We are seeing how stakeholder networks and Web2.0 are driving increasingly dynamic communications, which are both influencing and engaging more parties. The result is the creation of ‘collective individuals’, who converge around culturally embedded and ‘human’ brands; and supports the idea of Global identities, which enhance local cross-border sub-cultures. In the face of this, Transformational Leadership is a powerful tool for shaping the thoughts, feelings and actions of empowered clusters of engaged stakeholders.
A key question is how could this look from an Islamic perspective?
The legacy of Islamic scholarship
In 1377 classical North African Islamic Scholar, Ibn Khaldun, wrote The Muqaddimah [Translated as: Introduction to Universal History]. This text by many is regarded as being significant in influencing thought, within both Eastern and Western social sciences. Ibn Khaldun argues that people fall into two general categories: city dwellers, who enjoy an urban sedentary lifestyle; and those who live in harsh nomadic conditions. When looking specifically at Muslims, with Arabic being the language of Islam, Ibn Khaldun also groups Muslims into two broad camps: which differentiates individuals according to (1) linguistic and (2) cultural Arabization. Ibn Khaldun asserts that intellect, scholarship, science and refined culture (such as the arts), evolved through urban linguistic Arabs.
Transformational Leadership in the here and now
From these I argue that the heart, limbs and soul of Islam were carried forward by urbanites, who sought to maintain a strong connection with nature. The concept of a nomadic existence was admired as a demonstration of an individual’s ability to tolerate austerity and detach themselves from worldly vices. I suggest that this admiration has lead to a romanticised view, steeped in emotive storytelling. However, wherever Islam spread, practically centres of development and conurbations were always hallmarks of Muslim successes. Therefore, the interpretation of Islamic texts and practices by early Muslims is largely undertaken by urbanites and demonstrates the ability of Islam to work alongside progression and change. I would go further in asserting that the most significant innovations will arise from transformative leadership, which embraces and galvanises a broad-base of cultures.
The following model captures how I think this all looks:
So what of the future? Be prepared to witness the reigns being taken by a generation of informed, self-mediating, empowered and technologically savvy urbanites. For them, heritage is progressive: embracing the eradication of hierarchy and knowledge simply translating to power. Instead: diverse networks; the sharing and adaptation of information; and ultimately the positioning of Islam as a ‘co-brand’ with other spheres of life offer more of a pull. So perhaps it could be argued that we are coming full-circle to the early golden days – where Islam gifted social mobility and empowerment through structured innovation. Moving forward, Muslims seem set to move towards greater collaborative consumption and new ways of interpreting what faith means – and how it shapes life in the here and now.