I submitted this blog post as a contribution to RevivingSisterhood. You can read the original right here.
Leadership Inspired by Islam
I am a Muslim woman. I long for the day I stand in front of Allah and I present to Him the story of my life. I pray that I stand in complete confidence and happiness in front of a God that is proud of me and what I have done for His sake. I long for the day He admits me into His infinite mercy and Paradise. I strive daily to fully align myself with the wisdom He sent to me; the Quran. I strive daily to walk in the footsteps of great leaders whose role model was Prophet Muhammad; peace and blessings be upon him.
Muslims agree that God created them for the sole purpose of His worship. This is what Allah Himself said in the Quran verse 51:56 “I did not create the jinn and the humans except to worship me.” A wise teacher once taught me that this verse tells us the purpose of creating humanity. However, the purpose of creating each individual person is unique to themselves. This is their calling and their true worship of God is measured by the extent to which they strive to realize it and actualize it. God has put humanity on earth to be His representatives of goodness and justice. A world in which those representing God stand up for the rights of the weak in the face of a tyrant oppressor. A world in which those representing God act like a powerful wind of goodness bringing positive energy for our world. The impact of the work they do becomes greater than even themselves. It is not a coincidence that this verse is in a chapter titled the Spreaders.
I recognized my own uniqueness and embraced my responsibility to spread good and justice. A Somali woman, born and raised in the Arab world and having immigrated to America in my teens; I speak three languages and I acquired three different cultures and world views that are crucial to understand the needs of my community.
God had blessed me with the ability to connect with people at a meaningful level and share the knowledge and experience He has given me in a personally relevant way. I use these assets as a platform to spread the goodness, the positivity and God fueled energy that I am committed to on daily basis. The more people we have committed to this purpose of leadership, the more our communities grow and thrive. Our world would be more peaceful and people would be more tolerant of one another despite their differences.
If we look to our world with an open mind and heart, we would notice the suffering due to injustice. In my experience speaking, teaching and coaching, I realized that much of the aching in our world would diminish if we took the time to get to know one another. People are curious about one another, people are in a state of fear of each other, and people need comforting and safe spaces that support their basic human need of existing. Instead of using our differences to learn from one another and understand one another, we allowed the fear to isolate us. How will our children play with one another? How will neighbors feel comfortable to greet one another? How will employees and students feel secure in their positions and learning? How will we cooperate if we are not secure? These are the type of environments that allow hate and prejudice remain unchallenged.
God does not expect us to change the world, he wants us to change ourselves and allow ourselves to reach the potential we are most capable of. That will change the world. He will grant His victory and support to those that seek justice despite the currents that are moving against them.
Think about how you can use your platform to bridge the gap of understanding in your diverse community. How can you lift the vail of ignorance, fear and prejudice from the circles that are closest to you?
In the Quran, as a way of encouragement and reflection, God repeats the stories of the best models of leadership for humanity; prophets and righteous people with an upright character. They were given the responsibility of challenging status quo, of demanding change with wisdom, of calling for the removal of injustice. Their responsibilities started with their closest circle of influence; their families, tribes, communities who share their customs and language. Prophet Shu’ayb peace be upon him beautifully stated the mindset of a reform leader by saying: “I have no desire to do what I forbid you from doing. I desire nothing but reform, as far as I can. My success lies only with God. In Him I trust, and to Him I turn.” Chapter 11:88. As a Muslim woman leader in my community, I aspire to this mindset wholeheartedly.