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Islamic Leadership


Among the most important and eternal principles of Islam is the principle of leadership, which is also called guardianship (Wilayah).

In Islam, the leadership of society is a divine responsibility that is not left to just anyone, and Allah makes known to the people those righteous and worthy persons that He has chosen to perform this important task.

During the time of the Prophet (PBUH), the leader and guardian of the Islamic society was of course the Prophet (PBUH) himself, and he was never irresolute about performing this important task. He received laws and commands from Allah and communicated these to the people, he was commanded by Allah to implement in society the social and political laws of Islam, and to lead, through his sacred leadership, the society to the path towards perfection.

The management of all the political and social affairs of society was in his hands. The orders for jihad (Islamic holy war) were issued by the Prophet (PBUH), and he personally appointed the commanders of his forces. In all these responsibilities, he would confer with the people, but the final decision was always taken by him and Allah gave him complete authority in this regard.

The Prophet's (PBUH) decisions took precedence over the immediate wants of the people, for he was aware of their best and long-term interests, and was more able than they were themselves to guide and lead them to felicity and freedom.

In the Qur'an Allah tells us: "The Prophet is more in authority over the believers than they themselves."

But this leadership and guardianship is not limited to the time of the Prophet (PBUH). Rather the people of all times need a divine leader and guardian. For this reason under the command of the Almighty Allah, the Prophet (PBUH) appointed Imam 'Ali (A.S) to be the leader of the people and the guardian of the society after himself. At a huge gathering of Muslims, while returning from his last Hajj the Prophet (PBUH) announced at a place called Ghadir Khumm: "He whose guardian I am, also his guardian is 'Ali".

Thus, it was by the order of Allah that 'Ali (A.S) was designated by the Prophet (PBUH) as the leader and guardian of Islamic Ummah after himself. Likewise, 'Ali (A.S) in turn did not leave the Ummah without a divine leader. At the command of Allah and in accordance with the decree of the Prophet (PBUH) he appointed al-Imam al-Hasan (A.S) to the post of leadership, and made this known to the people.

In the same way, each of the infallible Imams appointed a successor to lead and guide the Ummah, until it came to the turn of the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi (A.S) who, at the order of Allah, was hidden from the vision of mankind.

During the Imam's Ghaybah (occultation), Muslim society is not bereft of the proper leadership According to the words of the Twelfth Imam (A.S) and the Imams before him, the leadership and guidance of Islamic society during this period is the duty of just, aware, selfless and brave mujtahidin (Islamic jurisprudents).

During thisperiod the leader of Islamic society must be great scholar of Islam, virtuous and pious, who must be totally aware of current political and social affairs and of the needs of the people. The Muslims must choose him to be their leader and follow his instructions.

When the Muslims accept such a leader they can easily gain their freedom and overcome the injustice and oppression of the tyrannical powers. As is clear, by accepting the principle of religious leadership, the people of Iran have freed themselves from the tyranny and injustice of the puppet regime of the ex-Shah, and are slowly but surely on their way to overturning the whole of the oppressive world order. With perfect vision and decisiveness, the Islamic leader guides the Ummah in all social and political affairs. He is ultimately responsible for the armed forces, and he keeps watch over the laws and management of society so that by following the Islamic programs the society moves towards perfection. He puts a halt to deviations and centralizes all the forces and resources of the nation. He turns the whole of society toward a single goal; freedom from oppression and the attainment of sincere service to Allah.


The Children's Book On Islam



P. 98 - 101

Other Links:

Youth & Religion

Allah Is not Matter

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