Although the Qur’an does not mandate a specific form of government, it provides broad moral directives for sound political governance. The Qur’an further refers to two specific traits in the legitimate leaders of the Muslim (and any other righteous) polity: precedence and moral excellence, two concepts which were understood to have considerable socio-political implications as well. In the secondary, extra-Qur’anic literature, there is extensive commentary on these two traits and their significance for defining legitimate leadership. This article traces the broad contours of this extended discussion and refers to its continuing relevance in our own times. It further indicates points of similarity between this discursive treatment of leadership and some aspects of the modern electoral system.