A well-researched and applicable analysis of Muhammad’s leadership.

THE LEADERSHIP OF MUHAMMAD

A HISTORICAL RECONSTRUCTION

An acclaimed Islamic scholar offers lessons in leadership based on the example of Muhammad in this historical work.

As a professor of strategic thought at the National Defense College of the United Arab Emirates, the author or editor of more than a dozen books, and a former tutor to Prince William, Hayward is undeniably one of academia’s most visible Islamic thinkers. Though the author’s scholarly bona fides are on full display, as seen in the work’s full command of Islamic theology and the Arabic language as well as its rich endnotes, this concise volume eschews academic and religious jargon for an accessible narrative geared toward the general public, both Muslim and non-Muslim. First, the author dismantles a simplistic notion that equates Muhammad’s success solely to his personality traits, such as his piety, compassion, and courage, noting that successful leaders throughout history have included “deeply flawed, corrupt or wickedly cruel people.” Avoiding a “moral assessment as the primary basis” of its analysis, this book instead looks at Muhammad’s conceptualization of leadership and his practical actions that offer insights for today’s leaders on effective strategies. Muhammad, for example, had a “common touch,” like his enthusiasm for wrestling, that allowed him to “relate and appeal” to average people. This was complemented by a “consultative leadership” style that prioritized participatory decision-making. Perhaps most important for the prophet was his theological understanding that true leaders are not self-made but are chosen by God and should submit to his will. Moreover, the best leaders, according to Muhammad, serve as “shepherds,” rather than tyrants, who protect and guide those whom they are responsible for managing. Additional commentary is presented on Muhammad’s specific leadership strategies as a military tactician and diplomat. While the author’s use of the trendy language of modern self-help (such as its emphasis on “Maximising Human Potential,” “Strategic Vision,” and “Strategic Communication”) borders on kitsch, this volume is nevertheless a learned history of Islam and Muhammad that succeeds in its goal of providing contemporary and future managers with valuable insights from his life on successful leadership strategies.

A well-researched and applicable analysis of Muhammad’s leadership.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-80011-989-5

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Claritas Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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