Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah once said: it’s is better for people to endure under a tyrant for 100 years than it is for them to go one night without a leader. The general rule regarding leadership is that without it, one can only expect chaos and disharmony. Religious leadership in Islam is a necessity mandated by divine law; (daroorah shar’iyyah) and something that Muslim people, wherever they may reside, should never be without.
There is no such thing as a perfect leader; some are better than others. Leaders and followers both learn through the experience if they are fortunate. Leaders are people and as per their nature, people change from state to state. Ignorant leaders can learn or receive advice, weak leaders can find strength, arrogant leaders can learn humility, unjust leaders can become just, and inexperienced leaders can become wise with time. Of course the opposite can be true with respect to all of the above.
The truth is, no one really knows in advance just how well a leader will perform in discharging his duties. Leaders die, and are succeeded by another and in some cases, leaders are voted in and out of office. Some leaders are removed for various reasons and replaced by someone else who may be better or worse then the previous one, and there are leaders, that have been forcibly deposed, overthrown, or assassinated.
A leader can inspire you as well as cause you to loose heart. Oftentimes there are layers of leadership so if there is a void, someone can step up from behind and serve in his stead. Throughout Muslim history, there have been numerous types of leaders at different times, for different Muslim peoples, and each had their own set of responsibilities, sphere of authority, function and challenges. There are leaders who guide people to the truth and there are those who lead us astray. There are great leaders and there are dismal ones. The underlying premise behind leadership in Islam is that someone has taken responsibility for the affairs (umoor) of the believers.
The highest form of leadership in Islam after prophethood itself, is the Khalifa , and the most basic form of religious leadership is the Imam of the home, and congregational prayer.Much can be said about leaders and what is ideal and desirable with respect to them, and the Quran, the sunna, as well as the books of fiqh and usool are replete with information and guidelines on the topic. However, to be leaderless in Islam is simply unthinkable. The fact that it is a condition to which many of us have become accustomed, does not mitigate its negative consequences. May Allah guide. …
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad