Tag Archives: Islam

Dying to Learn: Why Malala Yousafzai’s Cause is a Fard Kifaya for the Worldwide Ummah – Part 1

“We created man from sounding clay, from mud molded into shape.”
(The Noble Qur’an, Sura Al-Hijr, Ayat 26)

“The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim…Whoever has a daughter, tutors her on good morals, educates her well and feeds her properly; she will be a protection for him from hell fire.”
–Prophet Muhammed (s)

“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”
–Malala Yousafzai on confronting the Taliban

Includes adaption from Genesis of New American Leadership – The Book

It’s a sad state of affairs indeed when a fourteen-year old has to take the lead in cultivating a national climate for educational excellence. Her story hearkens back to a time in our own country when people were literally dying to read. Malala’s story is one of courageous leadership and an important reminder of why in Al-Islam, freedom of speech is fundamental to the protection and progress of the group intellect and by extension, the society.

Fortunately Malala is not all alone in Pakistan as people express their outrage and she herself follows in the footsteps of other heroines like Malalai Joya of Afghanista or the martyr Meena Keshwar Kamal (ra).

There are many social justice elements present in Malalas’s story, but since Malala’s most recent saga comes in the wake of the freedom of speech outrage that stoked protests across the Muslim world and gripped the global news (see the September 19, 2012 blogpost, Freedom of Speech in the Context of Human Relations and the Body Politic), we’re going to focus on freedom of speech because the attempted assassination of a fourteen-year old by cowards was an attempt to silence her.

The assassination attempt is also an assault on the right to freedom of speech we have all been endowed with by our Creator. Malala’s story must be a galvanizing force for leaders at every level of responsibility to improve access to education and institute safeguards to protect freedom of speech.

Leadership’s responsibility for education is inherent in its responsibility to cultivate a climate for organizational  excellence. All leaders (right down to parents), must work to remove obstacles that undermine the value of education. Steps must be taken to reinforce the Divine right and obligation of the individual to educate him and herself.

In studying the Qur’an, the life of Prophet Muhammed (s), and the early Sahaba (ra), we find that Al-Islam bridges the critical link between education and organizational excellence through four functions that cultivate a climate for educational excellence. They are:

1. Attainment, Acquisition, or search (of knowledge).
2. Use of a standard Qualitative Comparison.
3. Dissemination or Exchange of Information.
4. Protection and Valuation.

For this discussion, we will focus on 1 and 4.…To be continued.

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

Sincerely & respectfully,

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On Transitional Leadership…Envisioning Success

‘‘The art of transition is to preserve change amid order and to preserve order amid change.’’ —A. N. Whitehead

 Adapted from Genesis of New American Leadership…

The difficulty with transition is the inability to change everything at once…transition without vision is like a blind man without a cane. It’s difficult enough to walk through walls that one can see.

Vision is one of the distinguishing characteristics of leadership; without it, there can be no effective leadership. From where should the faith leader’s vision come? It should come from a strong foundation in the idea that G-d has already granted the victory. For Muslims, we should seek the vision for the future first by having faith in Allah. It is only through faith that we gain the courage to pursue something bigger and better. It is faith that gives the courage to perceive the vision and it is faith that provides the comfort when facing overwhelming odds to attain the vision. Faith is especially relevant when changes are initiated in the social order.

Part of the methodology for managing great change is in anticipating great difficulty. At the time of change, the leader himself or herself does not clearly grasp the degree of difficulty that may lie ahead. So that leader must work from a higher inspiration. The Qur’an says: “O ye that believe! Fear G-d, and believe in His Apostle, and He will bestow on you a double portion of His Mercy: He will provide for you a Light by which ye shall walk (straight in your path), and He will forgive you (your past): for G-d is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. That the People of the Book may know that they have no power whatsoever over the Grace of G-d, that (His) Grace is entirely in His hand to bestow it on whomsoever He wills. For G-d is the Lord of Grace abounding (Sura Hadid, Ayats 28-29).”

Leaders working for social change to end prejudice, racism, bloodshed, genocide, or other persecution, and to establish a just order and the best environment to nurture the G-d-given potential in each human being, are prepared for the difficult task ahead by the Mercy and Guidance of Allah (SWT). And these leaders are all over the world. We call some of them religious leaders or political or civil rights leaders, but they (by the Grace of Allah) have become bright beacons of faith and torchbearers of human excellence. It is Allah who inspires that type of leadership and provides the vision.

Vision also means insight (in-sight). To have something in sight implies that there is a goal or outcome and a direction. If there is a direction, then there must be a plan and strategy and the strategy is held initially by the one who is most familiar with the circumstances, the times, and the people. Furthermore, this leader must be driven by faith in Allah (SWT) and possess an unyielding commitment to succeed in spite of the difficulties…only then will the visible and invisible walls that block progress begin to fall.

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

Sincerely & respectfully,

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