Reason for Downfall of Nations
The Holy Prophet, peace upon him, is reported to have said: Shortly, the non-Muslim groups would seek each others’ cooperation in leading an onslaught against you and will jointly launch an assault against you just as several hungry people pounce upon the food placed over a dining mat. One of his companions asked if Muslims would be fewer in number then. The Prophet said: No, your numbers will be great but you will be just like flotsam on floodwater rushing in a direction. Allah will have decided to remove the awe of yours from the hearts of the community of non-believers because your hearts will possessed with the greed of material things and you will be afraid of death.
(Kitabul Malaham, Abu Daud)
This hadith throws light on the reasons that lead to the decline and downfall of a nation.
It clearly indicates that being in a minority or being numerically less is not a deficiency that should cause defeats, losses or destruction, nor commanding great number of followers is the surest way to success and superiority. Sometimes, people who have been numerically less in numbers have overpowered the communities or groups that outnumbered them merely because the ones who overpowered the majority possessed talents and qualities that matter much in lending them assertiveness. Therefore, one should neither take pride in numbers nor should feel diffident if their followers are few. The British were fewer in numbers. Yet they came to rule India. Only because they were placed on a higher footing in terms of education, skills, character and discipline.
There is a general misunder-standing among people that they will be more assertive, confident and powerful, if they come to gather ample material resources and riches. This hadith denies this. Material resources often nurture greed, lust and avarice. These obscure the characteristics that lead to moral superiority. Wealthy people often turn miser too as they jealously guard their riches. The pursuit of more and more riches becomes a consummate passion with them and they begin to covet all those means that would enable them gather all the riches of the world. Hence, they turn selfish and consider their wealth to be an outcome of their own efforts. They isolate themselves from the concerns of the people in need, the destitute and those suffering from poverty and illiteracy. They accuse them of being lazy, inefficient, indolent and lacking in effort to earn. They thus cut themselves away from popular issues and develop a kind of arrogance which makes them ridicule all others. They would always be seeking worldly comforts, luxuries, and life of ease. They would avoid anything that would require rigour, effort and risk. They would be averse to supporting any cause that would earn them the displeasure of the powers that be or would render them unpopular among people who wield power. They would not raise their voice against social injustice and denial of political and economic rights of the disadvantaged, they would turn away from things that would demand sacrifices and spending their resources and would not speak against violation of rights of the poor. They would thus lack the moral courage and would run away from discharging their responsibility to get justice for the underprivileged.
The only way a believer can avoid this situation is that he should develop a sense of accountability in the life Hereafter and should be vocal in raising his voice against social, political and economic justice. This is the true Jihad (struggle). The success of the Life Hereafter lies only in struggle to maintain peace and justice in this world. A believer should have the life Hereafter as his focus and objective of his life. Such a person would not be afraid of death. He would prefer death while struggling to establish justice over a life of ease and luxury. He would not die the death of a coward but would embrace death in the pursuit and struggle for justice. He will never accept a life under pressure or subservience.
This hadith exhorts a believer to live a life for the sake of truth, peace and justice and be ready to sacrifice his time, energy and life, if it comes to that. This is the surest way to eternal success.
If a group of believers develops these qualities in itself, it will overcome all kinds of odds and will not spare any sacrifices. This will empower them immeasurably. This is where Muslims need to reassess themselves. Are they ready for struggle to free this world from the slavery of wealth and selfishness? Are they ready for surrendering all their energies and time for fighting injustice? (MAS)