What are the reasons for the backwardness of the Muslims?
It can be clearly concluded from the verses of the Qur`an that whenever we suffer reverses and failures, they are always a result of one of the following two factors: Either we have neglected and failed in our jihad and in our efforts, or that we were lacking in sincerity. And if these two were to gather together, as per the emphatic Divine promise, success and guidance shall certainly come our way.
Why have Muslims, the leaders of yesterday, lagged behind today?
Why do they extend their hands to the foreigners for everything, even for their culture and their own laws?
Why should they rely upon others to protect themselves vis-à-vis political storms and military assaults?
Why is it that yesterday the others benefited from their knowledge and culture whereas today they (the Muslims) have to turn to the others?
And finally, why is it that they are captives in the clutches of others and their lands are under the occupation of the transgressors?
All these 'whys' possess just one answer: Either they have forgotten the jihad or that the intentions have become polluted.
Indeed, jihad in the fields of science, culture, politics, economics and military has been thrust into the dark world of forgetfulness. Affection for the self, love of the world, desire for comfort and pleasure and personal motives have prevailed over them to the extent that those of them who are killed by own hands, are more than those killed by the enemies!
The overwhelmed state of some West-stricken and East-stricken individuals, self-selling by some of those vested with authority, and isolation of intellectuals and scholars have not only taken the jihad from them but also the sincerity.
Whenever there manifests slight sincerity amongst our ranks and our warriors jolt themselves into activity, successes are achieved one after the other and the fetters of captivity fall apart. Despairs turn into hopes, failures into successes, humiliation into dignity, and disarray and hypocrisy into unity and cohesion. How inspirational is the Qur`an, which, in a short sentence, has not only mentioned the malady but has also presented its remedy!
Truly, those who strive in the path of Allah (s.w.t.) are the beneficiaries of Divine guidance and it is self-evident that in the presence of His guidance, deviation and failure are inconceivable.
In any event, every person plainly senses and perceives this Qur`anic reality in his efforts that when he sets out to strive for Allah (s.w.t.) and in His path, doors open up before him, problems decrease in severity and adversities tend to become more bearable. [Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 16, pg. 350
By: Ayatullah al-Uzma Nasir Makarim Shirazi