Human’s Rights In Imam Ali’s letter to Malik al-Ashtar (2)

Human’s Rights In Imam Ali’s letter to Malik al-Ashtar (2)

8. Everyone is a small cog in a big machine:

Imam Ali (PBUH) Guides: “Know that the people consist of classes who prosper only with the help of one another, and they are not independent of one another.”

When leading a group of people or an organization, everyone has a role to play from those at the top to those doing the hands-on jobs. Imam Ali (PBUH) says all these roles are important and if one is devalued, the whole body is devalued. This is a clear indication of team-ethic that the Imam is promoting and ensuring everyone is working together.

9. Always give people the credit they deserve:

Imam (PBUH) Also commanded: “Appreciate the performance of every one of them, do not attribute the performance of one to the other, and do not minimize the reward below the level of the performance. The high position of a man should not lead you to regard his small deeds as big, nor should the low position of a man make you regard his big deeds as small.”

We have all experienced a situation where someone else gets the credit for the work you have done. Some people are able to get over this as they don’t work for praise or credit. However, Imam Ali says a leader should not be someone who is stingy in praising and rewarding the people that work for them. It is such a good feeling when your boss gives you credit for something you done or, conversely, ignores your hard work. Interestingly, he later states in the letter to make sure you pay people well for doing important jobs because they deserve it.

10. Never treat people favorably due to relationship with you:

“Give them appointment after tests and do not appoint them according to partiality or favoritism, because these two things constitute sources of injustice and unfairness.”

One of the worst things in the society is people getting favorable treatment due to their relationship with powerful people. Islamic history is full of this as well as in contemporary society. Imam Ali, the voice of human justice, warns against nepotism and cronyism. Appoint people well qualified to do the job, not because they are your friend or relation. This is a true test of someone in a position of leadership since not giving favors to your close ones may turn their opinion of you into a negative one. Yet, Imam says you must uphold justice regardless. Remember Imam Ali’s reaction when his brother Aqeel asked him for extra money from the treasury? This is a consistent trait he holds.

11. Listen to constructive criticism

Imam also commanded: “Fix a time for complainants wherein you make yourself free for them, and sit for them in common audience and feel humble therein for the sake of Allah who created you. (On that occasion) you should keep away your army and your assistants such as the guards and the police so that anyone who like to speak may speak to you without fear…”

As humans, we all love to hear our praises be sung. However, the most successful leaders want to know how to improve. Imam Ali (PBUH) emphasizes this but look at the beauty of how he also describes what environment to do this in. When people air their grievances to you, make them feel as comfortable as possible and remove any obstacles that will stop them from not expressing their true feelings. This will also humble you as a leader.

12. Show your face:

“Do not keep yourself secluded from the people for a long time, because the seclusion of those in authority from the subjects is a kind of narrow-sightedness and causes ignorance about their affairs.”

Being an invisible leader creates an environment of mistrust. People will ask questions as to what is going on behind closed doors and question how things are being run. How demeaning is it when your boss doesn’t even know your name? Keep an open-door policy; mingling with the people you lead will ensure that you are aware of what is going on as well as them seeing you as a human being and one of them.

13. Communicate clearly:

Imam prohibited: “Do not enter into an agreement which may admit of different interpretations and do not change the interpretation of vague words after the conclusion and confirmation (of the agreement).”

Whether you are sending an email or speaking verbally, be clear in what you say. Islam has a strong tradition of writing things down into contracts with witnesses and Imam Ali (PBUH) continues in this spirit. This is so there is no chance of confusion should an issue arise at a later time. Ensure you speak in a way in which everyone understands. Eloquence is one thing but confusing jargon to impress people is another.

14. Be organized:

Imam added: “Assign every matter its proper place and do every job at the appropriate time.”

Imam Ali instructs Malik to be organized. Give everything a time-slot and be diligent. Being organized is one of the best skills you can have. It will give you a work-life balance, less stress and ensure you get each job done properly. As a leader, if you are organized, the people you lead will mirror this and show more trust in you.