“Why is she talking about Gandalf today?”, you might ask.
Well, you know, I love the “Lord of the Rings”- stories, I am a real fan of this fantasy trilogy, of the books and the movie. For me, they reflect and express the struggles of humanity, much of what’s happening in the world since thousands of years: the cycle of destruction and recreation, the fight between light and darkness, between shadow and sun, the fights between the elements of the whole creation, the inter-dependency of all and everything and how we are all connected – the fighting that shows on a larger scale what happens in a smaller scale in every one of us: the fight between good and evil and the longing for balance and peace and the struggle to find harmony.
For me, Tolkien’s tales are wonderful entertainment that speaks to me on high and deep levels.
One of the heroes of Tolkien’s stories, maybe the most important one, is Gandalf, the wizard, described as “the greatest spirit and the wisest, warm and eager, opposing the fire that devours and wastes with the fire that kindles and succors in wan hope and distress; but his joy and his swift wrath were veiled in garments grey as ash, so that only those that knew him well glimpsed the flame that was within. Merry he could be, and kindly to the young and simple, yet quick at times to sharp speech and the rebuking of folly; but he was not proud, and sought neither power nor praise… “
With all that happens in the world, with my work and responsibility here, the school and what we do every day, I have to learn a lot about leadership. And to me, Gandalf embodies a real leader who shows with his behavior and his whole being the big range of positive impact great leadership can make.
And in the end, we are all leaders: “All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. An imam is a shepherd and he is responsible for those in his care. A man is a shepherd in respect of his family and is responsible for those in his care. The woman is a shepherd in respect of her husband’s house and is responsible for what is in her care. The servant is a shepherd in respect of his master’s property and is responsible for what is in his care. All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock.” (Hadith of the Prophet sas, reported by Abdullah bin Umar)
– that’s what our dear prophet Muhammad (sas) taught us.
And a shepherd is a leader. In one or another part of our life’s we all are leaders. So we all need to learn about leadership, we need good role models and great examples to follow.
Prophet Muhammad (sas) was surely the best of all leaders, the one all Muslims try to follow.
And right after him came his companions Caliph Abu Bakar, Umar, Othman, and Ali, they all practiced great leadership principles and achieved highest places in human history.
An there were others, wonderful examples, like Jesus and all the other great prophets like Moses and Abraham, but also modern men like Gandhi or Martin Luther King.
If we want to learn from them, we have to analyze the basic principles that made them successful, and with successful I do not mean powerful, because a really good leader is one who empowers others.
A great leader is one who has positive influence on others, adding value to the life of others and bringing out the best in them. A great leader is seeing and reaching far, he is carried by high and honorable moral settings, he has a strong vision and deep faith in and thankfulness towards a higher source (God, Allah).
“God is the protector of those who have faith: From depths of darkness He leads them forth into light” Quran 2:257
So a great leader is carrying a light that enlightens everything around him.
A great leader is one who is kind, righteous, fair and just, always in service for others, humble, generous, pious, courageous, committed, patient and strong.
He has compassion and empathy, trustworthiness, integrity, truthfulness, honesty, a noble character. He is touching the hearts of others, living up to his full potential, acting responsible and giving responsibility to others.
A great leader has great communication skills and is always establishing teamwork, knowing that he can achieve only with his group. So he is taking care of the needs of his followers, modelling a good way and being a good example, he is walking his talk. A great leader is one with a good planning, structure and aims, ready for sacrifice, continuously developing his own skills and personality, learning and growing, always seeking knowledge and wisdom, encouraging the development and the strengths of each follower, uniting mankind and reducing thoughts of separateness and hostility.
Muhammad surely was the greatest leader on earth, in the Quran and Sunnah we get huge advice on how to do like he did. To follow his example is my wish, inchaallah.
And for me, Gandalf, as well as manyothers, followed these footsteps on the way towards truth and light.
More to read for example here or see the books on my list: