Category Archives: Organization & Structure

Organization and Structure

Transition from Charismatic Personality-Based Leadership: The End of a Messianic Era – Part 2

Part 2 of the Series Transition from Charismatic Personality-Based Leadership: The End of a Messianic Era…

There is also another very important organization in which personality-based leadership is not an immature form of leadership, but is rather the prescribed form of leadership and that organization is the family. I mention this last exception for a very important reason. The family is the first institutional form of government; upon it rests all other forms of government. In the early stages of civilization, groups formed for the mutual protection and aid of families. The first leadership stage of this communal obligation is the clan and it consists of various leaders of families.  Soon those clans find it beneficial to have agreements or arrangements with other clans and they may form a larger clan that often times are blended through marriage ties. That’s also why in certain parts of the “undeveloped” world, we see government organized into what is characterized as tribal or clan arrangements.

So family either through blood or marriage became the basic unit upon which early government was formed and it is still so today. Except that today, in the developed world, the family serves as the incubator through which each of us learns about and experiences leadership and governance, rather than the family or extended family relations being the actual governing structure. Now, this is another topic, but one that should cause us serious concern: What happens to a society that fails to protect and preserve the most basic institution of leadership? And can a society’s most complex system of leadership succeed if the most basic unit of leadership, the family, fails?

Anyway, I stated earlier that PBL is considered an immature form of leadership? Why is PBL considered immature and therefore undesirable in more complex settings? The answer to that question is why the fourth Caliph, Hadrat Ali (ra) was not the first caliph and also why Al-Islam’s system of succession of leadership is not one based on blood lineage.

There’s another question I’d like you to consider at this point as we delve into this week’s conversation: Can a charismatic, personality-based leadership (and particularly messianic one) really transition supporters, followers, helpers, etc. to “effective” institutional leadership while the charismatic, messianic-based leader is still alive?

“…Individual responsibility precedes group responsibility. Individual [self] government prepares us for community government. And as soon as more than myself is involved then I have to work to develop the bigger form of government and leadership; I have to yield my smaller [self] idea and support the institutionalization of leadership in the group. At the group level, the complexity of social relations and responsibilities, individual and group rights, and just allocation of resources fundamentally demand a structured process of decision making. There is a hadith in which the Prophet (SAW) says that “If three of you depart on a journey, then select a leader.” In Al-Islam, the fundamental responsibility for leadership lies in the body politic of the Ummah, with the governor and the governed.

When the system of organization fails to adapt to the realities of the group complexity, organizational dysfunction results. We often refer colloquially to such dysfunction as “Mom and Pop” operations. In this context, the coined phrase “Mom and Pop” signifies a level of decision making and organization that has not evolved and consequently prevents the establishment and utilization of the enormous potential inherent in the group. Allah (SWT) appointed mom and pop to be the leaders in the individual family unit—it works well and we would love to see more mom and pop operations within our family units. But when numerous families form a community, a different and greater potential forms and thus the system of socialization, rights, decision making and accountability must evolve not only to meet the demands of such complexity, but to redefine and enlarge the scope of what can be achieved. Allah (SWT) then gives us a different leadership structure.” (GONAL, The Prophet, the Imam and Leadership, p. 75.)

The Case of Washington, Mandela & Arafat.

To be continued (you needn’t wait for me to finish this post if you have thoughts you wish to share now).

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

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Respecting and Trusting the Group Intellect: Essential Foundations in Islamic and American Democracy – Part 2

This is part two of a presentation delivered in April 2004 before visiting dignitaries and leaders from Afghanistan as part of an official U.S. State Department visit. The presentation’s purpose was to compare the elements of democracy established in Islam with the compatible values of representative democracy established in modern American society.  The issues of diversity, tolerance, and pluralism are pragmatic characteristics of a more fundamental issue for all: How society values, respects and utilizes its group intellect.  The remarks include how our U.S. Constitution and other founding documents reflect Qur’anic principles of leadership and responsible government.

America was founded only about 228 years ago. Thus the leaders fashioning this new government had the benefit of global history from both civilized and uncivilized man.  We had the history of power and authority exercised by kings, tsars, and queens, shahs, sheikhs, sultans, khans and rajahs, conquistadors, popes, emperors and governors. Empires and dynasties from the Heng to the Ottoman Empire had already been established. The Renaissance and Crusades had already occurred.  Egypt, Rome and Greece had already fallen and the last of the great Abrahamic Traditions and its Prophet had already changed the world. The West already had the history of granting Women rights and including them in the group intellect and making them spiritually and intellectually equal under Islam.  Islam’s not mere tolerance, but indeed valuation of intellectual pursuit and appreciation for the faith of others became a hallmark for all societies to emulate.

We already had the history of how Muhammed (S) sounded the death knell to slavery, racism and elitism as his administration and those of the Sahaba reflected the diversity of nationalities and varying levels of socio-economics; this history was underscored by the proclamation that there is no superiority of one race over another.

Muhammed (S) gave us a spirit for studying the material world and preserving the fruits of man’s global intellect and sharing it equitably through the establishment of public education…continually expanding the capacity of the individual and group intellect in its ability to read Qur’an and decipher the material world.

The triumph of Muslim Spain 700-1492, before Spanish Catholics expelled Jews and Muslims, was part of the global historical record and the group intellect. At Cordoba, Mali and Timbuktu, the world had already witnessed interfaith cooperation and government wherein there was freedom of religion. Ironically, while the Crusades were being waged, Christian scholars were studying the vast holdings of the great Cordova libraries-translations and works that canonized Western tradition.  In the West, scientists knew of Averroes (Ibn Rushd) and Avicena (Ibn Sina) and Maimoniedes (Mus Ibn Maymun) all contemporaries who believed Reason need not be in conflict with Revelation.  The Islamic contribution to the Western Renaissance is part of the historical record.

There is strong evidence that the America’s Founding Fathers were familiar with and directly influenced by Islam, the Qur’an and Mohammed! And that they were inspired to create a great vision for the future that they themselves were at the time incapable of or unwilling to live up to. And that’s okay, because “man plans and G-d plans and G-d is the Best of Planners.” So the West and the Founding Fathers knew Islam and they also knew the oppressive church at that time that stifled individual and group intellect.

It is known also that American Muslim slaves, many of whom were literate and assigned to house as opposed to field duties, worked in the homes of the aristocracy which would have allowed Muslim slaves to have increased contact with their “masters.” Some of the Founding Fathers had meaningful contact with Muslim subjects; this is not idle speculation.

There are other connections in the history of America that has paved the way for Islam to take its rightful place as a powerful force for good in the lives of the people:

– Among the slaves that came to America’s shores were many Muslims who helped build this country with free labor and with their lives.

– Among Spain’s Christopher Columbus’ crew were Muslims. Columbus was credited with discovering America.

– As Muslims, we have a strong connection with our nation’s democratic ethos.  The first country to recognize the United States’ Independence was a Muslim  Country–Morocco.  The first  U.S. President wrote directly to Emperor Muhammad III of Morocco in the “Treaty of peace and Friendship signed in 1787.  Renewed in 1836, it remains the longest unbroken treaty in U.S. history.

– Muslims from eastern Europe and China, and other countries immigrated to this country in the 19th and 20th century and now their offspring are here and contributing as citizens. All praises are due to Allah (SWT).  Today:

– The U.S. Senate and House has opened with Al-Fatihah and other State legislatures.

– The U.S. Postal Service issued the Commemorative Eid Stamp honoring our holy days of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha

– Muslims are acceding to political office…and it’s just the beginning.

– To be continued.

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,


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