Interfaith Peacebuilding


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Interfaith Programs

Toronto Interfaith Forum: The Rise and Fall of Leadership

Toronto, Canada - A.R. Qureshi was the featured speaker in UPF-Toronto's July 9 monthly meeting, the second in the topic of "The Rise and Fall of Inadequate Leadership." Human history is full of trial and error, he said. There is no reason to be surprised at what it has taken to reach a stage where we all stand today as a human community. The trials and errors in the quest of adequate leadership did not come without a price. The price so far has been highly expensive in terms of human lives and material loss. In the process, such a cost could be easily attributed to human failures in achieving adequate leadership for communities, nations, and even the present day world body.

Human beings are a social animal and need to live in a social atmosphere. In order to govern such a society, leadership evolves among its members; thus, having physical strength, intellectuality, or mass support gives opportunity to a person to become a leader of the community or nation. There was a time when political leadership and religious leadership were seen as one unified form of leadership. However, as the times change, these two segments of leaderships have been segregated to accommodate sectors of society in which religion does not play a political role in the day-to-day running of nation.

In the evolution of nationalism, political doctrines, and cultural influence, religion has played key roles. History has witnessed leaders of mixed roles who preached moral values most of the time but did not put them into practice. Such inadequate role models led to the two world wars in which the Allied leaders and Axis leaders confronted each other to settle the destiny of the world. Of course in a war, the militarily powerful wins. However, righteous doctrine also wins the heart and minds of the people, who demand a right to select their own national leaders. Such is the process by which evolved democratic principles, which started toppling feudal, communist, and dictatorial leadership all around the world.

Mr. Qureshi gave utmost importance to democracy as a means for evolving adequate leadership. Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development, and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic, and cultural conditions that enable the free and equitable practice of political self-determination. While there is no specific, universally accepted definition of democracy, equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. He concluded by stating that these principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to the legislative processes.

In response, Rev. Mitch Dixon mentioned a few core values by which an adequate leadership could evolve: visionary, reliable, empowered by the people, and audacious. Rev. Earl Smith mentioned of two types of leadership: creative leadership and destructive leadership; people must be inculcated with humanistic values by which they shall get an opportunity to select and elect their own leader. Author Qamrul Khanson emphasized the importance of justice in maintaining a credible leadership in a country. For example, when asked about his leadership future, wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill had said that he did not worry about it as long as justice prevails in Britain. Dr. Hoossen Auckberaullee mentioned the importance of balanced leadership, encouraging like-minded NGOs to cooperate to help nurture adequate leaders all around the world elected by the people and respected for their moral and ethical values.

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