The Leadership of Muhammad

The Leadership of Muhammad

A Historical Reconstruction

Joel Hayward


179 pages / Published: --


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Given Prophet Muhammad’s (s) immense impact on history, there are surprisingly few books that specifically analyse 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.

Although it is widely agreed that Muhammad was a moral and decent man, this explanation seems incomplete and almost inadequate. Joel Hayward approaches the Prophet’s leadership from a different vantage point by scrutinising ancient sources to ascertain whether Muhammad’s conscious actions, behaviour, and methods can provide any substantial and meaningful insights about the effectiveness of his strategic leadership.

Through meticulous research and rigorous analysis, Hayward demonstrates that Muhammad was an uncommonly astute and self-reflective man with the ability to create and communicate a believable strategic vision of a necessary and desirable future. This engaging yet deeply scholarly book makes a major contribution to both leadership studies and the Prophet’s biography


Joel Hayward


United Kingdom


Joel Hayward is Professor of Strategic Thought at the National Defense College of the United Arab Emirates. His former posts have included being the Director of the Institute of International and Civil Security and the Chair of the multidisciplinary Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Khalifa University (UAE) and the Dean of the Royal Air Force College (UK). He is the author of many books and peer-reviewed articles.


The Leadership of Muhammad










215mm (H) x 140mm (W)

The Glory of Iqbal 1877-1938

" The definitive book on the Prophet’s leadership. An instant classic!"

2024-05-02 04:45:14

Professor Joel Hayward has undoubtedly adopted an innovative approach to the Prophet’s (saaw) leadership. Although a Muslim himself, he did not start out with what he sees as the understandable but flawed logic found in many Islamic books on Muhammad. Those books say that Muhammad was devout, honest, compassionate, tolerant, patient, fair, decisive and courageous. The authors of these books insist that these moral traits are the very things that made Muhammad a great leader. Professor Hayward says he agrees with this characterization of Muhammad, but entirely rejects it as the explanation for Muhammad’s leadership success.

“To say that his moral character was what made Muhammad an effective leader makes no sense,” Professor Hayward explains. “We simply cannot continue to claim that, just because he was both a very good man and a successful leader, we must conclude that he was a successful leader because he was very good man.”

“That’s unsustainable,” Hayward says. “History reveals that very many deeply imperfect, corrupt or wickedly cruel people — including Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Stalin and Mao Zedong — have been very successful leaders.” In terms of terms of what academics call “causality,” which means the actual reasons for something happening, Hayward says we have to look elsewhere to explain Muhammad’s effectiveness as a leader.

Hayward points out that, “that while it can be true that a good person is a good leader, it can equally be true that a bad person is a good leader. Likewise, it can be true that a good person is a bad leader, and equally true that a bad person is a bad leader. Thus, a leader’s elevated morality does not necessarily cause leadership effectiveness.”

Instead, Hayward meticulously investigated what the early Arabic sources reveal about Muhammad’s capacity and aptitude for leadership in order to make a determination as to whether, and to what degree, Muhammad consciously acted in ways that produced positive results, especially the results he actually sought, during his twenty-three years as a leader. Hayward’s command of the earliest Arabic sources is reminiscent of Martin Ling’s, and puts Hayward into a highly esteemed but very small cohort of western scholars who have such knowledge.

Hayward also strenuously avoided the greatest mistake that today’s leadership writers make when they write about historical leaders. They use modern concepts, ideas and jargon to explain what in fact a leader 1,400 years ago could not possibly have been thinking. Hayward points out that this type of anachronism — attributing something to a period in which it did not yet exist — utterly ruins most books on Muhammad’s leadership. Instead, Hayward analyses and explains Muhammad’s leadership effectiveness only through the lens of seventh-century Arabia. In other words, he casts Muhammad as a man of his time whose main reference points for leadership were the things that brought success to the tribal leaders that he was able to observe and learn lessons from. That doesn’t mean that Muhammad didn’t have original ideas and methods. Hayward details these in the most thorough and fascinating way, and he is the first in fact to make sense of how Muhammad understood what we today call strategy.

The result of this approach is a highly interesting and authoritative book. I really loved reading it and I learned a great deal in the process. It deserves to be very widely read, and will, I’m very sure, be recognized as the definitive book on the subject.

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" Excellent book why and how Muhammad succeeded as a leader"

2024-05-02 04:44:28

Joel Hayward writes with focus and he has become my preferred scholar of strategic thought and Islamic history. In this book, he shows how the Prophet was able to inspire and motivate people from a small group that grew quickly to create and turn his bold vision for the future into reality.

The leadership techniques, strategies, methods, and interpersonal ideas contained in this book can be applied right across the spectrum in business, politics, military, sports, and community levels.

Refreshingly Hayward's approach is that of a true scholar, searching and uncovering ideas and perceptions from different angles and laying them before the reader rather than just giving his own views on what he thought the Prophet as a man was. For this book, he went back to the earliest sources and created a book that I believe will become a classic not just on Leadership but also the life of the Prophet.

This is an essential read.

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"Highly original and very informative"

2024-05-02 04:43:46

Hayward offer an insightful and very timely analysis on the Prophet Mohammed, which fill a critical gap in both the leadership and Islamic/religious studies literatures. Unlike the founders of other major religions, the Prophet Mohammed led men into battle and governed, and in this sense was a strategic leader in ways that closely resemble the experience of contemporary strategic leaders. The book is incredibly useful for Muslims and non-Muslims alike and for students/scholars of Islamic/religious and leadership studies. For students of leadership studies, the book proffers an important and under-examined case on one of the leadership styles of one of the most important characters in history. And unlike most works within the field of Leadership Studies, Hayward’s book is a serious piece of scholarship and goes far beyond superficial levels of analysis. For students and scholars of Islamic studies the book holds equal weight and engages comprehensively with the theological basis of Prophet’s leadership style with reference to primary sources. The book achieves a great balance in its scholarly meticulousness while being accessible to non-experts.

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"Ground-breaking and necessary "

2022-08-16 15:02:45

I saw Professor Joel Hayward discussing this book on the Blogging Theology podcast on YouTube and was amazed and transfixed by his honesty, unparalleled knowledge and clarity. I could not wait to read the book and it was even better than I had anticipated. This is truly a ground-breaking and important book and Prof Hayward has proven that he is now the very best historian of the Prophet (s).

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"5 Stars! from the San Francisco Review of Books"

2021-09-23 03:04:59

In a glowing review, the prestigious San Francisco Review of Books called The Leadership of Muhammad a “ground breaking book”, and awarded it five stars out of five. Reviewer Foluso Falaye described the book as “a great source of knowledge about Muhammad and the beginning of Islam.” He wrote that “its critical approach will appeal to academic minds, although the language is simple and direct enough to carry all readers along.” He added that, “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.”

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"A book like no other"

2021-09-16 19:42:41

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.

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"Penetrating, highly informative, and extremely positive"

2021-08-21 08:22:01

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.

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"A rare gem!"

2021-08-07 03:23:36

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.

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"A unique approach with deep research"

2021-08-06 15:36:37

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.

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"Brilliant book that really helped my understanding"

2021-08-04 12:32:03

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.

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"Fantastic book! Nearly everything was new to me. "

2021-07-21 15:34:22

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.

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