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Interfaith Programs

Ottawa Interfaith Forum: Leadership According to Islam

Dr. Zijad Delic is second from right.

Ottawa, Canada - The National Capital Peace Council of UPF-Ottawa held its monthly breakfast meeting on February 22. The former Executive Director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Dr. Zijad Delic spoke on the topic: True Leadership in the Context of the Middle East. Given the context of current developments in the Middle East and North Africa, his presentation sparked a lively discussion. Notes of his comments follow:

Why is there so much disconnection between the people and their leaders of the Middle-Eastern today? Because each country is run by an autocratic regime
We are not talking about Muslim countries, but countries with a majority of Muslims, because the true principles of justice according to Islam are not applied in these countries.

What are the basics of a true leader according to Islam? Someone the people can trust. Some who has charisma, is able to find new solutions, and does not force people to follow him.

What is the role of a leader within Islam? Someone at the service of his people and country, who promotes justice and fairness, who allows individuals to be critical, to reason with freedom of speech. Someone who is a guarantor of ethical principles, has a strong understanding of the Islamic faith, with total awareness of one’s accountability to God, and with a good understanding of the concept and practice of justice so that people are safe from their leaders

Presently, this is to be found nowhere in the autocratic regimes of the Middle East, which is why people are revolting. When justice is promoted, people will follow: the Canadian Charter of Rights is a good example of this. There must be a mutual contract between the leaders and the people.

For a Muslim, to be a citizen of Canada is like having a contract with the Canadian society. Unfortunately, even in Canada, things are changing as politicians are working more and more for their party rather than the people of Canada. The West may not be ready yet to see democracy taking root in the Middle East as it may be against its interests. There is a lot of double talk and hypocrisy amongst the leaders; Barack Obama may want to be different, but his hands may be tied. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey may be the only leader in the Middle East who comes close to the Islamic ideal of the leader/servant as expressed above.

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