Romaan Basit, Graduate, Jamia Ahmadiyya UK
Boris Johnson became a staple name in the headlines, more often for the wrong reasons. Controversy has always surrounded him, with Partygate being his most recent and arguably biggest tussle. Lockdown regulations were flouted, just as they were by his former chief advisor Dominic Cummings – all whilst people watched loved ones die over Zoom. With the public infuriated, he gradually lost the trust of his nation and even his own party – hence the no-confidence vote. Cutting the long story short, he ended up resigning, and now Liz Truss takes his seat.
The UK has been through a leadership crisis. Whether I was right to use the past tense or not, only time will tell. Trust in those on top is plummeting, and more people are beginning to question the efficacy of democracy and even the very validity of the concept behind it.
A recent study by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that 63% of Britons saw politicians as merely “out for themselves”, and roughly the same amount, around 60%, were unhappy with the functionality of democracy. If our leaders do not act in the national or public interest, and rather for personal gain, the system of democracy is, naturally, destined to crumble. The “for the people, by the people” slogans turn into nothing but a cliché from a bygone era.
Global leadership pandemic and dwindling trust in democracy
What is, or should be, more alarming, is the fact that this is not just a British problem. In America, public trust in the government has tumbled to a staggering 20% according to a PEW Research report. Even though President Biden was nationally elected, 70% of Americans don’t want him to stand for re-election. The battle between Macron and Le Pan in France boiled down to the lesser of two evils for many – the policies of both being more problematic than the other. And in Pakistan, although one thinks twice about whether to even discuss it as a democracy, Imran Khan was removed as Prime Minister to make way for Shahbaz Sharif, who was elected in his place. The list of such nations goes on.
Hence, the leadership crisis seems to have turned into a global pandemic. Such crises are picked up by the media instantly, especially when they happen in Western democracies.
Because democracy, Western in particular, has always been deemed the most successful form of leadership; in fact, to some, the only form of leadership. And now with the increasing mistrust of people in this system of governance, the entire institution of democracy seems to be falling apart. This is made clear by the research cited above.
In a democratic system, people vote for their representative in the government. In most cases, it is more about party-loyalty than loyalty to the individual running for the post. Thus, we end up strengthening a certain political party in essence, regardless of the individual holding their ticket. This can be understood from some parts of the map turning blue, or red, as newscasters announce election results as they come in on an election night.
The recent UK debacle is an example of this problem. Boris Johnson, who came to power with the largest mandate in recent British history, was coerced to leave and when he left – along with his mandate – the party remained.
The new prime minister had to be the new chairman of the Conservative party, and in the running were a small handful of people to choose from. The choice was limited as was the number of people deciding who was to chair their party. In the final round, where party members chose one out of two contestants, the British population – with no say in such an important matter – sat at home, in front of their tellies, waiting to be told who their new “democratic” leader was.
Does the perfect leadership exist?
So, there is strong evidence to suggest that democracy is failing. The quest to find the perfect leadership strategy has always been difficult. Dictatorships tried and failed, and are now abhorred for what they stand for. Theocracies have also failed the test of time.
Religious leaderships of many sorts have also been tested and left aside. Take Muslims for example. Guidance is sought from the Holy Quran for all affairs. Some Muslim leaders and clerics however promote their stark misinterpretations of the text as “original Islamic teaching”. Quranic commentary has become a free-for-all with anyone interpreting, or misinterpreting, any verse to suit the leadership’s agenda. An example is Khomeini’s edict on Salman Rushdie – which was evidently against the teachings of Islam – but was generally accepted by many Muslim circles.
This situation begs the questions: Where do we go from here? Is there any form of true and successful leadership in the world?
This is simply why the head of a Muslim sect chose to write to world leaders many years ago – when it was the right time. The tide of this global leadership crisis could have been turned if heed was paid to the simple and pragmatic message of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
It was a set of solutions that he provided to the major world leaders, but the one that tops the list is: No justice, no peace.
The golden principle: No justice, no peace
His Holiness described to world leaders not only the remedy to the ailing state of the world but also how he had diagnosed it. He identified that leaders were putting their political gains first before addressing national problems. And if nations were stable or “developed”, they were eating up other nations by usurping their rights and depriving them of their independence.
His conclusion, painful as it is, has been that no one seems to care for humanity as a whole. No leader or superpower sees that humanity as a whole needs to progress and not a single nation or political party.
His message is just as unique as it is effective. Just as every nation needs a leader, humanity as a whole is in dire need of streamlined leadership, spearheaded by one leader. Not one with political motives or personal desires, but one who leads with an agenda of God. Why is this necessary? Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa explains:
“Human intellect is not perfect, and is in fact limited. […] God’s Law, however, is perfect with no vested interests or unfair provisions. This is because God only desires for the good and betterment of His creation and therefore, His Law is based entirely on justice. The day the people of the world come to understand this crucial point will be the day that the foundation for true and everlasting peace will be laid.” (World Crisis and the Pathway to Peace, p. 85)
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masihaa has seen that greed, be it of a leader to cling on to power or a nation usurping the rights or resources of another, lies at the heart of the global unrest:
“Greed for any envy of the wealth of others is a cause of increasing restlessness in the world. […] Greedy competition on a national basis started and led to the destruction of world peace. This is proven by history and every sensible person can assess that the desire for the wealth of others causes envy and greed to grow and is the source of loss.” (Ibid, p. 18)
On countless occasions, Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa has travelled to congresses and parliaments all over the world spreading this message of the Holy Quran. In Capitol Hill, he spoke about the importance of truthfulness and setting aside personal interests for the common good:
“The Holy Quran states that even if you have to testify against yourself, or your parents or your most loved ones, then you must do so in order to uphold justice and to uphold the truth.” (Ibid, p. 87)
We see that this is lacking greatly in the international political theatre, where no leader and nation is ready to admit their mistakes. Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa has always highlighted this as a solution to all problems – personal to national, transnational to international.
In the same address at Capitol Hill, he spoke on the relationship between strong and weak nations:
“Powerful and rich countries should not usurp the rights of the poor and weaker countries in an effort to preserve their own rights, and nor should they deal with the poorer nations in an unjust fashion.” (Ibid, p. 87)
The Holy Quran has made it clear that the only superiority one can have over another is piety and righteousness. All other worldly bases of superiority are left null and void. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa has reminded world leaders many a time:
“In the Holy Quran, God Almighty has made it clear that whilst our nationalities or ethnic backgrounds act as a means of identity, they do not entitle or validate any form of superiority of any kind” (Ibid, p. 86)
He has made it clear that the Islamic way of achieving global peace is by putting aside any personal interests and striving for global justice and harmony:
“In short, if we desire for peace to be established in the world, then we must leave aside our personal and national interests for the greater good and instead we must establish mutual relations that are based entirely on justice. Otherwise, some of you might agree with me that due to alliances, blocs may be formed in future—or I can even say they have started forming—and it is not unlikely that disorder will continue to increase in the world, which will ultimately lead to a huge destruction.” (Ibid, p. 91)
The world must adhere
While the world has tried all forms of governance, it is about time that political leaders turn to the message given by the man with no personal or political goals; the man who sees humanity as one large family; the man who stands for the rights of humanity and not a particular people or social class or nation. The man who calls to the Holy Quran to seek deliverance from the political and social pandemics that have engulfed the entire world.