IRD with the collaboration of Positive Solutions arranged a one-day training workshop under the title of

“How to be an Effective Religious Leader”

At Da’wah Academy’s center at AhsanAbad Karachi. 28 Ulama’s from Jamiatur Rasheed, Jamiah Alikhwan, and other Madaris of Karachi participated in the workshop. 

This workshop was initially planned with 4 sessions but due to the Pakistan Air space closing, Mr. Hasan Aftab and Dr. Aziz ur Rehman could not reach in time. Rest of the two sessions were conducted by Dr. Attique Raza and Mr. Bilal Idrees. 

In his first session, Dr. Attique Raza stressed on the need for a capacity building for Ulama’s.

He discussed the importance of Ulama’s role in society. He calculated the impact an Alim can create if he has 300 people in his Juma sermon and will continue leading them for almost 35 years on average. It makes 546,000 human interactions in his career. Now it is his responsibility to see how he can use these interactions to bring a positive change in his community and in the society at large. 

In this journey of spreading the chair around, Alim’s first step should be designing a vision for his service as a religious leader. He should ask himself what challenges of the society he would like to address and what are the skills needed in this way? Once done, he should then focus on achieving the results he envisioned. 

Dr. Attique further discussed 4 types of leadership i.e.

  1. Position based leadership,
  2. Vision-based leadership,
  3. Strength-based leadership 
  4. Knowledge-based leadership.

Position-based leadership is where you lead people because of the authority or position you are given in society. In this kind of leadership, people respect you because they have to. Vision-based leadership is when you have some vision to develop, change, uplift, or transform people’s lives. People respect you because of your foresightedness and your desire to help them.  Strength-based leadership is where people follow you because of the strength or skill you have. Because of your skill, you become the leader in the industry or in some particular field. Knowledge-based leadership is when you have deep knowledge or understanding about some field and people get benefit from you. An Alim should strive for vision and knowledge-based leadership. He should acquire profound knowledge in some particular area and make a vision to help people improve their lives in that particular area.

Providing intellectual input and guidance for daily life, awakening the society and working on human development, playing the role of guardian for social, ethical, and religious values are a few of the core responsibilities of a visionary and knowledgeable religious leader.

Moreover, Dr. Attique also described the 4 areas of human existence and the needs humans have in all four areas. These areas are:

  1. Body
  2. Heart
  3. Mind
  4. Soul.

If any of these areas remain underdeveloped and the needs are not met, the achievement of a fulfilled life remains impossible.

In the 2nd session, Mr. Bilal Idrees talked about the paradigm shift in our social, economic and cultural realms. He mentioned two major shifts in our thinking.

  •  We have started focusing on the symptoms of evils around, ignoring the elements that are causing these evils. For example, we discuss in our mosques that our youth is ideologically confused and has a big question mark on their morals and character traits. Unfortunately, very few of our religious leaders are able to analyze the root causes of these issues which include collapsing families, horrible parenting strategies, limitless use of media, and so on and so forth. If we want to fix the problems in our youth we must have to deal with the causes. The same goes for all the social evils we are going thru.
  • We focus on external beauty or outer elements of everything and ignore the internal part of it. Marriage standards today, are a beautiful example to elaborate this point. People have made ‘beauty’ a criterion for marriage, whereas, in reality, it does not contribute much to living a happy and healthy marital life. These are internal traits of human beings that bring harmony and peace into the relationship. And the same concept applies in many areas of our daily life.

Mr. Bilal stressed that if we want to preserve our religious, social, and cultural norms, we must mention these dangerous paradigm shifts in our talks and train people to make decisions differently.

He further added that disorganization and indiscipline are the enemies of effective Da’wah work. We should take guidance from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s life. He went thru 4 stages of his mission and played the best of his role at every stage. We also need to look into ourselves at which stage we are standing and what traits we are required to develop in ourselves to get thru this stage.

Dr. Shahzad channa concluded the session with his remarks about the importance of Ulama’s role and their responsibility towards the elevation of Pakistani society in particular and the Muslim Ummah in general.