When iron rusts, engines fail.
When a man vested with the interests of the many, uses it for the furtherance of his own interests then that is the rust on the cogs and wheels of our society.
Hypocrisy rusts the heart, and critical self examination is it's balming oil. For the heart is the engine through which our actions can mark themselves out as being good deeds.
Abu Bakr (as) when he was asked to take a stipend from the treasury so that he could best fulfil the affairs of state, was constantly anxious, in his heart, as to whether it was in excess of his needs. Umar (ra) scrupulously recognised where the affairs of state ended and his began, as when he extinguished the lighting of an oil lamp mid conversation.
But with Uthman (ra) the insidiousness of corruption crept ever so silently in. For what harm could possibly come from appointing adept people to positions of authority, even though they might be related to you?
Uthman (ra) obtained his position at the table of the "blessed ten" because he did not retaliate nor did he unjustly slay any Muslim. He (ra) was a man full of heart.
That Uthman (ra) was of the blessed ten is not in doubt, nor that with his appointment entered a corruption that ended with the Kingship of the Ummayads.
This then suggests that corruption is inevitable; for when man is weak and not insightful enough, but good nevertheless, then corruption can and does inevitably creep in.
Plato suggested that statesmanship is an art, part learnt and part something that you are gifted with. And that people who have that ability will not suffer to let anyone less able determine the affairs of all others, including their own.
Was this a prescription of him who had seen the folly of democracy?
Or a description of it?
After all each man that claims the democratic right to lead, today, does so on the basis of his ability.
An improvement over the claims based on authority from before, but no less arbitrary.
A willingness to wield power, after all, does not guarantee neither the ability to do so, nor the foresight required of one, nor an incorruptible heart.
A democrat might argue that at the very least a Politician's ability lies in his persuasion. That is until you counter that big business has caught up with Politics, which now seems to be all about branding, and no substance. About where the quick advantage is had.
So what are the qualities that truly make a great leader?
In Muslim political theory the first is that he must not want it.
He must recognise that it is a sacred duty, not taken lightly.
He must have foresight, and lead by both example and through consultation.
And possibly the greatest is that he must be a man of heart, but an incorruptible heart.
Conviction is not nearly enough.
For whilst Tony Blair fought with conviction, a Mujahid fights with his heart evinced by his compassion. But the fight, though tempered by heart, is no less.
The affairs of state are a fight.
A fight with yourself against the slightest slip into corruption.
A fight against the favour that you might show to your family and friends, and the hypocrisy that goes with it.
For with nepotism whilst you might wash your hands, at night of it, by saying, "it was nothing, only a trifling thing", is the beginning of a corruption that you will be called to account for.
An account that you should fear no matter how small.
How much better the reply of the Messenger of GOD (saw) when the Ansar complained, after Fatah Mecca, that he had rewarded the nobles of Mecca and Taif but had forgotten them?
How much the worse the people who hope for leadership for themselves, or their sons, and think that by doing so they are performing a sacred duty towards the religion?
They neglect their hearts.
And their hearts tremble not with fear.
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