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Prophet Muhammad As A Charismatic Leader Religion Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Religion
Wordcount: 4082 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In this essay Max Weber’s Charismatic Leadership theory is applied on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) the last prophet and the prophet of Muslims. In this essay the attributes of charismatic leader and its various positive and negative effects have also been brought to light. The thorough out the study of this essay provides the deep insight to the reader about this type of leadership style. The limitations of the implication of charismatic theory will also be discussed at the end of the essay.


What is leadership?

John gardner describes that the leadership is the process of persuasion or example by which an individual (or a leadership team) induces a group to pursue objectives held by the leader or shared by the leader and his or her followers (Philip sadler, 2003).

“For Muslims, the first and original leader is Allah, and all are bound by their faith to obey Allah’s law. Thus any leader of any organization- business, political or religious is also first and foremost a follower of Allah. This facts imposes limits on Islamic leaders, and defines their duties to the people they lead. In Islamic thought, model leaders were simultaneously both exalted and humble, capable of vision and inspiration, yet at the same time dedicated to the service of their people” (John Adair, 2010).

Styles of leadership:

Various scholars categorized leadership styles in a different way. Lewin (1939) classifies leadership styles in three categories: Autocratic Leadership, Democratic Leadership and Delegative (Laissez-Faire) Leadership.

Max Weber classifies leaders as Bureaucratic Leader, Traditional Leaders and Charismatic Leaders [2].1978 Burns defined yet another classification: Transactional and Transformational leadership styles.

In this essay, the focus on charismatic leadership, its attributes and traits in charismatic leader will be done.

Definition of Charisma?

The term ‘Charisma’ will be applied to a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.”

(Roe, Kavin’s Notices weak 7).

A person has charisma when others wish to follow him because they are attracted by his

Personality, born leaders are usually charismatic. Ethical charismatic leaders, such as Prophet Muhammad (saw) and all other Prophets (as), use power for the benefit of mankind, learn from criticism, work to develop their followers into leaders, and rely on moral standards.

Life of Muhammad (S.A.W):

The Prophet Muhammad, was from Abrahamic decent, he was descending through his son Ismael, who under God’s orders, was left in the Arabian desert with only a little food and water, the spot this occurred is now called Mecca, today over 3 million Muslims annually re-enact the frantic running of Ismael’s mother Hager as she looked for water, in which Ismael hit the ground with his foot causing a spring of water to flow forth, still flowing today it’s known of the Well of Zam Zam.

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Muhammad was orphaned at the age of six, his father Abdullah died before he was born, his Mother, Aminah, died soon after, leaving him with his Grandfather Abdul Muttalib, who died when he was six. He was then raised by his uncle (son of Abdul Muttalib) Abu Talib, a powerful man among the Quraysh tribe who loved Muhammad more than anyone. Muhammad grew up, never to take part in pagan rituals. He despised the actions, and began a tradition of fasting, in the caves of Mecca every annual pilgrimage; the pagans at the time believed in Allah, and the Hajj, from the times of Ismael, however they later added more gods to the one God Allah. This is why Islam was tolerated from the start, by most because Muhammad never introduced a new God, he spoke of the God of Abraham, Jesus and Moses.

Muhammad was respected in Medina, he would frequently solve disputes, and he was nicknamed Al-Amin, or The truthful one, and was well loved by all. He was never known to lie, cheat, or steal, all common practices by the pagans of his time. Everyone, including his enemies, like Abu Jahl had acknowledged his lineage to noble prophets such as Ismael, and Abraham, and this was never disputed among anyone.

When he was about 40 years old, Muhammad’s early revelations, from the Angel Gabriel spoke of a need to return to the monotheism of Abraham; however, Muhammad upon seeing the Angel Gabriel was unsure of himself and rushed to his house terrified. He told his wife Khadija of the events, and she assured him God wouldn’t let this happen to such a humble man. Khadija later went on to see her uncle, a Christian Scholar, who after reviewing his religious texts, claimed Muhammad was the next prophet, (it is important to note, these texts are not the texts of today, as the Christians of Mecca and the Arabs were not Pauline Christians or Roman Christians) this as well as the Jews in Medina, who were also expecting a new prophet; albeit a prophet from the Jewish tribe, Muhammad’s prophet-hood was an unpleasant surprise to many of them hence they rejected him. In this way, at an early age, Muhammad saw himself as reviving an ancient faith, a perceived correction to Christianity and Judaism, and restoring his people to what he saw as their rightful position as the true founders and heirs of monotheism. In these revelations, submission to the will of God – Allah – was critical. Muhammad’s fledgling religion continued to develop throughout his life, through periodic revelations often relating directly to events currently facing his new faith.

The faith caught on slowly, winning only a few converts in Mecca (the first being his wife, Khadija). In 622 A.D, under increased pressure and ostracism from elders in Mecca, Muhammad began the hijra, an organized exodus of his followers from Mecca to the city of Medina. Muslims date the formation of their religion to the hijra itself, even beginning their dating system at this point.


Implication of the charismatic leadership theory on the life and leadership style of Muhammad (PBUH), who’s life history is mentioned above;

life and Teaching;

The first and most important point about charismatic leadership is the extra ordinary life and teaching of the leader. Based on that, Adair mines the life of Muhammad to highlight his extraordinary qualities as a leader and the acumen with which he deployed these attributes. One is an account of an encounter between one of his followers and the Prophet while he was drawing up the formations of Muslims before the battle of Badr, a key military victory for the fledgling religion:

As Muhammad was walking up the line straightening it with an arrow in his hand, he came to one Sawadi Ibn Ghaziya, who was standing too far out of line. “Stand in line, O Sawadi,” the Prophet said, gently pricking him in the belly with his arrow. “You have hurt me, O apostle of God,” Sawadi cried, with a much-exaggerated cry of pain. “God has sent you to teach us about right and justice, so please allow me to retaliate”. “Take your retaliation,” said Muhammad with a smile, uncovering his own belly. Sawadi kissed it and embraced him. “O Messenger of God,” he said. “You see what is before us, and I may not survive the battle, and as this is my last time with you I want my skin to touch yours.’ Muhammad then blessed him. With soldiers like that you tend not to lose battles. (John Adair, 2010)

The above incident reveals the extraordinary teaching and aspects of the life of the Muhammad (PBUH) that proves that Prophet Muhammad is a charismatic leader

Reality and Ultimate Values:

Reality and ultimate values are the second characteristics of the charismatic leadership. This can be seen in the life of Muhammad (PBUH) with the incident of making world’s first mosque. “It was soon after the arrival of the Muslims in medina, when they set to work to build what was in effect the world’s first mosque. The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) laboured with the Arab builders and craftsman as if he was one of them. As they worked, inspired by Muhammad’s presence and example, the man began to sing always a sigh of high spirits. The song doubtless made up as they went along, was a humorous one”.

If we sat down while the prophet worked,

It could be said that we had shirked.`

None of them wanted the reputation of being the man who took it easy while the prophet toiled in the sun. Such is the power of example.

Revelation or Expression does not seem to be born of themselves- but of ‘God’

One night, while resting in a cave on mount Hira wrapped in his clock, the encounter and experienced the first divine revelation(Q96: 1-5) as the qur’an says the divine revelation is revealed on the Prophet Muhammad saw when he was meditation in cave hira.

“Muhammad Say: ‘There is no God but Allah,’ and prosper (in both worlds)” (Al- As a charismatic leader the messages and expressions of Prophet Muhammad are infect the massages and expressions of Allah not for his own wish in his own language; it is the language and expressions of Allah that is listened by Muhammad and then conveyed to whole universe by him.

Their Authority is not their but is a gift of God

The charisma is the gift of the Allah to distinguish the prestige of the prophets to other man. The authority is in the hand of Allah but he makes differentiation of his preacher through these charismas. The original paragon of the power is Allah but He gives the power and differentiation symbol to Muhammad.

Muhammad (saw) is reported to have said:

Do not ask for a position of authority, for if you are granted this position as a result of your asking for it, you will be left alone (without God’s help to discharge the responsibilities involved in it), and if you are granted it without making any request for it, you will be helped (by God in the discharge of your duties). (Sahih Muslim, volume 3)

Prophets tend not to come from intelligentsia or upper classes.

Muhammad was first introduced to the people of Medina, when frequent wars were broken out between Jewish tribes and Arab tribes, Muhammad was sent for as a mediator between the two, most Jews spoke highly of Muhammad, accepting him as the next Prophet, although some disliked that he was not of the decent of Moses or Bani Israel.

Muhammad (PBUH) does not come to a rich or Intelligentsia. He was from an ordinary and low class family of Arab. That time the society divided in tribes, and Muhammad (PBUH) born in one of the middle and noble families called Quraysh.

Often have no formal training for the task

Prophets often do not have formal training for the particular task in them but from the Allah with the power of divinity and special verses that are for people. Muhammad PBUH did not get a formal training and education for prophecy. God trained him and bestowed him with a special power of comprehension through a revelation and angles were assigned to bring God’s message to Prophet PBUH.

7. Represent a break with tradition:

“These oracles, later preserved in writing in the Qur’an (Arabic: recitation, proclamation), commanded that the numerous idols in and around the shrine known as Al-Ka’ Ba should be destroyed and the rich should show more generosity to the poor. The simple message attracted some support but provoked great deal; of hostility from those who felt that their cherished beliefs, their traditional way of life and possibly their commercial interests were being threatened”

(Adair, John.2010)

So one of the most obvious tasks Prophet Muhammad PBUH preformed was that he broke all old false traditions in Arab as mentioned above. He introduced them with a new vision and insight into best characteristics of humanity. He corrected people’s wrong behavior and practice towards religion and stimulated them to the new road of light through his preaching about the oneness of God.

Direct message (which cuts through bureaucracy) (Roe Kavin’s Notice week 7)

The message Prophet PBUH preached around was not his own words, that was not something coined by some one but that was a direct message from God. whatever he was told to deliver people he was used to do word by word, His preaching were true expression of a divine body without any minimization or exaggeration.

Prophet Muhammad PBUH has conferred upon the following things to his followers;

A new vision of life’s possibility (New sense of meaning; new social structure)

Prophet PBUH brought new vision in all the fields of life. He introduced ignorant Arabs with a unique guide line in economical’political’socail’judicial matters. His instructions gave birth to a new system that brought peace and harmony among people in all ways of life.

The simple message of Muhammad was in Arabic tawhid, The oneness of God:

Say: He is Allah, the one and only;

Allah,the Eternal,Absolute;

He does not beget,nor is He begotten;

And there is none like Him. (Q112)

Break with oppressive ways of the present (By recovering past golden age or creating a new utopia)

Regarded by devout Muslims as Allah’s final and greatest prophet, Muhammad claimed Allah’s revelations, via the angel Gabriel, that Judaism and Christianity had grown corrupt, and that Muhammad was to restore the religion God intended.

Muhammad never introduced a new God; he spoke of the God of Abraham, Jesus and Moses. (http://www.amaana.org/ismailim.html)

Prophet PBUH abolished all the evils that were prevailing in Arabia at that time. There was a tradition to burry the girls when they were born, Prophet PBUH preached people to abolish this sin from their society. The biggest quality of Prophet PBUH was his wit to restore Arabs old religion with the new preaching of Islam. He retrieved the slogan of oneness of God that was the true essence din’e’Abrahimi. He enlightened people through the basic similarities of religions. He recovered old religion of Arabs.

Exhilaration of creating something new; (Roe Kavin’s Notice week 7)

Muhammad saw himself as reviving an ancient faith, a perceived correction to Christianity and Judaism, and restoring his people to what he saw as their rightful position as the true founders and heirs of monotheism. In these revelations, submission to the will of God – Allah – was critical. Muhammad’s fledgling religion continued to develop throughout his life, through periodic revelations often relating directly to events currently facing his new faith. (http://www.amaana.org/ismailim.html

Prophet Muhammad PBUH has demonstrated the following charismatic behaviours towards his followers,

Articulates an appealing vision;

‘On a journey’, Muhammad once said, the leader of a people is their servant.’

What did it mean? That a true leader serves those whom he or she leads, both as a group meeting their journey safely and their needs to be maintained as a cohesive whole- and also as a set of individuals, for each individual on a journey may have small needs or problems as the journey proceeds.

Page 80 the leadership of Muhammad

Strong, expressive communication;

After he battle of Hunain against he Bani Hawazin , Immediately Prophet Muhammad SAW was faced with another problem. As the Prophet moved away to complete the arrangements for the return of the families on their menfolk, a crowd of Bedouins from t e different tribes who had fought in the battle now followed him like a swarm of flies.

‘O Messenger, divide the spoil of camels and sheep among us’, they kept soliciting him insistently and urgently in their loud Bedouin voices, They tugged at his cloak so hard that it was pulled off his shoulders and trampled underfoot in the pressing throng. Eventually Muhammad put his back against an acacia tree and faced his importunate tormentors.

‘Give me back my clock’, he pleaded good-humouredly.

By God, if I had as many sheep as the trees on the plain by the sea I would give them all of you!’

When the camels were eventually divided, Muhammad made from his own share some characteristically generous gift: A hundred camels each to four prominent Meccans of his own tribe the Quraysh, until recently his bitterest enemies, and similar presents to two chiefs from desert nomad tribes who had embraced Islam and fought hard at Hunayn.

It was now the turn of he Muslims of Medina – the ‘Helpers’- to feel that they had not been treated with justice. Had they not been the first to rally to Muhammad after that first panic-stricken retreat? As they had done the lion’s share of the fighting, should they not be feeding first at the carcass? Yet inexplicable they had received no camels.

Sa’ad ibn Ubada, the chief of one of the two tribes of the ‘Helpers’ concerned, told Muhammad what they were saying behind his back.

How do you yourself feel on the question, Sa’ad?’

asked Muhammad.

‘I feel with my people’, replied the chief simply.

‘Then collect them together and I will speak with them’, answered the Prophet.

‘O Helpers, he began, ‘what is this that I hear of you?

Do you think ill of me in your hearts?

Did I not come to you when you were erring and God guided you; poor and God made you rich; enemies and God softened your hearts?

Why don’t you answer me?

Does generosity only belongs to God and his Messenger?’

The prophet paused, and then continued: ‘Had you so wished you could have said “You came to us discredited, and we believed in you;

deserted and we help you; a fugitive and we took you in; poor and we comforted you.’ In saying this, you would have spoken truth’, Muhammad told them. Are you disturbed in your minds because of the good things of this life by which I win over people that may become Muslims, while I entrust you to your reliance upon God?’

he asked them. ‘Are you not satisfied that other men should take away flocks and herds, while you take the messenger of God back with you to Medina? If all men went one way and the Helpers the other, I should take way of the Helpers. May God have mercy on the Helpers, their sons and their sons’ sons.’

Such was the effect of Muhammad’s words that the men of Medina burst into tears and – as the Bedouin say- they wept until their breads were wet. (Adair, John. 2010)

That is the characteristics of charismatic leadership i.e. strong expressive communication.

Personal risk & sacrifices;

When the small community of believers in the One God were harassed and even persecuted in Mecca by the majority of Quraysh, who were trying to prevent the disruption of their traditional way of life.

A bodyguard mounted on horses always accompanied him. Even so Muhammad narrowly escaped death at Uhad. A stone from a sling split his upper lip and broke

One of his front teeth; another blow from a rock drove two rings of the chain-mail under his helmet into his flesh and blood poured from the gash in his forehead

(Adair, John. 2010)

By sharing in labour, wars, dangers and hardships of his followers Muhammad exemplified a charismatic leadership.

Communicates high expectations;

The following incident demonstrates how the Prophet (saw) communicate high expectations of followers through patience and humility

When a ban was imposed on the Muslims by others: When we complained to God’s Messenger (saw) of hunger and raised our clothes to show we were each carrying a stone over the belly, God’s Messenger (saw) raised his clothes and showed that he had two stones on his belly. (Behzadnia and Denny, 2008.)

Expresses confidence in followers;

On the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar As suggested by Hollander (1978), a leader

“Who is competent in one situation may not be competent in another. Except in matters where he had received a direct revelation from God, the Prophet (saw) would often seek and follow the advice of his companions. As Rahman indicates, ‘This enabled all his men to take part in discussion and offer suggestions and in this way the best solution was found by mutual consultation.’

Role models expected behaviour;

The Prophet Muhammad possessed all of the qualities and role models expected behavioural tendencies. To cite only a few examples, he never even thought of abandoning his mission when confronted with great hostility and tempting bribes. Instead, he would tell them, “Say: ‘There is no god but Allah,’ and prosper (in both worlds)” (Al-Hakim). When his Companions complained about the harsh conditions and persecution in Makkah, he answered, “By Allah, Allah will bring this matter (the establishment of Islam) to its consummation till a rider will travel from San`a’ (in Yemen) to Hadramaut fearing none but Allah, or a wolf as regards his sheep, but you (people) are hasty” (Al-Bukhari). (http://en.fgulen.com.)

Builds identification with the group of organization;

Muhammad would never allow a seat to be reserved for him when attending a meeting but would sit wherever there was an empty place. When men rose to their feet as he walked by, he would ask them to remain standing only if that was their way of showing respect for humankind. If they were standing up to honour him, however, he always asked them to sit down. For Muhammad said to them: ‘ I am a man like you. I eat food like you and I also sit down when I am tired- like you!’ sometimes, when tired, he would greet visitors on his knees or while sitting on the ground. In other words he would accept no special privileges for himself. (Adair, John. 2010)

Empowers followers. (Roe Kavin’s Notice week 7)

Adair captures the love and affection that Prophet Muhammad’s followers showered on him. As the thinking goes, You can be appointed a commander or a manager, but you are not a leader until your appointment is ratified in the hearts and minds of those who you lead.

After Muhammad’s Death

Muhammad’s death at an early age caused the splintering of his religion into new sects, over the question of succession. The groups called themselves the Sunnis and the ShiHYPERLINK “../../../../../../../Shiite”‘HYPERLINK “../../../../../../../Shiite”as. Many attribute this split to the high degree to which authority was centered in the powerful character of Muhammad himself: without his powerful personality, the movement could not survive intact.[8], however this depiction is not accurate in some lights. The ShiHYPERLINK “../../../../../../../index.php?title=Shi’as&action=edit&redlink=1″‘HYPERLINK “../../../../../../../index.php?title=Shi’as&action=edit&redlink=1″as came into the picture much later than the death of Muhammad, and were first a nuisance group thought to be started by a Jew by the name of Abdullah ibn HYPERLINK “../../../../../../../index.php?title=Abdullah_ibn_Saba&action=edit&redlink=1″Saba who was burned at the stake by Abu Bakr for proclaiming Ali was God. Note that Ali disagreed with the punishment, because fire is a punishment only for Allah.


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