On The Art Of The Amirate

By Prof Tariq Kahn

The Messenger of Allah was a man of trust and integrity. The lady Khadija entrusted all her investment on a caravan to the Messenger to take  it on a trade mission to Syria. She was so taken by his manner of dealing and his honesty in the business venture, that she sent him a proposal of marraige. She was the first to believe in his Messengership when the event took place in the cave of Hira.

Wahb ibn Kaysan once accompanied the Messenger of Allah on  raid (ghazwa). Wahb could not ride a better beast and his camel was slow and possibly far too old for the journey. No skirmish occurred and on the way back the company kept going while Wahb on his slow camel started to fall behind. The Messenger of Allah saw this and slowed down to his pace to enquire from him about his state. This is what he relates:

“I told him that my camel was keeping me back, and he told me to make it kneel. I did so and the Messenger of Allah made his camel also kneel.   ‘Cut a stick from a tree’, he told me. The Messenger took the stick and prodded the camel with it a few times.  Then he told me to mount and off we went.

By Him who sent him with the truth, my old camel then kept up with the rapid pace of his she-camel. As we were talking, the Messenger of Allah asked if I would sell my camel to him. I asked him to make me an offer. He asked if he could give me one silver dirham for it.  I refused and said that that would be cheating me. Then he offered me two silver dirhams and I still refused and the Messenger went on raising his offer until it amounted to one ounce of gold. I then asked him if he was really satisfied with the price, and he said that he was. I then concluded that the camel was his for one ounce of gold.”

Two excellent qualities of the Messenger of Allah emerge from this report of Wahb:

1)  The leader of the people, serves them, even those who fall behind. He has concern for them.  He has compassion for them. He served both the group  as the group leader, as well as the individual Wahb, with his own particular problem. Wahb’s problem became his problem. Wahb’s concern became his concern.

2) That the Messenger was generous in trade, not haughty in his position as leader to enforce his price or will on Wahb. Nor was he angry at Wahb for disagreeing with him and expressing his disapproval of one dirham, which Wahb felt would be cheating him, even though the camel was old.

The Messenger of Allah said:
“I will stand surety for Jannah if you save your selves from six things: telling untruths, violating promises, dishonouring trust, being unchaste in thought and act, striking the first blow, resorting to what is bad and unlawful” [Hadith]

All of these matters mentioned in this hadith are the qualities not only to be eschewed by individuals, but particularly by good leaders. The leader leads by example. He leads from the front.  He attends the private and public gatherings of the people. He is visible at the public gatherings such a Jumu’ah, the prescribed prayers and the days of Eid. He claims no special privileges or exemptions.  He is not a Prince, but an Amir.

The Amir-al-Muminin, Umar ibn al Khattab, enjoined the example of the Messenger of Allah and said that he (Umar) is an equal with anyone else before the Sharia. He said that his own powers were subject to scrutiny and criticism. An old man asked Umar, “can we correct you even with this”, and he waved a stick or sword, and Umar said:”even with that”.

Umar ibn al-Khattab was  saying once:

“ I have no greater right on your money (collected as zakaat and other proceeds of bait-al-mal) than the guardian of an orphan has on an orphan’s property. If I am wealthy, I shall not take anything. If I am needy, I shall take only according to need. You – the people, have many rights on me that you should demand of me. One of these rights is that I should NOT collect from the public taxes  or booty unlawfully. The second is that the taxes (zakaat) and booty that was collected lawfully, should not be spent unlawfully.”

This statement by the great Faruq, Umar Ibn al-Khattab, puts to shame every single politician, Muslim or kaafir, or most wanabe leaders of the Muslims today. It is an example for responsible and just  Amirate.  Malik ibn Anas said, when they asked him concerning Madhab, and he replied: “We are on the Madhab of Umar.”

And lastly, an account of another Amir, a Qa’id par excellence, Salahudin al-Ayubi. It is said, true to the tradition of the Messenger of Allah, that his generosity wide. Once he paid a debt of 200,000 dinars off for his brother, though he himself stayed without. The vast empire that was to come under his command meant that he had extensive riches in his hand, yet his accountants had to keep some of his financial details a secret from him, afraid that he would give it all away and there would be nothing left for real emergencies.

He was describe as kind and gentle, one to treat everybody justly, extolling the duty to Allah and the jihad. Baha-uddin (rahmatullahi alaihi) his faithful secretary stated:

“I never knew him to show any anxiety about the numbers and strength of the enemy. He would listen to plans of all kinds and discuss their consequences without any excitement or loss of composure.” Salahudin a a leader respected his friends as well as his foes. When the English invader king Richard had his  horse  killed in battle against Salahudin’s troops , the Amir Salahuddin sent him another  one saying:   “It is not proper that a warrior should have to fight on foot.”

Thus were the leaders of the Muslims, from the time of our beloved Messenger, and many of those who followed him in his ways afterward. In order to master the Art of War, how can one proceed without the study of the Art of Amirate, from the Messenger and all those who drank from the ocean of his Sunnah. May our thirst be unquenchable and may Allah give Quwwa to those who follow in his way in these perilous times.

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Ali

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