Professionalism and Excellence

A high level of professionalism is what Allah (SWT) expects from the believers. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allah has prescribed that you do everything in an excellent and in a nice manner …” (Sahih Muslim). The Arabic word Ihsan(excellence) used in this hadith is as significant as it has other relevant meanings e.g., Godliness and beautifulness. In Islam courtesy and humility are the embodiment of excellent manner (Arabic Akhlaq).

Open-mindedness, approachability and fairness are part of a long list of essential qualities for a Muslim. In times of disagreement within a family or organisation courtesy is highly desirable before one’s ego sets in and relationships turn sour. Courtesy does not cost anything and it is a higher level of charity (Arabic, Sadaqah); it could even start with a simple smile that brings people closer. Humility is a deeper form of spirituality that helps to bring hearts together.

A natural code of conduct is vital for internal harmony, especially in the wake of the global weakening of moral fibre in behaviour and public ethics. Key features that make life more professional and effective, particularly in organisations such as Masjids and community bodies, are mentioned below.

  • Transparency and accountability: One of the biggest challenges in governance and management is bringing transparency and accountability in all dealings. As a simple example, Friday Jum’ah cash collection boxes in a Masjid should be counted in the presence of independent witnesses and the amount of collection should be pinned on the notice board that very day.

  • Candid honesty: Muslims are brothers in faith (Al-Qur’an 49:10), however, according to a hadith “One believer is a mirror to another” (Abu Dawud). This means a Muslim has a responsibility to rectify another Muslim’s fault, albeit in an honest, courteous and gentle way. The culture of “brotherhood” (the pejorative term is Biradari in some communities which lacks the candidness of feedback) could be one of the causes of organisational under performance or failure. Merit-based professionalism is essential and there must be a relentless effort to professionalise our Masjids, community bodies or even social media groups to perform better.

  • Clarity in communication: A successful organisation uses clarity, conciseness, and precision as tools to reach out to its own members on the one hand and relevant partners or agencies on the other. Clear internal and external communication is vital to prevent misunderstanding and mistrust amongst members and stakeholders. Successful organisations encourage human interactions and make optimum use of all relevant communication methods.

  • Ethos of team-working: The individual rights and obligations should never be ignored, whether working independently or in group or team endeavours. The spirit of everyone serving everyone brings humility and develops a better team spirit whilst also bringing synergy and positive attitudes to achieve the organisational goals.

  • A positive culture: A culture should be based on shared values with a “glass half-full” attitude and mutual empathy. This ensures better performance. Role models or exemplars in the management can help create a positive culture through peer influences.
  • Consultation: Consultation should be part and parcel of group decision making, whether in a family or a government. Divine wisdom teaches us its importance, “Their affairs are based on consultation among them” (Al-Qur’an 42:38). Consultation must be genuine and entrenched as an essential practice, not just for kick-boxing.

Conclusions

The key to success in this world and the Hereafter is to remain purposeful and disciplined in life. As humans we must not lose sight that we have a divine purpose on earth. People of faith have often misunderstood or misused their religious texts and contexts; some have resorted to extremism on either ends, despite being asked to remain in the middle way (Al-Qur’an 2:143). It is time we recognise our pitfalls, try our best to bring professionalism, humility and excellence in whatever we do to create a decent society.

By:Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, MBE is a British Bangladeshi educationalist, civil society activist &  parenting consultant. He is an honorary Fellow of Queen Mary University of London and Honorary Doctor of Education at the University of East London. His memoirs, A Long Jihad: My Quest for the Middle Way, is available on Amazon. Email:amanaparenting@gmail.com

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