Islamic Management: Meetings and Consultation (3)

Continuing from our previous discussion, we gave examples of consultations of leaders with experts and those who were seniors.

However, seniority and experts weren’t the only group that Saidina Umar r.a. sought advice. Saidina Umar r.a. started to add younger people to the gatherings too, because he knew that the elders were approaching the end of their lives and would soon go to their Lord and His mercy and forgiveness, and the state needed to renew its manpower. The brilliant `Umar realized this fact and started to choose from among the youth of the ummah those whom he sensed were knowledge and pious. `Abdullah ibn `Abbas was one of the first of them, and `Umar continued to choose some of the youth of the ummah as advisors based on how much they knew of the Qur`an. `Abdullah ibn `Abbas said:

“Those who were well-versed in Qur’an were the members of `Umar’s council and his advisors, whether they were old or young.”

If at all, leadership through syura helped to develop young leaders. Az-Zuhri said to some young people: “Do not think too little of yourself because you are young, for when `Umar ibn al-Khattab was faced a difficult problem, he would call the young people and seek their advice, relying on the sharpness of their minds.

Women were part of the consultation and meetings and therefore, part of governing the country. Muhammad ibn Sireen said: Saidina Umar used to consult people about matters and he would even consult the women ,and if he saw something in a woman’s opinion that he thought was good, he would follow it. It is narrated that on one occasion he consulted the Mother of the Believers Hafsa r.a. If at all, this should reinforce the opinion on the importance of women in governance or leadership.

The areas of syura at the time of Saidina Umar were many and varied, such as the administrative and political fields, such as the selection of agents and governors, military matters, purely shariah issues, such as determining shariah rulings on whether things were halal or haram, and matters pertaining to courts and the passing of judgements.

For example, with regard to calamities, Saidina Umar practiced a consultative approach towards crisis management. He would assemble the Sahabah and widen the circle of advisors as much as possible, as he did when the plague struck Syria when he was on his way there. News of that reached Saidina Umar when the governors came to meet him in Saragh, which is a place near Syria. The Muhajireen and Ansar were with `Umar, so he assembled them asked them whether he would carry on or go back. They differed concerning that. Some said, “You came out seeking the pleasure of Allah and this should not stop you from carrying on.” Other said: “It is trial and death, and we do not think that you should go and meet it.”

Then he summoned the Muhajireen of Quraysh, and they did not differ concerning the matter, rather they advised him to go back. So Saidina Umar called to the people; “In the morning we will head back.” Abu `Ubaydah said: “Are you running away from the decree of Allah?” He said: ‘Yes. We are running away from the decree of Allah to another decree. Do you think that if you have camels and you go to a valley in which there are two areas, one which is green and one which is arid, if you graze your camels in the green are that is by the decree of Allah, and if you graze them in arid area that is also by the dcree of Allah?” `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf heard them and came to them and said: “The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘if you hear that this epidemic is in some land, then do not go there, and if it strikes a land when you are there, do not leave and flee from it.’

What we would like to emphasize is that the caliphate of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs was based on the principle of syura which is derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah. The reign of Saidina Umar was not an isolated case which was something invented solely by him, rather it was one of the principles of the system of Islam.

Islamic Management: Meetings and Consultation (2)

We briefly discussed the importance of syura (meetings and consultation) in Islam in the last article. In this article, we will briefly touch upon the ways it was practiced during the time of the second Caliph, Saidina Umar Al-Khattab r.a. There is a specific reason we chose his period.

The issues that required syura became numerous during Saidina Umar’s rule because many new issues as Islam spread and reached lands with civilizations, traditions and different systems. New problems were created which required comprehensive ijtihad, such as how to deal with conquered lands, how to regulate stipend according to new principles, how to war booty collected by the state was to be spent. Saidina Umar r.a. used to assemble the largest number of senior Sahabah he could for syura, and the shaykhs of Badr enjoyed a special status with regard to syura because of their virtue, knowledge and superiority.

Saidina Umar r.a. considers holding syura as one of the key traits of a leader. It shows decisiveness, humility and resourcefulness. He says:

“Men are of three types: a man who deals with problems according to his own opinion; a man who consults other with regard to matters he is confused about and follows the opinion of those who have wisdom; and a man who is confused and helpless, as he does not consult others and cannot take decisions.”

Consultation and meetings are also a key trait for leadership. Consultative practices allows the leader to analyze the situation from different perspectives prior to making a decision. Saidina Umar r.a. put this into practice as a leader. He used to consult the common people first and listen to them, then he would gather the elder Companions of the Messenger of Allah (SWT) and the people of wisdom among them, tell them about the issue and ask them to reach a good conclusion, and whatever they agreed upon, he would carry it out.

His actions in this case are similar to those of constitutional regimes in many kingdoms where issues are first discussed in the parliament, for example, then after being agreed upon by the majority, they are referred to a higher council which may be called “senators” or “lords”, and once that council has reached its decision, the king executes a decree. The difference between what Saidina Umar did and what these kingdoms do is that in Saidina Umar’s case it was based on his own ijtihad (opinion), without there being any system or laws in place.

On many occasions, Saidina Umar examined an issue, thought about it and expressed his view, then the weakest of people would come and explain the correct view, offering evidence for that, and Saidina Umar would retract his mistaken view and accept the correct view once he became convinced of it.

Extending from this style of leadership, Saidina Umar used to urge his military commanders to engage in syura (mutual consultation). For example, when he sent Abu `Ubayd ath-Thaqafi to fight the Persians in Iraq, he said to him: “Listen to and obey the Companions if the Prophet (SAW) and let them have a say, especially those among them who were present at Badr.”

He considers those who are senior and more experienced as valuable resources to overcome challenges and achieve excellence. As such, he instructs the highest military commanders to keep their egos low and consult experts as well as others.

To illustrate this point further, as another example, Saidina Umar used to write to his commanders in Iraq, telling them to consult `Amr ibn Ma`diyakrib and Talhah al-Asadi concerning their military affairs. He said to them: “Consult Talhah al-Asadi and `Amr ibn Ma`diyakrib and seek their help concerning war, but do not give them any control over your affairs, for each person knows his own field best.”

This also illustrates another point. Consulting another person or having meetings does not imply delegating power or giving them control. The control and responsibility should still be held by the leaders. Consultation and meetings should help leaders to be more decisive.

Saidina Umar r.a. was not the only sahabah who practiced Syura. One of the things that `Urwah said to `Utbah ibn Ghazwan when he sent him to Basrah was: “I have written to al-`Ala` al-Hadrami, telling him to send `Arfajah ibn Harthamah to you, for he is experienced in warfare and in drawing up plans to defeat the enemy. When he comes to you, consult him and keep him close to you.”

To be continued…

Islamic Management: Meetings and Consultation (1)

One of the foundations of Islamic management is the necessity for leaders and managers to consult their followers. As such, Syura (or meetings) is very essential in Islamic Theory of Management. Allah SWT says:

And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over [their faults], and [Allah`s] forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put you trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust [in Him]. (Qur`an 3:159)

And Allah says:

And those who answer the Call of their Lord [i.e. to believe that He is the only One Lord (Allah), and to worship none but Him Alone], and perform as-Salah [Iqamat as-Salah], and who [conduct] their affairs by mutual consultation, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them. (Qur`an 42:38)

This verse mentions consultation (syura) alongside establishing prayer, which indicates that the ruling on syura is the ruling on prayer. The ruling on prayer is that it is obligatory according to Syariah, and by the same token syura is obligatory according to shaari`ah.

Often times employees or leaders, within the working context, rue meeting times and often consider them as a waste of time. Furthermore, they also consider seeking advice or consulting an expert as a sign of weakness or lack of competency. This is not parallel with Islamic Principles of Management.

It is imperative to understand that Islam not only promotes consultations and meetings, in fact, it actually acknowledges and makes it obligatory. Secondly, it is also critical to understand that leaders and employees that practice consultation/meetings (syura) is also realizing and implementing the Holy Quran.

Saidina Umar Al-Khattab r.a. adopted the principle of syura during his caliphate; he did not decree concerning public affairs without discussing it with others. If something new came up, he did not take a decision on how to handle it without first gathering the Muslims together and discussing it with them and consulting them.

It was narrated that he said, “There is nothing good in a decision taken without consultation.”

Consensus or majority opinion is also central and key to the syura. As Saidina Umar r.a. rightly pointed out:

“An individual opinion is like a single thread, two opinions are like two interwoven threads, and three can never be broken.”

Consulting or meetings are not simply held with anyone. It has to be conducted with those who are relevant and knowledgeable. During his caliphate, Saidina Umar r.a. frequently consulted with experts from different industries. For military issues, he consulted his military commanders while for agriculture, he consulted those experts in it. For religious matters, he mentions:

“It is the duty of the Muslims to run their affairs by consultation between them and people of wisdom, as the people should follow those who are in charge of the affairs. So long as they are united then their opinion becomes binding on the people and the people should follow them. Whoever becomes in charge of the Muslim`s affairs should follow the opinion of the people of wisdom and whatever they suggest is in the best interests of the Muslims, and whatever plans they draw up in the case of war, the people should follow their opinion.”

To this effect, Saidina Umar r.a. also had an inner circle from among the Sahabah and  people of wisdom and understanding, including al-Abbas ibn `Abdul-Muttalib and his son `Abdullah – who was with him almost constanstly, whether he was travelling or not – and `Uthman ibn `Affan, `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf, `Ali ibn Talib, Mu`adh ibn Jabal, Ubayy ibn Ka’b, Zayd ibn Thabit, and others of their caliber whom he used to consult and seek their advice. These advisors used to express their views with full freedom and frankness. `Umar never accused any of them with regard to his character and honesty.

Saidina Umar used to consult them with regard to matters concerning which there was no clear text in the Qur’an and Sunnah, aiming to find out whether one of the Sahabah knew something from the Sunnah concerning it, for some pf the Sahabah might have known things that others did not. Similarly he used to seek advice in understanding those texts which might carry more than one meaning, in order to become familiar with all the possible meanings. With regard to these situations (concerning which there was no text), he would sometimes be content to seek the advice of one person or of a few people.

Syura is an essential part of a muslim’s life. Every muslim need to embrace this concept and practice it, whether they are leaders or employees.

Sex and The New Year’s Resolution

I am sure everybody is now busy with their new year’s resolution and goals. Many would be hitting the gym and starting their diets. I would like to talk about something a bit taboo in Malaysia – sex and your new Year’s Resolution.

This is a subject that would make many people squirm in their seats or even uncomfortable. Well, whether you like it or not, we are biological entities with sexual behavior. Here are the 10 things you need to fix in your New Year’s Resolution for your sexual health:

  1. Check your health for STI and HIV. For those in a monogamous relationship, no harm in checking as well.
  2. Check your sexual reproduction organs – do you know what a healthy reproductive organ looks or smells like? Go to the doctor and check it out.
  3. Talk more about sex. Not to the random person, but to the relevant person. Sex is definitely worth talking about; sharing feelings and concerns with your partner promotes better sexual health – both mentally and physically. In some cases, talking to a professional maybe of help too.
  4. Make this the year to know more about HIV and AIDS. Even though we have completed the second decade of the 21st century, you will be surprised the lack of knowledge on these two diseases. Understand the facts about transmission, symptoms, treatment and where to access information and support are important for protecting you and your sexual partner(s).
  5. If you have a steady partner or in a monogamous relationship, more orgasms and sex.
  6. A healthy sex life can promote a range of health benefits, both physically and emotionally. Learn more on how you can make to most of your sex life and keep healthy.
  7. Kegel! Both men and women can improve their sexual fitness by exercising their pelvic floor muscles.
  8. Nite away – go away for one night with your significant other and just enjoy the night being in each other’s company
  9. Find a hobby or lessons together to ignite that relationship and focus together.
  10. And finally, if you have a steady partner or in a monogamous relationship, more orgasms and sex.

The above resolution applies for both men and women, married or otherwise. If we want to live a well rounded, complete and balanced life, every aspect of our lives need to be taken care. So, enjoy 2020!

Pembangunan Modal Insan Siri 5

Dalam memahami aspek pembangunan modal insan di dalam Islam, amat penting untuk kita memahami aqidah dan iman. Secara khusus dari segi terminologi, pengertian aqidah boleh dirumuskan dalam ungkapan definisi berikut:

“Himpunan pernyataan-pernyataan benar yang bersifat badihi (terbukti kebenarannya tanpa perlu dibuktikan), diterima kebenarannya menerusi penggunaan akal yang waras, didengar daripada sumber wahyu dan diterima secara semulajadi oleh manusia; manusia kemudiannya menyimpulkan secara kemas di dalam hatinya, disemat secara kemas dalam jiwa raganya dalam keadaan ia memutuskan secara jazam (pasti) kesahihannya, menerima secara putus kewujudan dan penyabitannya; dia tidak berpandangan bahawa yang sebaliknya adalah sahih ataupun wujud.” – petikan dari kitab Al-Aqidah wa al-Suluk wa al-Infisam Baynahuma (Aqidah Al-Mu’min).

Sayyid Sabiq, di dalam kitabnya bertajuk “Al-Aqa’id Al-Islamiyyah”, menghuraikan pengertian aqidah atau keimanan ini berdasarkan kepercayaan terhadap enam perkara berikut:

  1. Makrifat kepada Allah swt: iaitu mengetahui Allah swt dengan mengenal nama-namaNya yang mulia, sifat-sifatNya yang tinggi. Mengenal juga bukti-bukti kewujudanNya dan kenyataan sifat keagunganNya di alam semesta dan di dunia ini.
  2. Makrifat kepada alam yang ada disebalik alam yang nyata ini iaitu alam yang tidak dapat dilihat, serta kekuatan kebaikan yang terdapat di dalamnya iaitu malaikat. Selain mengenal kekuatan kejahatan iaitu Iblis dan para tenteranya yang terdiri daripada syaitan. Di samping itu, mengenal makhluk lain seperti jin dan roh yang wujud di alam ini.
  3. Makrifat dengan kitab-kitab Allah swt yang diturunkan sebagai batas untuk mengetahui yang haq dan batil, kebaikan dan kejahatan. halal dan haram serta baik dan buruk.
  4. Makrifat dengan para Nabi Allah swt dan rasul-rasulNya yang dipilih sebagai pembimbing hidayah, juga sebagai pemimpin seluruh makhluk ke arah haq.
  5. Makrifat kepada hari akhirat dan peristiwa-peristiwa seperti kebangkitan dari kubur, balasan pahala dan seksaan serta syurga dan neraka.
  6. Makrifat kepada takdir atas segala peraturan di alam ini sama ada dalam penciptaan atau aturan Allah swt

Berdasarkan keterangan diatas, dapat dirumuskan bahawa pengertian aqidah menunjukkan kepada keyakinan yang mantap dan kukuh terhadap rukun iman yang enam, sebagaimana yang dinyatakan oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. dalam hadis berikut yang bermaksud:

Jibril bertanya: Khabarkan kepadaku tentang Iman. Baginda bersabda: Beriman kepada Allah swt dan para malaikatNya, kitab-kitabNya, para rasulNya, hari akhirat dan beriman kepada qadarNya yang baik dan yang buruk. Jibril berkata: Kamu benar.

Pengertian akidah ini akan membantu kita dalam memahami konsep pembangunan modal insan yang akan dibincangkan di dalam siri-siri seterusnya.