The Key Missing Ingredient in Leadership Today

I was asked to write a speech for a formidable leader the other day. My process is, I would ask them what they want to emphasize in their speech before I start putting words in their mouths. This particular leader said he wanted, to talk about wisdom.

Wisdom in leadership is something alien today, you tend to associate wisdom with Monks, Yogi’s or Sufis at the most a Village Chief. It is not a criterion, that you look for in hiring a CEO, or electing a leader. So I when back and do some research and what I found is really astonishing.

The first place I look is the Quran and what it says about wisdom. There are 27 Ayah that contained the word wisdom as a noun. There is a list of them here. Here is what I found about wisdom after going through the 27 Ayah.

The Quran As The Source of Wisdom

In the Quran, there is several Ayah that mentioned ‘book’ and wisdom, this does not necessarily mean that just read a lot and you become wise. The ‘book’ refers to the Quran so the source of ultimate wisdom comes from the Quran. The Quran is the fountain of wisdom and it will open up it’s secret to you if you are sincere. Nothing comes close to the Quran as the source of wisdom. The first step is to understand the Quran ideally in Arabic.ight and Wrong

Having wisdom will give the luxury of distinguishing between right and wrong but also to take the right course of action. Sometimes we are overjoyed with because we achieved something but later we discover that it is not something that we want or worse still lead us in the wrong direction. Having wisdom can save you years of heartache by making the right decision on the onset.

Sheikh Edibali advice to the founder of the Ottoman Empire

The Catalyst For Dominion

Every leader wants to stay at the top of his game, so they read books attend seminars on the latest tips and hacks on how to achieve the most result in the least of time. In Surah Al Baqarah, wisdom is given alongside dominion or kingdom. So if you want to come out number one and be at the top of your game you should make wisdom your priority. It is the prerequisite of lasting authority.


Wisdom is something that is always there you just need to tap into it. Only those who are purified that can have any real wisdom. This means repentance is part of the process of accessing your unlimited wisdom. Yet, living in a secular world we are drowned in our own ego which is solid as a mountain. We think we are righteous if we forgive others, but we never think about asking for forgiveness from our maker. It is really a condescending attitude toward our creator. Repentance is the first step of moving towards wisdom. It is like the super cleaner that clears a clogged sink so the water can flow naturally.


How do you become a wise person? Modern science also has unearthed many benefits of reflection. That’s why certain forms of meditation and exercises on relaxing and focusing one’s mind have become so popular nowadays.
Consider cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s one of the most popular and effective therapies for depression and anxiety, and its focal point is a reflection on your thoughts.

Being aware of your thoughts helps you know yourself, your virtues and weaknesses. It helps you discover new meanings in the signs of Allah that surround you in His creation. It improves your ability to detect the whispers of Satan. All these contribute to improving your wisdom.

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He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding (Ulul Albab). (Quran 2:269)

Who are the Ulul Albab? Allah defines their characteristics in another verse:

Those who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], ‘Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire….’ (Quran 3:191)

What are the things that Allah encourages us to reflect on? What are the signs of Allah that help us improve our wisdom? Are there other ways of increasing wisdom? We’ll discuss these issues in the next article insha’Allah.


Image calligraphy credit: AbuDinges

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