Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. One wonders at the weakness that has befallen the Muslim Ummah. It has become so weak that its enemies no longer respect it. What are the causes of such weakness? Why have we become an easy prey to our enemies in the East and the West? Why do people despise us?
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In the first place, we earnestly implore Allah, from the depth of our hearts, to guide us all to the best, and to grant Muslims every success, power and strength.
The weakness that has befallen the Muslim Ummah is obvious to all. It is shown at all levels, political, economic, and social. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) clarified that we would become weak due to running after the worldly pleasures and disliking death. The main reason for this is the moral deterioration our Ummah is suffering from.
Responding to your question, the prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following:
Muslims have lost their power and become a weak nation because faith no longer has a place in their lives and behavior.
The majority of Muslims follow Islam in name only. They become Muslims because their families are so, or because they have been born in a Muslim country by Muslim parents. They lack strength in faith and enthusiasm to follow its teachings. Could people in such a feeble state manage to revive their power and restore their strength?
In fact the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) referred to the causes that would weaken the Ummah and belittle it in the eyes of its enemies. With the elapse of time, the Prophet's words in that regard have proved to be true. He (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Nations are about to scheme against you in the same way as greedy eaters vie with one another at the dining table.” One of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Will that relate to being few in numbers?” The Prophet said, “No, but your huge number will be of little effectiveness, and (Allah) will cast al-wahan in your hearts.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, what does al-wahan mean?” He said, “Your hearts are strongly attached to the luxuries of life and you feel a strong aversion to death.”
See what causes weakness in hearts! It is running after the worldly pleasures and yielding to temptations of this life. When one does so, one becomes a slave to one's desires, and can no longer have control over oneself. One, in such a case, gets lost and has no real objects to seek in life.
It is temptations that turn a strong person to be a slave to a woman he is in love with, or to a worldly pleasure or benefit he is greedily seeking.
It is also people’s aversion to death that makes them prefer a humiliating life to an honorable death, unaware of the fact that their very humiliating life is a kind of death in disguise, while honorable death grants them eternity.
There is a line of verse that goes:
He who hasn’t died an honorable death in battlefield
let him suffer humiliation in life.
Also, the real problem Muslims are suffering from is a moral and a spiritual one. Also, we are lagging behind in the economic, political, administrative, scientific, and technological fields. But this is no more than a reflection to our main problem, that is, our moral and faith deterioration.
Tens of years ago we would complain about the tyranny of our rulers and the way they would treat their people as animals, not as respectable human beings. We would also complain about lacking democratic bodies that might protect us against the rulers’ oppression.
You know why we would suffer from that. It is because of both rulers’ and subjects’ degenerating faith and morals. It is because of the rulers greedily vying to be superior to others, following in the footsteps of the tyrants Pharaoh, Haman, and Qarun. In addition to that, the moral and spiritual weaknesses that have afflicted people have helped those rulers to subject them further and further. Allah Almighty says about the people’s humiliation at the hands of Pharaoh:
(Unto Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they did follow the command of Pharaoh, and the command of Pharaoh was no right guide,) (Hud 11: 97) and (Thus he persuaded his people to make light (of Moses), and they obeyed him. Lo! they were a wanton folk.) (Az-Zukhruf 43: 54)
It is being strongly attached to this world and having an aversion to death that made one grow selfish and unwilling to sacrifice anything for one’s Ummah.
It is our rulers' covetousness to stay in power that has made them manipulate people and employ hypocrites and evil people to help them in that regard. They may do anything to achieve that end even if it is to cooperate with the very enemies of their country. That is what has led to the fall of our countries and the humiliation of their people.
The disintegration the Muslim and Arab countries suffer from is not due to difference in ideologies or policies so much as it is due to difference in personal interests among those who are in authority.
It is those irresponsible people in authority that brought about the immense debts that some Arab countries owe to foreign ones and that are estimated at about tens of billions. Such debts add to the humiliation the Arab countries already suffer from. Those who have caused this do not fear Allah Almighty, nor do they give heed to the punishment that will afflict them in the Hereafter due to that. All what they aspire to is to fulfill their personal interests even if this is to be at the expense of their countries.
The spread of intoxicants and drugs among the youth and the purchase of such destructive substances by hundreds of millions reflects another aspect of the great moral degeneration we are suffering from.
Another reflection of the moral deterioration is that huge number of people who no longer bother if the means through which they earn their livelihood are lawful or not. Many people, for example, do not care about doing their duties at work as they should be done, and many others find nothing wrong in harming others if this will bring them more money.
Many of the dictatorial policies and wrong decisions that brought about domestic disasters in many countries have been motivated by the personal interests of many people in authority. Such people do not care whether their policies are in the interest of their countries or not, so long as they achieve their personal goals.
Another aspect of the problem we are facing is reflected in the maddening race of consumption, especially of imported goods, and the slow process of production, especially in the fields of agriculture and industry.
We have, unfortunately, turned to be useless. We speak and do not act; we import and do not produce. We are passive receivers; we imitate others and do not try to devise something ourselves. In a word, we destroy, not build; we sink into oblivion, not revive.
All what I have said emphasizes that our very task to overcome all our problems is to revive our faith and moral ethics and breathe life into our deadening state, so that we can restore our ability to act and help our nation progress.
Our nation is in need of a new spirit that can revive it and change its view towards life and things, so that it can get rid of the state of dependence it suffers from and become productive itself.
We should combat materialism, selfishness, opportunism, defeatism, favoritism, and all forms of cheating and deterioration in the fields of trade, culture, education, policy, et cetera.
We should combat such devices in the same way as we combat chronic diseases like bilharzia, tuberculosis, et cetera. We, moreover, should deal with such vices with more seriousness than we treat such diseases with.