Later this week, Muslims all over the world will celebrate the feast of “Eid-al-Adha” through prayers and the slaughtering of sacrificial rams. This age-old tradition, which is a practice of the Prophet of Islam Muhammad (S.A.W.S), was inherited from the Father of their faith Prophet Abraham (May Allah’s peace and blessings be on him). We all know that Abraham is considered the father of Faith in the Islamic, Jewish, and Christian traditions; a Great Prophet all the major religions hold dear. This is one great man considered an exemplary leader by the majority of the world’s population over many millennia. What are the lessons of effective leadership that we can learn from Prophet Abraham’s legacy of “Eid-al-Adha”.
To start with Prophet Abraham had a definite major purpose, which is, to establish the worship of the One True God (Allah, “subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa”), and this mission included the building of a House (the Kaabah) for the worship of that One God. Prophet Abraham departed this world millennia ago but this week hundreds of millions around the world will honor his legacy by sacrificing rams while millions circumambulate the Holy Kaabah as this year’s Hajj draws to a close.
In verse 124 of “Surah Baqara” Allah tells us about Prophet Abraham’s journey to leadership: And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [Allah] said, “Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people.” [Abraham] said, “And of my descendants?” [Allah] said, “My covenant does not include the wrongdoers.”
The lesson here is that for it to be meaningful, leadership must be earned! Prophet Abraham, much as he is revered by Muslims as “Khaleelullaah”, (meaning Allah’s friend) had to go through tests before Allah anointed him to be a leader of the people. So we must be ready to pay the price if we are to assume leadership that would be meaningful and enduring for it is the way of the Creator that we must go through trials and tribulations before we shoulder important responsibilities. To quote Napoleon Hill in his classic “Law of Success”: we would not fear or run from trying experiences if we observed, from the biographies of the men of destiny, that nearly every one of them was sorely put through the mill of merciless experience before he arrived.
With Faith and determined effort, Prophet Abraham passed his tests, and thus his success is the subject of celebration till the end of time. The rams being sacrificed symbolize his persistence and faith because he endured the great pain of having to resolve to slaughter his own son for the pleasure of Allah; when his resolve was eminent and the event of the slaughter became imminent, that was the time Allah provided him with a ram that was to replace his son as the sacrifice. Truly did he keep his word and fulfill the command thereby earning the good pleasure and great anointment from Allah.
The fourth quality of leadership demonstrated by Prophet Abraham was his succession plan. His mission was great and it was not some minor wish but a definite magnificent obsession, such goals are never achievable fully during the lifetime of any leader no matter how great, so he bore a child in old age through his faith and prayers. He also prayed to Allah to choose from his offspring leaders that would carry on his mission and bring down his sacred legacy to you and me for the glory and peace of mankind. May Allah shower his blessings on the family of Prophet Abraham till the end of time.
Founder-CEO of Sabally’s Leadership Academy, Momodou Sabally is a motivational speaker and prolific author. A Trained Economist with experience at The Gambia’s Central Bank and Ministry of Finance, Mr. Sabally also served as Minister of Presidential Affairs.