I begin with the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
It is common knowledge that the duty of the shepherd is to keep the flock intact and to protect it from predators and equally to guide it to the market areas for shearing. If we flip the coin and put the spot light on humans, then whoever assumes the position of leadership is like a shepherd who is responsible for those under his leadership.
If we study the life of the pious predecessors from the time of the Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to hundreds of years down the line, we will find one thing common with the true leaders of people: selflessness and genuine concern for the welfare and security of the led.
Allaah Exalted be He, says “Truly, We did offer the Amanah (trust) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it. But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results). Q33:72
One of the scholars of Tafseer (Qur’anic exegesis) As-Sa’di commented that everything that Allaah has enjoyed upon His slave is an Amanah, and the slave must carry them out in the fullest sense. That also includes things that are entrusted to one by people such as wealth, secrets and the like. The individual must pay attention to both matters and fulfil both trusts.
The burden of leadership is not enviable and one wonders why a lot of people sacrifice all they have in order to attain the position of leadership while being totally oblivious to the responsibilities it comes with.
How many people rule over a nation without actually bothering about their welfare? How many a leader sleeps comfortably on waterbed when thousands and millions of his followers can barely find a mat to sleep on? How many a leader of people eats to his fill when those led can barely find a morsel of food to munch?
The Prophet (Pbuh) said in a narration recorded in both Al-Bukhari and Muslim that: “There is no slave to whom Allaah has entrusted the care of people, and he dies neglecting his flock, but Allaah will forbid Paradise to him.”
Once upon a time in our civilization as Muslims there lived Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allaah be pleased with him) who as a leader would patrol the streets of Madinah at night to make sure that the general masses are in good condition, once upon time Umar (RA) would shed tears in Madinah out of the fear that a pothole in Kufa would cause animals to trip. Once upon a time there was Umar bin AbdulAzeez (may Allaah be pleased with him) who ordered that all the rides (animals) in the presidential fleet be sold out leaving only one in order to raise the treasury reserve of the Muslims so as to have enough to cater for the need of many instead of the leader alone.
These were our glory days, when the shepherds were more concerned about the safety and welfare of their flocks than they were about themselves. Hence, both the leaders and the led shared a common harmony and there was peace and progress the like of which history has not recorded again.
Just as the shepherd is not separated from his flocks in terms of lifestyle and the smooth and rough terrain that they tread so shall real leaders be with the led otherwise the leaders will enjoy while the masses will perish.