minority does not find peace and justice, inevitably the civilization strangles itself anddecays.The glory days of the Islamic civilization spanned more than a thousand years. The Islamiccivilization was an evolving continuum while many Muslim Empires rose, fell and preyed oneach other. Muslim intellectuals have been searching for the reasons of decline of the IslamicCivilizations for at least the last three centuries.
Popular opinions on the decay of Islamic Civilizations:
The most prevalent diagnoses and remedies for the decay of Islamic civilizations fall in twocategories. The most popular view seems to be that the Muslims have veered away from theteachings of Islam. The remedy offered is, “If only we became good Muslims, we wouldregain the momentum and revive the grandeur of the past.”The second conventional view is that our travails started with the ascendance of the West. Itled to eventual Western colonialism of Muslim lands and its materialistic hegemony stifledthe Islamic Civilizations. The popular remedy suggested is that we should get away frommaterialism, support education with the spiritualism of Islam to be the leaders again.Both observations are partly correct but confuse causes and effects. Not that the West hasnot been hegemonic and should not be blamed. Yielding uncritically to this mindset absolvesMuslims of centuries of sloth and is a complete intellectual surrender to the hegemony of theWest. It pulls at the heartstrings with the innocence of idealism, but the understanding of the early Islamic history and human nature does not substantiate such simplisticexplanations.The first observation that we have veered away is true in many ways, but it is not a recentphenomenon. From very early times Islamic polity started splitting into many sects and sub-sects. Efforts towards contrived unity often spawned another sub-sect. A more analyticalquestion is which sects have veered away, and to what extent? Or are all sects guilty indifferent ways? Is it really a new phenomenon, and who can judge it objectively? Theanswers tend to be inherently self-serving, therefore elusive.
A brief historical survey:
On closer survey of history, it appears that the veering away from the teachings if Islamstarted immediately after the death of the Prophet in 632. Many tribes had rebelled. It wasthe deft handling of the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, who was elected by a consensus after somespirited dissentions from the leading companions of the Prophet. The rebellious tribes werebrought back to the fold after strenuous persuasion. The second Caliph, Omar after ten yearsof rule was assassinated by a Persian slave. Twelve years later, the third Caliph Uthman wasassassinated because of deepening political machinations and accusations of mismanagement.The caliphate of the fourth caliph Ali was contested resulting in Islam’s first civil war, withpeople dear to the Prophet on the opposite sides. Ali was assassinated by a purist intolerantgroup known as “Kharijites”. They accused him of flouting the law of God, because he