How Surah Al Asr can make you a better Muslim CEOs

Editors Note : Credit to Kamran Siddique who made this observation.

A CEO’s job is to drive people under his charge towards fulfilling a vision . Most of the time this requires people to do things differently. It requires CHANGE and Transformation. Countless books have been written, research conducted and courses sold on this topic of change.

As always the Quran is the last place to look. However if you look at Surah Al Asr it outlines all the elements that you need to make an organisation Great. This is by no means a tafsir of the Surah, but just my opinion back by credible research findings, and insights from Inspiring Muslim that I interviewed. 

Surah Al Asr the secret to success

This Surah redefine the meaning of success and failure as we know it. Surah Al -Asar is the second shortest Surah in the Quran, Ibn Kathir reported: Al-Shafi’i, said, “If the people were to reflect upon Surat al-‘Asr, it would be enough for them (as a guidance).” 

That is how powerful this Surah is. If you don’t read anything else but just heed the advice in Surah Al Asar, it is sufficient to you. 

As a Muslim CEO you need to see your organisation, your life and the world through the lense of Surah Al Asar. Everything you focus on will lead to failure except the 4 things that are mentioned in Surah Al Asar. It may sound pesimistic, but it narrows down the criteria for success in this world and the next.

Even if you are running a profitable organisation you are still a looser, if you don’t make this 4 things your priority. Lets look at the meaning of Surah Al Asar to its nearest literal meaning as translated by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.

I swear by the time of Asar (that time is running out)

No doubt that every single human (Insan)  being is truly drowning in the state of great loss 

With the exceptions of those who believe

With the exception of those who done the few good deeds 

And those who counsel one another to the truth

And counsel one another to Sabr (patience, perseverance & consistency)

Some scholars even go so far as to say that Surah Al-Asar is just the bare minimum you need to do in order to be safe. It is the passing mark so to speak of making sure you don’t get an F grade.

Let’s look at the four elements listed in Surah Al Asar and how it will change your future in this world.

More than just time management

Before we examine the four elements in the context of leadership and organisational succes, there is another important element that need to be considered which is Al Asar it it self which Allah swore by. Whenever Allah swear by something, there is always more than meets the eye. Al- Asar here means time that is running out. 

Alright if you look at successful people they guard their time ferroriciously. They don’t just give their time to anybody. And they only spent their time on either their high return or high impact task.

They would never waste time doing meaningless things. Countless nations has come and gone, many have failed. Everything is temporary, the suffering and the success all will vanish. No matter how successful you are, time will run out for you, you can’t live forever. You need to have this realization. 

If you at so called “successful organisation’ they are ruthless with their time, they focus on the most highly valued task.  

The power of belief

One of the criteria to be successful or more accurately not to be a loser, is belief. If you are a leader and your team is not performing well. You should check your conviction on the idea that you are selling to your team members.

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Most of the time you yourself suffer a deficit in your vision. This insecurity is present in the most successful CEO and leaders, it is human nature. Sometimes this lack of conviction is demonstrates with the amount of strategic retreats that an organisation has.    ]

As a CEO you need to be believe in the vision that you are selling, if there is a lack of conviction, it is very difficult for you to mobililsed others towards your goal.      

Those who has belief they will have Yakin. Belief is something magical, in the Quran there is 88 times when the word Iman is mentioned it is accompanied with the word ‘Amal. So believe is connected with action. Conviction is always accompanied by massive action which lead to result. 

Good actions and the Muslim CEO

The  Amal  that is describe in Surah Al-Asar is can be loosely translated as good deeds. Now good deeds is not just about waking up for Tahjudd or praying on time. Good deeds has also has to do with Integrity and honesty. 

In the business world there is a deficit of honesty and integrity. That is there is so much money to be made in Branding. Branding is nothing more than an exercise to make people think that your product is reliable and trustworthy. 

Consumers choose branded goods not because of the values that the brand stands for. That is secondary, the primary reason is because branded goods represent integrity, you are less likely to be cheated by a well known brand. 

Think about it, brands are able to charge people premium prices just for this perceived value.When a business is run on honesty and integrity, eventually it will attract customers like sugar attracts ants. 

This is what is lacking in the world today, that has given rise to know technology like blockchain. traceability and other technology that prevent dishonest practices. This is a real pain point that necessitate technological invention. 

Being honest when it suits your interests is easy. When you are able to demonstrate integrity and honesty even when it does not suit your interest, that is when you created a lasting impact and loyalty 

You might want to checkout our article on Iman Abu Hanifah The Entreprenuer

Sabr (Patience) is more than restraint

In Islam Sabr is said to be half of your iman, that is how important is patience is in our . religion. For a long time the power of Sabr was underestimated untill Angela Duckworth came out with her research about GRIT

Just because time is running out it does not mean that you have to be hasty. You are not privy to the bigger picture, one turn of events can flip your circumstances. So be patient in the correct sense.

The word Sabr which is the cornerstone of Surah Al Asar, is more than just patience, it includes endurance, perseverance, forbearance, steadfastness and restraint. These are elements that are crucial for one’s success. 

As for organizational success, not much research has been done to study the link between Sabr and success as a team until recently. Leaders in the past is divided into two main category you are either a futurist or a facilitator, 

A survey was done which was published in the Harvard Business Review where the findings reveal that patient leaders stimulate creativity and collaboration. This is true in both futuristic and facilitative leadership styles.

Sabr, is the cornerstone of every successful business or leader, you have to follow through what you set out to do. There will be times where you feel your vision is losing its relevance, at times you will be tested, how strong is your conviction and at times you just don’t really know what to do. These are times when you need to not only exercise Sabr  and counsel each other about it. Sabr is the only way out in many circumstances. Ultimately result is from Allah.

These four elements which are outlined in Surah Al Asr is the minimum passing mark to get into Jannah. But in this world if you practice and implement Surah Al Asr in your personal and professional life there is only one outcome you and your business will be highly sought after.

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