One of the symptoms of the problem currently facing the Muslim world is defeatism and shallow thought. Many defeated Muslims constantly try to undermine other Muslims attempting to do good works. The reason for this is because people have accepted a state of doing nothing, being lazy, letting the world do whatever it wants without seriously trying to affect fundamental change according to the aims we should have based upon the Quran and Sunnah – in essence being defeated. So to defeated people, anyone who attempts to do something for the cause of Islam is perceived as self-aggrandising, power-seeking or arrogant.
The reason for this perception, is that a Society governed by higher Ideas and Ideals collapsed centuries ago due to the gradual erosion of thinking caused by excessive luxuries, comfort and success. Islamic civilisation reached its peak in 16th century, and was ultimately defeated by victory itself. After the gradual economic and technological decline, any last vestiges of Islamic revival was further erased by Western colonialism and its systematic destruction or the former education systems in occupied Muslim lands.
Losing to the West instilled in the Muslim world a defeatist mentality, a loss of hope until such levels that the only thing defeatist Muslims cling onto is believing the end times are now, and hoping for divine intervention in the form of the Mahdi (who is looked up to because waiting for the Mahdi doesn’t appear to require any work, nor demand people do anything now).
Ibn Khaldun famously said in his chapter ‘A nation that has been defeated and come under the rule of another nation will quickly perish’, ‘The reason for this [defeatism] may possibly lie in the apathy that comes over people when they lose control of their own affairs and, through enslavement, become the instrument of others and dependent upon them. Hope diminishes and weakens. Now, propagation and an increase in civilisation (population) take place only as the result of strong hope and of the energy that hope creates in the animal powers (of man). When hope and the things it stimulates are gone through apathy, and when group feeling has disappeared under the impact of defeat, civilisation decreases and business and other activities stop. With their strength dwindling under the impact of defeat, people become unable to defend themselves. They become the victims of anyone who tries to dominate them, and a prey to anyone who has the appetite. It makes no difference whether they have already reached the limit of their sultaniyya [independent rule] or not’
After the withdrawal of colonial forces, the colonial powers left behind Muslim Societies in a state of anarchy, or jahilliyah, in which thinking is superficial and shallow, and therefore people only could understand the world through conspiracy theories and superstition. The only currency in society became reputation (or ‘honour’) and fear, and therefore people fight and kill eachother and perpetrate horrific acts of revenge for ‘respect’, and only fearsome tyrants can rule (and only trust their own families in positions of power), and the primary motivation of people is self-interest.
An anarchy is not somewhere where there is no government or order, because humans will always order themselves. Real anarchy is a society that exists with no higher goals other than survival.
The problem in the Muslim world is not the lack of noble or brave individuals who work for causes higher than themselves, the problem is the jealousy of the individuals of that society, who are incapable of understanding that people may do things for causes greater than themselves, and so when they see someone trying to excel, or who try to raise up society according to high ideals, the shallow minded people project their own motivations onto that person, and claim that the person must be arrogant for ‘daring’ to distinguish themselves above the lethargic inert ‘norm’ of that society.
So if Salahudeen arose today, he would be locked up by Muslim society today as an ‘extremist’, and Ibn Khaldun, who wrote that the best form of government is based upon revelation (a Khilafah), would be accused of being an ideologue of “Islamism”, and the Mahdi would be accused of being a power seeking tyrant.
The revival of the Muslim world cannot come from hoping that a righteous individual will somehow be able to rule over Muslims, for an unguided shallow people cannot be guided merely by having a righteous ruler. As Allah (swt) said to Muhammed (saaw):
‘Indeed, We sent down to you the Book for the people in truth. So whoever is guided – it is for [the benefit of] his soul; and whoever goes astray only goes astray to its detriment. And you are not a wakeel [disposer of their affairs] over them [Quran 39:41]
What Shallow minded people of such societies don’t realise, is that by keeping good people down, their own condition will not improve, and will in fact get worse. And as events happen, they’ll realise their society would become more and more impoverished, and they will be viewed with less and less respect by people of other societies.
The Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:”A time will come when nothing will be left in the minds of the people from the Qur’an except its calligraphy and from Islam except its name. People who call themselves Muslims will be the furthest from Islam. Mosques would be filled but empty from guidance. The Ulema (scholars) of that time are the worst under the heavens. From them, the elements of division and misguidance are spewed and unto them, will return.” – Reported by Tabarani, Dailamy and Al-Hakam
What raised up the West in power, was not the correctness of their ideas, but the fact they united behind those ideas – even if those ideas are demonstrably irrational and full of contradictions. The same is true with how poor Tsarist Russia transformed into a power that rivalled the USA, despite the fact that Communism is even more flawed than Western Capitalism.
The street sweeper in America has more respect shown to them when they travel (and can access more countries without a visa) with their American passport, than a rich businessman from many Muslim countries receive or get. The Prime Minister of Britain holds more power and respect internationally than the richest Gulf Sheikh or leader, despite his wealth being only a fraction of the amount owned by the latter.
The revival of the Muslim world can only come from Muslim society raising the level of its thinking, and appointing over them the higher ideals and ideas of Islam to be their exclusive criteria, goal and purpose of that society. In this manner, it is Allah (swt) which, in effect, becomes the Wakeel over the affairs of the Muslims. For the only way for Muslims to give up self-interest and their mutual rivalry, is for them to collectively agree to give up their interests to higher interest than their own.
Ultimately, it is those who undermine their fellows in Islam and prevent them from achieving anything, actually are the ones who keep themselves down too.
Better to be a fish that shares in an ocean, then a swan that owns a swamp. Although the reality is, what emerges from a swamp cannot ever be a swan.
What is better, to be king of a swamp, or share in an entire sea? The former a toad that barely lives, the latter enjoys what an ocean gives. The sea constricts not, whether its inhabitants are large as whales, or swim in schools, a reality little understood by defeated fools.