Islamic Management: Meetings and Consultation (1)

One of the foundations of Islamic management is the necessity for leaders and managers to consult their followers. As such, Syura (or meetings) is very essential in Islamic Theory of Management. Allah SWT says:

And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over [their faults], and [Allah`s] forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put you trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust [in Him]. (Qur`an 3:159)

And Allah says:

And those who answer the Call of their Lord [i.e. to believe that He is the only One Lord (Allah), and to worship none but Him Alone], and perform as-Salah [Iqamat as-Salah], and who [conduct] their affairs by mutual consultation, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them. (Qur`an 42:38)

This verse mentions consultation (syura) alongside establishing prayer, which indicates that the ruling on syura is the ruling on prayer. The ruling on prayer is that it is obligatory according to Syariah, and by the same token syura is obligatory according to shaari`ah.

Often times employees or leaders, within the working context, rue meeting times and often consider them as a waste of time. Furthermore, they also consider seeking advice or consulting an expert as a sign of weakness or lack of competency. This is not parallel with Islamic Principles of Management.

It is imperative to understand that Islam not only promotes consultations and meetings, in fact, it actually acknowledges and makes it obligatory. Secondly, it is also critical to understand that leaders and employees that practice consultation/meetings (syura) is also realizing and implementing the Holy Quran.

Saidina Umar Al-Khattab r.a. adopted the principle of syura during his caliphate; he did not decree concerning public affairs without discussing it with others. If something new came up, he did not take a decision on how to handle it without first gathering the Muslims together and discussing it with them and consulting them.

It was narrated that he said, “There is nothing good in a decision taken without consultation.”

Consensus or majority opinion is also central and key to the syura. As Saidina Umar r.a. rightly pointed out:

“An individual opinion is like a single thread, two opinions are like two interwoven threads, and three can never be broken.”

Consulting or meetings are not simply held with anyone. It has to be conducted with those who are relevant and knowledgeable. During his caliphate, Saidina Umar r.a. frequently consulted with experts from different industries. For military issues, he consulted his military commanders while for agriculture, he consulted those experts in it. For religious matters, he mentions:

“It is the duty of the Muslims to run their affairs by consultation between them and people of wisdom, as the people should follow those who are in charge of the affairs. So long as they are united then their opinion becomes binding on the people and the people should follow them. Whoever becomes in charge of the Muslim`s affairs should follow the opinion of the people of wisdom and whatever they suggest is in the best interests of the Muslims, and whatever plans they draw up in the case of war, the people should follow their opinion.”

To this effect, Saidina Umar r.a. also had an inner circle from among the Sahabah and  people of wisdom and understanding, including al-Abbas ibn `Abdul-Muttalib and his son `Abdullah – who was with him almost constanstly, whether he was travelling or not – and `Uthman ibn `Affan, `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf, `Ali ibn Talib, Mu`adh ibn Jabal, Ubayy ibn Ka’b, Zayd ibn Thabit, and others of their caliber whom he used to consult and seek their advice. These advisors used to express their views with full freedom and frankness. `Umar never accused any of them with regard to his character and honesty.

Saidina Umar used to consult them with regard to matters concerning which there was no clear text in the Qur’an and Sunnah, aiming to find out whether one of the Sahabah knew something from the Sunnah concerning it, for some pf the Sahabah might have known things that others did not. Similarly he used to seek advice in understanding those texts which might carry more than one meaning, in order to become familiar with all the possible meanings. With regard to these situations (concerning which there was no text), he would sometimes be content to seek the advice of one person or of a few people.

Syura is an essential part of a muslim’s life. Every muslim need to embrace this concept and practice it, whether they are leaders or employees.

Appointment As Secretary General

Assalamualaikum and Salam Sejahtera,

Beginning on the 1st of August 2019, I will begin my term as the new Secretary General of Association Of Development Finance Institutions, Malaysia.

With this appointment, I am truly grateful and humbled to be able to serve this nation. I would like invite all my network to pray so that I may be able to perform the duties diligently, and with integrity.

ADFIM will strive to create synergy among the Development Financial Institutions, the Entrepreneur Development Organization and various stakeholders in our efforts towards a wholistic entrepreneurial environment that could spur the country’s economic growth.

As such, I would also like to invite all to follow me, here on linkedIn, provide inputs and ideas on how we can create an entrepreneurial focused environment.

All ideas are welcome and we look forward to developing Malaysia to newer and greater heights.

Mohd Prasad bin Hanif

Leadership – Inspiring and Motivating (Part 4)

Inspiring and Motivating is an essential part of leadership. A pat on the shoulder, an on-the-spot recognition, a praise on a job well done resonates deeper into the human soul. We often forget that our staff and followers are humans, that require the occasional affirmation from others. It is the quintessential feeling that allows us to work as a “pack” and function as a “society”.

In sport, when the game is tied and time out is called, the coach reminds the players what is at stake – the reward that waits for the winning team that makes the effort. This is inspiring them to reach greatness by sacrificing momentary pain and putting in the maximum effort to gain the reward later.

Image result for motivation

Another way of inspiring the team as a manager is to challenge the team members with the memory of past victories, with examples of their accomplishments, contributions and sacrifices. This helps the leader to inspire them and acknowledge their contributions at the same time. The team is motivated to surpass, not others, but themselves.

Essentially, a leader will need to enthuse, excite and encourage so that the followers believe that they can do it. Motivating and inspiring is about them, not about you. It is about their qualities. It is about instilling confidence and energy that focuses their efforts in achieving results. That is essence that will imbue the followers with ownership.

The leader needs to make the follower “own” the vision. He/She needs to inspire and motivate to an extent that followers or their team accept the vision as their own vision and strive to achieve that goal. This is how self-perpetuating motivation arises.

As people become motivated, they trust, which reinforces their abilities. This affirms their actions which, in turn, motivates them.

Leadership – Inspiring and Motivating (Part 3)

Have you ever heard someone say, “I am responsible for what I said but I am not responsible for what you understand.”?

For a leader to say that is utterly irresponsible. Leaders first ability should be able to communicate their purpose clearly.

This brings us to the topic of Clarifying and Verifying. Leaders do not shed their responsibility after they communicate. They need to go further and clarify their expectations of their followers. Leaders need to review the desired outcome, what is expected and the game plan. If you are manager, as a leader, you must clearly articulate and clarify measurements of success, instruments of motivation and accomplishments.

Once a leader has clarified, he or she needs to verify the follower’s understanding. In management, the manager will need verify this understanding by asking questions.

As a manager, I used to ask my team members to explain what was required of them. I found that, in some cases, what I instructed and clarified was very different from what my team understood. It dawned on me that I need to improve my communication skills, articulate well and explain in detail. As I improved myself, I still verified my team’s understanding.

Initially, as you mange your team, this will a hassle. You need to be consistent, to such an extent, that clarity and verification of understanding becomes a habit and second nature to your leadership style.

Leadership – Inspiring and Motivating (Part 2)

Involvement and Trust

Rome was not built in a day. Trust cannot be built in a day.

Your overall relationship with your followers is devoted to communicating your willingness and ability to support the team – through hell and back.

I have had the opportunity to lead a team to conduct a rigorous audit process and internal investigation into a project. My team were apprehensive. What if they did find something? What if there was fraud? I had to build trust in them, not only on me, but also on the system and the audit process.

In order to understand their apprehension, fear or even the difficulties, I need to immerse myself in their activities and interests. I frequently consulted them and requested them to be involved in discussions as a way to forge trust. The decisions I make are rational, for the good of the team and the task.

As the task occur, the team members must be convinced that you are the right leader for them, even if your decisions aren’t popular. They must be convinced that you and the team are together, learning about each other, and how you can rely on each other.

Building trust is the first step towards inspiring your followers.