Prayer necessitates leadership

INsights 042, Friday 2nd June 2023

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Assalamu-alaikum. Peace be upon you.

Most people do not understand that exploring and fulfilling one’s God-given leadership potential is a natural and vital consequence of consistent, high-quality prayer. 

If a person isn’t being, or trying to become, an effective, God-centred leader, this is an indication that something is missing from their prayers. 

At first, this claim may appear to be unusual or outrageous.

But stay with me, my friend, and give me a chance to persuade you with three reflections on the powerful connection between prayer and leadership:

1. Share the love

Someone who loves to pray regularly and experiences the serenity of high-quality prayers should automatically want others to experience the same thing: a wonderful relationship with God. 

If you had the tastiest sweets in the world but their supply was limited, you might understandably be hesitant to share them. 

But if the supply was unlimited, you’d definitely share as many as you could. Why wouldn’t you? 

Your own enjoyment wouldn’t suffer, you’d benefit from the joy of a shared experience with others, and you’d become very popular in the process. Even if others don’t enjoy the sweets in the same way, they’d appreciate that you made the offer. 

Well, it’s the same for salat, and more broadly the remembrance of God… which is both unlimited and far more enjoyable than the tastiest of sweets.

If we only know this to be true in theory, maybe that’s why we’re not sharing. 

What doesn’t make sense is for us to enjoy connecting with God but not want, or not do anything, to help others connect with Him too. 

Even if we have a small amount of appreciation for the necessity and power of remembering our Lord, as well as some experience of its multiple benefits, we should naturally desire others to have the same. 

This means beginning to encourage and help others know God and learn how to worship Him, so that they too can have the best of this life and the next… and what is leadership if it isn’t doing just that, even if it’s only for a few people within one’s very immediate sphere of influence?

2. Are you finding openings through The Opening?

There are two statements we say several times a day in Surah al-Fatihah that frequently give me pause for thought. 

One is a claim, the other a request. 

First, the claim, “You alone we serve.”

Iyyaka na’budu is a really powerful phrase because we’re not asking our Lord to help us serve Him, we’re telling Him that it’s only Him that we do serve.

But then we have to take a moment to ask ourselves… do we really?

Since there’s no choice to omit the claim, the only choice is to keep trying to raise our standards to the claim that we have to make… “You alone we serve.”

If He is the only one that we serve, then we need to know His agenda and what He wants from us so that we can render our service to Him fully. We must also make sure to exclude service to anything or anyone else that is outside the fold of serving Him. 

Serving God exclusively necessitates an attempt to strive for His cause, meaning that we push ourselves to help faith in Him flourish as much as possible. Again, what is leadership if it isn’t doing just that?

That brings us to the request, “Guide us on the straight path, the path of those whom You have favoured…”

This doesn’t seem to have much bearing on leadership at first, not until you realise that “the path of those whom You have favoured” is the path of “the prophets, the truthful, those who bear witness to the truth, and the righteous.” (Chapter 4, Women, an-Nisa, Verse 69)

It wasn’t the practice of these heroic people to go alone on the path without consideration for others. If anything, it was quite the opposite. It was as though they didn’t think of themselves as making much progress along the path unless they were helping others to do so too. 

Bringing the two statements together, every time we say them during our recitation of al-Fatihah, we are claiming – amongst other things – to be doing our very best to be leaders on behalf of our Lord, and also asking Him to guide us as we attempt to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before us. 

For these statements in our prayers not to be empty ones, it’s imperative that we do the work in between prayers to figure out how exactly we’re going to change our lives to live up to them.

Only then will The Opening actually open up new and exciting possibilities in your life every time you say its powerful words.

3. Unlock the potential of your postures

The most iconic physical positions are the ones in which we bow (ruku’) and prostrate (sujud).

We humble ourselves fully before our Lord, declaring His perfection in front of His Majesty (when we bow) and His Highness (when we prostrate), uttering our earnest supplications and hoping they will be heard and accepted. 

What’s not often mentioned in connection with these two positions is their capability in building supreme confidence within us as we lead our lives and engage with others outside the prayer.

You see, when you bow and prostrate to God, you’re not just showing Him how much He means to you. You’re also reminding yourself that you don’t bow or prostrate to anyone else except for Him. 

The positions of ruku’ and sujud powerfully symbolise and remind us of the eternal truth that there is no god but God, which simply means that there is no place for fear of, or submission to, anyone but Him. 

Having engaged consciously in my own leadership journey for well over ten years now, and having interacted with countless individuals and groups in discussing the topic, I know that the number one factor that holds people back from being their very best by fulfilling their leadership potential is…


Fear of family members, fear of acquaintances, fear of going against the grain, fear of loss of reputation, fear of poverty, fear of uncertainty, fear of failure, fear of success… you name it, people fear it. 

But the whole point of fearing God is that you should fear no other.

Bowing and prostrating before Him in ways that you wouldn’t even think of doing to anyone else should bring this into full perspective. 

We bow and prostrate to our Lord so often that it makes no sense to still go on being gripped by fear of any kind. 

Ruku’ and sujud are the most liberating actions that you can manifest. Every time you lower your back or put your face on the ground, you are saying yes to your Lord and no to anyone or anything that gets in the way of you serving Him as fully as you can. 

Once you find your freedom from all your disempowering instincts and inclinations – so many of which are consequences of misplaced fear – you are on the path to being the happiest, most fulfilled, most devoted servant of God that you can possibly be.


It felt appropriate to share some reflections with you on the connection between prayer and leadership in this particular edition of INsights given my announcement just a few days ago that my own attention as an educator would now be moving fully from Transform My Prayer – my prayer development programme – to Last Day Leader – my leadership development programme.

Although I wasn’t sure of the exact timing of this transition when I first taught Transform My Prayer back in 2019, I’ve always seen it as inevitable at some point. 

For true believers, praying well should result in living well, which in turn necessitates demonstrating God-centred leadership.

Prayer is not an end in itself. It’s a reminder as well as a source of courage and inspiration to help us achieve great things on this earth for our Lord who is the greatest of all. 

My hope is that all believers who pray will go on to become people who lead others to God and to prayer too. 

Because, quite simply, prayer necessitates leadership.

Before you go...

I’ve had a lot of questions about the Last Day Leader programme recently. To clarify, this year it will be available to you in three formats:

i) On-demand: you can start your journey right now with a combination of pre-recorded material, interaction with previous and existing participants, and 1:1 support from me. See here for all the details.

ii) Live in person: I’ll be delivering the Last Day Leader programme live in London this July, God willing. There will be some important online components, but the key dates for the in-person elements will be Saturday 8th and Saturday 15th July, from 9:00am to 5:30pm on both days. The venue is just a five minute walk from East London Mosque, in between Whitechapel and Aldgate East stations.

I intend to share full details with you next week on Friday 9th June, but if you think you might be interested in attending and if you’d like to save the dates for the in-person components to prevent you from double booking, you can do so by clicking here.

iii) Live online: provisionally, the next live experience that will be fully online will be in September. If you can’t make it to London in July, look out for more information about the upcoming live online version over the summer.

I’ve also started working on a possible residential format for Last Day Leader which I’m very excited about. It’s too early to know for sure when this might take place. At the very earliest, it might be this December, but it might have to be in 2024. Watch this space!

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Have a blessed fortnight. I'll see you in two Fridays, God willing.

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