5. Regression and Lack of Self-confidence

Weak hearts get bored. Shaky wills collapse and break down. A disintegrated 'ummah' crumbles and falls before catastrophes and misfortunes. But alive, aware 'ummah', whose members feel strong and powerful, and whose wills are solid and firm, can turn defeat into victory, and downfall into uprising. It draws lessons from events, and makes the best use of the tragedies it under goes. Out of hard and unfavourable conditions it emerges rich in experience which lightens its path and shows it the right course of action.

The Qur'an addresses the Muslim 'ummah', saying:

"And be not weak-hearted, nor grieve, and you will have the upper hand if you are believers." Holy Qur'an (3:138)

The Qur'an tries to make the Muslim, who may yield in a moment of weakness and uncertainty, overcome the internal defeatism he suffers from. It instills in him a spirit of steadfastness and spiritual strength, and spreads out before him limitless horizons of victory.

Our 'ummah', the Muslim 'ummah', which prides itself on its glorious history, has unfortunately succumbed to extreme stagnation and deterioration; under the pressure of many centuries of backwardness, ignorance and decay. It has forgotten all about its glorious past, and lost its cultural and material capabilities which would have helped it continue its cultural march, that would have put it at the fore front of all nations.

It has awoken from its deep slumber at the shouts of the invading enemies; helpless, broken, unable to move having lost its fortitude and strength, abandoned its mission and principles, and buried under layers of ignorance its precious scientific and cultural legacy. Short of weapons to defend its existence and culture, it faced its foes.

With not enough knowledge and awareness, not ready, it was only natural that our 'ummah' would be defeated; dazzled by the trappings of the western invading civilization. It became submissive; receptive to the invading thought and culture. Having lost its leadership position, it soon yielded to the invading conquerors.

Its enemies, on the other had, doubled their subversive efforts to ingrain the feeling of backwardness, ineptitude, and the inability to catch up with the world in the fields of knowledge, civilization and technology. They placed all kinds of obstacles and hindrances before the 'ummah' and planted the spirit of defeatism in it. The 'ummah' surrendered and accepted the fait accompli, thus, the most important pillar of the character of the 'ummah' was pulled down.

Nothing but the Qur'an can cure our 'ummah' of this malaise. There is a great need to build a Qur'anic generation, that believes in the goals of the Qur'an, carries the spirit of the Qur'an, so that it can march forward without weakness or hesitation.

This vanguard should take the utmost advantage of the lessons of history, examine closely the experiences of past and present nations, and monitor the direction of events, so as to check the aimless movement Of mankind, to realize that nothing is impossible in the world of the possible and that its position is in the forefront. It should lead humanity along the read of progress and peace.

"You (Muslims) are the best nation raised up for people: you enjoin good and forbid evil ..." Holy Qur'an (3:109)

"And thus We have made you an exalted nation that may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) are the Messenger may be a bearer of witness to you ..." Holy Qur'an (2:143)

When this vanguard again exists in the world of Islam, this multitude of committed, strong-willed, Qur'anic- educated men, who know no despair, regression or inferiority; the whole 'ummah' of the Qur'an will be reborn. It means that life, once again will enter the torpid body of the 'ummah", the spirit of revival will creep into its awareness in much the same way that spring creeps into the trees. It will be the good news of the 'ummah's' departure from ineptitude and lethargy. Then the 'ummah' can reject the rotting focade to which it had been forced to cling for so long and can use its limbs again after their long paralyis.

6. Despair of Change and Reform

Despair is a morbid, dangerous condition that marks frail characters and hopeless souls, when images of failure are heaped before them, or when they are reminded of their ineptitude and failure to achieve all the goals they dreamt of This phenomenon grows more dangerous especially when it he comes a collective one, transcending the boundaries of the individuals in the group. Then, this disease begins to eat away at the wills and kill the spirit of bravery, and blocks man's movement. Even those who are lucky to be free from it find their way full of obstacles.

This morbid condition has sneaked into the Muslim individual and groups. Muslims despair of reforms and feel helpless in the face of waves of corruption. They are so burdened with the heavy years of oppression and evil Colonialism that they cannot deal with their pitiful backwardness in the fields of science, politics, economicsetc.

The majority of Muslims choose resignation to reality, keeping silent vis-a-vis corruption and decadence. Neglecting the divine order to enjoin good and forbid evil, they have left the arena to the enemies of Islam, and the preachers of ignorance and corruption.

An analytical look at the social fabric of Muslims and their psychology sums up the causes of despair and resignation to the current way of life, on the following points:

  1. Some people feel despair due to an objective feeling that can be traced to the individual's psychological disorder. Some people are melancholy by nature. The root cause of this condition is private concerning the individual himself; but, then, it engulfs the whole society colouring its altitudes and positions.

  2. People's ignorance of the course of history. This ignorance of, or misunderstanding of, human history which is subject to ebb and flow, advancement and regression, naturally yields a human attitude that is far from being real. Such people can think only within the boundaries of the present conditions and circumstances enveloping their communities. How can they know that what they are witnessing is only a fleeting, passing phenomenon, and a transitional case of history, that repeals itself now and then, like the bubbles that are born on the lake bottom, then rise to the surface and burst?

"Let not control in the land, of those who reject faith, deceive you. A brief enjoyment! Then their abode is hell. And evil is the resting-place." Holy Qur'an (3:195-196)

What we see today as an awe-inspiring, magnificent edifice will become, in years, decades or centuries to come, a dilapidated entity, a trace, or a story kept in the depths of history records or museums. If these people only know this fact, if they know that history is always in constant motion, that it repeats itself, their view of life will certainly change.

Truthful are Allah's words:

"Indeed there have been examples before you; so travel in the land and see what was the end of the deniers. This is a clear statement for people, and a guidance and an admonition to the pious. And be not weak-hearted, nor grieve, and you will have the upper hand if you are faithful. If a wound has afflicted you, a wound like it has also afflicted the (disbelieving) people. And We bring these days to people by turns, that Allah may know those who believe and take witnesses from among you. And Allah loves not the wrongdoers. And that He may purge those who believe and deprive the infidels of blessings. Do you think that you will enter the Garden while Allah has not yet known those from among you who strive hard (not) known the steadfast." Holy Qur'an (3:136-140)

The Qur'an speaks, in a bid to stir up our sense of history, about Allah's laws, and the laws that govern the drift of human history which state that no political, or social ... situation remains as it is, that defeat is not insurmountable, and victory is not everlasting. All these historical phenomena are transitory. They have no fixed value or constant existence, except when they are grounded in right and justice.

"... Then as for the scum, it passe away as a worthless thing; and as for that which does good to people, it tarries on the land ..." Holy Qur'an (13:17)

How many nations were born and then perished! How many states rose and fell! How many groups and parties attained the pinnacle of triumph and glory, only to be beaten and become mere stories and narrations in the annals of history! How many a culture or a doctrine spread across this planet then fell and faded from the stage of history!

"... and We bring these days to people by turns, ..." Holy Qur'an (3:140)

The course of history is a school in which man learns from its events, and benefits from its facts and lessons. That is why the Qur'an reminds us of the past nations, instills in us the spirit of victory, exhorts us to overcome our despair and weakness, and urges us to sacrifice and fight for the cause of Allah.

  1. The feeling of fear form the technological progress achieved by the foes of Islam. Muslims feel they are lagging behind in technology and this inferiority complex, which clutches at the Muslim heart, is for the despondent at least, a hard-to-overcome obstacle. None of the preachers of the faith or the reformers can match the advanced forces of the enemies of Islam,

particularly in the arenas of politics and industry; this is what many despairing Muslims think. But the Qur'an, in its address to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), analyses this morbid phenomenon and opens the Muslims' eyes to the facts of history.

"None dispute concerning the messages of Allah but those who disbelieve, so let not their control in the land deceive you. Before them the people of Noah and the parties after them rejected (prophets), and every nation purposed against its messenger to destroy him, and disputed by means of falsehood to render null thereby the truth, so I seized them; how (terrible) was then My retribution!" Holy Qur'an (40:4-5)

"Let not control in the land" of those who reject faith, deceive you. A brief enjoyment! Then their abode is hell. And evil is the resting-place." Holy Qur'an (3:195-196)

  1. Accumulation of Corruption. Corruption has spread across the despairing Muslims as overwhelming and hard to obliterate. But these people lose sight of the fact that the intensity of corruption hastens its death. When corruption and deviation rule a certain society it rushes towards disintegration, and this, in itself, marks the birth of a new society and the beginning of a fresh historical phase.

The prophets were the best examples of diligent preachers who dealt with their own people most kindly, carefully and conscientiously. The prophets and messengers of Allah (a.s.) and their faithful adherents enriched the way to Allah with good experiences, wise attitudes and courses of action. The Noble Qur'an presents us with an example of the brave, unique actions of people who knew no despair or weakness, Allah addresses His Messenger Moses (a.s.), saying:

"Go you and your brother with My messages and be not remiss in remembering Me. Go both of you to Pharaoh, surely he is inordinate; then speak to him a gentle word, haply he may mind or fear." Holy Qur'an (20:42-44)

Pharaoh, as the Qur'an describes him, was well known as a haughty and arrogant tyrant. He was an evil man bent on spreading disbelief, and sustaining crime and corruption. But, in spite of this, Allah, the Most Exalted, ordered His prophet Moses to go to him, say the word of right to him, and establish the proof of Allah before him.

For the same reason, namely calling people to be true servants of Allah, the Qur'an gives the ideal attitude taken by a number of believers towards other despairing men, who asked the believers protestingly:

"... Why preach you to a people whom Allah would destroy ..." Holy Qur'an (7:164)

The Qur'an mentions the story as an example of the patience, forbearance and strength of the men who devoted themselves whole-heartedly to the faith. It says:

"... Why preach you to a people whom Allah would destroy or whom He would chastise with a severe chastisement? They said: To be free from blame before your Lord, and that haply they may guard (against evil)." Holy Qur'an (7:164)

These committed men do not want to let despair attack themselves, lest it stands as a high wall blocking the process of calling people to the right path, explaining the truths about the faith and establishing the proof of Allah for them. Having done this, the preacher and reformer can feel at peace with himself, living with a clear conscience because he has done what his Lord has ordered him to do.

  1. The failure of many reformers and reformist movements is that they do not bring about the change they promised people earlier, and keep to the principles they called for before, This failure leaves a bad impression and a negative effect on the souls of many people. The result is the despair and pessimism that makes people the reformers. Such people see only the negative side of the reformer's efforts, and look only at the failure of the reformist movements. They will not even lock at the causes of the failure and decline to work with the same spirit and determination with which the true reformers work, after studying their experiences, evaluating them, and setting a sound course of action.

These people should realise that the failures of the committed reformers have given them good, in valuable lessons which they would never have experienced if it were not for the hardships and sufferings of these reformers, This encounter has blazed the trail for them, and enlightened the road therefore, they have to make use of this great experience and go on with the march of reforms and struggle. They should discard the factors of despair; setting out to work with fresh determination and spirit.

Epilogue

There are some factors and reasons that actively help to hasten the downfall of societies and cultures, if they are begotten in their atmospheres or have the chance to clutch at the ingredients of culture and civilization.

There looms on the horizon a number of morbid signs and evidences indicating the imminent breakdown of the present human culture; on that will totally disappear from the scene. The Qur'an makes mention of all fatal morbid reasons, obstacles and phenomena that stand between the Muslim and his duty of facing the elements of weakness and decadence. Before any of these factors arises, the Qur'an points it out, and warns people of it, lest the Muslim reformer forgets his duty of fighting corruption, or gives up in the face of obstacles and hindrances.

This Qur'anic attitude inspires us, we Muslims of today, to ponder over the conditions of our 'ummah', detect its points of strength and weakness, and those of the materialistic, ignorant culture; which is launching a war against us, and planning to tear down our culture and bring an end to our existence.

By contemplating on these conditions we can find the means to answer back, inspite of elements of weakness and decadence, making our way ahead more fruitful. This is the way we can resume our cultural triumphant and historical march; hoisting the banner of Islam, and leading the whole world on the road of guidance, prosperity and peace.