In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
BEING THE FFIFTH SERMON FOR THE MONTH OF J. ULA, DATED J. ULA 8TH, 1444 AH (2ND DECEMBER, 2022 CE).
TITLED: THE DEARTH OF COMBINATION OF TRUST AND COMPETENCE IN PEOPLE AND THE ISLAMIC SOLUTION
All praises belong to Allah, the Lord of the universe, Who says in his Glorious Book: “O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amaanat (things entrusted to you, and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you).” (Al-Anfaal: 27). We praise Him, Glorified and Exalted He is, we thank Him, we believe in Him, and we trust in Him. We seek refuge in him from the evil of our own souls, and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides is the one who is guided and nothing that can mislead him, and whoever is let astray, none can guide Him. I testify that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah alone. He has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is his servant and His Messenger. May the Blessings and Peace of Allah be upon him and his pure household and companions and those that follow his Sunnah and his guidance ill the Day of Resurrection. Aamiin.
O servants of Allah, I enjoin you and myself to fear Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, for it is the way of the righteous, the men of understanding. Allah Ta’alah says: “O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” (Aal-Imraan: 102).
Brothers in faith! This is the first meeting in the month of Jumaada-Al-uula.
Listen, and may Allah bless you all. One day Abu Muslim al-Khawlaani went to Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan – may Allah be pleased with him – and he stood between the two tents and said: “Peace be upon you, O you employee.” So the people said: “What is it!” Mu’awiyah said: “Leave him, he knows what he is saying. Peace be upon you, O Abu Muslim.” Then he admonished him and urged him to be just.
That devout Yemeni Taab’in, while he used the word employee, was not making fun of or insulting his leader with his words, but rather was based on the true Islamic perception of the position of the leader and his relationship with the people, it is the relationship of the employee with the employer. The People is the employer, and the ruler is a salaried employee of the People. He is delegated to perform the function of ruling in exchange for a known material reward and a conditional moral position, and they are bound by a discretionary contract with him, the two parts of which are: trust and sincerity from the leader, and obedience and assistance from the led. And since the ruler is an employee of the people, it is required that he is characterized by the two qualities of trust and competence (strength), which the Holy Qur’an praises in the employee in the words of the daughter of Shu’aib: “The best (of employees) to hire is the strong and trustworthy”, so based on this, the theme of our sermon today is on: “Shortage of combination of trust and competence in people and the Islamic solution.”
Brothers in faith! As for trust, it is the moral character that restrains the leader and prevents him from taking for himself and abusing the money and power, or appropriating them for his relatives, or misappropriating them in any corrupt way. As for competence (strength), it includes the political, military and technocratic expertise that he has, that enables him to carry out his mission in the most complete and appropriate way for the people, and that is what Umar ibn Khattaab – may Allah be pleased with him – considered as “Fiqh” in his saying: “Whoever is made the leader by his people based on Fiqh (knowledge), it enables life for him and for them, and whoever is made the leader by his people based on anything other than Fiqh (knowledge), it is destruction for him and for them.”
A number of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) were famous for the combination of trust and competence in them. One of them is Abu ‘Ubaydah ‘Aamar ibn Al-Jarraah – may Allah be pleased with him – whom the Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) called “the trustee of this Ummah,” and described him with trustworthiness and strength (competence), and he entrusted him with the zakaat of some tribes. Also among them is Umar ibn Khattab – may Allah be pleased with him. In the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad, it is related with a good chain of transmission on the authority of Ali: It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, who shall we take as Amir after you? He said: If you take Abubakr as Amir, you will find him ascetic, disinterested in this world, desiring the Hereafter. If you take Umar as Amir, you will find him strong, honest and not fearing any blame in discharging his duty to Allah. And if you take Ali as Amir – and I do not see you doing it – you will find him a guide that is himself guided, who takes you to the straight path.” Among them is also ‘Ataab ibn Usayd al-Amawiy- may Allah be pleased with him – in which it was mentioned from the hadith of Anas that “the Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) appointed ‘Ataab ibn Usayd over Makkah, and he was harsh on the doubtful and lenient towards the believers.
Separation of trust and competence: But trust and capacity are rarely combined together in one person. And when they are combined, they are rarely balanced, and there is the core of the problem. Sheikhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah, may Allah Ta’alah have mercy on him, said: “The combination of competence and trust in people is rare, and that is why ‘Umar ibn Khattab – may Allah be pleased with him – used to say: “I complain to Allah of the tyranny of the wicked wrongdoer and the incapacitation of the trustworthy.” This is why the Prophet – (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) appointed Khaalid ibn Waleed to lead war since he accepted Islaam, although he sometimes did what the Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) did not like, to the extent that he once raised his hands to the sky and said: “Oh Allah, I absolve myself of what Khaalid did.” Abu Dharr – may Allah be pleased with him – was more upright in trustworthiness and honesty, and despite this, the Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said to him: “Oh Abu Dharr, I see you as weak, do not assume leadership over two people, and do not be entrusted with the money of an orphan”. Concerning this, Ibn Taymiyah mentioned two examples of the imbalance of trust and competence in two of the senior companions. The first example is Khaalid ibn Waleed – may Allah be pleased with him – who had more of the attribute of competence (strength), so Al-Dhahabi described him well as “the sword of Allah Ta’alah, the knight of Islaam, and the Lion of the witness”, but his overpowering strength that is more over his trustworthiness is what made the Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) condemn his killing of people who showed their Islaam, and he absolved himself with Allah from what he did, which made Umar condemn his killing of Maalik ibn Nuwayrah, and then later dismissed him, saying: “Indeed in Khaalid’s sword, there is a burden”. Ibn Taymiyah explained this by saying: “Khaalid was not stubborn to the Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), rather he was obedient to him, but he was not at the same level as others in his understanding (fiqh) and religion, so the ruling on this issue was not known to him. It is said that there was enmity between him and them during the Jahiliyyah, and that was what prompted him to fight them.
The second example is Abu Dhar – may Allah be pleased with him, he was at the forefront in terms of asceticism, piety, honesty and purity of heart, but the Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) refused to give him leadership, and he justified that by the weakness of Abu Dhar, which meant he lacked one of the elements of political competence regardless of his personal piety.
Ibn Taymiyah cited another example of the imbalance between trust and competence (strength). He is Dhul-Nurayn, the Commander of the Faithful, Uthman – may Allah be pleased with him – whose trust dominated his strength, and some greedy people perceived that as weakness in him. Ibn Taymiyah said: “…As for Uthman – may Allah be pleased with him – he built upon a matter that was settled before him with tranquility, forbearance, guidance, mercy and generosity, and he had not the strength nor the political sagacity of Umar, nor was there in him Umar’s kind of perfection in justice and asceticism. Thus, some people became overtly greedy and desired more of the worldly things, and he included some of his relatives in the affairs of state and wealth, and some situation manifested – due to his relatives- in the state affairs and wealth which were taken against Uthman, and this was as a result of some people’s desire for the world, and the weakness of their fear of Allah and due to his own weakness, and what happened from his relatives in the affairs of the state and wealth which resulted in sedition until he was unjustly killed as a marty.
Suitability/Agreeablenes and Complementarity: The lack of combination of trustworthiness and competence in most people raises a practical problem that can be mitigated through the principles of matching and complementing. As for suitability, it is the understanding of the circumstances of a post or role, and the relevance of that to specific people, regardless of their personal experiences. It is a lesson that can be deduced from the Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) in making Usaama ibn Zaid to lead an army to fight the Romans. Although Usaama – may Allah be pleased with him – was not at the level of the senior companions who migrated with him from Makkah and the Ansar who were in his army, in terms of war and political experience. However, the Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) sent him to the territory of the enemy who killed his father, because he saw that there was some benefit in doing that. The benefit is that he has an extra motive that is added to the general motive inherent in the mind of every believer.
And it seems that the Prophet of Allah (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) had been looking forward to this matter for a while: “Qais ibn Haazim said: The Messenger of Allah (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) when the news reached that the banner had come to Khaalid in Mu’tah, he said: “So why not a man whose father was killed”, that is, Usaama.
As for complementarity, it is for the leader to be honest with Allah and with the people (ummah), aware of his own strength and weakness, so he searches among his people for someone to complement his weakness, and guard against his shortcomings, even if the leader is one of the people of trust and competence (strength), because absolute balance is absolute perfection, and it is not obtainable in humans. Sheikhul-Islaam explains this in his analysis of the appointment of Khaalid by Abubakr and the appointment of Abu Ubaidah by Umar and he says: “Umar ibn Khattab – may Allah be pleased with him – was strict in matter concerning Allah, so he appointed Abu Ubaidah because he was gentle, and Abubakr was gentle and Khaalid was strict against the unbelievers. So, the one who was gentle appointed the strict person and one who was strict appointed the gentle person, so that the orders and commands can be balanced and just, and to be moderate., Both of them did what was loved by Allah Ta’alah in His right.
If the leader feels that he has strength, he can appoint everyone who has experience, no matter how weak his level of trust may be, following the practice of Umar. Umar ibn Khattab used to use those who had some faults due to his interest in their competence at work, then he counteracted his fault with his own strength and justice.
This logic of suitability and complementarity is what prompted Abubakr As-Siddeeq to cling to Khaalid at the time of the Arabs’ apostasy and their targeting at Islaam, even though As-Siddeeq had complaints about Khaalid, including his “unbearable” sword, his attitude to money, and his opposition to the Khalif. As it were, if Khaalid got wealth (spoils), the wealth was divided among the people entitled to the spoils, and did not give any account to Abubakr, and he would go ahead of Abubakr to do things that Abubakr did not see, but the man’s valour and war experience would not allow As-Sideeq to dismiss him while he faced the crisis of apostasy, aware of the overwhelming importance of military considerations over other things at that time. That is why, when Umar pointed out that he should dismiss him, Abubakr said: “Who will suffice me the reward of Khaalid?”
THE SECOND SERMON
All praises are due to Allah, we praise Him, we seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of our souls and from the evils of our deeds. He whom Allah guides none can mislead him, and whoever is let astray, none can guide Him. I testify that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah alone. He has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is his servant and His Messenger.
The Leadership of the people safeguards:
Dear Servants of Allah – If the study of the life of the first generation shows human weakness and innate deficiency in terms of the difficulty of the combination of trust and competence, and the impossibility of the combination of the two in absolute balance, and where physical reality testifies to the distance of our (present) leaders from the level attained by the (first) generation in their honesty with Allah and the people, then what is the practical solution to that problem often represented In the lack of combination of trust and competence?
Islam has presented the most wonderful practical solution for that, and that is the people’s authority which is embodied in two principles: The consultation in establishing leadership, and the consultation in its management.
By consultation, the people select the most complaint person with the duo qualities of trust and competence, and they would not be required to have a prior choice based on inheritance or preponderance in number.
By consultation, the people urge the weak leader and restrains the strong leader, and reserve their right to remove any of them and replace him with the fittest one.
On the day these two principles are realized in the lives of Muslims, this will be a proof that they have surrendered their affairs to Allah, and have abandoned the political standards derived from the first ignorance. That ignorance, whose poet was proud of not considering consequences, rejecting consultation, and resorting to the logic of force:
“When he is anxious, he puts between his eyes his resolve ** and refrains from remembering the consequences
And he did not consult anyone but himself in his matter ** and he was satisfied only with the one who carries the sword as his companion.”