Carlos Armstrong: The Prophet Muhammad as a Leader

Before the advent of Islam in Arabia, the peninsula existed as a series of tribes that held basic societal structures. Although there was no overall unified societal leadership that united the tribes, constant political shifts that resulted from the wars between the Romans and Persians created a niche space in Arabian society for some form of leadership figure to help unite the peninsula around a common code of ethics; a position that would be perfectly filled by a young idealist with a divine calling.

One of the prophet Muhammad’s best leadership qualities that greatly aided the Arabian Peninsula was his incredible foresight in seeing the bigger picture. For example, when the Muslims were initially denied completing their first pilgrimage the prophet Muhammad was able to see beyond the immediate inconvenience in order to forge a deal that was long-term beneficial to the people of Mecca and to the Muslims. Although the Muslim peoples were at the time much smaller and less powerful than those of Mecca, the prophet Muhammad was skillfully able to strike a deal that would plant a political seed that would bear mutually beneficial fruit for both parties had the treaty not been broken.

Another powerful leadership quality held by the prophet Muhammad was his ability to give a sense of purpose to his followers. By giving the Muslim people a life path through submission to a benevolent and compassionate God, Muhammad granted their lives direction by acting as a role model in following a spiritually enriched life. This leadership style allowed the prophet Muhammad to begin the Islamic teachings by applying them to himself first, showing that not only that the teachings could be followed by anyone but also that Muhammad himself was not exempt from the divine rules. In doing this, the prophet Muhammad was able to act as a unifying icon for the Muslim people to rally around and follow with confidence.

As part of his leadership style of leading by example, the prophet Muhammad wanted to ensure a strong familial community that fostered intercommunity trust and understanding. By building a community based on respect, the prophet Muhammad sought to unite the Muslim people around a societal code of ethics that ensured equality for all community members. In contrast, the various tribes of the Arabian Peninsula did have societal rules and codes of ethics that were enforced on a community level, but none were as successful and beneficial for the community members as the rules set by Muhammad. Under the prophet Muhammad’s leadership, all community members were treated with genuine human empathy and respect, allowing the Muslim people to feel connected with each other in a larger community setting.

The prophet Muhammad’s best defining leadership quality was the courage and determination that he presented as the original Muslim community formed. By using a combination of bold, large perspective ideals and a dauntless attitude in the implementation of a just and equal community standard both inspired his followers into a righteous life of devotion and protected them in ways tribal laws could not. The prophet Muhammad’s valor in his devotion to the lives of his followers allowed him to be an exemplar leader in uniting the Arabian Peninsula, paving the way for future Muslims to exist in a cohesive community that valued interpersonal respect and mutual understanding as the Islamic faith began to grow and develop.