The Prophet (sa) as the Supreme Commander of the Army

role modelUnder his leadership the companions performed stunning, valorous, and brave deeds. A well-defined code of conduct was followed in the battlefield. For instance women, children, elderly and those not taking part in the battle were not to be killed or harmed in any way. Neither were trees to be cut down nor property destroyed. Once the land was conquered the following things were kept in mind:

  1. The stability of the conquered land.
  2. Education, moral and religious training of the conquered people.
  3. The education and training of the managers and administrators.
  4. The moral and intellectual training of the military experts.

Mohammed Ahmed Ghadanfar inspired by the qualities present in the Prophet (sa), highlights the 10 virtues present in a Muslim general:

1. True, consistent and firm faith

Abu Dharr (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) when asked: “Which deed is the best deed?” He replied: “Faith in Allah and struggle in the cause of Allah.”(Bukhari and Muslim) Deep-rooted faith in Allah motivates a believer to fight the fiercest of opponents.

2. Dignified personality

Dignity is a gift from Allah. It can become a part of one’s personality only if there is true faith, fear of Allah, integrity and an effort to guard moral and ethical values. The Prophet (sa) said: “I have been granted such majesty and dignity that the enemy who is a month away from me starts to tremble when he hears my name.” (Bukhari)

3. Valor and courage

With remarkable bravery the Prophet (sa) led 313 of his modestly armed soldiers in the battle of Badr against a 1000 heavily armed-polytheists. Ali (rta) said: “On the day of Badr, we sheltered behind the Prophet (sa), and he was the nearest of us to the enemy and the strongest man there on that day.” (Ahmad)

4. Steadfast and resolute in purpose

During the Battle of Hunain when the army was falling apart due to the pressure being exerted by the enemy, the Prophet (sa) stood firm in the midst of the battlefield and said: “I am the true Prophet. It is no lie. And I am the son of Abdul Muttalib.” Sensing his steadfastness and determination, the army that had dispersed out of fear quickly rallied around him and created the victory of that day. (Muslim)

5. Strength of will and ability to execute

A successful general ought to be competent and efficient so as to have his orders executed. That is why the Prophet (sa) instructed Abu Dharr Al-Ghafari (rta) not to take on the responsibility of even two people, whereas he appointed the seventeen year old Usamah Bin Zaid (rta) as commander of an army that included such note worthy and respected companions as Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta) and Umar Farooq (rta). (Bukhari)

6. Charismatic and magnetic personality

In the Quran Allah has made Sulaiman (as) king and granted him knowledge and stature. (Al-Baqarah 2:247) These two qualities facilitate leadership skills. Al-Bara reported that the Prophet (sa) had the most handsome face amongst men, the best of dispositions, and he was neither very tall nor very short in stature. (Muslim)

7. Eloquence

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest of meanings.” (Bukhari) On an expedition, the poets would sing their verses to encourage the army and the Prophet (sa) would sing along. On the day of the battle of Badr, the Prophet (sa) encouraged his companions by saying: “Arise and enter Paradise whose extent is that of the heavens and the earth.” (Ahmad) Eloquence and oratorical skills can, to a great extent, arouse emotions and feelings.

8. Excellent arms

Ibn Amir (rta) said that he heard the Prophet (sa) say: “Prepare to meet the enemy with as much strength as you can afford. Beware strength consists in archery, beware strength consists in archery, beware strength consists in archery.” (Bukhari)

A believer should equip himself with the best weaponry available, and train in the most sophisticated combat skills rather than just rely on faith and prayers. Faith and prayers must be followed by action.

9. Generosity and liberality

These two qualities are necessary for a leader to gain the love and respect of his followers. After the Battle of Hunain, Safwan Bin Umayyah (rta) said: “Even when the Prophet (sa) was the person I hated most, he would give me. He (sa) continued to give me gifts, until he became the person I loved the most.” (Bukhari) The Prophet (sa) also said: “Anyone who equips a warrior in the way of Allah is like the one who actually fights. And anyone who looks after his family in his absence is like the one who actually fights.” (Muslim)

10. A sense of justice and fair play

The Prophet (saw) said: “Support your brother whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed. If he is the oppressor then support him by stopping him. Should he be the oppressed then support him.” (Muslim)

Al-Miqdad Bin Al-Aswad reported: “I said: ‘Tell me, O Messenger of Allah, if I meet an infidel, we fight together, and he cuts off my hand with his sword, then hides behind a tree and says he has submitted himself to Allah. Shall I kill him after he has said it?’ He replied: ‘Do not kill him.’ I said: ‘But O messenger of Allah, he cut off one of my hands and only then he said it.’ The Messenger of Allah (sa) then replied: ‘Do not kill him, for if you do so, he will be in the position in which you were before you killed him (i.e., he will be considered a Muslim and thus his life will be inviolable), and you will be in the position in which he was before he made his testimony’ (i.e. your life will not be inviolable, for his heirs can ask for Qisas).” (Bukhari and Muslim)