Muhammad - Philosophy, Ethics and Leadership
Born in Mecca, now in Saudi Arabia, and founder of the religion of Islam (meaning peace
and obedience to God or Allah), whose followers are called Muslims.
Muhammad was a successful general and politician, and then a great teacher and preacher to whom God spoke
through the angel Gabriel (pictured right above in Rashid-al-Din Hamadani's 1307 painting).
His kindness and tolerance contrast strongly with the violence
of Islamic terrorists.
His most famous book
The Qur’an - Islam’s holy book, which contains Muhammad’s teachings
Why was he a great leader?
He won people’s hearts with his
- kindness and gentleness (particularly to children and the
2. Tough but kind
He had the courage to:
- make difficult and unpopular decisions.
Like Jesus, he was persecuted for his
views, but forgave his persecutors.
“Guide them on the right path, God, for they know not what they do”, he said ( as Jesus did
3. Servant leader
- served his people’s needs, particularly their spiritual
- treated everyone the same and was impartial in his legal
- encouraged his troops (as a general) to make decisions for themselves by
asking them questions and implementing their decisions
4. Integrity and wisdom
His life’s teaching is summed up in the Qu’ran: “promote good and prevent evil”.
His example inspired all his followers to be good.
- was an honest, wise and good man,
respected by everyone.
- believed in lifelong learning, searching for God’s
wisdom and ethics (acting responsibly without guilt).
- attacked money as “an object of discord, tension and disorder”.
5. Reflection and meditation
He reflected and prayed a lot about:
One day around 610, having given up a successful business career, he was praying in a cave on Mount Hira, near
Muslims believe God spoke to him through the angel Gabriel.
God gave him the name “Messenger of God”. This event is celebrated by the Islamic festival of
6. Tolerance and open-mindedness
He accepted and respected other religions like Judaism and Christianity.
Moses, Jesus (pictured right in
Dirk Bouts' painting from c 1470-75)., Abraham and Adam are all God’s prophets in Islam.
“Unto you your religion and unto me my religion”, he said.
7. Moral leadership
He defeated his enemies with great skill, once successfully defending a city by digging a trench around it.
But he was kind to them in victory, never destroying their land and always releasing
He taught jihad, justifying holy war against wrongful aggressors.
But there is another type of jihad that Muhammad said was more effective, based on passive, spiritual
- comes from moral strength (patience, perseverance and courage).
- involves “speaking truth before a tyrannical leader”.
He had a wonderful wife, Khadijah (pictured right on a sixteenth century medal), who
became the first convert to Islam.
Their happy marriage gave him emotional stability after the trauma of being orphaned aged
Key quotes on
None of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself
None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.
Righteousness is good morality, and wrongdoing is that...which you dislike people finding out about.
To overcome evil with good is good, to resist evil by evil is evil.
Key quote on money
The best richness is the richness of the soul.
Key quotes on God and
Unto you your religion and unto me my religion.
God is gentle and he loves gentleness in everything.
Do you know the thing which most commonly brings people into paradise? It is fear of God and good character.
Key quotes on
Whoever is not merciful to others will not be
The best among you is the best towards people.
Key quote on
It s better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving than to make a mistake in punishing.
Key quote on human resource
Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right,
nor any preference, to claim another. You are brothers.