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The Decay of the Ummah

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    The Decay of the Ummah

    by: Abu Abd Ar-Rahman Mahmoud Murad

    Praise be to Allah, Who sent to the unlettered a Messenger from themselves to recite to them His verses, to purify them and to teach them the Book and the Wisdom (Sunnah). And verily they had been before in manifest error.

    Indeed, the pre-Islamic era had witnessed the pathetic state of affairs of the Arabs; they were overcome by every army that reached their land. It was only when Allah had favored them with His Messenger and the message of Islam that they acquired dignity, honor and power, as 'Umar bin al-Khattab put it: "We were abased till Allah made us powerful with Islam."

    The Mekkan Muhajireen after leaving behind their homes and families and giving up their belongings managed to establish their young state along with the Ansar, with only the most meager of resources. Their ambition was not to recover their worldly losses. They only sought, as described in the Quran, Allah's bounty and His pleasure. They are forever known as the truthful, while those who received them, gave them shelter and love, and demonstrated the highest form of altruism, became the prosperous. Both the truthful and the prosperous led their lives, along with those who followed them, with great piety. They were not only successful for themselves but they also opened up the world for the message of Islam - the pure Islam.

    The teachings of the Prophet (SAAWS) continued to echo in the ears of his companions and their followers, overwhelming any deviant word that might have been uttered. The believers were constantly engaged in the application of Sunnah and had no time, energy, or inclination for developing any kind of Bid'ah (innovation in Deen). They moved ahead; their stride was one of glory.

    Query! What happened to that glory? Is it reclaimable? These are two major questions that have pre-occupied Muslim scholars in the past and the present in their sincere efforts to direct Muslims to the straight path which leads to the sought after glory.

    In order to answer these questions certain facts of the history of Islam have to be put in perspective, first, so that we may in the final analysis, be able to pinpoint the ailment and prescribe the remedy.

    The strength of the early Muslims and their young state became a stumbling block for their enemies by impeding their way to material victory. Frustrated in their attempts to defeat the Muslims they initiated a hidden war of ideas, the prime object of which was to undermine the faith of the simple and the unlettered. Aqeedah was the target of their attack. The wider the temporal gap became between the succeeding Muslims and their pious predecessors (the first three generations), the more effective and sophisticated the attack grew.

    The most dangerous consequences of these kinds of hideous wars are intellectual stagnation on the one hand, and the flourishing of deviant ideas from the people of innovation (who follow their whims) on the other. The danger rests in the fact that all too often it is the innovators who have been in authority of the Ummah. Indeed, the hidden war of the enemies of Islam, helped by the unsuspecting, ignorant, and naive Muslims themselves, bred fragmentation and sectarianism in the form of reactionary sects, who differed from Ahl As-Sunnah on the fundamentals as well as the derivatives of jurisprudence.

    It is not surprising then that even the Islamic law has been affected by the despicable forces working insidiously both from outside and from within the Muslim Ummah by sowing seeds of subtle differences that have grown, and continue to grow, at an alarming rate. This has, to a large extent, contributed towards the unfortunate decadence of the Muslim Ummah by gradually limiting its output and sapping its vitality until it has given way to parasitic sectarianism.

    One dare say, Jahiliyyah has been resurrected in various forms of corruption in the social, economic, political, moral and religious spheres.

    During that period the Deen was confined to isolated corners and to the hearts of a remnant of the pious 'Ulamaa. Their own safety became, perforce, a major concern. Multitude of Muslims started to lose the true understanding of Islam which became the obvious cause of their following deviant paths based on their desires and comforts. Thus the plans and efforts of the enemies of Islam started to bear fruit. For many Islam was subsequently reduced to some polytheistic practices and superstitions. For example, the dead became the quest and the pious amongst the dead were elevated to sainthood.

    Visiting the tombs and excessively praising the "saints" even to the point of Shirk became a guarded religous ritual for them causing deep corruption in their beliefs. This, and distortions in Deen, were gradually and most of ten deliberately introduced into the practices of Muslims by a class of professional 'Ulema, who received their status and respect in the society due to the widespread lack of knowledge that was prevalent amongst Muslims of their time. These so called 'Ulema (or Maulanas or Maulvis), who pursued power and materialistic endeavors, thus exploited (and continue to exploit) the innocent muslims. This way, knowingly or unknowingly, they became pawns of the vested interests and served those who cherished muslim discord, disunity, division, and sectarianism.

    The long-term evil plans of the foes of Islam seemed to be finally succeeding

    People were not referring questions of Aqeedah to the authority of the Book or Sunnah, rather they upheld tenets from the philosophy books and other secondary sources which were ull of assumptions, argumentative suppositions and controversial issues. As a result, people became -so bold and foolish as to even speculate about the essence of Allah (SWT) and His Attributes. A group of Muslims emerged calling themselves Sufis. Sufis exploited the chaotic situation and invited people to follow their way, alleging it to be the remedy and guidance. So did other sects claim. That started to sprout as a result of the weakness in Eemaan ofthe Ummah and due to the plans of the foes of Islam. The Muslims were dividing into groups. They split up their religion and became divided into sects, each sect rejoicing in that which was with them without regard for the truth and authenticity.

    Aside from the Sufis even among Ahl As-Sunnah Madth-hab (school of Fiqh) fanaticism meanwhile grew out of all proportions and contributed to the disorder of the time by widening the gaps between the adherents of the various Madth-habs, fueling the feud among them until they reached the point of imputing disbelief to one another.

    Taqleed (blind imitation) became a way of life and left no room for ljtihad. Daleel (proof) was not valued or sought. A class of ignorant self -appointed scholar-like (so-called 'Ulamaa) evolved whose Fatawa (religious rulings) were not substantiated either by Quraanic verses nor texts from Sunnah. This was the fulfilment of the Prophet's words as reported by Abdullah bin Umar who said: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying: "Verily, Allah does not take knowledge away by snatching it from the people, but by taking away the scholars until none of them is left (alive). People then would appoint for themselves, ignorant leaders who would be consulted (in matters of religion) and would give Fatwa without knowledge, falling into misguidance themselves and misguiding others." [Muslim]

    Taqleed, as a result, became the main obstacle in the way of Ittiba (following another on the basis of clear evidence) and Ijtihad - Taqleed means investing someone with authority in matters of religion and imitating him in what he says or does, firmly believing him to be right without regard to, or consideration of, any proof or evidence - as though the saying or deed of the other is made as a Qiladah (necklace) upon his neck.

    We have, very briefly, traced Out the historic evidences that were the root cause of the decay of the Muslim Ummah. We should, however, remember that the integrity and preservation of the Muslim Ummah was of paramount importance and concern to the Prophet (SAAWS) for which he laid the foundation, and for which he struggled all his life. He warned us right then, at the zenith of Muslim piety, brotherhood, and sacrifice, that a time will come when his Ummah will become divided into seventy three groups although we will be large in number.

    "I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He has a grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the straight path. (The truth)"

    "...Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of the worlds" (6:162)