Muslims remained a great power in this world for almost a thousand years. No nation was able to compete with them with regard to knowledge and wisdom, political acumen and affluence. They reigned over the whole world during this period. This kingdom was given to them by God and it was God who took it away from them. The law of God regarding the rise and fall of nations is that for its rise He selects whichever nation He wants to according to His law of trial; however, once He selects a nation to elevate it, He only changes this state of that nation when that nation itself falls in decadence with regard to scientific knowledge and morality.
Muslims are also faced with another scenario. By origin, most of them have been Arabs. Arabs are mostly the Ishmaelites and about the Ishmaelites it is known that they are the progeny of Abraham (sws). Hence they face the established practice of the Almighty that is mentioned by the Qur'an for the progeny of Abraham (sws). As per this established practice, if they adhere to the truth they will lead all nations of the world and if they deviate from the truth they will be deposed from this position and will have to face the punishment of humiliation and subjugation.
Hence if Muslims are afflicted with this punishment, then this is neither a haphazard incident nor is it the result of some conspiracy hatched by others, as is generally alleged by our religious and political leaders. Behind this punishment are specific reasons. The divine law of rise and fall of nations is the cause of this punishment. If this punishment and humiliation is understood in the light of this divine law, three causes for the downfall of the Muslims can be pin-pointed:
Firstly, Muslims were entrusted with the Book of God. It is not merely a book. It is the yardstick of God revealed to decide between truth and falsehood. Muslims should present all their religious differences before it and whatever verdict it gives, they should accept it without any hesitation. It should be the basis of their beliefs and deeds. It should be the source of all matters relating to faith and shari'ah. Every research, every opinion and every viewpoint must be kept subservient to it; so much so, even the words of the prophets of God should not be considered authority over it. On the contrary, it should be regarded as having authority over everything. Unfortunately, since the past many centuries Muslims have not been able to confer this status on the Qur'an in their beliefs and deeds. Hence, as pointed out by Allamah Iqbal:
خوار از مہجوریِ قرآں شدی
(You are in a state of humiliation because of leaving aside the Qur'an.)
Secondly, this world is a place where harnessing potentials produce results. These potentials can be harnessed mostly by having skill and expertise in scientific disciplines. It is this skill through which man can access the treasures which God has concealed in the heavens and the earth. History bears witness that the life and death of man is mostly dependent on the competence he has in these disciplines, what to speak of rise and fall of nations. From the discovery of fire to the invention of the wheel to the astounding advancement and developments of the modern era this fact can be read in every page of history. Though Muslims did show interest in these disciplines yet their intelligentsia mostly engaged themselves in the study of philosophy and tasawwuf, though this was not the least required. The Book of God had already been revealed with answers to questions which philosophy and tasawwuf grapple with. Avid interest in these disciplines made Muslims oblivious to both the Book of God and scientific knowledge. Our age old religious seminaries are still teaching various aspects of philosophy and tasawwuf that can be called the best examples of useless knowledge ('ilmuṇ la yanfa'u). Thus we can see how far the world has advanced while Muslims gaze in wonder at these advancements.
Thirdly, Muslims have shown an utter indifference to their moral instruction. It is as a result of this disregard that lying, dishonesty, embezzlement, theft, fraud, adulteration, devouring of interest, deceit in weighing, false accusations, breaking promises, involvement in occult disciplines, labelling one another with disbelief and defiance, worshipping graves, polytheistic rituals, detestable forms of entertainment and other similar crimes are so common in their societies that one is struck with wonder. It was these wrong-doings of the Israelites on the basis of which the prophets of God cursed them and they were eternally deprived of God's mercy. Muslims too have gone far away from it. If a person wants to take a glimpse at them, he should read the Gospel where Jesus (sws) has stated the charge-sheet of the Israelites, of their scholars, their intellectuals and their rulers. The whole milieu and situation of Muslim societies cries out that they are even worse than the Jews of those times in their wrong-doings.
These are the reasons of the downfall of the Muslims. If they wish to come out of this scenario of decadence and downfall, then this can neither be achieved through warfare nor resistance movements. The past two hundred years of their history from Sarangapattam to Afghanistan bear evidence to this. To come out of this they will have to take remedial measures to circumvent the causes that have become the reason for their downfall; otherwise humiliation, disgrace and subservience will always remain their fate. The law of God is unalterable. Muslims are now in its grasp. When they want to come out of it by fighting others, they are in fact fighting God because it is He Who has actually let loose His strong men on them. This is God's punishment. The line of action to avoid it is not the one their religious and political leaders and self-styled mujahidin are suggesting to them. By adopting this line of action they can neither thwart the influence of big powers in their countries nor can they oust the Jews and Hindus from Palestine and Kashmir. They should study the preaching of the prophets mentioned in the Qur'an and the Bible. Whether the prophets of God come in the time of the subjugation of Babylon or in the times of Roman emperors, they never suggested this to their followers. They always informed their people of their wrong-doings, while our leaders are adept at pointing out the faults of others and censuring them. The Qur'an is in our hands. We can read it from the beginning to the end. We will not find a single word in it in condemnation of the Babylonian and Roman emperors. At every place, the Israelites are presented with this charge-sheet of their wrongdoings. The need of the hour is to recount the charge-sheet of the wrongdoings of the Muslims because the promise of God with the Israelites also holds for the Muslims. It was: "If you fill My covenant I will fulfil your covenant; My mercy is waiting; however, if you tread on that path, I will take the path I have already adopted and the lash of My punishmentwill strike you." Men of insight should learn a lesson from this!
(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)