A speech delivered by Abu Yusuf at the Netherland Khilafah Conference, entitled In the footsteps of the Messenger (ﷺ).
After the destruction of the Khilafah state, the division of Muslim lands and the imposition of secular culture upon the Muslims, generations of Muslims have grown up not knowing the true personality of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Most Muslims view him as a great spiritual and moral leader only and do not consider him as a great statesman and politician worthy of emulation.
In this brief presentation, I want to explore the personality of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ as a great statesman that rulers and politicians should emulate. There is a lot that can be said on this topic, but I will mention a few key aspects of him being a statesman as exemplified in the Battle of Ahzab.
This battle took place in the year 5AH, where the Quraysh, Jews of Banu Nadir and other Arab tribes allied to fight the Muslims in Medina. They had surrounded Medina and Allah ﷻ mentions the dire condition of the Muslims.
إِذْ جَاءُوكُم مِّن فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنكُمْ وَإِذْ زَاغَتِ الْأَبْصَارُ وَبَلَغَتِ الْقُلُوبُ الْحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِاللَّهِ الظُّنُونَا هُنَالِكَ ابْتُلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَزُلْزِلُوا زِلْزَالًا شَدِيدًا
“When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes turned dull, and the hearts rose up to the throats, and you began to think diverse thoughts of Allah. There the believers were tried and they were shaken with severe shaking.” [Al-Ahzab : 10-11]
In this dire situation the Prophet ﷺ – as a statesman – demonstrated extraordinary leadership from which we can learn many lessons.
The Prophet ﷺ gathered his companions and consulted them with regards to the Muslims’ means of defence, whereby Salman Al Farsi (ra) suggested digging a trench to keep the enemy out.
Here we see that the Prophet ﷺ, along with the companions, dug a long trench and he himself took part in the digging, to the extent that the dirt and mud covered his body. This illustrates the true essence of leadership – leading by example and not just giving orders.
On one occasion the companions were having difficulty in breaking a large stone. They sought the help of the Prophet ﷺ, and as he struck the stone, there were sparks.
He ﷺ said: “I struck the first time and the light which you saw shone and through it I could see the palaces of al-Hirah and the cities of Chosroes resembling the teeth of dogs. Jibreel, peace be upon him, informed me then that my nation will conquer them. Then I struck a second time, and in that light, I could see the red palaces of the land of Byzantium resembling the teeth of dogs. Jibreel, peace be upon him, informed me then that my nation will conquer them. Then I struck the rock with my third blow and the light which you saw shone, and I saw the palaces of San’a’ resembling the teeth of dogs. Jibreel, peace be upon him, informed me then that my nation will conquer them. So receive the good news.”
The Muslims were happy to hear the good news. They said: “Praise be to Allah, it is a true promise; he has promised us victory after digging the trench.”
But the hypocrites said: “Are you not amazed that he is raising your hope for nothing and is promising you something which is clearly untrue. He informs you that he can see from Yathrib the palaces of al-Hira and the cities of Chosroes and that you will conquer them. All the while you are digging this ditch because of fear and are unable to show yourselves”.
Allah then revealed in the Qur’an:
وَإِذْ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ مَّا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا
“And when the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, were saying: Allah and His messenger promised us nothing but delusion.” [Al-Ahzab : 12]
This incident demonstrates the great vision that Prophet ﷺ had about the future of Islam and his Ummah. In those dark days surrounded by the enemies, he reminded the Muslims of the fact that the future is for Islam – despite the difficulties and harms they were facing – and that there is no room for defeatism and complacency.
A great hallmark of leadership is to have a vision based on belief (Iman), not allowing the circumstances to cause compromise or the abandonment of that vision. The Islamic vision is to carry Islam to the world and spread its justice and mercy upon humanity.
Contrast this vision to that of the rulers and the politicians that dominate the political landscape of the Muslim world today – be they Kings, Presidents or Prime Ministers. Their only vision is to protect their thrones, to steal the wealth of the people and to serve their western colonial backers.
Having a vision alone though is not enough. It is essential that the statesmen must possess an accurate understanding of the political situation in which they operate and then have a continuous plan to deal with any obstacles and challenges therefrom, working consistently to further the interests of Islam and Muslims.
The Prophet ﷺ understood the nature of his alliances. The Quraysh wanted to finish the newly Islamic threat which intimidated their waning leadership in the Arabian peninsula. The Jews sought revenge, and financial greed just motivated Banu Ghatafan further. The Prophet ﷺ sowed discord and distrust between the alliance; he sent Nuy’am ibn Masud (ra) to Banu Qurayza, Quraysh and Banu Ghatafan, actively creating distrust and dissension between their alliance – which then weakened their resolve to fight.
This whole incident is very instructive for us today. It is vital we understand our current international situation, the powerful states and their plans, as well as their interests and motivations.
We require Islamic politicians and leaders to draw plans and policies that will further the interests of Islam and Muslims in the face of such reality.
Today, the so-called leaders of the Muslims have no independent policies and plans; their role is to execute the plans and policies of the colonialist powers in the Muslim lands.
Without much fighting in the battle of Ahzab, Allah ﷻ sent a strong wind that destroyed the camps of the enemies, and they lost heart to fight and consequently fled the battle. Allah ﷻ gave the victory to the believers.
وَرَدَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِغَيْظِهِمْ لَمْ يَنَالُوا خَيْرًا ۚ وَكَفَى اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الْقِتَالَ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ قَوِيًّا عَزِيزًا
“And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.” [Al-Ahzab: 25]
It was also in these circumstances that Allah ﷻ ordered the Muslims to follow the Messenger of Allah ﷺ as the best example – not just in his manners and worship but in his capacity as a leader and a statesman too.
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
“Certainly, you have in the Apostle of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much.” [Al-Ahzab: 21]
Perhaps his greatest legacy is that he ﷺ established Islam as a system of life which went on to inspire and produce generations of statesmen and leaders to further the cause of Islam.
His mission did not end with his death – because his leadership was not only built around his personality. Instead, it was built upon Islam as an ideology, which created thousands of statesmen and politicians who followed his sunnah in matters of statecraft and ruling.
After the death of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the Muslims were in shock and disbelief that he ﷺ had died. In this critical moment, we saw the leadership legacy of the Messenger ﷺ in Abu-Bakr Al-Sideeq (r.a) when he said:
أَمَّا بَعْدُ، مَنْ كَانَ یَعْبُدُ مُحَمَّدًا فَإِنَّ مُحَمَّدًا قَدْ مَاتَ ،وَمَنْ كَانَ یَعْبُدُ اللهََّ فَإِنَّ اللهََّ حَيٌّ لَا یَمُوتُ
“To proceed; whoever among you worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, Allah is alive and will never die.”
Allah ﷺ said:
وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ ۚ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِكُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَنقَلِبْ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَن يَضُرَّ اللَّهَ شَيْئًا ۗ وَسَيَجْزِي اللَّهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ
“Muhammad is no more than a Messenger and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; and Allah will reward the grateful.” [Aali-Imran: 144]
It was the Sunnah of the leadership of the Messenger ﷺ that inspired leaders like the Khulafa Al-Rashidun (r.a), to continue implementing Islam and conquer the Roman and Persian empires.
It was the Sunnah of the leadership of the Messenger ﷺ that inspired the like of Salah Al-Deen (r.h) to rally the Muslims of Al-Sham and Egypt and liberate Al-Quds from the crusaders.
It was the Sunnah of the leadership of the Messenger ﷺ that inspired leaders like Muhammad Al-Fatih (r.h) to conquer Constantinople.
It was the Sunnah of the leadership of the Messenger ﷺ that inspired leaders like Sultan Abdul Hamid to remain firm in his refusal to give up Al-Quds to the Zionists.
Today, the world is characterised by division, occupation, poverty and war. We witness a crisis of leadership.
The only sound leadership that will bring peace, justice and prosperity is the leadership of Islam and the practical manifestation of this leadership is the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.
Allah ﷻ said:
لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُم بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful.” [At-Tawbah: 128]