Characteristics Of An Ideal Leader

Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the society in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.

Leadership is a great quality and every great societal success besides other factors owes its credit to the leader who led it to glory.

This comprises small groups, families, organizations, states, empires and even the world at large need good leaders who can lead their respective followers and societies to success.

Every human endeavour needs a unifying and driving force for success and that driving force is ultimately traced to good leadership. It is also worth noting that every one of us in some capacity, sometimes, or somewhere is a leader.

Leadership should not be confused with the role of only those who make headlines but in essence almost everyone have sometimes somewhere, somehow played a leading role.

Leader's Characteristics

The characteristics of an Islamic leader affect how he behaves, and are congruent with the characteristics of effective leader in the Islamic point of view.


Leaders are considered honest to the extent that there is “consistency between word and deed.” They do what they say they are going to do. In the Qur'an, the Prophet Musa (AS) is himself labelled as “strong and trustworthy” by one of the damsels (as in Qur'an 28:26) and the Prophet Yusuf (AS) is described as one who is truthful. (Qur'an 12:46)

Similarly, the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) used to be called Sadiq (the truthful) and Amin (the trustworthy) during his youth.

Honesty and integrity are so important with respect to leaders. Leadership is more than an assignment or a job; it is a trust.


The Qur'an says: “Allah commands justice, the doing of good and giving (help) to kith and kin and He forbids all shameful deeds and oppression: He instructs you that you may receive admonition.” (Qur'an 16:90)

However, in another Surah Allah says: “We sent Our Messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Measure in order to establish justice among the people…” (Qur'an 57:25). And the Qur'an also says: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as witnesses to fair dealing and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice...” (Qur'an 5:8)

The scholars of the Qur'an have concluded that these rulings apply to all nations, followers of all faiths, as a matter of fact to all humanity.

The Prophet (S.A.W) said: “There are seven categories of people whom Allah will shelter under His shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His. (One is) the just leader.” (Imam Muslim). Allah spoke to His Messenger in this manner: “O My slaves, I have forbidden injustice for Myself and forbade it also for you. So avoid being unjust to one another." (Imam Muslim)


People are more likely to follow a leader's directives if they believe that this person knows what he is doing. If followers doubt the capabilities of their leader, they will be less enthusiastic in accepting directives from him.


Followers expect their leaders to remain positive about the future no matter how bad the situation may be. The leader must never give up or lose hope.

An example of how a leader inspires his followers comes from Caliph Abu Bakr. After the death of the Prophet (S.A.W), Muslims were in shock. Caliph Umar (RA) was especially distraught. Caliph Abu Bakr (RA) calmed him down, and then delivered the following address: “O People, if you have been worshipping Muhammad, then know that Muhammad is dead. But if you have been worshipping Allah, then know that Allah is Living and He never dies.”


In the Qur'an, Allah explicitly identifies patience as one of defining characteristics of Islamic leadership: “And We appointed from among them leaders giving guidance under Our command so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs.” (Qur'an 32: 24)

Indeed, like all other believers, a leader can expect to be tested, and he will need to endure. The example of the Prophet (S.A.W) and early converts to Islam during the boycott of the Muslims in Makkah illustrates the need for patience.


A Muslim leader is to be humble, and must never let his ego get the better of him. Caliph Umar (RA), the second Caliph, lived in a simple house. He had no bodyguards for his personal security, and walked the streets of Madinah without any escort. Caliph Ali (RA), in his letter to Malik Al-Ashtar An-Nukhai, strongly encourages him to remain humble in his new position as Governor of Egypt, and explains to him why pride and arrogance are to be avoided: “Never say to yourself, 'I am their lord, their ruler, and I must be obeyed submissively and humbly.' Such a thought will unbalance your mind, will make you vain and arrogant, will weaken your Faith in religion and will make you seek the support of any power other than that of Allah.”

The following story demonstrates how the Prophet exhibited patience and humility when others imposed a ban on the Muslims: “When we complained to Allah's Messenger (S.A.W) of hunger and raised our clothes to show we were each carrying a stone over the belly, Allah's Messenger (S.A.W) raised his clothes and showed that he had two stones on his belly.” (Imam At-Tirmidhi)

Willingness To Seek Consultation

Islam stresses consultation in all affairs. Through the Qur'anic phrase “amruhum shura baynahum.” (Who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation), and the Prophet's habit of seeking and accepting advice. The limits on the exercise of power have been set both by the Qur'an and the Prophet (S.A.W).

Shura (consultation) plays a critical role in administration and management, specifically with respect to decision-making; it provides a restraint on a leader's administrative power and authority.

Failure in any one of the aspects will be a total leadership and followership tragedy and both the leader as well as the followers will be held responsible and answerable. Meeting these duties will not only earn one the blessings of Allah the Almighty, but will also fulfil his duty towards his fellow beings, be they leaders or followers.

To meet the leadership challenge both to one's Creator as well as to fellow human beings with sincerity there are certain parameters which must be followed.

(An extraction from one of my books)

This is what Islam offers as a guideline for leadership, therefore, every politician that aspire for dynamic followership must imbibe it to success. May our politicians look to it and emulate it, ameen

Magajin Mallam: Abu Yahya (Aslam)
Characteristics Of An Ideal Leader Characteristics Of An Ideal Leader Reviewed by AbuZahra Ahmad on June 08, 2018 Rating: 5

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