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Management Lessons from Quran

By vetlaar Aug 22, 2012 1433 Words
Management Thoughts in Quran
Management today is defined as "getting things done through others." Following this concept, a Manager is now understood as the person who works through others. A good manager, therefore, is a person who not only knows what is to be done but exactly how to get it done.

The Holy Quran confirms:

"...We raise some of them above others in ranks, so that some may command work from others..." [43:32]

The above verse from Quran encompasses the entire philosophy and wisdom of modern management. It emphasizes, in essence, the creation of appropriate hierarchies and the division of responsibilities subject to individual capabilities.

1. Quran and Modern Management

The Holy Quran has also laid down the institutional framework for putting this golden rule into practice: 1.Obedience and Respect for Authority;
2.Principles of Equal Opportunities; and
3.Motivation and Commitment.
2. Obedience and respect for Authority:

Obedience and respect for authority is the basic fundamental requisite for taking work from others and getting it done. Working through people actually presupposes the willingness of people to obey. It is therefore necessary for those people who are given the job to complete the given task and to obey all legal and reasonable orders and perform their part of the job responsibly.

Joint Consultation and Team work:
The modern world realized the importance of joint consultation (Shura) and team-work when the Japanese based its management style on it and proved to the world of its effectiveness.

The Holy Quran advocates for this concept: "...and those who do their work through mutual Consultation"[42:83]

"...pass over (their faults), and ask for (God's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when you have taken a decision put your trust in God, for God loves those who put their trust (in Him)." [3:159]

Principle of equal opportunities:

The principle of equal opportunities postulate that all members of an organization shall have equal and fair chances to grow, contribute, and be rewarded accordingly.

The Holy Quran emphasis this golden rule:

"O people We created you from a single male and female couple and then divided you in nations and tribes so that you may recognize one another. Verily the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is most righteous of you." [49:13]

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) expounded the verse on the occasion of Hajat-ul-Widaa, in the following words:

"In the light of this Quranic verse no Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab nor does any non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. Neither black is superior to white nor white is superior to black. Of course, if there is any criterion of superiority and respectability in the sight of Allah, it is Taqwa (righteousness)." These words of Prophet Mohammad suggest that despite the fact that we are all equal, human beings can excel over one another in certain aspects of life. One such aspect could be in terms of righteousness.

In the realm of management, it would mean that the criteria for entitlement to any benefit, reward, position, or status shall be such that any one having requisite qualifications and experience should have equal opportunity to achieve it. This will obviously go a long way towards maintain the requisite degree of harmony in the work environment conducive to the smooth working of the management process.

Motivation and Commitment:

Making people what they are supposed to do requires a certain degree of commitment which can only be achieved through motivation. It is an established fact that the way a Manager behaves or deals with the subordinates determines the level and vitality of their motivation and commitment to a great extent.

The Holy Quran too speaks about this golden rule:

"(telling the Prophet) If you had been stern and fierce of heart they (the companions and followers) would have disappeared from around you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the conduct of affairs"[3:159]

What does it mean to Management?

This beautiful verse emphasizes upon two aspects: one, that compassionate and sympathetic behavior towards companions and followers, and second, the adoption of participatory approach when dealing with them i.e. consulting them, is the most effective way of management. If this golden rule is not observed then "they will disappear from you" i.e. they won't pay attention nor any interest in you or what your work entails.

Elimination of Wastage:
The Holy Quran has spoken against wastage and lavish expenditures in sternest of words: “And render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want, and to the wayfarer. But waste not (your wealth, time, health, talents, opportunities etc) in the manner of a spendthrift. ” [17:26] “For the wasteful are the brothers of Satan; and Satan is ungrateful to his Lord.” [17:27] O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess , for Allah loveth not the wasters.' [7:31] A Muslim must also strive to eliminate any wastage around him, at home, workplace, or in society even when faced with resistance. A very common example would be to control the use of water, food, and electricity according to the needs. Wastage of resources such as material in the workplace, man-hours, machine-hours, human potential, and time should also be minimized. While 100% elimination is not possible we should still try to get as close to it as possible, and this can only be achieved through continuous struggle. Just-in-Time (JIT) System for Inventory Management

The concept of Just-in-Time which has been invented by Toyota has revolutionized the Inventory Management Systems in the manufacturing organizations throughout the world. It is based on the golden principle of keeping only that much amount of inventory that is needed and that too in continuous movement in order to avoid in-process buffer inventory as much as possible until it is completely transformed into the finished good. A Muslim should be a born JIT expert. The Holy Quran instructs him in 2:219 that he should spend on himself only as much as he needs and to give away the excess in the way of Allah. They ask thee how much they are to spend in the way of Allah; Say: ?What is beyond your needs .'' [2:219] The men on the heights will call to certain men whom they will know from their marks, saying: ?Of what profit to you were your hoards and your arrogant ways?' [10:58] One might argue that the context of this ayatis different. Factually, a Muslim should understand that the Holy Quran lays down golden rules which are all applicable universally for all times in all situations. What the Holy `Quran intends as a whole is to create a specific mindset, or a worldview. Once, this mindset or the worldview is created, these rules automatically become a part of a lifestyle and ceases to be a chore. Thus a Muslim businessman will never accumulate large amount of inventories as prescribed by the ?economics of scale' philosophy because it will go against his ingrained core beliefs. He will know that accumulation of inventories (wealth) to gain economic benefits by deterring the forces of demand and supply is discouraged by the Holy Quran in 9:34, and so will refrain from doing such a thing. O ye who believe! ? those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah , announce unto them a most grievous penalty.' [9:34] JIT was pioneered by Toyota and it is an important part of Toyota Production System (TPS). Toyota believed that accumulation of inventory of any kind, be beginning, in-process, or finished goods, is a kind of wastage in the form of Material Holding Cost which is being added during the time material is sitting idle within the premises of the manufacturing facility.

Success and prosperity is the outcome of commitment to certain golden principles of life, and not out of luck and fate? principles that are readily available to us in the Holy Quran. These principles are independent and universal of any particular profession and primarily aims at building a ?whole' man capable of achieving his true potential in the purpose of his life? either through some business setup of his own or through as an employee. What remains desired is the practical implementation of these principles in our socio-economic and political lives.

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