Crisis Management

Crisis management requires the presence of mind. It is the presence of the mind that helps one to manage crises successfully. The greatest quality needed for successful crisis management is only one: to forget the first chance you have lost and discover the second chance and avail of it. In every crisis, a person loses the first chance. One obsessed with losing the first chance cannot manage the crisis. The moment you get rid of the first loss, you can easily manage the problem in your favour. This principle applies not only to individuals but also to nations. A nation, too, often loses the first chance. At that time, national leaders should remove people’s focus from the first chance and draw their attention to the second chance. It is the only art of management of a crisis.

Video Transcript
Video Transcript


Crisis  (its  Arabic  equivalent  being, Bohran) denotes  a  problem  situation  that  arises  in  the  life  of everyone, be it an individual or a nation. The important question here is when crisis is faced at such a large scale, what is  the  way to deal  with  it. Those who are successful  in dealing with crisis  situation, are able to extricate themselves out of it, others re main engulfed.

What is crisis?

Crisis  is  a  defined  as  an  unstable  situation  of  extreme  difficulty,  in  other  words,  it  is  a  complex problem.  If the  situation presents an  ordinary degree of  perplexity or  difficulty,  it presents a problem. Unlike an  ordinary problem, solution of a crisis situation is difficult to fathom.  For example, a person who  wants  to  come  to  this  floor  will  have  to  find  the  staircase  and  tread  his  way  up.  If  instead  of doing so, he creates a hue and cry, he has in effect, failed to manage the crisis situation.

Likewise, while driving through a narrow road, if the driver sees a car  approaching from the opposite direction, he can opt for one of the two courses. The driver may choose to blow the horn and get into a verbal brawl  with  the  other  driver. Doing so, would  lead them  into  a  deadlock.  If  on the other hand, one  of  the  two  drivers  lets  the other  car  pass  by,  it  will  be  an  example  of  crisis  management. Such situations  presents itself before all – most often, individuals are able  to  solve it but communities  and nations are not able to solve it.

The present-day  Muslim community is  stuck in crisis and they do not know how to manage it despite their being ample examples in the life history of the Prophet Muhammad.

Example from the life of Prophet Muhammad

According  to  a  tradition,  the  Prophet  and  his  Companions  were  travelling  from  Taif  to Mecca. The total strength  of people  was 12,000  and mounted  upon horses or on foot, the  group  reached a  narrow valley, Az-zaiyyiqa. Upon reaching the place, they halted to think how it will be crossed. The Prophet advised  that  since  their  current  formation  was  horizontally  spread,  they  were  finding  it  difficult  to think  of  how  to  cross  the  narrow  valley.  If  however,  they  were  to  form  themselves  vertically,  they would be able  to  manage  and pass  through. This is an example  of  crisis  management,  which depicts man’s response to a new situation by way of re-assessing and re-thinking.

It must  be  understood  that  in  situations  of  crisis, pre-crisis  thinking does  not  work.  Unless  man develops post-crisis thinking, he will not be able to manage the situation.

When  the  Prophet  Muhammad  began  preaching  the  Word  of  God,  the  Meccans  were  staunch  idol worshippers.  Some  of them  agreed to  Prophet’s message and  some  did  not.  Despite  dire efforts,  his opponents in Mecca could not halt the mission of the Prophet. Given its momentum, the Meccan tribal Parliament decided  to kill the Prophet. When the  Prophet got  to know about  this,  he had  two courses of options –  one  was that he could have mobilized  his companions to fight against  the tribal  Meccans to get  back  their  rights  as  Mecca was their homeland.  Had he  opted  for  this  course, all  would  have perished.  But  Prophet re-thought,  re-assessed and  applied  post-crisis thinking. He decided to migrate to Medina, which is about 300 miles away and started doing his work there.

Similarly, when the Prophet and his companions set out  to Mecca to perform Umrah, their opponents in  Mecca  halted  them  mid-way  at  Hudaibiyaah  and  did  not  allow  them  to  enter  Mecca.  Here  also, Prophet  had  the  option  of  violent  confrontation.  But  he  chose  the  method  of  peaceful  negotiation instead.  These  talks  continued for  about  two  weeks and  resulted  in  the  signing  of  a  ten  year  no-war pact.  In  order  for  this  peace  Treaty  to  materialize,  the  Prophet  unilaterally  agreed  to  all  terms  and conditions laid by the Quraysh. In this instance, lies a clear example of crisis management. As a result of the Treaty, when the opportunities opened up, the activities of the mission caught speed.

Failure of Muslim to manage the crisis

The  present-day  Muslim  mindset  is  infested  with  the  thought  that  the  world  is  conspiring  against them. They do not understand that their real problem is that they failed to manage crisis.

Islam began in 610 A.D in Mecca and spread to most parts of Africa and Asia by  632 A.D. A Muslim empire  came  into  existence  as  Muslims  overthrew  the  tyrannies  of  Roman  and  Sassanid  empires.

After  abeout  800 years,  Europeans  overthrew  the  Muslim Empire leading  to  the  establishment  of the British Empire. The changed situation demanded a change in thinking but Muslims failed to adopt it.

In  the year  1799  when  the  British  defeated Tipu  Sultan  at  Srirangapatnam, their  General  remarked, “Now India is ours!” After this decisive victory, British rule flourished in India in a big manner. In the same year, the French armies destroyed the Turkish Naval fleet which took Turkish Empire by storm.

Due  to this and several other  events in  the background, Muslims  started hating the Europeans instead of thinking about the reason for European dominance.

The  rise of British  can  be attributed  to modern  technology  and  modern  science.  It  was  not a  case of Muslim enmity but a case of technological supremacy. However, all Muslim thinkers took it to be the case  of  enmity  against  the  Muslim  world.  They  did  not  realize  that  Muslims  had  traditional knowledge  whereas  British  came  with  scientific  knowledge.  Muslims  had  animal  power  and  used ancient  warfare  techniques  but  British  brought  with  them  mechanical  power  and  modern  warfare technology.  The  difference  was  clearly  on  qualitative  grounds  since  quantity  no  longer  enjoyed supremacy.

The  present-day  Muslim  mindset  continues  to  be  anachronistic.  They  did  not  make  an  effort  to understand  the  technological  prowess  of  the  world.  Instead  of  succeeding  them  in  a  level  playing field, Muslims resorted to suicide bombing so that they can destabilize the “anti-Muslim” powers. All this while the Muslim clerics maintained silence; none of them gave a fatwa against suicide bombing.

In such situations of extreme violence, a new ijtihad was required, which has been  described in the Quran as a law of nature:

We bring these days to men by turns, so that God may know those who believe, and choose witnesses from among you (3:140)

In  the  light  of  the  above  verse,  Muslims  should  have  realized  that  political  supremacy  is  not  a monopoly  of  anyone.  In  other  words,  the  concept  of  “Empire”  is  no  longer  feasible  in  the  modern world.  Despite  that,  there  still  exist  over  50  Muslim  countries  worldwide.  This  change  in  the  new world was brought about  after the  French  Revolution in  the  18th century, which led to the  prevalence of  the  idea  of nation-state.  This  Revolution brought about democracy and  the idea of  “empire -hood” was  discarded.  Unfortunately,  the  present-day  Muslims  are  still  living  in  the  “Empire”  mindset  and continue to make efforts to regain the old glory.

At this stage, an ijtihad (re-thinking) was required so that Muslims  can be  brought to terms with the reality  and  are  able  to  understand  that  the  era  of  empires  is  over.  All  Empires,  be  it  the  Roman, Muslim,  British,  Russian,  came  to  an  end.  In  the  present  times,  America  rose  with  the  desire  of establishing an empire but soon this approach proved resultless.

Muslims  however  continue  to  live  in  the  idea  of  “caliphate”  and  therefore  crisis  continues  to perpetrate  throughout  the  Muslim  world.  They  still  have  not  come  to  terms  with  the  reality  of  the present world. Here I will give two illustrative examples from history.

The example of China

The old concept of Communism flourished in China according to which political power and economic activities  worked  best  when  integrated,  centrally.

Deng  Xioping, the  Chairman  of  Communist  Party became  instrumental  in  leading  China  towards  a  market-based  economy.

Xioping was  educated  in China  and  Russia  and  later  went  to  Paris  where  he  realized  that  the  reason  for  development  of economy  of  France  was  the  decentralization  of  economy  from  politics.  This  gave  him  the  idea  to accelerate  the  economic  development  of  China.  China  adopted  the  French  model  and  while  the political rule continued to be in the hands of the Communist Party, the economy was liberalized. This change brought about great progress in China and today even America  is indebted to China.

The  concept  of  liberalization  was  adopted  in  India  as  well  but  we  could  not  completely  de -link politics and economy.  That is why, corruption thrives in India. The pre-independence leaders of India were  of a  socialist bent of mind  and wanted to create a socialist economy in India.  They  adopted the method  of controlled  economy which  gave bureaucracy  the  right to control  economic activities. The license-  raj paved  way  for  bureaucrats  to  take  bribe  for  giving  the  authorization.  This  situation  has deteriorated to such an extent that the only available solution for controlling corruption in India is to follow the Chinese model and exercise de-linking between politics and economy.

The  crisis  manage ment  practiced  by  China  is  exemplary.  It  was  earlier  said  that  a  dead  civilization cannot  be  revived but  China changed  this  belief. From being a  great centre  of civilizational progress to becoming a  dead  civilization,  China  revived  itself once  again.  The  present-day Muslims  can  also revive themselves by learning the art of crisis management from China’s example.

The example of Pope

The authority of Pope was highly influential in ancient Europe. However, the ideas that emerged from scientific  advancement  were  directly  confrontation  with  the  Christian  beliefs.  For  instance,  the Christian  belief  lent  credence  to  the  geocentric  theory  (Earth  is  the  centre  of  the  universe  and  all objects  orbit  around  it).  Astronomical  discoveries  proved  the  contrary  and  established  that  the universe  followed  the  heliocentric  model  (Sun  being  the  central body  of the  solar  system  and  Earth and  other  planets  revolve  around  it).  The  details  of  this  have  been  provided  in  the  book  by  John William Draper, “History of the conflict between religion and science.”

When  such conflicting accounts emerged,  the Christian church receded. They re-thought and  decided to  de-link  their  authority.  An  agreement  called  the Lateran  Treaty was  signed  in  the  year  1929, between the  Kingdom  of  Italy (represented  by Benito Mussolini) and  the  Holy  See  (Pietro  Gasparri, Cardinal  Secretary of State).  This was a  political treaty, which  recognised the  full  sovereignty of  the Holy See in the State of Vatican City, which was thereby established. Vatican became an independent state.  This  agreement  saved  the  title,  “Pope”  and  with  it,  its  historical  sanctity  got  preserved.  Even today, the Pope is greatly revered. Hence, the religious unity remained intact.

Ill-effects of confrontation

A  clear  case  of  the  repercussions  of  confrontation  can  be  seen  in  the  example  of Khalifa-tul-Muslimeen, a  coveted  title  of  Turkey,  which  lost  its  influence  when  the Khalifa took  up  to confrontational course of action. Had this title remained, it would have been a great source of unity.

Similarly, if Arabs would have agreed to the Balfour Agreement, they would have had a stronghold in the area because in dividing the land between Arabs and Israel, Balfour had allocated the better half to Arabs. Likewise, if the Kashmiris would have refrained from militancy,  it would have developed like Switzerland.

In this way, Muslims miserably failed in the art of crisis management and suicide bombing is the final act  of  failure  aimed  at  creating  de-stabilisation.  All  these  movements  that  perpetrated  hatred  and revenge have proved futile in terms of result – the only criterion to judge the success of a movement.

It must  therefore be  borne in mind that in face  of a new situation, planning must  be done and  efforts made so that the crisis can be managed. According to the Quran, Reconciliation is best (4:128)

This verse  means  that  when a  situation emerges,  it  should  be  managed  and  not confronted with. For example,  when two  cars  head  towards  each  other from  opposite directions, they  have two  options  – either to honk, blow the horn and abuse one another or one car gives a  pass to the other and they both peacefully head in their respective directions.

Confrontation  increases  the  chaos  whereas  managing  helps  deal  with  deadlock  so  that  a  new  level playing field can  be  arranged  for  working  peacefully. Had  Prophet  fought  at Hudaibiyaah,  that place would  have  become  a  graveyard  of  Muslims  but  when  managed,  Hudaibiyaah  became  the  starting point of a new era.


Problems  are  a  part  of  the  Creation  Plan of  God.  They  must  be  taken  as  a  challenge  and  managed; when  this  does  not  happen,  it  becomes  a  deadlock  situation.  But  man’s  mind  has  such  immense capacity that it can re-assess and re-plan the approach from any point.

The  present-day  Muslims  failed  to  analyse  the  crisis  and re-plan their approach;  instead  the  Muslim literature  only  propagated  complaints.  They  could  not  understand  that  complaining  in  event  of  a problem  situation  does  not  help.  Such  a  situation  requires ijtihad (re-thinking).  Unfortunately,  the Muslim clerics treat this approach as a taboo. According to a Hadith, a Mujtahid (one who applies re- thinking)  gets double reward for  a  right ijtihad and single reward for a  wrong ijtihaad.

This  Hadith points  out  to  an  important  law  of  nature.  If  man’s  thinking  becomes  stagnant,  it  closes  all  doors  to progress. Those clerics who claim that ijtihad is no longer applicable are making a self-styled claim, which has  no basis in the Quran or  Hadith. Creativity  is a  continuous  work  but because this  wisdom lacked  the  Muslim  minds,  they  could  not  understand  the  contemporary  world.  Muslims  need  to  re-assess  their  approach.  They  must  understand  that  praying  loudly  on  speakers  is  not  the  solution because dua is not an institution.

Dua is an individual action and not community work. According to a Hadith, when in his loneliness, man thinks about God, paradise, death and hell and tears trickle down his eyes, he will receive God’s protection. Such is real dua. (Mishkat)

A crisis  situation  must therefore be  first be fully understood. Until this is done, no new course can be adopted.  The  life  of  Prophet  Muhammad  is  filled  with  crisis  management  situations.  Unless  the Muslims admit  that they  were  wrong  in the last two hundred years,  they  will  not be able to  make  a new  beginning.  Patching  up  for  their  mistakes  and  not  admitting  will  not  help.  Muslims  could  not positively avail opportunities like the printing press, democracy, openness and remained reactive.

World  is  reaching  its  end.  Now,  more  than  ever  it  is  critical  that  Muslims  confess  that  they  were wrong.  Instead  of  complaining  and  blaming  others,  Muslims  will  have  to  blame  themselves  so  that they  can  re-plan  their  course  of  action.  May  God  give  us  the  wisdom  to  realize  and  re-assess  our approach!

Question – Answers

Q1:  Why  is it that Muslims are different from other  communities in failing to find  a  solution  to  their


A:  The  present-day  Muslim  psyche  has developed a  result of  the failure  of  the  Muslim  leaders. But this is not the  only reason. An  immediate question that  comes to  mind is why did the Muslim leaders fail? This  happened  because these  leaders  were  marred  by  hatred.  For example,  during  the  Abbasid period,  news  spread  that  a  regional  tribe  is about  to  revolt.  The  ruler  was  being  advised  to  send  an army  to subdue  the  anticipated uprising  but  a  courtier advised the King  that  there was  no need to do so.   He  said that the notion of their  King’ s dominance was  so  strong  that  even a warning  letter from his administration would suffice to check their courage. His assessment was correct. A letter was sent and it successfully checked the revolt. This mindset of dominance has continued to prevail in Muslims because in all these years, no creative leader came about who could guide the Muslims.

Q2:  Satan  has  attached a  sense  of thrill  with  acts of sin  be  it  consuming alcohol  or  whatever.  How does Satan beautify the bad things?

A: According to the Quran,

Shall lead them astray and fill them with vain desires (4:119)

The most vulnerable  point of man is  his  unlimited desires. Man must  keep  evaluating  the outcome of following his desires. Only by doing this can he keep his mind activated to counter the allurements of Satan.

Q3: Why is ijtihaad (re-thinking) considered a taboo by Muslims? What is its history?

A: Ijtihaad is considered  a  taboo by  Muslims  today  because they  hold the notion  that the last  set  of people  who could undertake ijtihad were the teachers of Fiqh (Jurisprudence) in the Abbasid period. Anyone  who  wants  to  understand  this  in  detail  can  refer  to  my  book, Fikr  ki  glati where  I  have elaborated this in detail.

Q4: People think that if kids do hifz (memorise the Quran), the parents shall dwell into paradise?

A: This is a self-styled belief of the Muslims because no where is it cited in the Quran or Hadith. The memorization  of  the  Quran  was  done  in  order  to  preserve  it;  it  was  not  meant  for  taking  man  to paradise.  In  earlier  times, Hafiz preserved  Quran  in  their  memories,  now  the  printing  press  does.  It must be understood that the sole condition for paradise is - ikhlaas.

Q5: Some people think that Ijtihaad can lead to innovation. Please comment.

A: There is only one condition of performing ijtihaad and that is, intent of the doer. If man does it for the sake of God alone, then even if he makes a mistake, he will be rewarded by God.

Q6: As far as the solution for Palestine issue is concerned, I agree that Muslims must establish status-quo  and  establish  peace.  But  you  wrote  in  Prophet  of  Peace  that  the  exiled  Jews  have  the  right  to return to the Holy Land. Does this Quranic verse not pertain to the contemporaries of Moses’ only?

A: A principle of the  Quran is applicable to a select group if it is explicitly  stated  in the Quran  that it only applies to them and to no one else. But in the context of above verse, the Quran does not say that it is applicable to the contemporary of Moses’ a lone. We know from the Quran that Abraham had two sons –  Ismail  (who was settled in  Hijaz)  and  Issac (who was settled in Palestine). That is why, Israel became the assigned land for the Jews.

Q7: Why have Muslims not emerged from the empire mindset?

A:  The  blame  for  the  present  Muslim  mindset  goes  to  the  so-called  Muslim  leaders.  In  this  era, without  any  exception,  every  person  speaks  the  language  of  political  pride  and  superiority.  That is why  I  say  that the Islam of  present-day  Muslims is derived  from  history  and not  scriptures.  Till this continues, things  will  not  change.  History  (or  empire)  should  be  taken  as  a  temporary  phase  of Muslim history and Muslims must now revert to the Quran and Hadith.

Q8: According to a Hadith, reading a word of the Quran is rewardable. What does this mean?

A: It does not mean that the reward is for rendering those letters but for the spirit attached with it. This is a way of saying that you say with reference of words but it pertains to the spirit.

Q9: Media is a perception forming industry. How should a common man untangle the complex web of perceptions that is built around by media?

A:  The  only  way to  untangle  the  web  is to  blame  the  Muslims.  The  biggest  mistake  of  present-day Muslims  is  that  they  blame  the  media  for  all  their  ills.  Media  is  an  industry  which  sensationalizes items of news and Muslims must understand this.

Q10: Today  Muslims are looked upon as terrorist. In  this  context,  how can  we apply  the art  of crisis management?

A: No one calls  me a terrorist. Those who  do suicide bombing or commit acts of  terror are called  so. But despite these open acts of terror, no clerics openly denounces this practice.

Q11:  You  have  used  a  psychological  term,  “balanced  personality”  in  your  book,  Prophet  for  all Humanity. What does this mean?

A:  It  means  maintaining  the  personality  which has  been given  to  you by  nature.  But  when,  you  get affected by external influences, it corrupts the personality.

Q12: Some people discouraging from thinking say, Islam does not stand on thinking?

A:  Quran  keeps referring to usage  of your  ability  to  think,  again  and again. He  who stops is the one who should rectify his thinking.

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