بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Nafsiya Reflections: Nurturing Leaders
Assalaam u alaykum wa rahmatullahee wa barakathu hu. Welcome to today's episode of Nafseeya Reflections where we will look at an aspect of the life of the great Muslim leader, Sultan Muhammad Al Fatih.
Muslims today read and remember great leaders of the past. Even think tanks in the West look at the qualities of our rulers and leaders and identify key traits and try to motivate others to use these for success. Aspects of leadership are looked at from many angles and provide insight for us. In today's episode we will look at the role parents and others play in focusing the youth in attaining skills of leadership. As leaders are not just made by chance but have key ideas that are inculcated within them.
If we look at the early life of Muhammad Al-Fatih, remember that he was JUST 21 years old when he conquered Constantinople, his upbringing was not just left to chance. Muhammad Al-Fatih was born on 27th Rajab, 835 A.H., 30th March, 1432. He was brought up under the supervision of his father, Sultan Murad II, the seventh Uthmani Khaleef. His father prepared and trained him to shoulder the responsibilities of the position of a Sultan. Muhammad Al-Fatih memorized all the Quran, learnt the Prophetic hadith, Islamic jurisprudence, mathematics, astronomy and the skills required for war. He also learnt Arabic, Persian, Latin and Greek languages. He joined his father in his battles and conquests.
His father appointed him as a ruler of a small region so that he could receive practical training on administering state affairs under the supervision of some of the top scholars of that time. This matter influenced the character of Muhammad Al-Fatih and tinted his personality with Islamic morals and manners. Shaykh Aaq Shamsd-Deen, one of the scholars who supervised the upbringing and education of Muhammad Al-Fatih, managed to inculcate in his heart the spirit of Jihad and the desire to be a person with high ambition. The Shaykh also told Muhammad Al-Fatih, may Allah have mercy on him, that he may be the one referred to in the Hadith of the Prophet (saw).
«لَتُفْتَحَنَّ الْقُسْطَنْطِينِيَّةُ فَلَنِعْمَ الْأَمِيرُ أَمِيرُهَا وَلَنِعْمَ الْجَيْشُ ذَلِكَ الْجَيْشُ»
"You will conquer Constantinople. Its commander is the best and its army (that will conquer it) is the best."
All this shaped the character of Muhammad Al-Fatih. He was devoted to Jihad, highly ambitious, widely cultured, and had a deep knowledge of the skills of war and combat.
The effort of the father of Muhammad Al-Fatih was great as we can see. Today, many Muslims despair of the state of our youth. We can see them moving away from the Deen. We see the distractions that divert our promising future generation. There are policies from governments to threaten the Islamic identity in the West and in the Muslim lands. There are also many ways that materialism is promoted where we cannot differentiate the major cities of the Muslim lands from London, Paris and New York in their attempts to modernise by following and imitating without any thought to the Islamic way of life they profess to follow. This state of affairs worries us, yet we accept it as a norm and impossible to change. How many of us say or hear ‘ you have to move with the times’ or ‘when in Rome...’ ?
The solution many of us then turn to is to pile on activities for our youth, in an attempt to ‘save them’. We just see an onslaught, we are not quite sure what to do but we also know we cannot just let it happen. Some people migrate to Muslim countries, some homeschool their children, others may start youth activities to engage older children and give them a ‘halal’ version of distractions. While all efforts are sincere and should be utilised where needed, their effect will be far greater when we know what the real problem is and how to focus our efforts to nurture the next generation.
Our great leaders and inspiring youth of the past lived in a time where Islam was in authority. Islam dominated and this in itself gave everyone a sense of greatness. the position of the Muslims was as it should be, as Allah told us.
(هُوَ الَّذِىۡۤ اَرۡسَلَ رَسُوۡلَهٗ بِالۡهُدٰى وَدِيۡنِ الۡحَـقِّ لِيُظۡهِرَهٗ عَلَى الدِّيۡنِ كُلِّهٖۙ وَلَوۡ كَرِهَ الۡمُشۡرِكُوۡنَ)
It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the deen of truth to manifest it over all ways of life, although those who associate others with Allah dislike it. (surah Tawbah:33).
Today Muslims are weak as we have no ruling authority and Islam is reduced to a personal matter. In the West we live as minorities, economic migrants and we fight for rights as second class citizens. In the Muslim lands where the rulers are not sincere to the Ummah, Muslims main goal is to escape or to gain material advancement, thinking this will serve to remove some of the misery faced in day to day life. In all of this, where will the leaders come about!?
Alhamdulilah, it is the Sunnah of Allah swt, we are not left to our own devices without His plan. Despite the determined efforts of the enemies of Islam to crush the Islamic identity, to dilute Islam and to modernise rules of Islam, our Ummah is not dead. We see the elders of the Ummah coming back to the rules of Islam. We see the youth energised when they are engaged with Islam. This spells good news for us. The Prophet (s) conveyed glad tidings and Muhammad Al-Fatih was nurtured to fulfil that promise. Motivated to seek the blessings of being the one to conquer Constantinople.
Today, there may be one amongst us, our children or their children who will seek the honour of other glad tidings.
Who will rise to conquer Rome?
Who will rise to gain the nusrah for the reestablishment of the Khilafah Rashida and who will rise to liberate Palestine and remove the Zionist occupation?
The one marked for this honour could be the one who grows up in the household of any one of us. For any Muslim today in any position of responsibility, whether parents, teachers, ulema, shuyukh and others it is important to nurture the ideas that enable leaders to grow.
It is not enough JUST to send our children to classes on a weekend, or to send them to Islamic schools or to give them the kind of friends we feel will be good company. All these most definitely can be part of the process but to really inculcate the correct ideas is first and foremost in the building process for future leaders. We do not want to mistakenly be caught up in engaging in activities for the sake of activity and fail to link our actions to clear reasons and outcomes we want to achieve.
Allowing children and youth to exercise the correct thinking means we get them to recognize the Creator as the Maker and Manager of mankind, establishing the correct relationship with Allah SWT.
When we live in a society that is far from recognising Allah SWT’s role as central to life , a secular society as is in ALL the world today, we have to work diligently and creatively to engage the minds of the youth with this key idea. Next we need to plan their upbringing, just like the father of Muhammad Al-Fatih. We need to give them the focus of being the best Muslim. This is not a side activity in life but the central part of life. Then we need to give them the same vision that Muhammad Al-Fatih was given. Muslims need to know the real mission of the message of Islam. We need to know how Islam can rule and grant mercy to others.
There are many great victories waiting to be achieved. if we are chasing the world, if we are looking to the university degrees, if we are only here to make a comfortable home, where will we be in the next 5, 10, 15 years? If our children and we ourselves believe and know with sincerity that Islam is the best way of life. If we believe and know with sincerity that Islam provides real solutions to all problems and if believe and know with sincerity that the ruling by Islam is the vital and most pressing issue we will see great changes in our lives and the whole world.
The achievements of Muhammad Al-Fatih were great BUT it is important not to overlook that he was brought up with clear thinking by his parents. His father kept him close to himself and he engaged him in the actions that led him to be the great leader he was. Likewise today, we need to create opportunities and focus and also give time to our youth to build them. The life of Muhammad Al-Fatih provides us with key lessons that can assist us especially at times where we see immense tests for the Ummah but at the same time the victory of Islam is on the horzion, Insha-Allah. May we see the honour of Islam once again and may we focus ourselves on raising the leaders so needed in this Ummah.
JazakAmullah Khair for joining us, until next time, wasalaam u alaykum wa rahamtulah hee wa barakathu hu.