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 civilizations.

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 revitalize itself.

"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 Him.

'AbdulHamid A. AbuSulayman
1413AH/ 1992AC
Herndon, Virginia USA