Tag Archives: Prophet Muhammed

Respecting and Trusting the Group Intellect: Essential Foundations in Islamic and American Democracy – Part 3

This is part three 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.

“And follow or take the best thereof”

The Qur’an establishes fard Kifayah in the selection of leadership and in mutual consultation in the affairs of the people or state: Democracy is essentially respect for the group opinion, by which we manage our community affairs. Regarding the conduct of group affairs, Allah (SWT) says in Sura Ash Shura: “Whatever ye are given (here) is but a convenience of this life: but that which is with Allah is better and more lasting: (it is) for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord; those who hearken to their Lord and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation.”

The idea of integrating the group intellect into the decision making process is a hallmark of American democracy, but is by no means unique to America. Long before America, the Qur’an and the example of our Prophet laid a powerful foundation for trust in the group intellect. Once a society understands how critical respecting and trusting the group intellect are to progress, the issues of discrimination dissipate in the face of moral decency, common sense and practicality.

“Have We not made the earth (as a place to draw together)…” Al-Qur’an, 77:25

What are the implications today for integrating the group intellect in the modern society? And what are the implications for leaders seeking to solve problems, and not only solve problems, but explore and create new opportunities?  The answers lie in something the great physicist Albert Einstein said: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”

World Historian J. M. Roberts published a work called The Twentieth Century, The History of the World 1901 – the present published in 2001 and he gives us something else and very important to consider.  He puts forth 3 major global events or mega events or trends that shaped all others for the 20th Century and hence helped define the twentieth century and the beginning of the 21st Century. These events had a wider impact affecting more human beings than any other occurrences.

A. Population growth.  In 1901, global population was an estimated 1.6 billion persons and today we are approximately 6 billion (now today 7 billion).

B. Decentralization and shifting of world power particularly from Europe. Within Europe a shift from autocracy to democracy. At the beginning of 1901, Europe had I believe 31 constitutional monarchies…today there are two.

C. The changing role of women which has far reaching implications for an altering economic, political and social power.

Women make up more than half the world’s population.  Women are half of the creative capacity and half of our problem solving capabilities and it will become exceedingly difficult to deny half the group intellect its right of participation in the governance of its affairs…

“Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny (Al-Qur’an, 55:38)? ”

All three of these trends fundamentally alter the capacity, contribution, character, and complexity of integration for the global group intellect and mandates a corresponding respect and urgent need for participative responsibility in decision making. Such views were echoed by Secretary General Kofi Annan that the “structures, methods and processes for global decisions must be fundamentally reviewed in light of the new world order.” All governments, societies and leaders must look at the issues of respect for the group intellect.

Despite the emphasis in my comments today on respect for the group intellect, there are some particular dangers that can upset the balance of the political contract. The political contract in Islam is structured to establish a just order designed by the group intellect respecting the common human dignity of all its citizens. The contract is designed to bring the greatest good to the greatest number using the highest principles established in the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet.

Islam’s emphasis on freedom, justice and equality shares a spiritual kinship with the values found in the documents that established this democracy. For example, in the great Declaration of Independence which was a proclamation first to be free from oppression and to have among the rights of its citizens religious freedom, we read the words: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from consent of the governed.”  These words carry the same spirit as the Ayats in Sura Shams.

Among the most common dangers that upset the balance of the political contract are the governmental denial of the G-d given rights of freedom of the individual and group intellect and what for us as an American citizenry appearing as great threats are the imposition of individual rights over societal rights to the point of endangering the nation and lastly and most egregious, seeking the removal of G-d from the political contract wherein “man thinks himself self-sufficient.” The latter two threats eviscerate common sense standards in the debate, formation and adoption of healthy public policy.

– To be continued.

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

Sincerely & respectfully,

Mukhtar

P. S. May you and your family enjoy the day of commemoration
honoring the legacy of Dr. King.

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Financial Literacy Month: A Golden Opportunity for Families & Communities

”Who prohibited the nice things G-d has created for His creatures,
and the good provisions? Say, Such provisions are to be enjoyed in this life by those who believe. Moreover, the good provisions will be exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection. We thus explain the revelations for people who know.”
–Al Quran 7:32

“O my Lord, I seek refuge from being overpowered by debt… protect and deliver me from poverty and let me enjoy my hearing, my sight and my strength in Your way.“
–Muhammed The Prophet (S)

G-d intends for us all to have life and have it better and better all the time…”
–Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra)

President Obama has proclaimed April as National Financial Literacy Month and is calling on all Americans to recommit to teaching ourselves and our children the basics of financial education.

This month presents an excellent opportunity for both families and community organizations to do a self assessment and critically examine how resources are being generated and managed. Financial literacy is a leg up to economic prosperity and protection against fraud and predatory banking practices.

All institutions including the family have been squeezed financially not only because of the financial debacle that brought on the worst recession since the Great Depression, but also because of income inequality and other social economic ills affecting communities, especially minority communities. Of particular concern is the targeting of ethnic minorities by unscrupulous corporations. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is through education and superior personal financial conduct like Maintaining excellent credit.

Nonprofits in particular must be sensitive to the general financial circumstances of those they expect to support their institutions. Help your supporters help you.

Now’s a good time for our organizations to help themselves by helping increase the net worth of their individual supporters. Encourage personal financial education through workshops, seminars, contests and on-site counseling services to enhance your community’s financial preparedness.

Some of my recommended titles for this month are:

Debt Free for Life
80 Proven Ways to Become a Millionaire, All you need is two or three!
Smart Women Finish Rich
Emotional Currency: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money
The Kids Guide to Money Cent$
Lemonade in Winter
Money & The Law of Attraction
The 4-hr Workweek
Your money or your life
Retirement Revolution: The New Reality (DVD)
Save Your Retirement: What to Do If You Haven’t Saved Enough
The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires

The 7 most important takeaways for financial literacy this month?

— Identify bad and good habits
— Start making changes today
— Practice delayed gratification…we don’t always have to have “it” now.
— Be a savvy consumer and investor…educate yourself and your family.
— Invest now in your future by realizing that not all of your money earned today is to be spent today…some of it’s for tomorrow when you will have less or zero earned income.
— Make a commitment to live debt free.
— And finally, pass on the knowledge, good habits, and perhaps some measure of family wealth to the next generation and help end any cycle of generational poverty.

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

Sincerely & respectfully,

Mukhtar
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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,

Mukhtar
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