We have discussed previously the importance of quality over quantity and how we should focus on the development of people. This lesson is related to that one in that it gives us something to measure our success or lack thereof by.
It is true that we should be concerned about our efforts more than the results and that sometimes a person or group will do all that they can and still not see the fruits of their efforts. This was clearly shown through the story of Noah, `alayhi as-salaam (peace and blessings upon him), in the Qur’an where he called to Islam for centuries and still only ended up with a handful of followers. However, at the same time, it is important to look to certain things to figure out if we are having real success with our people or not.
Some of the practical day-to-day indicators for this are the prayers and classes. Efforts like the youth group and other mostly social-based activities are means by which to draw people closer to the community and masjid (mosque) so that they can come closer to God, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). One of the main indicators of this is whether or not they attend the prayers. This is also an indicator for ourselves. If we do not find that we are more encouraged to attend prayers in the masjid then there is a problem in how things are coming together for us. We can also tell this through attendance at classes. Classes take more effort than social activities but they also indicate that people are taking serious steps towards making themselves more grounded in their faith.
These are both things that lead to people who are firmly founded in knowledge and worship and therefore are qualified for leadership. The real question of success is whether or not you leave leaders behind. Charismatic leaders are a fact of life and have their place but the work should never be dependent upon one individual. If things are structured well and efforts are put into developing people then when one leaves, one’s place will be taken by another. The work will not stop. If work is done for years, but there are no people to show for it, then the efforts may have been put in the wrong place.
Ibrahim (as) understood this and that is why when God (swt) tells him that he will make him a leader in the earth he asks,
“And as for my descendants?” God replies by saying, “My covenant does not apply to the wrongdoers,” (Qur’an 2:124).
Ibrahim (as) understood that the message of Islam is about more than one person, and that if righteousness is to continue in the earth, then it must have bearers who can carry the message of truth. God (swt) gives him an indirect answer which basically implies that if they are righteous then His promise will apply to them too but if not, then no. As we work and organize, we should always be planning for the future and trying to plant the seeds of goodness and righteousness in the potential leaders of the coming years.