1. A leader should be realistic; his messages and demands should not be in contradiction with the realities of life. He should consider the conditions surrounding him and his community as they actually are. He should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages he has.
2. A leader should be convinced of the truth of the message he conveys to people. He should never falter in his convictions and be resolute in conveying his message without renunciation.
3. A leader should be courageous in nature. Even left alone to himself, he should find in himself as much courage as to resist all the difficulties he might encounter.
The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, was the most courageous of people. When some of his pursuers reached the mouth of the cave where he was in hiding, Abu Bakr was afraid that something would happen to the Messenger. However, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, comforted him, saying: Grieve not, for God is with us. (1)
4. A leader should have a strong will-power and resolve and never fall into hopelessness.
5. A leader should be aware of his responsibility and nothing should be able to prevent him from fulfilling it. Especially the charms of the world and attractions of life should not be able to intervene between him and his responsibility.
6. A leader should be far-sighted and have determined his goal well. He should have the mental capacity to discern the developments he might encounter in the future. He should also be able to evaluate the past, the present and the future together and reach new syntheses. A leader who frequently changes opinions causes rifts and disagreements among his community.
7. A leader should know the members of his community individually. He should have discovered each of them with their dispositions, character, abilities, shortcomings, ambitions and weak points. This will enable him particularly to make the best choice in his appointments to important offices.
8. A leader should have a strong character and be equipped with praiseworthy virtues. He should be determined in carrying out his decisions but capable of flexibility; he should know when to be unyielding and implacable; when to be relenting and compassionate. He should be earnest and dignified but also modest. He should be upright, truthful, trustworthy, and just.
9. A leader should not cherish worldly ambitions and abuse his authority. He should live like one who is the poorest of his community and never discriminate among his subjects. He should love all of them, prefer them over himself and be able to make himself loved by them sincerely. He should be faithful to his community and be able to secure their loyalty and devotion.
Considered from the viewpoint of all these and many other qualities a leader should have, God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, will be seen to be the greatest leader history has ever known. To cite only a few examples, even when the conditions were most unfavourable, he never conceived of giving up conveying his message nor yielded to the desires of his opponents to make concessions. Instead, he used to say to them: Say, 'There is no god but God', and prosper in both worlds. (2) When his Companions complained to him about the harsh conditions afflicting them in Makka and the persecutions they suffered, he answered: You show haste. One day will come and a woman will travel from Hira [a town in southern Iraq] to Makka alone on her camel (in security) and turn round Ka'ba as an act of worship, and the treasuries of the Sassanid Emperor will be captured by my community. (3)
Once the polytheist leaders of Makka came to him and said: 'If you assign us a day when others, especially those poor ones, will not be present, we may talk to you about accepting your religion.' They despised the poor Muslims like Bilal, 'Ammar and Habbab, and desired special treatment. God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, never accepted such proposals, nor did he ever think of accepting them. The verses revealed addressed him as follows:
Send not away those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His 'Face'. (al-An'am, 6.52)
Persevere together with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His 'Face'. (al-Kahf, 18.28)
2. Bukhari, Tafsir, 1; Muslim, Iman, 355.
3. Bukhari, Manaqib, 25.