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Leadership vs. Academic

The world needs to constantly educate younger generation to replace the older ones. When we talk about the current senior generations, we either see their intellectual abilities; such as scientists who create new medicines to depress cancer cells’ activities, or their ability to influence others merely by speech or actions; for example, politicians, television personalities and many others. Which footsteps do we, the younger generations follow? There are too many criteria to be considered. The suggested topic to be discussed here is “Leadership vs. Academic”. While many would want to choose one of the two, more would want the two qualities to come hand in hand, for what is the good of having a leader without knowledge and what good is an intellect without the ability to influence others?

Undeniably, every level of the society needs a leader. Be it in a family, a study group, military or a country. Men are created unique. Two twins may have the same face and blood group, but their minds aren’t similar at all. To unite a group of men is a meticulous but unquestionably necessary task. A team, compared to individuals, would achieve greater goals.

A team can be metaphorically compared to a cell. It has many organelles with respective purposes but all of them receive orders and report to the cell nucleus. The nucleus is the brain and organizer of a cell. It controls and regulates the functions of the organelles so the cell, as a whole, can do its functions properly. A cell without a nucleus, like a red blood cell for example, has limited functions – simply gas transportations from the lungs to the tissues, unlike the nucleated liver cells which function as detoxification, storage, and metabolic agents. A leader is like the nucleus. With one person to organize a group of people, chaos could be avoided and more things could be done in shorter time. That is the importance of a leader with the proper leadership skills.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “When there are three of you, pick one as your leader.” This asserts that Islam stresses the importance of leadership in a society. Leadership isn’t necessarily birthrights of certain people. It needs to be nurtured, and studied through experience and practice. A good leader is a man of power to influence or inspire others to do a good. In a hospital for example, doctors are the leaders. Without the proper leadership skills, patients’ welfare would not be taken care of effectively by the medical teams consisting of nurses, medical attendants and pharmacists. Doctors should be able to oversee each medical procedure the patients undergo, advice the physiotherapists and attendants what are the best treatments, prescribe medicines with the help of pharmacists, and most importantly, obtain the patients’ trust. Leadership should be in the same bracket with trust. Without trust on leaders, a society is doomed to partings and disunity.

Leadership skills aren’t necessarily developed on a formal education platform. They are mostly achieved by participating in social activities, hands-on practices and soft skills exercises. In this era of globalization, every profession in the world requires some extent of leadership ability. Without it, one would always remain at the bottom of the food chain. It is the measurement of one’s potential to be ahead of others, to be heard louder than the rest, the shiniest star of the stars in the sky. In short, leadership skills equal ascending gradient in one’s life achievement, no matter where he or she is.

According to Collins Dictionary, the very word academic means purely theoretical or speculative interest. Let us broaden the meaning of academic and relate it with another word which is knowledge. With academic comes knowledge and with knowledge comes wisdom. The very first word that Allah S.W.T. conveyed to his last messenger was very instructive, “Read! In the name of your Lord who has created, He has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is Most Generous, who has taught by (the use of) the pen, He has taught man which he knew not. ” (Al-‘Alaq, 1-5). Our religion Islam clearly states that to gain knowledge is obligatory for every believer as Prophet Muhammad said, “To gain knowledge is obligatory to all Muslims”.

The importance of academic is very broad as it is the precursor for every single thing in our life, including the ability to lead. As written above, without leadership skills doctors could never effectively treat patients. Without academic systems, however, there wouldn’t be any doctors at all! So to actually compare the importance of leadership and academic is very odd! These two qualities should cling to one another like men and oxygen.

However, if we were to compare which one comes first, the answer shall always be academic knowledge. For one, our religion dictates the importance of knowledge above others. Secondly, to acquire leadership skills is to learn how to lead – and this part is nothing else but an academic process. For instance, Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih was one of the most celebrated leaders in Islamic history. At the age of 19, he led an army against Constantinople, captured it and expanded Islam to Europe. Was he respected by his army because he was a Sultan? He was revered highly because of two things – his piousness, and his knowledge. He mastered seven languages, the arts of war and fighting. Thus, he became a great leader who could think way ahead of his people.

A leader and an academic are but one person. Age is never a factor for one to learn or to lead. To lead, one must have the knowledge, and knowledge is power. In good hands, it can turn a vast desert into an oasis as mentioned in Gandhi’s saying, “If you give me rice, I’ll eat today. If you teach me how to grow rice, I’ll eat every day”. Power in the wrong hands, however, could turn a city into a pile of rubbles in a blink.

Syamsuddin bin Faruok

3rd Year, Medical Faculty,

Zagazig University.

(Winner in English Article Competition during Medicophilic Month 2011)