By Sikandar Azam
We often witness rulers rising and falling in their effort to seek or continue with a position of authority. They in fact covet leadership. If they succeed in winning the position, people generally ascribe it to their good deeds, their salient qualities and their winnability. And if they are defeated or made to lick the dust, people ascribe it to their failures, wrong policies, dictatorial attitude, et al. But the fact remains that this rise or fall is the manifestation of God’s Lordship of the human life as well as the whole universe in which He has no equals or partners. It is the Lord Almighty Who grants power to and exalts whom He wills. And again it is He Who takes power back from and abases whom He wills. It is He Who controls human life and the universe at large. This is why we call Him the Lord Sovereign.
The Qur’ān (3:26) says: “Say: ‘Lord, Sovereign of all dominion, You grant dominion to whom You will and take dominion away from whom You will. You exalt whom You will and abase whom You will. In Your hand is all that is good. You are able to do all things.’”
God gives whatever He wishes to whomever He wants of His servants. And whatever is given is subject to the terms and conditions stipulated by the original Sovereign and is like a borrowed article; its owner retains his absolute right of taking it back whenever he wants. Thus there is no way left for the recipient to brag of whatever he has got.
This is what we see in human life on earth every now and then. But God’s sovereignty finds expression and we see it manifestly happening every moment in the universe. The very next verse 3:27 says: “You cause the night to pass into the day, and You cause the day to pass into the night. You bring forth the living from the dead, and You bring forth the dead from that which is alive. You grant sustenance to whom You will, beyond all reckoning.”
The Messenger of God, Muhammad ﷺ has prohibited people from asking for a position of authority because whoever is granted power based on his request will be let down and left to his desire for this world, which he prefers to the Hereafter. On the other hand, whoever is granted authority without asking for it, God shall grant him support to fulfil his duties. In a hadith Abdur-Rahman ibn Samurah relates that the Messenger of God ﷺ said to him: “O Abdur Rahman ibn Samurah, do not ask for a position of authority, for if you were granted such authority upon your request, you would be left (to manage it) unaided. However, if you were granted such authority without requesting it, you would be provided with aid (to manage it)….” (Bukhari and Muslim)
This discussion teaches us that we should not covet a position of power or authority, and if we are given that power, we should realise that the real owner of it is the Lord Almighty and act accordingly.