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Servant Leadership in Diverse Contexts

Servant Leadership in Diverse Contexts

Evidence of Servant Leadership Principles in Islam Culture and Religion

A significant percentage of literature regarding servant leadership explores this type of leadership through the context of Christianity. Certainly, Christian viewpoints of servant leadership are important, but to be able to develop further extensive comprehension of this leadership, other contexts must also be explored. This paper will explore servant leadership through the context of Islam religion as well as its cultural perspective. Leadership in Islam orbits around Prophet Muhammad, and it is generally acknowledged that the best leader understands and shadows the Prophet’s approach to solving problems. Prophet Muhammad was a servant leader because his leadership style demonstrates that he was a leader who empowered others and cared about them.

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The general idea of what constitutes a servant leader is based on ten characteristics or principles that a leader should have in order to be considered a servant leader. Accordingly, these traits include persuasion, foresight, awareness, healing, empathy, listening, stewardship, building community and commitment to the community’s growth, and conceptualization (Ingram, 2016). Based on these principles, the idea is that a servant leader should be able to balance self-interest goals and common goals and establish effective relationships. Comparing the Prophet’s traits and those listed above, there are emergent themes between the two. Firstly, the Prophet’s commitment to the community is evident when he arrived in Medina, and his first precedence was to establish a community.

In stewardship, Prophet Muhammad is known to have put heavy emphasis on accountability, particularly to those who were responsible for something. This is in addition to his awareness of nature and the importance of sustainability for future generations (Williams et al., 2023). Regarding the listening trait, God had commanded the Prophet in Quran Chapter 3, verse 1, to consult people in various matters. As such, the obedient Prophet was known to be a listener of all, including children, enslaved people, rich and poor. Through listening, he was able to empathize with them, meet their needs and heal them of their pain. Another principle of steward leadership that Prophet Muhammad displayed is persuasion. A perfect example is when a man approached him, asking for permission to indulge in adultery. Instead, the Prophet kept asking the man if he would accept the same thing happening to his female relative, and hence the man was discouraged from his initial intentions.

Likewise, the concept of servant leadership is deeply embedded in Islamic culture. A perfect demonstration of this is best captured in this tribal proverb, “Sagheer alcum khadimha, wa kabir alcum khadimha”, which translates to “The youngest is the servant, and the one who rules is likewise the servant” (Sarayrah, 2004, p 71). In addition, Islamic culture has for centuries taught that one of the most important skills of Shaykl is the ability to listen impartially with no reaction or judgmental. In addition, the individual talking must be given full attention because it is the only way to establish trust. An example of such a leader was Shaykl Hajj Ali, who was known to be an accomplished listener and would sit in his tent for hours just listening to those who came to him.

Another classic Islamic proverb that has been used for a long time that illustrates servant leadership in Islamic culture is “Majalisna madarisna”, translating to, “The wisdom of our elders is our school” (Sarayrah, 2004, p 69). Further, yet another example of servant leadership in Islamic culture is shura, which means consultation. Accordingly, the Khalifa, or head of the Islamic State, is bound to take counsel with the representatives that the people have chosen before deciding on crucial national impact. Shura is one of the most deeply rooted principles in Islam and ensures that the leader takes into account everything there is so that they can best serve everyone.

 Similarities and Differences Between Servant Leadership Philosophies and The Values From Islamic Cultural Context and Religious Viewpoint.

As mentioned above, one of the philosophies of servant leadership is listening. This principle is heavily practiced in Islam religion and cultural contexts whereby a leader must consult others before making a decision, for instance, in political contexts. Religious Muslim leaders are also dedicated listeners; for example, in Mosques, Imams have the duty to be accessible to members of the community twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week (Jabarkhail, 2020). Another philosophy similarity between servant leadership philosophies and Islam is conceptualization. Accordingly, in Islam, the Prophet is known to have been one to teach and advocate for self-improvement. He says, “If anyone threads a path seeking knowledge, God will make his path to Paradise an easy way” (Gonaim, 2016, p 57). encourage conceptualization.

Another similarity is that in both viewpoints, there is community building and commitment to the community’s growth. In Islam, Mosques are not only places for religious worship but also provide spaces for community activism, especially in places where Islam is a minority group (Jabarkhail, 2020). Muslim religious leaders have to promote a sense of community among the congregation in order for them to come together and work together on issues affecting them. This is similar to the servant leadership philosophy that leaders must be deeply committed to the community’s growth in whatever institution they lead. A servant leader has the role of nurturing the personal, spiritual and professional growth of those who follow them.

Foresight is another similarity between the philosophy of servant leadership and Islamic cultural and religious perspectives of this type of leadership. Prophet Muhammad’s biography states that he asked people to take into consideration the future and prepare for it like they were going to love forever but also to consider the present and do their best as if they were going to die that day. He reflected on his past, his present, and his future in terms of what his actions would result in (Sulaeman, 2020). This is similar to Greenleaf’s philosophy that servant leaders foresee what is most probable to happen and then take precautionary steps accordingly.

One difference between the servant leadership philosophy and the value from the Islamic cultural and religious viewpoint is that there is a variance in how the two genders are treated. While the philosophy of servant leadership is about being a servant to all, women in Islam do not benefit from as much serviceability as men do (Jabarkhail, 2020). Specifically, in predominantly Islamic nations, women are not allowed to go to Mosques to consult their religious leaders. Instead, only men are allowed to do so, and women are only obliged to pray in the comfort of their homes, which restricts them from benefiting from the service of their leaders. Fortunately, in nations where Islam is a minority, women can occasionally access the Mosques and services provided by the Imam.

Another difference between servant leaders in Islam and the servant leadership philosophy is that Islam leaders, especially Imams, have the duty to sacrifice themselves and their families for the benefit of Muslim society. An example of such a sacrifice is exemplified by Imam Husain, who sacrificed himself and his brothers, sons, friends, and relatives over a life of disgrace. This is not seen in the philosophy of servant leadership as described by Greenleaf.

Examples of Servant Leadership Practices Evident in Islam

One specific example of servant leadership practices evident in Islamic culture and religion is the Khilafat. Khilafat is the purest manifestation of Islam leadership and is represented by a representative of the Prophet with blessings from Allah; this individual is like the Islamic version of the pope. Notably, this individual is known as the Khalifa. However, even if the Khalifa is the leader, the Khilafat is made up of an extensive institution consisting of numerous authoritative bodies and persons whose role is to facilitate the support of the Khalifa in his roles. An example of these institutions is Majlis-e-Mushawarat, which empowers the Khalifa to grow the spiritual status of the people by assessing all types of opinions and needs from Muslim societies across the world. In addition, a verse in the Quran quotes, “And those, who hearken to their Lord, and observe Prayer, and whose affairs are decided by mutual consultation, and who spend out of what we have provided for them” (The Holy Qur’an, 2000, 42:38.). This verse emphasizes that mutual consultation is the basic standard that Muslim leaders must apply in any transaction of national affairs. When it comes to Islam leadership in all contexts, including religious and cultural, Prophet Muhammad’s leadership is the influence. Notably, Prophet Muhammad was a servant leader because his leadership style demonstrates that he was a leader who empowered others and cared about them. Further, Islam as a religion is used heavily in all aspects of the Islamic lifestyle, including culture. Therefore, it is hard to find differences in how Islamic leaders in various contexts like politics and in Mosques differ in their leadership style.


Ingram, O. C. (2016). Servant leadership as a leadership model. Journal of Management Science and Business Intelligence1(1), 21-26.

Jabarkhail, S. (2020). Servant leadership in the context of mosque: A qualitative case study of muslim women’s perspectives. Administrative Sciences10(3), 72.

Gonaim, F. (2016). An Analysis of the Life of Prophet Muhammad: Servant leadership and Influence. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention ISSN (Online)5.

Sarayrah, Y. K. (2004). Servant leadership in the Bedouin-Arab culture. Global Virtue Ethics Review5(3-4), 58-80.

Sulaeman, S. (2020). A review of servant and transformational leadership style in Islamic perspectives: A lesson from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as an excellent role model for Muslim leaders in Indonesia. Nazharat: Jurnal Kebudayaan26(02), 371-387.

The Holy Qur’an (2000). Wordsworth Editions

Williams, M., Lawal, A., & Agbaje, M. (2023). A servant leadership: A phenomenological study of the teachings and practices of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Journal of Contemporary Business and Islamic Finance (JCBIF)3(1), 264-275.


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The purpose of this assignment is to examine servant leadership practices with regard to religions and cultures other than those associated with Christianity.

Servant Leadership in Diverse Contextss

Servant Leadership in Diverse Contextss

While servant leadership is often associated with Christianity and the Bible, one could argue that it is compatible with most religions and philosophies and that it transcends cultures.

This assignment presents you with an opportunity to explore other cultures, philosophies, and religions and asks you to think critically about how servant leadership practices are apparent in other religions and cultures.

Begin by selecting and examining one cultural context and one religious viewpoint outside of mainstream Christianity. In a 1,250 -1,500 word essay, discuss the following:

Explain how the principles of servant leadership are evident in your chosen culture and religion.
Identify similarities and differences between servant leadership philosophies and values from your selected cultural context and religious viewpoint.
Identify specific examples of servant leadership practices evident in your chosen culture and religion.
You are required to locate a total of four articles that address servant leadership in your chosen cultural context and religious viewpoint. Two of the articles should examine servant leadership from a different cultural perspective and two articles should examine servant leadership from a different religious perspective. The articles must be peer-reviewed and have been published within the last 5 years. You must use and cite the articles within each content area in your paper to strengthen your claims.

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