On the coming election in Ondo
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Say: “O Almighty! Master of the Kingdom! You give sovereignty to whoever You will and take sovereignty from whoever You will. You exalt whoever You will and abase whoever You will. All good is in your hands. You have power over all things.” (Quran 3:26)
One of the greatest sources of concern for discerning Muslims in the contemporary period is the hiatus in the sphere of leadership in our world. Whenever our Prophet, (may His mercies and benedictions be on his soul) sent his companions on a mission or an expedition, he would appoint someone as their commander. The criteria he usually deployed to this process were basically the appointee’s ability and also mutual love and respect between him and the group he would be leading. He would proceed from there to enjoin the group to obey their leader so that their mission would be successful. Should they have divergent aims and follow different methods, they were bound to fail, he would counsel.
Further Prophet Muhammad was always keen to instill the above virtue among Muslims, regardless of their positions. He once said: “Everyone of you is a shepherd and will be accountable for his flock. The ruler is a shepherd and will be accountable for his community; a man is a shepherd of his family and will be accountable for them; a woman is a shepherd of her husband’s household and will be accountable for her charge; a slave is a shepherd looking after his master’s property and will be accountable for it: indeed, every one of you is a shepherd and will be accountable for what is under their care.”
When everyone in a community develops such a sense of responsibility, the affairs of the community will run smoothly and everyone will have what is due to them. Indeed, this virtue usually helps in developing a feeling of love and unity within the community; it guarantees success and prosperity. The Prophet equally said that the Almighty said: “O! My servants, I have forbidden for Myself injustice and made it forbidden for you. Therefore, be not unjust to anyone.” These codes represent the foundation and the canon of the Islamic political system. Its absence is usually a recipe and catalyst for political anomie, civil strife, and disharmony.
One way by which we can begin to confront the challenge of leadership currently confronting the world is to enthrone individuals with a positive outlook on life. In other words, we need to elect leaders whose approach to leadership is not narcissistic; those who would keep under focus the interest and welfare of the majority. We need a new crop of leaders whose approach to governance would create friends out of enemies. We need the emergence of a new set of leaders who would turn our debits to credits, our minuses to plus. We need leaders who would be humble in power; not dealers who see power as pies and extensions of their estates.
Let me close with the following from Ibn Qayyim. He was once asked about the signs of a diseased heart, he responded saying: a diseased heart does not feel any hurt or pain when he commits evil deeds and sins; he finds both pleasures in committing sins and tranquility after doing them; he looks after less important matters and neglects more important and critical ones; he dislikes the truth and has difficulty accepting or submitting to it; he feels discomfort being in the company of the righteous and feels comfortable in the company of the sinful; he is susceptible to misconceptions and doubts, and is attracted to debates and arguments about them rather than to reading Qur’an and other such beneficial acts; he is not affected by any kind of admonition. While pondering that, reflect on this from Prophet Muhammad: kayfama taqunu yuwalla alaykum- the way you are would determine the leader that shall be appointed unto you. This is the challenge confronting our compatriots in Ondo and Edo as they prepare to go the polls to elect new leaders for their respective states.
The challenge persuasively described above find further representation in the words of the most egregious personality the contemporary world has witnessed, Adolf Hitler. He, it was who once said that ‘sooner will a camel pass through a needle’s eye than a great man is “discovered” by an election’. The result of the United States’ election in 2016 is evidence in this direction. Now ponder this statement from Benjamin Roosevelt – ‘an election cannot give a country a firm sense of direction if it has two or more national parties which merely have different names but are as alike in their principles and aims as two peas in the same pod”. Did Roosevelt have the APC and the PDP in mind?
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Oladosu is a professor of Middle Eastern, North African, and Cultural Studies
Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan, Nigeria