It was dawn: calm and misty. People are still sleeping, yet you are already wide awake. You’ve just finished your first prayer to begin the day.
Today, the parliamentary session will convene for yet another day. Your team has prepared all the required reports and documents until late last night.
Everyone is exhausted. You are, as well. Yet you and your conscience gain to start by kneeling to Him first. You remembered that the chapter of al-Fatihah motivates you to invoke the name of Allah at the beginning of your action.
By doing so, you are hopeful that your day will be full of barakah from Him, and that He will ensure the parliamentary debate today goes smoothly for you.
The chapter of The Opener (al-Fatihah) actually encompasses more than starting with the Holy name of Allah. It goes beyond yearning for barakah. Instead, you repeat the chapter of al-Fatihah at least seventeen times daily so you will always recognise the fundamental principles of all your work, particularly as a leader.
Based on the chapter of al-Fatihah, have you reevaluated whether your work of leadership aligns with all of the following principles?
1. Putting Allah first and foremost in leadership (1:1)
Invoking the basmalah first is a praiseworthy Islamic etiquette. A lot of good Muslims have successfully put this into practice.
But, is that all? Beyond that, what does that practice imply? Here is the answer: your mind, heart and action should put Allah and His interest first. Furthermore, this principle doesn’t apply only to acts of worship but also to every job in your line of leadership.
2. Affirming the sovereignty and authority of Allah over your leadership (1:2)
Every day, you declare Allah as the lord of the worlds (Rabb al-‘Alamin). As the Lord, Allah assigns mankind to be His delegated deputy in this world (al-Quran 2:30), and that our whole lives are subservient to His authority.
Al-Fatihah teaches you to establish both of these principles. Hence, a leader like you should realise that all decisions and actions you make are subject to Allah’s authority as explained in the Quran and the Sunnah.
In al-Fatihah, Allah repeats His attributes of being All-Compassionate and All-Merciful twice. These attributes denote that the link between Allah and His creation is based on love, peace, reassurance and care.
Such principles and qualities should be implemented in your leadership too. Even your exemplary leader, ar-Rasul SAW was merciful! (al-Quran 12:107)
4. Leading with the vision of the Hereafter (1:4)
Having a clear vision of the future is an essential element of effective leadership. The chapter of al-Fatihah brings your focus beyond this worldly life to the Hereafter (the Day of Judgment) as the ultimate goal and principle.
Why would the goal of the Hereafter matter when you are a leader and a master in this worldly life?
The answer is because there is a more superior Master over you Who is judging and auditing your leadership work on that Judgement Day.
5. Leading with strength and motivation solely from Allah (1:5)
Interestingly, this principle is about total liberation from all forms of human tyranny whether intellectual, religious, moral and political. A leader who firmly believes in this verse will submit himself to Allah and seek help and guidance from Him alone.
With Allah as the only God and the single source of help, the temptation of material and worldly rewards should interest you less, especially so when they are at the expense of your noble mission. Have you forgotten that ar-Rasul ﷺ was once offered the rewards of women, throne and fortune to abandon his mission of Da’wah?
6. Leading with the guidance from Allah (1:6-7)
When you pray to Allah through this verse, have you ever particularly prayed to Allah to guide your leadership so you would lead people to the straight path?
Regardless of the details of the mission – be it charity, election or policymaking – in the end, all of your work of leadership should direct people to Him. For that, you would desperately need His guidance at all times. Otherwise, you might mistakenly bring them to the path of those incurring His wrath or the path of those who have gone astray.
After repeating this verse over and over, you would have learned about the modus operandi involved in righteous leadership.
Al-Fatihah is only the first and opening chapter of the Quran. Yet it has already laid out the transformative principles of great leadership set by Allah, if only you can perceive and apply them practically in your leadership. Imagine how impactful a Muslim leadership in this world and the Hereafter would be had he or she be truly steadfast with Quranic and Sunnah principles.