All praise to Allah, Lord of the Worlds!
Peace and blessings on Muhammad, His
Servant and Messenger!
The book in your hands is very special. It is not a compendium or a
composition, but a study, a contemplation, and an analysis that has occupied me
throughout my life.
As a child, I opened my heart and soul to the Ummah's trials and anguish as
expressed by its writers and poets. where I grew up, In Makkah, in the classroom
and between the covers of my books, the pages of history opened before my eyes
and9 in my imagination, I relived the Ummah's best and worst moments along with
the finest and most courageous of its heroes. Often bitterness and frustration
crept into the depths of my soul; but more often did the urgency of the crisis
fill my heart with determination and the conviction that things must change.
The voyage of life provided me with experience and knowledge, and I never
stopped asking myself about the reasons for the Ummah's decline and fall. As I
was never prone to intimidation, I was unwilling to accept anything less than a
satisfactory answer, Moreover, aided by personal experience and my studies in
both the classical disciplines of Islam and in modern knowledge, I constantly
pondered the crisis of the Ummah, searched for its causes, and sought answers and solutions. Nor was I ever satisfied with lamentation,
emotional outbursts of anger, or even sentiments of zealous loyalty. To me, the
problems of the Ummah demand understanding, study, and analysis. Therefore, I
put all my personal and practical abilities, all my learning, and all my
accomplishments to work. Day and night I pondered the Ummah's history, event by
event, in quest of deeper understanding. I sought only the truth and the remedy.
When I write, I do so because I have made the Ummah's problems my own
problems. Nothing I write is criticism, or faultfinding, or objection, or
slander. Rather it is straight talk whose truth and candor are sharp and bitter.
As I speak to you in these terms, I am aware of the wealth of goodness
residing in the Ummah, of the excellence of its essential being, of the strength
it possesses in its depths, of how it is favored by its profound faith, its
readiness to sacrifice, and its sincerity. I am not seeking to bestow
compliments, nor am I looking for excuses, nor attempting to make the affliction
seem less than it is. Rather, I have taken it upon myself to identify areas of
impotence and backwardness for the purpose of rectifying these and seeking a way
out of the crisis.
If I have been remiss in praising the Ummah's contributions, outstanding
individuals, scholars, leaders, youth, or mujahidin, then my excuse is that,
while the malaise grows more insidious, I am attempting to uncover the true
nature of the affliction in order to prescribe an effective cure.
I do not insist on adherence to anything I have said in this book or to any
opinion I have offered. Nor do I fear that something I have written may prove to
be wrong. My only concern is that readers should join me in considering my
vision of the reasons that led to the downfall of the Ummah.
No one could be happier than I if this book leads to serious discussion.
Despite its modest proportions, this book is not an easy one to read, for its
subject matter, which is extremely complicated and involved, stretches across
populations, generations, and centuries. In order to follow its arguments, the reader should know the Ummah's history and have an
understanding of the sunan (natural laws) that Allah applies to nations and
I hope that readers will give as much of their time and patience as is
required for true comprehension of the Issues discussed. A quick turning of the
pages may not enable readers to see more than the externals, so that they
understand the words mechanically. This Is why the result of a cursory reading
will only be to further cloud the vision I have Intended to create. Since the
subject Is so vast, there Is little opportunity for the book to go Into the
details of every matter discussed, or to produce historical evidence, or even to
include other opinions. Rather, its focus is on the major Issues and those at
the very crux of the matter.
It is hoped that academic and cultural circles in the Ummah, as well as the
social leadership, will deal with the thought and vision presented in this book
in a manner befitting the Issues that it raises. Hopefully, the book will
motivate a great deal of serious and frank discussion that will In turn Inspire
more study and contemplation.
There Is nothing in this effort that is intended to malign or detract from
the work of any group or party in the Ummah, or from any of its individual
scholars. I am well aware of the faith, sincerity, generosity, and jihad in the
hearts of those who compose the Ummah. This work is an attempt to arrive at an
objective understanding of the Ummah's history and the events that prompted it
to tread on roads for which there were no maps, along which vision was limited,
and for which there appeared to be no alternatives.
I hope that the Ummah's thinkers, leadership, scholars, and youth will rise
to the challenge and accept their responsibility In dealing openly and
truthfully with this undertaking. Moreover, I am confident that they will use
all the means available to them in confronting the challenges before them.
Certainly this will not be accomplished by snubbing our identity and nature; nor
will it come about through an Increase in resources, or in sacrifices, or in
calls to honor values and principles, or in sermonizing, or In
becoming emotional. In fact, nothing will change Unless we rectify, before all
else. the ways in which we think! This, in turn, will lead to the rectification
of the ways in which we teach, and then to the rectification of our social
system and institutions. Only in this manner will the Ummah be able to
"O Lord, show us the truth as the truth and grant
that we should follow it And show us falsehood as
falsehood and grant that we should avoid it!"
I ask Allah Most High to grant the Ummah guidance, direction, tawfiq,
assistance, and competence. Surely, He hears and answers those who supplicate
'AbdulHamid A. AbuSulayman
Herndon, Virginia USA