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Peace is freedom in tranquility.
|Q. Khanson: Rise and Fall of Inadequate Leadership|
|By Author Qamrul A. Khanson|
|Saturday, June 11, 2011|
Address to the monthly meeting of the Universal Peace Federation
An adequate leader in his domain is the one who has the support of most and fulfills the need of the people and nation without fear of persecution and terror among his/her people. From such an understanding, "effective leadership is the ability to successfully integrate and maximize available resources within the internal and external environment for the attainment of organizational or societal goals."
Being a religious person and speaking among the people of religion today, I am convinced that the Prophets of Biblical and Islamic times were the greatest leaders; the Almighty has sanctified their role, and they fulfilled the purpose as ordained to them by Almighty God irrespective of the results on the ground at the time. If not for their perfect role as divine leaders, most of us would be still wandering in the net of distracters perpetrated by the Devil. Thus in today's discussion, I am touching on political leadership.
Being a devout Muslim, I respect all religious leaders who bring peace among their people. I respect even those who may not call themselves religious but brought peace and tranquility in their respective nations through wisdom, tolerance, patience, and courage in dealing with difficult people and under difficult circumstances. Such leaders are Pierre Trudeau, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and many others who used the power entrusted upon them by the constitution with diligence, conscientiousness and selflessness. Since the present crises of leadership are mostly focused upon the Arab uprising, I will speak from a Muslim's perspective.
Recognized adequate leaders
To consider an adequate leader for a nation and community, many philosophers and writers explored at length in a number of works in the previous century. Most notable are the writings of Thomas Carlyle and Francis Galton, whose works have prompted decades of research. In Heroes and Hero Worship (1841), Carlyle identified the talents, skills, and physical characteristics of men who rose to power. In Galton's (1869) Hereditary Genius, he examined leadership qualities in the families of powerful men.
Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795 – 5 February 1881) was a Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian, and teacher during the Victorian era. He moved towards his later thinking during the 1840s, leading to a break with many old friends and allies. His belief in the importance of heroic leadership found form in his book On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, in which he compared a wide range of different types of heroes, including Napoleon, William Shakespeare, Dante, Samuel Johnson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Robert Burns, John Knox, Martin Luther, and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
He included people as coordinates and accorded the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) a special place in the book under the chapter title "Hero as a Prophet." In his work, Carlyle declared his admiration with a passionate championship of Muhammad (PBUH) as a Hegelian agent of reform, insisting on his sincerity and commenting "how one man single-handedly, could weld warring tribes and wandering Bedouins into a most powerful and civilized nation in less than two decades." For Carlyle, the hero was somewhat similar to Aristotle's "Magnanimous" man — a person who flourished in the fullest sense.
Michael H. Hart (born April 28, 1932 in New York City) is a Jewish-American astrophysicist who has also written three books on history and controversial articles on a variety of subjects. He wrote a book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, which has sold more than 500,000 copies and been translated into 15 languages. In the book, Hart provides brief biographies of each of the individuals, as well as reasons for their ranking. He said; my choice of Muhammad (PBUH) to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others. However, he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.
Inadequate leaders who ignored Muhammad (PBUH)
Human beings are born in this world to commit righteousness and refrain from evil deeds. The tug of war between right and wrong is naturally continual and people's love and hate for the dreadful is part of that confrontation. When the leaders of a nation become dreadful, ignore the plight of people, fill their own bank account, and ignore the rights of people through draconian suppression, such leaders are dreadful and inadequate. Such a leader is no more a servant of the state but a dreadful ruler. Most if not all the inadequate leaders happened to be Muslims and are in trouble because they ignored their own greatest leader, Muhammad (PBUH).
In today’s democratic set up, if a democratically elected head of government becomes a dictator and people perceive him/her as dreadful, then people have an opportunity to change their leader through agitation and the ballot box. Events unfolding in the Arab world in early 2011 have proved that it is natural for the people to agitate against atrocities and dreadfulness prevailing in their country.
After 30 years in the Presidency, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11, 2011 amid heavy protest by his opponents. Why he waited such a long time, allowing many of his people becoming the target of bullets while he watched with a passion to rule further, history would remain a witness. The demonstrations by the people of Egypt against the regime's authoritarianism and repression, and their demands for greater freedom, political accountability and transparency, have been inspiring to all who cherish democracy and liberty. In the beginning, if Mr. Mubarak had counted his achievements in Egypt and expressed regret for his mistakes by announcing his resignation, he would have been considered a hero. Such a hero would have been remembered as a milestone for an adequate leader, but he chose to humiliate himself by staying until forced to go.
Zain Al Abidine Ben Ali, born 3 September 1936, was the second President of the Tunisian Republic. He held the office from 7 November 1987 until he was forced to step down and flee the country on 14 January 2011. Ben Ali and his family are now presently living in exile in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the same city where former President Idi Amin of Uganda lived in exile until his death on 2003 after being removed from power on 1979 at end of the Ugandan-Tanzanian War.
A dreadful or perceived dreadful leader must abandon the self-proclaimed power and relinquish it for the betterment of the nation, people, and for his/her own safety and security. Otherwise, we all have witnessed how Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia (26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980), ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979.
For the present generation of leaders all over the world, it is imperative to listen to the general masses of their respective countries. They should be servants of the public and not behave as a dictator over their people. Otherwise, they would be considered inadequate leaders. Such leaders face challenges in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine, and Somalia where democratic values are not respected.