“Calm Personality”, Leadership Lessons from the Life of Imam Bediuzzaman


By Mohammed Asim Alavi

Leadership Lessons from the Life of Imam Bediuzzaman

“Calm Personality”

Maintaining calmness in tense situations has been identified as an important trait of a leader. Calmness is an important trait in decision making. A leader’s charisma is not found in firing inflammatory orations and mobilizing followers through provocative actions. A responsible leader is always moderately cautious in driving his followers in the desired direction.

Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) had accomplished marvellous tasks by leading a great revolution. He led many successful battles and conquered Makka in a bloodless encounter. Notwithstanding all these he was a calm personality. The following Hadeeth depicts this clearly:

‘..Narrated ‘Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) A group of Jews entered upon the Prophet and said, “As-Samu-Alaikum.” (i.e. death be upon you). I understood it and said, “Wa-Alaikum As-Samu wal-la’n. (death and the curse of Allah be Upon you).” Allah’s Apostle said “Be calm, O ‘Aisha! Allah loves that one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Haven’t you heard what they (the Jews) have said?” Allah’s Apostle said “I have (already) said (to them) “And upon you!(W Alaikum)[1].

This calmness should not be misunderstood as pessimism at all. Pessimism is equal to laziness not calmness. A leader’s true calmness comes to light when he responds to tense and volatile situations. A truly brave leader displays the quality of calmness whereas an emotional leader displays the quality of frantic desperation. One should not misconstrue that a calm person would not get angry or get into quick actions. He certainly possesses the ability to manage emotions and judge different situations, but what he does not is rash action.

In all provocative and tense situations, Imam Bediuzzaman had behaved with utmost calmness. Even during his court cases, he took it to handle with calmness. In later years, a chief judge who used to hear one of his cases said:

He was an intelligent person. He foresaw the result of the trial from the way it was going. He did not display the slightest trace of anxiety or excitement, and was relaxed and at ease as though speaking with his friends in his house…..[2]

The following is only one out of many incidents on how he used to handle tense situations with complete calmness. This is related with the famous ‘Sheikh Said Revolt’. It was a popular revolt against the radical anti-Islamic moves orchestrated by Kemalist secular republic of Turkey around the year 1925. It was led by Sheikh Said Isyani, a popular figure in the Eastern Turkey. The rebellion failed to achieve what it desired and eventually Sheikh Said was captured and ruthlessly executed by the authorities.

‘……Although the government of the time knew very well, he (Imam Bediuzzaman) did not have any role in the (Sheikh Said) revolt, he was arrested along with other tribal leaders and prominent figures in the eastern province and exiled together to Western Anatolia….. an army detachment raided the cave which Imam Bediuzzaman used as a place for prayers and contemplation. Leader of the detachment behaved in a very rude manner with Imam Bediuzzaman. However, his reaction to this rude behaviour was somewhat courageous and similar to electrifying the entire area all of a sudden. When they began marching with him and walked a few yards, some of his disciples and the village folks approached him and talked in Kurdish language (which the officers did not understand). They pleaded with him not to go with the army assuring him to sacrifice everything in their disposal to save him and take him to any unknown place or any other Muslim country. But he did not agree with them and said, he is going with the army with complete willingness; further, he advised them to return to their homes quietly, saying there is no need for anxiety….[3]

Imam Bediuzzaman believed that ultimately it’s the Truth that’s going to win, hence he didn’t find any need for haste or revolt. One beauty of his personality was his ability to maintain calmness of mind even amidst the chaos of war. One can imagine the degree of calmness and peace of mind he was endowed with for writing a marvellous Tafsir of the Qur’an as Isharatul I’jaz inside the bunker and on horseback while fighting was raging on with great intensity!

Calmness of mind is a very important contributory factor for sound decision making.

(Excerpt from the author’s book, ‘The Positive Warrior’- Thrilling Leadership Lessons from the Life of Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi – Asım Alavi)



[1] Bukhari – No:73-53

[2] Sukran Vahide – ibid, p 339

[3] Ihsan Qasim Assalihi – p 208