By Mohammed Asim Alavi
Developing a clear vision for life is essential for success. When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) started his mission he was well aware of the goal he intends to reach in future. In Makka, when the new entrants to Islam were still subjected to terrible forms of persecution, and he was not able to rescue weak companions from the ruthless clutches of the Quraish, he declared his goal as, ‘a day will come when a woman will travel from one corner of Arabia to the other, peacefully without fear except from wild wolves’ (or as he stated). At that time of chaos what he could do was only to advise them to maintain patience. He was utterly confident that he can create such a situation and indeed he did it, as the history shows us.
Creating a clear vision takes time; it requires maturing of ideas and gathering of experiences. If the goal one intends to reach has been clearly defined, the path he chooses comes second. He may make mistakes in the path and the way of approach, but that can be corrected through the process of trial and error. However, his vision should remain clear and intact throughout the journey of his entire life.
It’s learned that Jamaluddin Afghani’s ideas have substantially helped to broaden the vision of Imam Bediuzzaman. He was a gifted personality. Abundance of intelligent and charismatic leadership qualities, which are blessings of Allah, were identified even at the prime of in his childhood. He possessed an enquiring mind and rational thinking to unusual levels. One of his childhood experiences describes the level of intelligence he possessed.
‘…..One night on hearing tin cans clashed together and a rifle being fired, the family rushed out of the house to find it was an eclipse the moon. Said Nursi asked his mother: ‘Why has the moon gone like that? She replied:
‘A snake had swallowed it’. So Said asked:
The why can it still be seen?
‘The snakes in the sky are like glass; they show what they have inside them’.
All those who observed the brilliant spirit he was hiding inside himself expressed amazement about his extraordinary intelligence. It was reported, ‘…The owner of the Tag Medrese, Sheikh Abdur Rahman Tagi, used to show a close interest in the students from (the village of) Nursi….moreover he used to say to the older students:
‘Look after these students from Nursi well, one of them will revivify the religion of Islam, but which of them it will be I do not know at present’. Another renown scholar of the time, Tavasli Hasan Efendi after an scholarly encounter with the young Bediuzzaman had this to say: ‘such a person has not been seen before, he is a rarity of creation. The likes of him has yet to appear’.
He possessed a rare blend of multi-faceted brilliance. That in fact was greatly helpful in acquiring diverse forms of skills and abilities. He went through the experiences of waning stages of the Khilafah Uthmaniyah; Sultan Abdul Hamid’s ambitious Pan-Islamic Unity project, abolishment of the Khilafah, the emergence of anti-Islamic Turkish Republic, the two destructive world wars, and the great despondency the Muslim Ummah had been witnessing. All these varied experiences have immensely contributed in shaping his vision.
One of the best Divine gifts he was endowed with was his ability of using similitude of things. It is the ability to explain complex Qur’anic truths through simplified stories, examples and comparisons. This is a distinguished characteristic of Risale Nur. He said: ‘my Glorious Lord blessed me with the radiance of similitude of things which is from the brightest and most eloquent miracles of the Qur’an. With my impotent, weak and inferior personality in front of my Lord, this is a great blessing He bestowed on me. I used this gift to dig out the mysteries of the Qur’an and make it easier for understanding’.
Everyone learns from mistakes. Imam Bediuzzaman was not an exception to this. As a down-to-earth leader he was accommodative of rectifications. His transformation from Old Said to New Said, then to Third Said indicates his willingness to change and alter course when he found a new and more effective way. This is not unusual for great leaders of our history. Umar Bin Al Khattab (R.A) was a transformed man after he assumed the post of Khalifa, from his pre-Khilafa times. Imam Bediuzzaman told his disciples: ‘understand that surely your Ustaz is not infallible; neither immune from mistakes. It’s totally wrong to believe he is immune from mistakes. However, the presence of one bad apple in an orchard does not spoil the orchard; likewise, the presence of some fake notes in a treasury does not devalue the value of the treasury’.
Adopting flexibility and being accommodative are essential in vision formation. A rigid person who is firmly glued with the past and a person who is adamant in upholding his old diehard ways, how erroneous they may be, cannot develop progressive vision.
A heavy and prime responsibility on the part of a leader is to spell out the vision of his organization or community. Setting out the vision in clear and unambiguous terms would give followers the idea of where to start and where to end their journey; it would help them develop appropriate approaches and means. Imam Bediuzzaman clearly spelled out the vision of Risale Nur Movement as follows:
‘... as for our occupation in this Sacred Islamic Society consist of the followings: Conveying of the truths of Iman contained in the Glorious Qur’an to the students of truth and Iman in the most correct and fairer ways in order to save us and them from permanent death penalty and eternal solitary confinement in the hell-fire...’
(Excerpt from the author’s book, ‘The Positive Warrior’- Thrilling Leadership Lessons from the Life of Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi)