The enlightened Muslim leadership of the early empires enabled the rise of the various golden ages. This vision of leadership, however compromised by the unavoidable human ego, institutional failings, bad luck, and corruption, managed for more than eight centuries to inspire a climate of invention and intellectual ferment that was unique and helped shape a future vision of modern leadership in Europe and other non-Muslim countries.
The leadership legacy of Abu Bakr would seem to be in creating a model of humility, compromise, incorruptibility, and a dedication to charity and public welfare. These values provided an enduring ideal of leadership in the Muslim world and beyond, an ideal often contrary to the baser instincts of men.
Ali is one of the first Muslim leaders to set down in writing a detailed template for enlightened leadership, elements of which later surfaced in the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, in Fatimid and Sunni Egypt, in Seljuk Persia and Anatolia, in the Delhi sultanate and Mughal India, and in the Ottoman Empire.
Evidence is included in a lengthy letter on leadership, which Caliph Ali sent to his loyal follower, Maalik al-Ashtar, appointing him as the new Muslim governor of Egypt:
... Remember, Maalik, that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you have, they are brothers to you; and those who have religions other than that of yours, they are human beings like you.... Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you....You must always appreciate and adopt a policy, which is neither too severe nor too lenient; a policy which is based upon equity will be largely appreciated. Remember that the displeasure of common men, the havenots and the depressed persons overbalances the approval of important persons, while the displeasure of a few big people will be excused by the Lord if the general public and masses of your subjects are happy with you....Remember, Maalik.... The thing which should most gladden the heart of a ruler is the fact that his State is being ruled on the principles of equity and justice and that his subjects love him. And your subjects will only love you when they have no grievances against you. So let them have as many justifiable hopes in you as they can and fulfill as many as you reasonably can. Speak well of those who deserve your praise. Appreciate the good deeds done by them and let these good actions be known publicly.
Compiled From:"Lost History" - Michael Hamilton Morgan, pp. 254-257