Leadership is never an easy concept to explain in general, and Muslims are no exception to this rule. After so many years of colonialism, arbitrary borders, puppet regimes and cultural imperialism, Muslims have faced a plethora of different movements and unstable governments often with little sense of direction in their respective countries. Competent leadership seems to be a distant possibility at the moment. Many of our leaders (there is no need for me to cite examples; a cursory glance throughout the Muslim world will reveal this) seem untrustworthy and with little legitimacy attached to their right to rule. There is little to no connection to be found between civil society and the leaders, often resulting in friction between the two sides. So how do we address this current decline found in the Muslim world?[i]
Rafik I. Beekun (University of Nevada) and Jamal Badawi’s (St. Mary’s University) answer is clear: we need to create competent and ethical leaders who guide according to Islamic values. Only then will we be able to move forward as
a society where the interests of society, and not the West, are met.[ii] This is not just true for many Muslim countries abroad, but how even grassroots organizations and Muslim associations should function like. To illustrate the true scope of this book, I will provide a limited synopsis of the first two chapters of the book (5-36) and its implications. Remember: these “summaries” do not accurately convey everything on those chapters! There is just too much to cover[i] Note that this distrust is also latently prevalent in Western society as well, with the latest examinations on the popular vote (and how much of society really does vote) demonstrating that many countries (even Canada) find lessening interest in electing their potential leader. [ii] Colonialism and globalization have resulted in the decimation of foreign cultures and the dominance of western values and norms. 

Overall, this book was an interesting an insightful read. This work is not just about creating Muslim leaders, but it seeks to “describe the effective characteristics of leaders in general” (Beekun & Badawi, 1999: 2; my own emphasis). Achieving this broad goal means that a number of sources, both Islamic and secular, were used to investigate the mechanics of
leadership. This could be demonstrated by analyzing how the two authors[i] proceed to define leadership in Chapter 1, as they rely on a number of scholarly sources to construct one. Ultimately, they conclude that leadership is a “social
exchange process,” where the leader must effectively express his vision and goals to his followers in order to create a bond with them (Beekun& Badawi, 1999: 7). This definition certainly captures how the relationship between the leader and his people should be: a binding relationship. Chapter 1 proceeds into then dissecting the different forms of power (regardless of whether or not they are good) and how they enforce control. Overall, this chapter shows how leadership is not just simply management and how leaders could either ethically or unethically enforce their rule. 

Chapter 2 (authored by Beekun) is arguably the most interesting portion in the entire book. It seeks to present the Islamic traits a Muslim leader should adopt, such as intention, Iman, Taqwa,Birr, etc. By adopting and properly implementing them, these “moral bases” will result in the leader not just acting legally (the bare minimum required), but
ethically. This makes the leader go beyond just following man-made legal standards and the letter of the law, but the higher standards ordained by Allah in His Last Book and through His Final Messenger (peace and blessings be upon
him). Keeping promises, for example, is “very important for all,” with the leader required to exercise it as well (Beekun & Badawi, 1999: 33). The authors build on this understanding in Chapter Three (which will not be discussed!) by noting that according to a study by two researchers on leadership characteristics, Kouzes and Posner (1995), honesty is the the number one trait required for leaders. According to the two authors, Islam shows us clearly why honesty is so important (unlike Kouzes and Posner): this is because it sees leadership as a “trust – whatever the circumstance may be”(Beekun & Badawi, 1999: 39; emphasis in originl.[i] The term “the two authors” will always refer to Beekun and Badawi. 


This book will certainly be found enlightening and thought-provoking for all students, especially those interested in the social sciences in general. I would recommend any readers to firmly try out all of the exercises and case studies found throughout the book. These really do expand your understanding and ensure you apply your understanding and not just
regurgitate it. The authors clearly want the reader to go beyond simple memorization of definitions. 

Reference:  Beekun, Rafik I. and Jamal Badawi. (1999). Leadership: An Islamic Perspective. Beltsville:
   Amana Publications. 
.....
[1] Note that this distrust is also latently prevalent in Western society as well, with the latest examinations on the popular vote (and how much of society really does vote) demonstrating that many countries (even Canada) find lessening interest in electing their potential leaders. 
[11] Colonialism and globalization have resulted in the decimation of foreign cultures and the dominance of western values and norms. 
[111] The term “the two authors” will always refer to Beekun and Badawi. 




 
 


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