trust for the people but instead gives the money away only to some (undeserving) individuals. This action is an utmost limit of neglect of God’s commands and un-Muslim conduct.”

In contrast with the notion of sociopolitical leadership as trust is the notion that politics is “who gets what, when, and how”, with all forms of power play, manoeuvring and machinations.

Indeed, there is the Prophet Muhammad’s reminder that there are three signs of a munafiq (hypocrite): “When he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he breaks the promise; and when he is entrusted with something, he betrays that trust, even if he ritually observes canonical fasting, prayers, haj (pilgrimage), umrah (lesser pilgrimage), and asserts that he is a Muslim.”

As the Caliph ‘Umar b. al-Khattab reminded, “Don’t let a man’s humming prayer during the night deceive you. A true man is the one who keeps his trust and returns it to its owner, and from whose tongue and hand Muslims are safe.”

by Dr. Mohd Sani Badron.

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