As a Muslim CEO, you are blessed with certain privileges and chosen to lead people. A transformation process that ultimately leads to at least a desired result or one that exceeds expectations. Your biggest stakeholder that you need to keep happy is none other than Allah. He puts you there for a purpose and the purpose is much higher than just the profit. However, many Muslim CEOs fail to see the relevance of Islam in navigating a company successfully. There is a reason for this which, deserve a separate article.
However, as Muslim CEO in your position, everything that you have today is a gift from Allah. So, you owe it to Allah to make his word most high in whatever you do. First, you must convince yourself that Islam is not just relevant in running an organization, but it can actually make your job easier yet produce extraordinary results.
A Muslim CEO has a significant responsibility to set the tone and culture for their companies. The Quran, as the primary religious text for Muslims, provides guidance on many aspects of life, including business and leadership. In this article, we will explore 7 key lessons that Muslim CEOs can learn from the Quran, and how they can apply these lessons to their leadership roles.
As Muslim CEO or any CEO for that matter, the most important thing is your team and the respect and loyalty they have towards you. The team you have will make or break your company. The starting point, whether they decide to accept you as their leader is whether you are a man of your word. Allah says in the Quran in Surah As Saf in Ayah 2 and 3.
If you don’t walk the talk, it is the most hateful thing to Allah. The word used that is often translated as “hateful’ actually is more than just hatred, the word used has its origin in a disgusting practice of the Arabs. What they would do when a tribe leader died. His son would take over his property, including sleeping with the wives of the father.
When you hate something or someone, you can still look at them, but when you are disgusted with something you, can even bare to look at it, let alone come near it. You just don’t want to have anything to do with it. Just imagine if Allah is disgusted with you, there will be no blessings in the things that you do.
And we wonder why our team is not performing, why things get done even after repeated reminders. You hear things like “if only I had a more capable team.” All these human factors are actually a reflection of you. So start to walk the talk and you will see things will change.
It is impossible to command respect when you tell people about your
Guidence on how to have a winning team from the Quran
The Quran emphasizes the importance of justice and fairness in all dealings. For example, in Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 13, Allah says,
This verse reminds us that our differences in race, ethnicity, and nationality are not meant to create division but to help us understand and appreciate one another. As Muslim CEOs, we can apply this principle by treating all employees, partners, and customers with respect and fairness, regardless of their background, gender, or color.
Tafsir Ibnu Katsir explains that this verse emphasizes the importance of justice and fair play in resolving disputes, and it provides guidance on how to deal with situations where one party oppresses the other. The verse also highlights the importance of making peace between conflicting parties, as long as it is done in a just and fair manner.
Often we rely on team members that have a reputation to deliver a satisfactory outcome. This creates the illusion of unfairness on both sides. People who are left out would have an opportunity to accuse you of favoritism. While the one who performs often have to take on more than they should which will breed resentment sooner or later.
Oftentimes, in a company, the person that is deemed to be reliable is given more responsibility. Two things will happen here, your top performer will one day, suffer from burnout. Secondly, the people who don’t perform as well, will not be given the opportunity to grow. It is your obligation to recognize the talents and weaknesses of your team, and not just focus on the top performer.
Yes, sometimes urgency requires you push your top performer to get things done. However, you need to create and groom leaders in every segment of your organization. Leaders can take over and continue their legacy for the benefit of the Ummah.
As a CEO that is guided by the Quran, you must make sure that your office is free from office tyrants. They are present everywhere, your job is to make sure they are not rewarded for their childish and oppressive behavior.
The Quran teaches that every individual is accountable for their actions and decisions. In Surah Al-Balad, verses 10-13, Allah says, “Did We not make for him two eyes? And a tongue and two lips? And have shown him the two ways? But he has not broken through the difficult pass.”
This verse reminds us that we have been given the tools and resources to navigate the challenges of life, but ultimately, it is up to us to make the right choices. As Muslim CEOs, we can apply this principle by taking responsibility for our decisions and actions, including mistakes or failures. This means being transparent and honest in our communication and taking corrective actions when needed.
You can start by realizing that all the credit that you have been given you do not deserve because every victory or success is from Allah. You can never take credit for it. The most profitable way of utilizing recognition is by giving it to your team.
But with every failure, oversight, and blunder you are the one to blame. One day, your actions will be audited and there is no turning back. As a Muslim CEO first you should remain in Allah’s guidance all the time, if you made you miscalculation the first thing that you should do before calling your team and doing a post-mortem. Which often times to manipulate collective decisions to deflect the blame from yourself.
You should first, reflect on why Allah let you go astray, you may have done something that derail your from divine guidance. In fact, this is the barometer of how in tune you are with divine guidance. Every mistake is an indicator of your diversion from divine guidance. It is an alarm signal to bring you back on track
Often times CEOs tend to savor all the credit when times and good, and their team that does the hard work take a back seat when it is time for recognition. Yet, when times are bad, everything else under the sun from the weather, to the economy, and an incompetent team will take the blame except the one who is really responsible. You.
No board in the world would knowingly appoint a CEO that is not trustworthy. The Business world is full of scams, from counterfeit products to falsifying documents and even murder. Just take a look at the 10 business scandal in the world. These are the ones that were detected and made public, who knows how many incidents there are that go undetected?
The Quran emphasizes the importance of trust and integrity. In Surah Al Maidah God say,
This verse reminds us that we should strive to be steadfast in our faith and in our commitments. As Muslim CEOs, we can apply this principle by building trust with our employees, customers, and partners. This means being transparent in our communication, keeping promises, and delivering on commitments.
This rule is often flaunted when it comes to pitching for funding. So much so there is a whole industry now that specialised in creating convincing pitch-deck used to convince investors to part with other people hard-earned cash. There are many start-up founders, especially who is eloquent and have the gift of the gab, who would say just about anything to get funding. As Muslim CEOs, you need to be truthful from day one to your investors and stakeholders. You don’t use creative accounting, accounting acrobatics, or whatever you wish to call it, just to get what you want. It is like driving a car with an empty tank, you may get started but sooner or later you going to end up pushing it.
The problem with why dishonesty is so prevalent in the business world is that it is what the world wants to hear. As Muslim CEO you should realize everything comes from Allah. Whether or not you get the extra funding needed, does not depend on what information your reveal or withhold. Dishonesty may gain you an extra mile but in the long run, you are going to get entangled by the web of lies you created. You should ensure that you are honest in your dealings. You should underpromise and overdeliver and not vice versa.
As a Muslim CEO dishonesty, should not be tolerated, there is no such thing as a white lie or varying degrees of dishonesty. You are either trustworthy or dishonest. This means every piece of information that you have in your pitch deck or slide must be correct, and every argument presented must not be manipulative. Whatever you present, must not just look and sounds good but more importantly it must be accurate.
The Quran encourages leaders to be humble and to serve others. In Surah Al-An’am, verse 162, Allah says,
“Say, ‘Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.'” This verse reminds us that our actions and intentions should be directed toward Allah and that we should seek to serve others as part of our faith. As Muslim CEOs, we can apply this principle by leading with empathy and compassion, and by focusing on the needs of our employees and customers. You should do everything sincerely for Allah.
But how does running a company can be done sincerely for Allah? At the very basic level, every activity that is carried out under your leadership must be Syariah guided. Allah is your VIP stakeholder. You need to change your princi
The Quran also teaches that leadership is a responsibility, not a privilege. In Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 30, Allah says,
This verse reminds us that leadership is a trust that has been given to us by Allah and that we should use it for the greater good. As Muslim CEOs, we can apply this principle by creating a culture of teamwork and collaboration and empowering our employees to take ownership of their work and make meaningful contributions.
How does this, apply in real life, because your sacrifice is rarely for Allah, your utmost responsibility is to the board of directors.
Servant Leadership is only a slogan at best. CEO who claims to practice servant leadership would resort to extortion, emotional blackmails, and various other oppressive methods. All for the sake of expediency or urgency and claims that the circumstances warrant an Executive decision. This might be true, that if you are leading an army on the battlefield. but unless you are living in a battle zone, your job is to serve first is Allah. That is by making sure that whatever you and your team do is guided by Shariah,
Secondly, servant leadership requires that you should be aware that every member of your team has different priorities in life. Their priorities are not the same, for each individual and it keeps changing from time to time. In order to keep them motivated, you must care about your team more than they care about themselves.
The Quran encourages individuals to seek knowledge and to innovate. In Surah Al-Ankabut, verse 20, Allah says,
This verse reminds us that we should explore the world around us, seek knowledge, and use our creativity to make a positive impact. As Muslim CEOs, we can apply this principle by encouraging our employees to learn and grow, and by creating a culture of innovation and experimentation.
All the great innovations today can be traced back to the Islamic golden age when many discoveries were made. Most of these discoveries in medicine, engineering, and science are inspired by the Quran. This legacy where the Quran is the source of innovation in human life needs to be revived. So greater, heights can be attained. In fact when Allah says,
As a Muslim CEO, we can apply this principle by being flexible and adaptable in our business strategies, and by seeking guidance from Allah in our decision-making processes. Being adaptable within the boundaries of Syariah is still wide as an ocean. The Quran is not just about rules and prohibition it is balanced with Ayah for reflection, and true stories that we can draw lessons from
The most important thing in an organization is the team that you have. Nurturing, a devoted and loyal team is no easy task. It is not uncommon for an organization to constructively dismiss an employee, by giving them an impossible task. The idea is to make life hard for them, so they would quit on their own accord.
As a leader, yes there are toxic team members it is your job to transform them from being disruptive to an asset to your organization. Most often than not, they want to do the right thing, their disruptive attitude is the response of their perception of being treated unfairly or lack of recognition.
In Surah Al-Imran, verse 159, Allah says, “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].”
The Ayah refers to the incident of Uhud according to a few Tafsir. It is a disappointing event. The archers left their post which led to losing the battle. In such a situation, you would expect that you will receive a long lecture from your leader for such a costly mistake. In this case, the leader is Rasulullah himself. So before he go and talk to them, the Ayah was sent down basically guiding him on how to respond to the situation
Instead of telling those people off, Rasulullah (Peace be upon him) was instructed to forgive them and be merciful. Not just that, he was also asked to consult them. Here is the secret, of securing loyalty. You can forgive someone and say everything is alright. But you create a brand of that person, you can’t trust them with certain things. So there is still a grudge there, but when you are willing to consult them in matters, that is a reset. You act as if nothing happen, and their mistake is forgotten. When you call them in a meeting and tell them, you need their input really shows that their value is still intact both in your heart and your mind.
Ultimately, the job of a Muslim CEO like many other CEO is to do the impossible within record time. This has led to creative accounting, sugarcoating performance, and on many occasions breach of trust. There are more people who like to see you fail than succeed. With so many, challenges you need to rely on divine support and guidance.
Shahfizal Musa is the Founder and Managing Editor of Halalop. He graduated with a Law degree from Thames Valley University London. He is an award-winning journalist covering topics such as human trafficking, Muslim research discoveries, and exceptional Muslims.
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