By: Meshkat Haque
I went to my first MY Ireland camp 6 years ago, and if I remember correctly I think it was called ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’. The camp poster had all the designs and tricks to appeal to a girl like me – there was an eagle soaring high against a nostalgic grainy backdrop and a quote so captivating that I knew I had to register for it right away. It said “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” – an incredibly insightful quote accredited to the late Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him).
Throughout my stay at the camp I made more friends than I could’ve imagined, shared jokes and laughed my heart out. I was so inspired to continue to excel in my deen when I was able to relate to the struggles of my newly forged friends. Although, there was one memory that resided in me like a seed, and till this day it continues to grow with large strong branches and bear its fruits. I remember the organisers panicking, and scampering about to stick to their schedule where they were already running late (a new stress added to a string of mishaps, including the speaker being stopped at the airport and denied his visa!). In addition to this, the pipes in the main kitchen broke and before you know it, it started rainin’ men!
My team was on rota for kitchen cleaning and we started mopping up furiously, scurrying around looking for thick material to hold down the pipes together and mop up the mess, but it just all got messier. All the group leaders ignored it, walked about leisurely in the dining area and ushered the other girls to the lecture. Mind you – I was getting annoyed at their apathy. However, the head sister walked in to inspect our dilemma and what she did next remained with me till now. She was wearing a formal black blazer and a cream coloured embroidered skirt, and despite that, she got on her knees and mopped up the muck that was pouring out from the pipes until we managed to get help from the staff. She insisted we stop waiting around for her and her sorry messy situation before we miss anymore of the lecture. All of this got me thinking about what it really meant to be a “leader”, it’s one of those words that’s tossed around a lot, and currently it’s become as trivial as it is to be the admin of a whatsapp group! Or it’s the guy/or girl that gives orders and the rest begrudgingly obey. I guess what I learnt in that instant is that the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own.
And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”
The Holy Quran [2:30] I came across something incredible in a book I read; that “leadership is not a license to do less, it is a responsibility to do more”.
Allah has appointed every single one of us as a leader of a khalifa, each of us have a small empire we need to be running, be it your class, your sports team or even inspiring your siblings. Truth be told, whether we like it or not, we have to embrace this duty wholeheartedly, even if it means that we have to get on our knees in our nicest outfit and mop up mud and slime. That’s the price of being a leader.