By Mohamad Izzudin Mohd Rafi
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful
A leader is a figure who is seen as a role model and an icon for his followers. His action, by way of communication and attitude he possesses, will definitely be observed by his followers whether in personal or career life.
Therefore, a great organisation and society is strongly influenced by good leadership. The real life of a leader is not easy and not about popularity alone. The challenges and obstacles they faced seem impossible, but will not be difficult to overcome if one has a commitment to resolve the problem.
Based on my own experience and observation as a leader in IIUM Imaratul Masjid (i-Masjid) society, among the characteristics of a good leader are as follows:
Always prioritise obedience with the Almighty
As our life is mingling with human beings daily to create and maintain relationship with other creations, don’t forget our vertical bonding with the Almighty. This is the most important element in leadership quality to be observed.
In spite of tight schedules in handling the organisation, the daily fardhu prayers are kept mind. Besides, try to perform the congregation prayers and also allocate time for reading and reciting the Qur’an consistently every day. It is important to focus on organisational management to avoid things that are illegal and prohibited by Allah Ta’ala.
In addition, a good leader will also remind his followers to always keep good obedience towards Allah Ta’ala. Our Prophet (peace be upon him) reminded us in his Hadith, “Take care of Allah, He will take care of you.” If we prioritise God in our routine, God will facilitate our worldly affairs.
Ensure continuous blessing and du’a from your parents
Perhaps some of us think this is a very common thing, but it is undeniable that many of us forget about the miracle and how important their prayers are. It is something very important and one of the keys to achieving excellence because there is no barrier between them and God. Even with the permission of God, their prayers are among the most answered by Him.
Sometimes we claim that our success today is the fruits of our previous efforts only. We do not realise that the success that we achieved today actually comes from the blessings of our parents. As we know, Redha Allah lies in the Redha of our parents. If we succeed in getting their blessings, by the permission of Allah, our business becomes easy.
For every activity whether in education or society, don’t forget to ask for their prayers and blessings. Make sure we allocate some time to call them to update with current condition at least once a week. Yes, perhaps the university life has burdened us with courses and societies, but as a good child, make sure we have some time with the family regardless how busy we are. Because we do not know that perhaps it’s because of our good bonding with them, God will simplify all of our worldly affairs.
Good understanding in Fiqh and Aulawiyyat
Maybe there’s a question of what is Fiqh Awlawiyyat? It is much related to priorities and knowledge in determining which tasks to put first before anything else, especially as a student. In my opinion, as a leader, putting the focus on a job comprehensively is very important. It does not matter whether it’s related to education, society or anything else.
Therefore, a leader needs to be an expert to be able to distinguish between what is important, less important and not important in our schedules. Benjamin Franklin says: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Time management for every task is very pertinent for a great leader. Once we have set the priorities, our business will be organised automatically, and most important, we can assist the business of people around us too.
Be a productive student
As a student, the things that should be avoided are known as ‘3K student’, which stand for ‘katil’ (bed), ‘kopi’ (cafe) and ‘kelas’ (class). To be a productive leader, one needs to have a ‘wow factor’ in our daily routine. University time is very valuable. It is a big loss if the time is only filled with common routines like eating, sleeping and studying in class.
Learning is not limited to classroom, it’s an opportunity that we should spend time in the library or consult our lecturers after class. Seeking knowledge is not just about focusing on the subjects in the study plan. There are many informative talks and lecture programmes being organised by associations and societies that we can attend to gain additional knowledge outside the classroom.
Mingle and interact with good people
Among the strength of a leader is having good friends during thick and thin times. They provide a support system and act as a spine to correct our mistakes and wrongdoing. Good friends surely will motivate and please us with happy moments. This means being with them can make us feel calm and remind us of Allah SWT indirectly.
Therefore, it is a necessity to keep in the circle of those with high spirit in study, those who can be referred to should any problem or conflict occurs. Most important is to find the right companion to be a role model. Friends are the reflection of ourselves. If a leader has a good friend there’s a likelihood that he will be a good person too.
Participate actively in charity activities
Rasulullah SAW said his speech that can be understood as: “The best human being is the most beneficial to others.” A student who is a giver, is better than just accepting it. As a student living together in society, we may donate what we have to society in terms of ideas, energy and knowledge. Take an opportunity through your ability to contribute back to society in any form. Indirectly, it will develop a sense of responsibility towards others and this quality is important for a good leader.
For example, I have excellent teaching skills, so I am trying to engage in teaching activities with the community nearby. For me, when I’m involved in teaching, it opened my eyes wide to pay attention towards illiteracy problem indirectly. Thus, we will usually identify the root cause such as the parents’ role that needs to be improved. When we observe this kind of a problem, a sense of responsibility within us will be developed automatically in order to give some proactive solution.
The basic point I want to highlight here is that a leader who does not put himself or herself in reality situation, or chooses not to be in other’s shoes, will not be able to see his or her real responsibility.
Build a bigger network than before
When it comes to creating relationship and networking, it is about how we interact with others, not just sitting in our group or being alone. We need to mix with others in associations, get along with the more experienced people like lecturers, mosque staff and so on. Through such constructed networks, you can indirectly exchange views and share experience with the older generation while keeping yourself in touch with your generation as well.
Avoid eating and sleeping excessively
Of course, it is not surprising to touch on the subject of eating and sleeping in dealing with this matter. Yes, it is true that if we overeat, the process of removing the energy from the body will not be an easy task. It can cause the body to become lazy and tired easily. A lot of sleep will also steal the time that could be utilised wisely. Your body will also become fatigued so it loses the capability to do other work.
As a conclusion, I am pleased to share a piece of Quranic verse’s translation:
“And be humbled to your followers from the believers” (As-Syu’ara: 215)
In this verse, Allah SWT reminded Prophet Muhammad to become a leader with humble and respectful characters. In this reminder, we can conclude that a good leader is someone prosperous and highly mannered. To be a good leader we need to refer to Prophet Muhammad SAW. Because of his praiseworthy character, Rasulullah SAW became the most respected and trusted person in this world till today.