In search of the perfect leader

Who is the leader you identify with? Well, let me put the question differently – who do you think is the leader of our nation (let’s be specific about Kashmir here, though the same questions are applicable anywhere under the sun). Was there ever a leader that you thought you’d just give your trust and blindly follow – is there one now?

I read a little, hear a little and sense a lot of emotions — for and against — the men and (few) women that stand tall as leaders – who we want to believe – will pull us through this turmoil – help us get out of this situation. For example, let’s pick the figures in Kashmir’s political arena (in no particular order) – Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mir Waiz Umar Farooq, Yasin MalikMaulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari, Asiya Andrabi .. etc.

We want our leader to be the source of inspiration, of impeccable character – one who could never go wrong. One who would show us the path to the vision he laid out for us (or the vision we saw).

Many of us have found ‘the one’/’the few’ whom they have grown to love and revere as their leaders. These people would do anything the leader would ask (well, almost anything). These people would fight each other, call names and even go to extent of beat each other up lest a word of accusations is put through.

Many of us are lost and still in search of the perfect leader.

But I’d like to ask – a question to myself and to you – does the leader have to be perfect? And obviously the clear answer is NO – he doesn’t have to be – and he can’t. The only problem is that with becoming a public figure whose words and actions can have massive effects – the responsibility that lies on the shoulders of these people is far far greater than we can imagine. There will be rumours which are completely baseless. There will be truth – stark naked – which is not palatable for anyone who supports the leader.

So what should be done? What does one do? Does one just be leaderless and pretend things will take their course – or does one follow blindly and do whatever is being said and muffle the sound of anything that goes against what we’d like to hear?

I don’t know.

But I know, that there can never ever be a perfect man after our dear Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Even the companions'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) of the Prophet  ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) – who learnt directly from him, and who were loved dearly by the Propht and continue to be loved by us even today – they were not perfect.

So perfect leader cannot be sought – its impossible even to imagine a leader today who would stand tall and have nothing to be ashamed of.

So what do we do?

We follow the guidelines laid by the companions'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). We all must remember what UmarraḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said one becoming the caliph:

If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.

So this is what we are to do – follow the leaders when they are right and correct them when they are wrong. This can only happen if we have an open communication with our leaders  – we are not deaf, dumb and blind – so stop being that. Be informed, and have your say.

Also do understand that we might in our place or our set of opinions not quite agree with a specific policy/statement made by our leaders. Disagreements are normal – you cant expect to be agreements always. But agree to disagree elegantly.

Know that your leaders are answerable to you – and know that you are answerable to the future generations for offering them the world that you created while you did NOTHING, when you should have. And of course you and our so-called leaders have our answerability in the hereafter where no excuses will avail.

The perfect leader cannot be found – nor can a perfect follower be found. But it is in the pursuit of perfection – it is in our failed attempts that we fulfill the purpose of our lives.