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The Life of Prophet Muhammad Through the Lens of Leadership

21 Lessons from the Prophet’s Successful Leadership

Republished with the author’s kind permission from

Law of Navigation: Anyone can Steer the Ship, but It Takes a Leader to Chart the Course

The Law of Navigation states that it’s the leader who sets the vision for his people, and then he leads them to that vision.

Are there words to describe the incredible vision of the Prophet? Can you imagine what it would be like if you and the people you led were tortured, boycotted, mocked, murdered and driven out of your homes and still having the wherewithal to talk about conquering Rome and Constantinople?

Allahu Akbar! How amazing is that? The Prophet always kept the greater vision for his people at the forefront of his mind and the minds of his people. He never took his eyes off the ultimate prize and greater mission.

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He had the vision and foresight to:

  • send Musab to Madinah long before he made hijrah in order to develop a following there before his arrival.
  • send the believers to Abyssinia even when they didn’t want to leave.
  • always remind the people of the greater life to come.
  • sign the treaty of hudaybiyyah despite some of his companions objections.
  • listen to his advisors in the battle of the trench and in the thwarted trip to Makkah for Hajj.
  • develop young and dynamic leadership all around him so his work would continue after his death.
  • know when to be patient and quiet, and when to step up and speak out.
  • give the right roles to the right people at the right times; ibn Mas’ud, Khalid ibn al-Waleed and Mus’ab ibn Umayr are a few that come to mind.

These and countless more examples from the Prophet’s life show that he was a forward thinking person of great vision, therefore we should be the same.

Reflection Questions on the Law:

– How do we exemplify this quality from the Sunnah in our lives?

– What is our long term vision for ourselves, our families, our communities and our organizations, and what steps do we need to take to make that vision come to life?

Law of Addition: Leaders Add Value by Serving Others

The Law of Addition emphasizes the practice of Servant Leadership, or the concept that the leader is there to serve the people and not the opposite.

The Prophet was truly a servant of the people who added value to everyone’s life that he came across. Whether it was a ruler that he was inviting to Tawheed, a companion that he was teaching and developing, an old lady whose bags he was carrying, a sick member of the community that he was visiting, or one of the many children in the community that he was raising, he added great value to everyone’s life around him. The most incredible fact is that some 1400 years later he is still adding value to hundreds of millions of people worldwide on a daily basis.

There is a saying that has been attributed to the Prophet (although I have yet to find an authentic source) that summarizes who he was beautifully.

“The believer is like a light rain, everywhere he goes he brings benefit.”

In other words, if we want to be like the Prophet, then we should strive to be people that make a positive impact and add value everywhere we go.

Reflection Questions on the Law:

– To whom did you add value to today?

– Who can you intentionally add value to every single day? Think of the people that you have influence over… imagine them in your mind right now and think about how you can add value to them day in and day out.

Law of Solid Ground: Trust is the Foundation of Leadership

Without trust, there cannot be leadership. The Law of Solid Ground states that trust is the foundation upon which leadership and influence is laid. Every leadership guru in the modern world speaks of trust as an integral part of great leadership. What again was the Prophet’s nickname before he even became a prophet?

That’s right: Al-Amin, the Trustworthy. Subhanallah, Allah was setting up the Prophet (peace be upon him) for successful leadership and influence well before he became a prophet. Imagine what would have happened if the people had even a little bit of doubt in regards to the Prophet’s character? His call was initially rejected despite the fact that he was a person of impeccable character and was known for his trustworthiness.

Reflection Questions on the Law:

– If people were to rate your trustworthiness on a scale of 1–10, what would your score be? What if you were to be rated by your Family? Friends? Co-workers? Business partners? Spouse?

– Have you ever broken someone’s trust? If so, how did you make amends?

– Has anyone ever broken your trust? If so, did you ever forgive them, and were they able to regain your trust eventually? If they did regain your trust, how were they able to do that?

21 Leadership Lessons from the Life of Prophet Muhammad