"It was through Allah’s mercy that you [Muhammad] have been able to deal with them so gently. If you had been stern and hard-hearted, they would surely have dispersed from around you.”
— Holy Qur’an
“A leader is a shield to the people”
“Be humble towards one another, so that no one oppresses
or is condescending to another person.”
"The one who shows humility, God elevates
in the estimation of the people.”
“Advise me, O People”
— Muhammad ﷺ before the Battle of Badr
“Allah's Messenger ﷺ fought [with us] in severe heat,
struggling on our long journey, against the desert
and the great strength of the enemy”.
“O Messenger of Allah ﷺ ! Shall I tie [the camel’s leg], or leave it loose and trust in Allah?" He said: “Tie it and put your trust in Allah.”
“[It is] better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving
than to make it in punishing.”
Cover image (copyright free) of The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction by Joel Hayward
The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction by Joel Hayward
Given the Islamic Prophet Muhammad’s immense impact on history, there are surprisingly few books that specifically analyze his leadership. The few that exist maintain that Muhammad was a wonderful leader because he was a wonderful man; that is, he succeeded in his mission because of his superior morality and personal qualities.
Professor Joel Hayward ( https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8015-3458 ) sees this as an incomplete and almost inadequate explanation. He does not disagree that Muhammad was a moral and decent man. Yet he has approached the Prophet’s leadership from a different vantage point. He has scrutinized the earliest Arabic sources impartially according to the strict standards of historical inquiry in order to ascertain whether Muhammad’s conscious actions, behavior and methods can provide any substantial and meaningful insights about the effectiveness of his strategic leadership. Hayward concludes that Muhammad was an uncommonly astute, situationally aware and self-reflective man with the ability to create and communicate a believable strategic vision of a necessary and desirable future. When reinforced constantly by his emotionally intelligent, skillful and very hands-on leadership, his cleverly communicated vision persuaded increasing numbers of people to follow him and risk everything willingly in the struggle to make real the bold new world he foresaw.
Through original, meticulously researched and rigorous analysis, Hayward demonstrates that Muhammad was “a profoundly effective leader”. This engaging, accessible yet deeply scholarly book makes a major contribution to both leadership studies and the Prophet’s biography.
Claritas Books, UK
Hardcover : 179 pages
ISBN-10 : 1800119895
ISBN-13 : 978-1800119895
Awarded the prize of Best International Non-Fiction Book
at the 2021 Sharjah International Book Awards
Kirkus Reviews said that Hayward, who is "undeniably one of academia’s most visible Islamic thinkers," had produced "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". Kirkus praised the book’s "full command of Islamic theology and the Arabic language as well as its rich endnotes," and concluded that it "eschews academic and religious jargon for an accessible narrative geared toward the general public, both Muslim and non-Muslim."
"The appearance of any work by British-New Zealand scholar Joel Hayward is a matter of interest and significance for those interested in history, but the breadth, scholarship and intellectual ambition of this tome make it of particular importance. … his sources are impeccable and his interpretation irreproachable. This engrossing and sympathetic study portrays the Prophet as a highly competent and reliable human being possessed of significant political and spiritual talents. … The book is wall to wall strengths. … This volume is very intensive and disciplined, compact but with a remarkably comprehensive interior. … This book is an accessible and comprehensive presentation of a complicated issue and the author successfully combines an expert account of the biography of the Prophet with a knowledgeable investigation on the subject of efficacious leadership. … I found this book absorbing, vivid, and stimulating. This is an essential addition to the literature for both students and the general reader."
— Abdullah Drury, The Muslim World Book Review, Vol. 42, No. 2 (2022), pp. 20-23.
The Leadership of Muhammad is “insightful and intellectual”. Looking “not only at the theological texts, Hayward references early Arabic sources to examine the ways that Muhammad excelled during his twenty-three years as a leader.” The book is “authoritative and informative” and the writing is “clear and accessible throughout, making it easy to comprehend for non-academic purposes … Whether you’re looking for a book of History, Islamic studies, or an interesting look into great leadership, The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction has plenty to offer.”
"Learning from history is one reason humanity keeps advancing and achieving seemingly impossible feats. The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction by Joel Hayward employs an objective approach to examining Prophet Muhammad as a leader. The book goes beyond just assuming his good character qualifies him as a good leader and employs a thorough analysis by exploring different angles, including Muhammad's leadership role in the military and the power structure he developed through it, his success as a religious leader with numerous converts, and his relationships with others, from the most powerful to the least popular. What new insights can be discovered from an exploration of Muhammad's role as a leader centuries ago and how will they benefit our current generation? Find out in Joel Hayward's groundbreaking book. ...
"I felt so much richer in knowledge after reading the book. Even the methods used to treat the subjects are worth learning, like the deductive reasoning used in explaining why Muhammad's good-naturedness does not automatically result to him being a good leader. The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction is filled with events and practices from history, enriching readers with information and resources about the early days of Islam. I was confident about the information since the author is a celebrated historian and strategic studies scholar who makes use of "established methodology of the historical discipline." The book's critical approach will appeal to academic minds, although the language is simple and direct enough to carry all readers along.
"Humanity has been through several interesting phases, and I always find books that explore different times in history irresistible. Fortunately, The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction did not disappoint because it's a great source of knowledge about Muhammad and the beginning of Islam. In fact, in addition to being historically informative, it offers valuable lessons about leadership that could help world leaders, decision makers, teachers, and people from all walks of life to communicate and lead better. Several noteworthy leadership qualities are extracted from Muhammad's exploits, of which many still have an impact today."
"In The Leadership of Muhammad, Joel Hayward debunks the usual arguments regarding the reasons Muhammad was a successful leader, pointing out the logical fallacy embedded in these arguments. As a scholar of history, Hayward explains the actual reasons for the success of Muhammad as a leader. … leaving room for rational engagement. … Perhaps the most interesting part of this book for me is the concept of having an objective discussion about such a grand figure based on historical facts, rather than positive bias or negative distortion. Regardless of whether everyone agrees or disagrees, the author is bold and brilliant enough to approach things from a different angle, unafraid to be challenging. … There was nothing I disliked about this book. It was informative, intellectually stimulating, and fun. The Leadership of Muhammad earns four out of four stars."
Hayward approaches the life of Muhammad with remarkable scholarly detachment and objectivity. He had previously published books on non-Islamic leaders, including Horatio Lord Nelson, and his approach to all of them is the same. Avoiding hagiography, he creates a psychologically believable portrait of Muhammad by critically interrogating the earliest sources and by explaining Muhammad’s ideas, actions and patterns of behaviour in terms of the historical, geographical and cultural context in which he lived. … Hayward’s book is compactly written and argued. In only 179 tightly written pages he creates a thorough and detailed explanation of what Muhammad thought and did as a leader. He studiously avoids psychobabble and recourse to the types of modern leadership concepts and jargon that ruin so many historical accounts by making anachronistic assertions that couldn’t possibly be true. … I strongly recommend The Leadership of Muhammad. It is a ground-breaking, meticulously researched, objective account of the leadership of one of history’s most influential humans. Hayward tells us a lot in a few words, but what he reveals is highly illuminating and of wide interest.
— Mohamed A. Amer, For Reading Addicts
Professor Joel Hayward, ZDaF, BA, MA Hons, PhD, is a New Zealand/British scholar and author who currently serves as Professor of Strategic Thought at the Rabdan Academy in the United Arab Emirates. The daily newspaper Al Khaleej called him “a world authority on international conflict and strategy”. The National newspaper called Hayward “eminent” and a “distinguished historian of warfare and military strategy”. Kirkus Reviews said that he “is undeniably one of academia’s most visible Islamic thinkers”. He is considered to be one of “the world’s five hundred most influential Muslims,” with his listing in the 2023 edition noting that “he weaves together classical Islamic knowledge and methodologies and the source-critical Western historical method to make innovative yet carefully reasoned sense of complex historical issues that are still important in today’s world.” Hayward has earned ijazāt (teaching authorizations) in ʿAqīdah (Islamic theology) and Sīrah (the Prophet’s biography). He has held various academic leadership posts, including Director of the Institute for International and Civil Security at Khalifa University (UAE), Chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (also at Khalifa University), Head of Air Power Studies at King’s College London, and Dean of the Royal Air Force College (both UK).
He is the author or editor of seventeen books and major monographs and dozens of peer-reviewed articles, mainly in the fields of strategic studies, military history, the Islamic ethics of war and conflict, and Islamic (esp. seventh-century) and western (esp. twentieth century) history. His best-selling books include a major analysis of German airpower during the Stalingrad campaign and a thematic investigation of Horatio Lord Nelson and his way of war. His recent books include Warfare in the Qurʾān (2012), War is Deceit: An Analysis of a Contentious Hadith on the Morality of Military Deception (2017), Civilian Immunity in Foundational Islamic Strategic Thought: A Historical Enquiry (2019), and The Leadership of Muhammad: A Historical Reconstruction. The latter won the prestigious prize of “Best International Non-Fiction Book” at the 2021 Sharjah International Book Awards. His newest book is The Warrior Prophet: Muhammad and War (2022).
Professor Hayward has given strategic advice to political and military leaders in several countries, has given policy advice to prominent sheikhs, and was tutor to His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales, Duke of Cambridge. In 2011 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and in 2012 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. In 2016 he was named as the “Best Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences” at the Middle East Education Leadership Awards. Professor Hayward is also active in the literary arts and has published three books of fiction and four collections of Islamic poetry.
The Table of Contents of The Leadership of Muhammad by Joel Hayward
"Fantastic book! Nearly everything was new to me." *****
by Mahdi Al O
I am well versed in the Sirah of our beloved Prophet pbuh but this highly original book — an early review copy of which I was sent — was a total revelation. I learned something new and important on every page. The research is based on a very careful analysis of the earliest Arabic biographical sources, on which the author is an authority, and the approach and methodology used was something I had not encountered before. The author is correct: Muslim writers start off with the biased assumption that Muhammad pbuh was the Messenger of Allah subhanahu wataala and he simply must have been a great leader because he was a prophet. This is a natural starting point. We love our Prophet pbuh. But it’s certainly not likely to produce an objective, detached and scholarly account of what Muhammad pbuh actually thought and did in terms of leadership. Hayward is a noted Muslim scholar, and his faith is beyond question, but in this book, like his others, he has written with critical distance and objectivity, focusing on what the sources actually tell us about the Prophet’s pbuh thoughts, intentions, actions and interpersonal behaviour. The result is a fascinating, highly illuminating and very original explanation of what actually made Muhammad such a remarkably effective leader.
"Brilliant book that really helped my understanding" *****
by Manal Daana
Joel Hayward is my favourite scholar of Islamic history and this book didn’t disappoint. Now I understand why the Holy Prophet was able to inspire and motivate people and to create a unified and happy community of followers who worked hard to turn his bold vision for the future into a reality. He used leadership techniques and methods and interpersonal behaviors that today’s business and community leaders should adopt as their own. Hayward’s scholarship is unparalleled. He has mastered the earliest Arabic sources, and he uses them carefully, responsibly and accurately to create an innovative and totally eye-opening analysis. As a Muslim historian, Hayward gets it right. This is essential reading.
"A unique approach with deep research" *****
by Hasna El-Masri
I was fascinated by both the author’s deep knowledge of the Islamic sources and his thorough understanding of leadership theory. I never imagined one book could transform my thinking in such a significant and positive way, and I feel very excited about the new knowledge I’ve gained.
"A rare gem!" *****
by Flamur Vehapi
I have gone through a number of books and articles on the topic because I was interested in learning about leadership from an Islamic perspective and this is by far the best book available in the English language. I just wish it was published a decade earlier when I was doing my own research on the subject. Dr. Hayward is an expert at his craft so I know you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend this great work, and I look forward to reading the author's future publications.
"Penetrating, highly informative, and extremely positive" *****
by Sohaib Hasan
Historians write far more analytical and much more accurate books on the leadership of historical figures than modern leadership experts tend to write. The former understand that everything has to be understood now in terms of what was understood back in the era under investigation, and that the approach of the modern leadership writers — who try to impose current concepts back onto people in the past — is entirely unhelpful. Joel Hayward is a masterful historian of early Islam who explains the leadership of Prophet Muhammad in a historically authentic way without imposing any of the fashionable modern leadership jargon or concepts onto the Prophet. Hayward’s expertise with the earliest Arabic sources really dazzled me. I was reminded of the late great Martin Lings. Hayward’s intimate knowledge of the events of Prophet’s life is also as impressive as Ling’s. In this book we are treated to the most original and meticulously researched book written on Muhammad in recent years. It is not long, at only 189 pages, but it is tightly argued and very thorough. I heartily recommend it to other readers.