ISIP Tarbiyah Lecture | Raising Leaders in Islam by Dr. Fatima Cheikh (Summary)

Summary notes by Fathima Sameer

The ongoing events in Gaza highlight the resilience and fortitude of its people, navigating daily crises amidst a war-torn landscape. From afar, we often feel helpless, mere spectators to their enduring struggle. Yet, in the face of such adversity, a remarkable transformation is taking place among the youngest generation. Today’s children are demonstrating unexpected maturity and a keen understanding of complex realities far beyond their years. This observation underscores the urgent need to nurture and raise our children to become the leaders of tomorrow.

A recent classroom discussion provides valuable insights into how we can achieve this. The teacher posed three thought-provoking questions to the students and gathered their insightful responses:

Why did the prophet Muhammad (S) lead the prophets in salah at Byth Al Muqaddis?

Why not any other prophet? What is the significance of this imamat and leadership for us as Muslims?

Are we leading in today’s time? And why?

The children, aged between five and ten, provided a variety of answers to the first question. They answered because Rasool (S) was the last prophet, the best among people, exceptionally kind-hearted, and the most merciful. Regarding the significance, they responded, “It’s a message for us to lead. We also need to lead. We are the best of the Ummah, and our prophet is the best of all the prophets.”

When asked if we are leading in today’s time, the children unanimously said, “No.” They explained that we are not leading because we are not following the instructions of Allah, are not good Muslims, and are not reading the Quran. Their responses reflect a deep awareness of the current situation and the importance of spiritual and moral guidance.

The teacher then asked, “Who is a leader?” The children responded thoughtfully, describing a leader as someone who worships Allah, reads the Quran, makes dua, and follows Allah and His Prophet. They also emphasized qualities like helping others, giving to charity, being kind and respectful, apologizing when necessary, and always doing what is right. These responses highlight the essence of leadership qualities rooted in spiritual and emotional intelligence.

Our children are seeking leaders within our homes. As the saying goes, “Each of you is a shepherd, and each of you is responsible for his flock.” In the family, the father is a leader. We must reflect on whether we are performing our duties as leaders effectively. Are we demonstrating proper Salah to our children? Are we offering prayers for Palestine and inviting our children to join us? Our kids understand what is right and wrong and look to us for guidance.

Evaluating both emotional and spiritual intelligence is crucial in selecting leaders. In some countries, couples check their health status before marriage; similarly, assessing emotional intelligence is important. Individuals with issues in these areas can negatively impact their children’s lives, ultimately affecting society and the world.

Islamic history provides numerous examples of young leaders who embody these qualities. For instance, Usama ibn Zaid, at just 17, was entrusted by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to lead an army. Despite his youth, he proved to be a capable and successful leader. Muhammad Al-Fatih, who conquered Constantinople, was meticulously prepared for leadership from a young age, mastering various disciplines and languages. Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi, known for his valour and compassion, devoted his life to the service of Islam and his subjects, exemplifying true leadership.

Islamic history is rich with remarkable leaders such as ‘Abdurrahman Ad-Dhakil and Alp Arslan (Muhammad ibn Dāwūd). ‘Abdurrahman Ad-Dhakil, a descendant of the Umayyads, faced relentless pursuit by enemies from Sham to Spain, where he eventually became a great leader in Andalusia at just 25. Alp Arslan, known as the “heroic lion,” was renowned for his mercy and generosity, even towards his enemies.

All these leaders shared common traits: exemplary manners, character, asceticism (zuhd), and piety (taqwa). They possessed spiritual intelligence from a young age, were Hafizs, and were well-versed in Islamic Sharia, fiqh, and multiple languages. They also had military knowledge and skills, along with an understanding of mathematics, physics, and astronomy.

Role of Parents in Shaping Leaders

The upbringing of these leaders was significantly influenced by their parents. For example, Sultan Mohammed Al Fatih’s mother instilled in him the ambition to conquer Constantinople by showing him the city walls and encouraging him to aspire for greatness through the Quran, power, weaponry, and people’s love. Similarly, Salahuddin’s father emphasized the importance of liberating Quds (Jerusalem), instilling a sense of responsibility and purpose in him.

Parenting Insights for Raising Leaders

Know Yourself: Self-awareness is crucial for good parenting. Understand your strengths, weaknesses, and values to lead by example. Children learn from observing consistent and authentic behaviour.

Be Honest and Transparent: Sharing your mistakes and problem-solving processes with your children teaches them honesty and accountability. It also shows that making mistakes is a natural part of life.

Understand Developmental Stages: Knowledge of your child’s developmental phases helps you support their mental, physical, and emotional growth effectively. Adjust expectations according to their age and abilities to foster their strengths and address weaknesses.

Focus on Strengths and Weaknesses: Support your child in pursuing their passions while helping them overcome weaknesses. Encourage their dreams, whether they aspire to be artists or athletes, rather than imposing your own unfulfilled ambitions.

Guide Them in Faith: Instill a strong sense of religious identity and values. Teach the importance of the five pillars of Islam, the six articles of faith (iman), and the concept of ihsan (spiritual excellence). Nurture a sincere prayer practice with kindness and understanding rather than compulsion.

Learn from Mistakes: Teach children through their mistakes with love and guidance. Avoid being abusive or overly authoritative. Recognize their efforts and correct them gently, fostering a learning environment based on mutual respect and growth.


Parents play a crucial role in shaping the future leaders of the Ummah. By embodying the qualities they wish to instil, guiding their children with wisdom and kindness, and nurturing their spiritual and personal growth, parents can raise a generation capable of making a significant difference in the world.

Link to the lecture (71) ISIP Tarbiyah | Raising Leaders in Islam |Dr. Fatima Cheikh – YouTube

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