What the World Lost Due to Decline of Islamic Civilization

[bit.do/azrdm] This is a brief English Summary (2850 words) of “Ma Za Khasr Al-Alam Bil Inhitatil Muslimeen.” This books which highlights the contributions of Islam to world, and the loss the world has suffered due to the decline of Islam, has been translated into many languages. It is essential reading for every Muslim. The English Book is: Islam and World: The Rise And Decline Of Muslims And Its Effect On Mankind . Author Syed Abul-Hassan Ali Nadwi (b:Muharram 6, 1333=24 Nov 1914 to d: Ramazan 23, 1320=24 Nov 1999). Links for downloading and/or reading online, in English & Urdu, are provided.

Summary of “What the World Lost Due to the Decline of Islamic Civilization”

This book is of central conceptual importance in serving as a basis for the revival of the Islamic Civilizations. It explains the revolution which Islam brought to the world, and how the rise of Islam had beneficial impacts on spreading values of mercy, compassion, justice and tolerance, throughout the world. Similarly, the decline of Islam had adverse effects as these enlightened values were replaced by the darkness of ignorance which currently surrounds us. The history of humanity is seen from an Islamic framework, as the rise and fall of civilizations, governed by rules emanating from Divine Guidance and Justice of Allah, based on the laws explained in the Quran, but now forgotten by Muslims. The book is divided into Eight Chapters, which are briefly outlined below. Reading through this brief 2850w outline will give an idea of how the book is structured, and its central arguments.  LINKS to:  Urdu Summary & Urdu Book (shortlink: bit.do/zbksahan). Full Book in English: Islam and the World on Islamic-WorldView.Com.

Chapter 1: Darkness in the World, before the Advent of Islam –  The book uses historical details to show that darkness reigned everywhere. The empires of Rome, Persia, China, and India, were entrenched in power games, exploitation of the power and weak, perpetual wars, and could provide no hope of improvement for the future of humanity. The light of religion and philosophies which provide higher visions had themselves been corrupted, and held no prospect of providing guidance to mankind. All dimensions of human existence had become corrupt, and mankind had sunk to depths of darkness.

Chapter 2:  The Advent of Prophet Mohammad SAW. The Mission of Islam was to provide guidance in every dimension of life, to restore humanity to the respect, dignity, and higher purpose for which man was created. This extremely difficult task was accomplished by the powerful message of Islam, realized in the life of the best of human beings, and translated from theory into practical and living reality with the help of the Companions RAA who became fully devoted to this mission. The first step of the mission was to reject false gods, and to re-acquaint the hearts of men with the One True Living and Responsive God (M’aarifat). After suitable training and sufficient efforts, the Companions learned that our God is Kind, Merciful, Compassionate, Responds to our Prayers, and is also all Powerful, with complete Knowledge of what is observable and what is hidden, as well as the past and the future. This knowledge created an inner spiritual revolution, and led to a complete transformation in their character. This transformation removed divisive tribal loyalties, pride, envy, and host of negative and harmful characteristics, and replaced them with virtuous characteristics like unity, justice, compassion, and social responsibility, which are loved by God. The community of the Companions was infused with a powerful sense of mission, to spread this precious treasure, in order to free mankind from the bondage of false gods and earthly powers, and bring them to the liberation of Islam, and worship of the One True God.

Chapter 3: Era of Muslim Ascendance – After receiving deep training from our Prophet Mohammad SAW, the process of spreading this revolutionary message throughout the world to all of humanity created a revolution in World History. Muslims rose to ascendance not for the sake of personal glory or wealth, but to liberate mankind from their chains, and to acquaint them with their kind, merciful, and compassionate God, who is all-powerful and all-knowing. The dominance of the Muslims created a civilization which was a Mercy for all Mankind. There were several unique characteristics of the Islamic Civilization which differentiated it from others:

  1. They had received complete and perfect guidance from the Quran and the Sunnah regarding the good and the bad, the form and spirit of the law in all dimensions of human existence. They did not need to philosophize or speculate on these matters.
  2. The training they had received purified them of the desire for worldly riches and fame. Instead, they sought leadership in order to serve humanity and guide them toward their own welfare.
  3. They had absorbed the idea that all human beings are brothers, without discrimination by race, language, or geography. All were joined in bonds of love and fraternity within the Islamic civilization.
  4. They had learned how to combine concerns of the Akhira (the world to come) with the concerns of Dunya (this world). They were not Rahibs – who sought to isolate themselves from worldly concerns. Instead they made engagement with this World the means of achieving closeness to God.

Because of these characteristics, the rise, ascendance, dominance, and spread of the Islamic civilization was a blessing for all of humanity. A living model of virtuous living attracted all of mankind towards it. Large numbers of people converted to Islam, not because of any compulsion, but because of the attractive characteristics of Islam. Those who did not accept Islam were nonetheless influenced by Islamic values which appeal to the hearts of men.

Chapter 4: The Decline of Islamic Civilization. It is difficult to determine or date the decline of Islam, since it is a multidimensional and complex phenomena. The ascendance of Islam was due to two principle characteristics. One was Ijtihad – that is applying the canonical body of Islamic teachings to the solution of ever-new and ever-fresh problems in a creative way, conforming to the spirit of Islam and also resolving the modern problem at hand. The Second was Jihad – that was the struggle to implement the teachings of Islam in our personal lives, in our communities, in the nations and the Muslims, and for all of humanity. These principles – the knowledge of Islam, and an engaged commitment to its implementation in the real world – were gradually abandoned by the rulers and the populace. The rulers strayed from the principles, and imported philosophies of Greeks – complex and sophisticated illusions – spread through the land. This decay emboldened enemies, and the Crusades struck at the heart of the Islamic world, capturing Jerusalem. Somewhat later the Tatars attacked and razed Badghad, and destroyed vast storehouses of knowledge by burning libraries and killing the scholars. In all times there were efforts at revival by many. The leadership of the Islamic world passed to the Turks and the Tartars, but after a period of glory, they also declined, becoming the sick man of Europe. Meanwhile, as the Islamic Civilization was going into decline, the Europeans were awakening after a long period of darkness and ignorance. (There can be no doubt that this awakening was due to Islamic influence, even though this is suppressed in European accounts, due to severe bias against Islam).

Chapter 5: The Rise of the West and its Effects.

Greek and Roman Roots: After the decline of the Turks, world leadership passed to the Europeans. To understand Europeans culture, and its effects on the World, we have to back to Greek and Roman culture, which was their heritage. Greek culture and philosophy was based on four central ingredients. (1) Focus on the observable sensations and rejection of the unseen. (2) Absence of Spirituality. (3) Emphasis on life of this world. (4) Extreme Nationalistic tendencies. The other source of European culture was Rome. While Rome was better organized militarility, and in terms of administration and governance, they were behind Greece in philosophy and culture, and have very flexible religious beliefs. As a result, their was no barrier to the pursuit of pleasure, which became the religion of the elites, destroying all concepts of moral conduct.

Rise and Fall of Christianity: The ascent of Constantine and his conversion to Christianity created a change by making Christianity a state religion, but this came at great cost to the religion. The official religion of Christianity was substantially influenced by other dominant philosophies and ideologies of the time and became a strange and incongruous mix of conflicting ideas. In particular, there was an extreme tilt towards renunciation of this world, and adoption of ideals so high as to be impossible for ordinary mortals. This is in stark contrast with Islam which teaches moderation, and encourage enjoyment of permissible pleasures of life. Setting impossible ideals led to widespread hypocritical behavior among church leaders – seeking luxuries and pleasures while preaching renunciation. This led to a split in the Church, and eventually widespread rejection of religion, first among the intellectuals and later among the general public. This led to the emergence of secular modernity, which is now the dominant religion of the West. This philosophy confined traditional religion to the personal sphere, and made materialism and pursuit of pleasures the purpose of human existence.

Emergence of Nationalism: The shattered unity of the Catholic Church, and constant religious warfare led to the emergence of Nationalism as a new source for uniting people into a community. Unfortunately, Nationalism is based on hatred and fear of the others, and pride and prejudice for one’s own – all of these emotions are strongly condemned and rejected by Islam. The rise of Nations, and the rejection of religion has led to the disappearance of morals on the international arena. The laws of the jungle prevail, where the power to destroy confers the right to destroy. On the world stage, in plain sight, millions of innocents are killed, hospitals, schools, power plants and factories are bombed, and countries reduced to ruins, without any moral outrage. With the heart and morals removed, only cold rational calculations of profit and loss matter, and if it is necessary to kill a million children to achieve your goals, this is permissible, according to modern Western morality. Today we see the effects of degeneration of moral standards in terms of increasing inequality, with trillions being spent on wars and destruction, while billions who could be fed, clothed, housed and educated with these funds are left to spend lives of misery and poverty

Chapter 6: Losses due to Western Leadership of the Word.

The world leadership of the West has lead to the spread of their ideas, philosophies, and ways of looking at the world. This has had extremely harmful and damaging effects.

  1. The complete disappearance of religion from view. The questions of what happens after death, the definition of good and bad, Can there be higher purposes in life, above and beyond materialistic concerns – these have been removed from the public intellectual arena. As a whole the West has lost spiritual sensibilities; just as the blind cannot see, so those who consider spirituality as non-existent cannot develop sensibilities in this dimension. This has had grave consequences in terms of increases in destructive and barbaric behavior.
  2. Whereas Islam created the desire to search for God, the West has defined this as a meaningless pursuit, and has turned the world to the search for Gold, as only meaningful purpose of life. In time of Islam, the public flocked to the scholars and Sufi’s in search of knowledge of the higher ways of the mind and the heart. Seekers of God are few and far between. Living intellectual and spiritual traditions which trained people for excellence and expertise are in danger of dying out, because they do not attract sufficient students.
  3. The worship of Gold has become the central religion of the World. Everyone seeks to make more money, and respect for people is in accordance with how much money they have. However, as explained in Quran and Hadeeth, the search for Dunya is self-defeating, because as you get more, you desire even more. As a result, everyone is discontent; including millionaires, who still do not think they have enough money for financial security.
  4. Massive decline in standards of morality throughout the world. The Western empire is built on colonization and merciless exploitation of all resources human and natural, with incredible cruelty and brutality – see Colonial Atrocities. As they say, “All is fair in love and war”, meaning that in pursuit of pleasure, and in treatment of enemies, no moral considerations apply. This is radical contrast with Islam. Since Jihad is actually a form of worship, extremely stringent standard of moral behavior are applicable to it from the early days of Islam. However, as the West led the way towards moral degeneration, the rest of the world, including Muslims, have followed in its tracks.
  5. As the pursuit of pleasure and luxury became the purpose of life, putting in effort and hardship to acquire knowledge and experience, especially spiritual and moral, was abandoned. People started seeking the easy life, instead of learning austerity and self-denial required for the pursuit of deep knowledge. Even reading on a large scale, which is necessary to benefit from the vast collective past knowledge and experience of mankind, was abandoned.

Chapter 7: The Revival of Islam

We have seen that in the 6th Century AD, all paths of guidance had been corrupted, and the world was heading towards destruction, the message of Islam came and created a revolution in history. The day and night effort of our Prophet Mohammad SAW transformed the Companions, and created a community which spread the light of Islam throughout the world. Their efforts changed the course of history, and their ideals enlightened the world. Gradually, decay and degeneration set in, and the light of the message began to dim within the Islamic Civilization.  As Islam declined, the West gained power and ascendance over the world. However, the West had no Message or Mission regarding the welfare of the mankind. Their sole message was selfish pursuit of pleasure, power, wealth, under the savage laws of the jungle, with cut-throat competition as the mechanism for survival of the fittest. Today, the vast majority of the population in the planet is living in poverty and misery, downtrodden and oppressed, with no voices to speak for them.

The message of the West, pursuit of power and pleasure without moral constraints, is spread throughout the world, without any opposition. Today there is no ideological warfare going on – all have succumbed to this poisonous message. The continuous warfare which envelopes the planet is being carried out by the rich and powerful against the weak and powerless, according to the laws of the jungle. What is surprising is that bearers of the last message have also accepted these ideologies, directly contrary to Islamic values, and are enthusiastic admirers and supporters of the West. Today, an individualistic search for material welfare, wealth, and luxury, has become universally accepted. Muslims lead lives focused on the same goals as the non-Muslims.

In this era of darkness, if there is any hope of revival from humanity, it is from the message of Islam. Despite time and distance, the message which revolutionized the world is still alive in the hearts of the Muslims. The philosophies of the West have led to wars, looming environmental catastrophes, breakup of families and communities, billions living in extreme poverty while a handful hold extreme wealth. Islam offers the only solution the problems facing all of humanity today. But there are many preliminary steps required to effectively implement these solutions.

Allah T’aala does not change the condition of nations until they change themselves. The first step must be to create an inner transformation within ourselves. Spiritual progress depends on purifying our hearts of the love of worldly things, and  re-awakening the flame of the love of Allah T’aala, His Messenger, and His Deen. It is not sufficient that a few individuals have these qualities; rather spiritual strength must be created on a large scale in the general public. Furthermore, self-sufficiency must be created to eliminate material dependence on the West. The most important requirement is the re-vitalization of flames of Islamic knowledge, based on the Quran and the Sunnah, which have been lost and forgotten.

Chapter 8: Arab Leadership. The original book was written in Arabic, and the last chapter was a special appeal to Arabs to revive those characteristics which led Allah T’aala to chose them, from among all the nations, to be the bearers of His Final Message. They sacrificed everything – homes, comfort, families, business – for the sake of this precious Deen. Their sacrifices enlightened the world and ended the age of darkness and ignorance.  Syed Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi  exhorts the Arabs to pick up this burden once again, as the whole of the Ummah is looking towards them for Leadership. Those hands which have built and guarded the Ka’ba are called upon to once again save humanity from the precipice it is facing by sacrificing their all to revive the traditions of Islam and to spread it to the world. This message remains just as powerful today as it was 1400 years ago, and awaits our efforts to understand and implement it.

Read/Download full book in English (on Scribd) below. For Urdu & Arabic versions of the book, see LINK.

This entry was posted in Eurocentric History, Islam - Invitation, Islamic Knowledge by Asad Zaman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Asad Zaman

BS Math MIT (1974), Ph.D. Econ Stanford (1978)] has taught at leading universities like Columbia, U. Penn., Johns Hopkins and Cal. Tech. Currently he is Vice Chancellor of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. His textbook Statistical Foundations of Econometric Techniques (Academic Press, NY, 1996) is widely used in advanced graduate courses. His research on Islamic economics is widely cited, and has been highly influential in shaping the field. His publications in top ranked journals like Annals of Statistics, Journal of Econometrics, Econometric Theory, Journal of Labor Economics, etc. have more than a thousand citations as per Google Scholar.

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