Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. MB ChB, MPH, DrPH (Harvard) Professor of Medicine & Director, Training Center, International Islamic University PO Box 70 Jln Sultan PJ 46700 Telephone 60 3 755 3433 fax 60 3 757 7970 Seminar on ‘Building Leaders of the Community,’ Madrasah Wak Tanjomg al Islamiah, Singapore  31 May-1 June 1996


This paper discusses what motivation means. It explains the types and methods of motivating others as individuals and as groups. The Islamic approach to motivation is contrasted with the European one. Intrinsic is more effective than extrinsic motivation.


KEY WORDS/CONCEPTS: Understanding motivation, Theories of motivation, Intrinsic motivation, Extrinsic motivation, Reinforcement, Material rewards as a motivator, Punishments, Motivating an individual, Motivating a team, Jannat as a positive motivator, Jahanam as a negative motivator, Strong desire to improve, Carrot and stick, Positive competition, Motivation in the Qur’an, Motivation in your organization, Motivation-negative and positive, Intrinsic achievement/motivation





Motivation explains why individuals behave the way they do


Motivation is bringing out the best in people


Motivation is an internal drive, a conscious voluntary choice, a positive attitude to work, with purpose and high expectation of success.


Motivation is inside, its outward manifestation is behavior of the worker: a strong sense of direction in the work, persistence in face of obstacles and challenges, and intensity of performance.


Motivation is individual. What motivates one person may not motivate another one. What motivates a leader may not motivate a follower.


Motivation is infectious. Motivated leaders usually have motivated followers. Motivated peers are surrounded by motivated individuals.


Motivation has three components: (a) instincts, innate biological determinants of behavior (b) drive, an aroused state that occurs because of physiological need (c) incentives and external stimuli


Our life on earth is the best illustration of motivation. We all struggle to do the best we can in order to go to paradise and avoid hell. Paradise is therefore a positive motivation and hell is a negative motivation (1, 2)


Motivation should not be confused with manipulation. Motivation is internal whereas manipulation is external. Motivation primarily is follower satisfaction whereas manipulation is for the sole pleasure of the leader to the detriment sometimes of the follower.




Many of the theories on motivation in the literature reflect the European and American world view and would not be applicable to Muslims.


Muslims find their motivation in their religion and their cultural heritage. Any approach to motivation that ignores this will not succeed.


The Prophet (PBUH) taught that every human endeavor is an act of worship and charity. Thus a Muslim working knows he is worshipping his Lord and this is a powerful motivator in itself irrespective of any material gain.


The concept of IHSAAN, strife towards excellence, is a great motivator for a Muslim.


A Muslim looks at the salary and other material benefits as a means to enable him feed, clothe, and house himself and his family so that he can devote his energy to the work. He does not look at them as a just return for his labor. His labor is worship and only Allah can recompense for it.


There are aspects of Muslim character that affect motivation: sharaf (fear of losing face, shame for self and family), thawab (reward in the hereafter), karam (generosity), and wafa (fulfillment).




Intrinsic motivation, unlike extrinsic motivation, is generally positive


The best motivation is self-motivation. The role of leaders is to facilitate the process. Superior performance results when the inner person is influenced positively: his thinking, his self-esteem and his commitment.


In intrinsic motivation there is a need for competence and self-determination.


Achievement motivation is a type of intrinsic motivation when the basic drive is to succeed regardless of the rewards or punishments.


Intrinsic rewards are task completion, achievement, autonomy, and personal growth.




Extrinsic motivation is from the environment. It is a consideration of rewards and punishments.


Extrinsic rewards are salary, benefits, and promotions.




You must distinguish clearly between real and reactionary motivation. Real motivation will last. Reactionary motivation is only temporary


Some highly motivated people in one area may be trying to cover up failures elsewhere




Leaders need motivation to be able to manage; workers need motivation to be able to perform.


The leader must understand what motivates people to be able to get the best from the followers under him. This is usually not an easy task because the follower may himself not be able to tell what motivates him.


Most people with average abilities can be super producers if motivated well.


Motivation should not be confused with performance. A highly motivated person may not perform well because of mistakes, lack of resources, or technical skills.


Turning motivation into performance is a challenge, it requires setting objectives and goals, abilities and skills, training, and resources.


Performance is affected by the individual's capacity to perform, the willingness to perform, and being given an opportunity to perform.


Job satisfaction is how well a worker likes the job. High job satisfaction is directly related to high motivation.


The relation between level of motivation and success/achievement is not always linear. Motivation is low at the start of a difficult task when the feeling is 'why waste effort on project likely not to succeed. When the project gets under way and results begin to appear, motivation level is high because of concrete results realized. Motivation is low towards the end of the project when things are moving well. The  feeling is 'why bother when all is going so well!'




Highly motivated individuals manifest some common characteristics: clarity of vision and objectives, strategic and tactical plans for achieving objectives, high expectancy, energy, drive and self confidence, need for responsibility and control, strong communication skills, taking risks, accepting correction/criticism, want for recognition, doing interesting work, high expectancy, having authority




Motivation (or demotivation) can be from the leader, peers, working conditions, or the general environment.


Motivated leaders are powerful motivators. The very process of leading motivates by defining a sense of direction and giving purpose to the endeavors of the group. Followers are motivated if leaders communicate positive feelings of approval.


Motivated co-followers buoy up the less motivated ones. Approval and positive attitudes by co-followers are very strong motivators.


The old saying that nothing succeeds like success is very relevant here. The higher the probability of success, the higher the level of motivation. Followers get motivated when they see that their efforts are bearing fruit.


There are measures that leaders can undertake to motivate followers positively. A motivated leader motivates. Successful leaders can motivate their followers by clarifying goals, setting challenging but attainable objectives, use of participatory management that makes the workers feel they are an important part of the work team. Respect, recognition, humane and kind treatment, good 2-way communication are positive motivators.


Fairness and justice in an organization are strong sources of positive motivation. Fairness is based on building trust (sharing information and fulfilling commitments); consistency in decisions, behaviors and pronouncements; truthfulness; integrity; equitable treatment of all people and justice for all; respect for others; and following due process.


The follower must feel secure about his job and know that as a member of a work team he will be protected and supported when he encounters difficulties. His basic physiological and psychological or social needs must be fulfilled so that he does not have to worry about them.


The type of work assigned can motivate. The follower is motivated by work that is challenging and meaningful; has opportunities for advancement, learning and personal growth; provides responsibility and independence; and gives job satisfaction.




Worries, lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, and low self-worth are associated with low follower motivation.


Negative opinions in the work place, poor working conditions, poor leadership, inequity, and injustice are negative motivators.




Reinforcement can be positive or negative. Positive reinforcement is through appreciation, reward and praise. A worker who knows that his work is useful and is appreciated will be highly motivated.


Negative reinforcement is reprimand. A worker may perform well to avoid a reprimand. However this approach will fail in the long run.


Reinforcement can be continuous, or at fixed intervals, or at variable intervals. Reinforcement at variable intervals is more effective because of the expectancy it generates.




Expectation of a just reward (material or non material) for work well done is a motivator.


Need-based motivators can be ranked. Respect comes first followed by security, success, and independence


Little financial compensation is not in itself a demotivator unless it is viewed as not being equitable. The gap between the lowest and the highest paid should not be flagrantly large. Financial rewards should be directly related to the effort expended or the contribution to the organization.


The use of material rewards as a motivator should be put in proper perspective. People work because they believe not because they receive. Once material rewards become the prime motivators, many workers will look for ways (and there are many) of getting the rewards without putting in the requisite effort. They may pretend to work, lie to their managers, be polite and respectful to superiors, stroke the egos of leaders to get loved, develop and nurture strategic friendships, give impressions of being team players, avoid high risk assignments that could expose weaknesses, and generally play the pretending game well.


In many organizations promotions are not a result of documented performance but senior management feeling good about the employee. You can not get away with material rewards for no work for long. You can however spend a life-time hopping from one pretense job to another with eventual loss of self-esteem. When the reality becomes known, as it must be, termination is the result.




Fear of censure or punishment could motivate a worker to produce but for a limited time


Punishments have advantages and disadvantages. Leaders must know how to use them carefully.


The carrot-and-stick approach uses both positive and negative reinforcement either simultaneously or in sequence (3,4)




Motivation of an individual is different from motivation of a group.


General measures needed to motivate an individual include: positive working atmosphere, emphasis on high hopes, opportunities for growth, promoting team spirit, fair rewards, and setting achievable challenges.


Specific measures for motivating an individual are a step-by-step process. Determine the motivation needs of an individual. Define the desired performance. Link motivation to performance. Provide training, information, and resources. Then loosen grip and monitor performance with frequent feed-back.




A team can be motivated by providing the right working conditions, defining a clear mission, identifying a common goal and a common identity. The attitude must be positive and the leader must be motivated.




Positive competition can be a motivator (5). Competition becomes negative only when people want to succeed and prevent others from achieving.




A leader who knows how to keep the morale of the followers high is a motivator. The Prophet and his companions used to keep up the morale of their followers in difficult or stressful times (6,7) .





Be you foremost ( in seeking ) forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden ( of Bliss ), The width whereof if as the width of Heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His messengers; that is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom He pleases: and Allah is the Lord of Grace abounding. Qur'an 57:21



Such is the requital of the enemies of Allah the Fire; therein will be for them the Eternal Home; a ( fit ) requital, for that they were wont to reject our Signs.




" When hope ( of forgiveness ) and fear ( of punishment ) are found in the heart of a believer, then Allah fulfills his hope and grants him salvation because of his fears" Hayat 2:688



"Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique said "Don't you see that in the Qur'an Allah has placed verses dealing with stern dealings (with the non-believers) side by side with the verses dealing with His softness ( to be shown to those who fear Him. This is just to make a man love good and shun evil" Hayat 2:689



"Once the holy Prophet (Salam) asked us to give charity, By chance, I had then enough money with me and hence I thought I would surpass Abu Bakr (Rad) on that very day if I can. I, therefore brought to the Holy Prophet (Salam) half of my total amount. The Holy Prophet (Salam) asked me, What had you left for your family? I submitted, I have left the same quantity I have brought to your service. On the other hand, Abu Bakr (Rad) brought all that he had with him. Upon enquiry from the Holy Prophet (Salam) he said, I have left merely the names of Allah and His Messenger at home. Umar (Rad) states, I said to myself I can never surpass him in any matter whatsoever." Hayat 2:170



"Narrated Anas: Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) went towards the Khandaq (i.e.Trench) and saw the Emigrants and the Ansar digging in a very cold morning as they did not have slaves to do that for them. When he noticed their fatigue and hunger he said, "O Allah! The real life is that of the Hereafter, (so please) forgive the Ansar and the Emigrants." In reply the Emigrants and the Ansar said, "We are those who have given a pledge of allegiance to Muhammad (may peace be upon him) that we will carry on Jihad as long as we live" Bukhari 4:64, hadith # 87


"Narrated Al Bara: On the day (of the battle) of Al-Ahzab (i.e.clans) I saw the Prophet (may peace be upon him) carrying earth, and the earth was covering the whiteness of his abdomen. And he was saying, "Without You (O Allah!) we would have got no guidance, nor given in charity, nor prayed. So please bless us with tranquility and make firm our feet when we meet our enemies, indeed (these) people have rebelled against (oppressed) us but never shall we yield if they try to bring affliction upon us" Bukhari 4:65-66, hadith # 90



On that day a messenger of Umar arrived and brought with him four swords and four horses for distribution among those whose valor in war was the greatest. The messenger called upon Hammal b. Malik, al-Ribbil b. Amr b. Rabi'ah (both Walibis), Tulayhah b. Khuwaylid al-Faq'asi (these three belonged to the tribe of Asad), and upon Asim b. Amr al-Tamimi and gave them the swords; then be called upon al-Qa'qa b. Amr and the Yarbu'is and let them ride the horses. Thus the three Yarbu'is received three-quarters of the horses, and the three Asadis received three-quarters of the swords. .Tabari 12:99

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule May 1996