History of Islam Loss of Power

 The Islamic Reassertion of Power

Islamic reassertion captures the concept of regaining position and power by Islamic movements and reflects the perception of challenge or threat to the dominant paradigms and the status quo. It conveys the political elements of the Islamic movement but subtly covers other aspects of the movement like ritual and social elements, which are the most significant characteristics of the movements as being religious. The Islamic reassertion of power entails the revival of ideas and practices through the renewal of thought and renaissance. In the view of Muslims, Islam had been long forgotten by the world, including Muslims themselves, and therefore they sought to increase their awareness and power of their Islam identity. They use their attachment to the religion to regain their dignity and self-esteem to make Islam relevant again in the lives of Muslims. This paper examines why the Muslims felt that they had lost their power and the reasons that caused them to seek reassertion.

History of Islam Loss of Power

Like any other known civilization movement, the Muslim world perceived itself as the core of enlightenment and truth. Muslims, however, saw as though this world was surrounded by infidels whom they sought to civilize and enlighten. There was, however, a massive difference between the infidels because those from the south and the east were idolaters and infidels, thus offering no competition or threat to Islam (Alkhateeb, 2017). The barbarians from the west and the north were, on the other hand, considered as real rivals of the Islamic world. Muslims thought of the north and western world as one with competing for religion, a distinctive civilization, and an empire that was ambitious in its aspirations and claims (Rafi& Ahmad, 2018). This entity was known as Christendom.

For hundreds of years, Islam was superior and posed a threat to Christendom. Islam, for the first a thousand years, conquered massive Christian lands and invaded territories such as North Africa, Spain, Sicily, France, and even Portugal. The attempt by the Christendom to recover their lost lands were thrown back as Muslims continued to advance into southeastern Europe, going as far as Vienna(Weismann, Sedgwick, &Mårtensson, 2016). However, there was a significant failure for Muslims to take over Vienna, and this started the fall of the Islamic power and the rise of European colonial rule in Africa and Asia. For the past three hundred years, Christendom brought about civilization in Europe and all the other parts of the world and gone as far as bringing civilization and infidelity to the Islamic world.

For ages, there has been a growing sense of rebellion by the Muslims against this western ideology and civilization. Muslims have sought to reassert their powers and restore Muslim values and greatness. Islam, as a religion and political entity, has suffered concurrent stages of attacks and defeats. The first was the loss of authority and dominance in the world to the west and Russia. The second was the loss of authority in its territory through invasion by foreign laws, lifestyles, and ideas(Rafi & Ahmad, 2018). Foreign rulers even invaded Muslim lands and established their author therein. The last defeat was the challenge of its mastery in its territory by emancipating women and children.

These factors produced numerous adverse effects. The most prominent one was the secularization of the social, economic, and political institutions of the Islamic society taking foreign ideologies as models of defiance against Mohammed’s ideals, which undermine the moral fiber of Islamic societies. Islamic countries have also grown heavily dependent upon external and secular powers(Alkhateeb, 2017). Education has also taken two different paths, one temporal and the other religious, which has, in turn, encouraged the rise of secular elites and traditional models with distinct social elements and antagonistic perceptions about how society should be run.

Secularism brought about by the western infidels has brought about foreign scheming, systematically eroding the traditional Muslin leadership and replacing it with external rules or foreign-oriented leaders. Foreign leadership brought about dictatorial economic and political powers(Lia, 2017). It has acted against the Islamic principles and lost the confidence and trust of the Islamic people. Islamic leaders felt that the infidels from the western society had estranged Islamic principles and all its sympathies and have typified the lives of people with alien and westernized lifestyles that were not in accordance with the laws of the prophet.

Civilization from the west had led the majority of Muslims to lose sight of their Islamic roots and robbed them of the divine essence and meaning of morality and direction in their lives. It caused them to live in abject material and moral poverty and earthly subjugation and subordination for the social and political comfort of the powers that the barbarians had imposed on them(Lia, 2017). These foreign ideologies resulted in many Muslims getting estranged from God and His holy laws, thus causing them to be alienated from the individual self, which in Islam is a reflection of God that is fulfilled only through complying with the rules given by His prophet Mohammed.

This defeat was too much for the Islamic community to bear. It was therefore inevitable for the community to have a raging outbreak against the alien infidels that had subverted the religion’s dominance, violated the sanctity of its territory, and disrupted the Muslim society.

The Reassertion of the Islamist Power

The current Islamic reassertion of power, whether in Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, or any other part of the Islamic world, is divided. It manifests local elements, sectarian differences, and indigenous accents. Therefore, the resurgence cannot be merely perceived as a monolithic movement but as a cluster of different movements intending to reassert the Islamist power in their own separate ways(Alkhateeb, 2017). However, it does not matter how the different leadership styles manifest externally; all these clusters are influenced and inspired by a mutual group of cross-national and cross-sectarian Islamic activists and thinkers. These individuals share mutual goals and objectives, and they are all firmly rooted in the basic principles of Islam as an ideology as well as faith and program of life(Weismann, Sedgwick, &Mårtensson, 2016). Although there may be some interpretational distinctions among them, the discourses and works of these Islamic figures make up a substantial body of philosophical and political interpretations. These thoughts place the religion in a modern setting and seek its reassertion as a driving force not only in the Islamic world but in the world as a whole.

The first concern of the modern Islamist activists and thinkers is to help Muslims radically to re-embrace and rediscover their Muslim faith as the just, innovative, and complete system of life. This concept was set forth by Mohammed and enacted by his followers, ushering in the Ummah, which was distinct from the world full of ignorance (Jahiliyyah)(Rafi & Ahmad, 2018). To these figures, it is the religious and sacred system of life without divisions between the temporal and spiritual spheres that placed Muslims on a march to glorify God’s rule and human existence and achievements in the world before they were impeded from their true path in the 13th Century. The activists of reassertion view the Islamic unification of temporal and spiritual spheres as the foundation on which Mohammed placed his social model (Lia, 2017). It, therefore, means that Muslims cannot fulfill the religion entirely without forming governments within their societies and Islamic bonds of fusion and coalition within the Ummah.

To reassert its powers, Muslim activists relied on the readings of the Koran. Muslim theorists and activists believe that Islam is the sole religion in which the principle of holiness to God has not been corrupted(Lia, 2017). Muslims believe that there is only one God who is the sole creator of everything in the world. This, therefore, means that God is the only ruler, legislator, and organizer of human lives and all worldly relationships. They believe that only God can guide and legislate over all living things and all values. In this context, therefore, whereas total authority belongs to God only, human beings are a reflection of God, thus his vicegerent in the world. In his position as vicegerent, man is, therefore, a divine social being who is endowed with divine principles and the necessary faculties such as wisdom(Rafi & Ahmad, 2018).

Therefore, in order to reassert Islamic values and principles, Islamists sought to fight for the believers and do away with infidels. They therefore resorted to the concept of Jihad, which was a reflection of just war. Islamists engage in Jihad against infidels who took away the Muslim glory from its people. They believe that infidels from the west are a threat to the noble teachings of the Koran and to the Islamic doctrine as a whole(Lia, 2017). For this reason, they launch attacks, especially to the western countries that took away the values and authority of the Islamic doctrine. A good example of the Jihad war was the 09/11 attacks on America and other subsequent attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Islam radicals believe that by battling and removing the infidels, they will reassert their powers.

Secondly, Islamists decided to reassert their power through trade and industry. The Muslim reaction to western civilization was one of admiration and respect for the achievements. Islamic nations desired to emulate and adopt the immense achievements that the west had accomplished. Most Islamic leaders recognized that poverty, backwardness, and weakness that existed in the Islamic world. This distinction from the west initially became apparent on the battlefield but quickly spread to other parts of human activity(Alkhateeb, 2017). Muslim scholars and activists observed the west advancements in science, technology, and manufacturing. They realized that the only way to reassert their powers was to advance economically and politically to favorably compete with the west. Several generations of modernizers and reformers have attempted to adapt industrialization, political stability, and freedom in their countries in hopes that they would be able to restore their superiority(Weismann, Sedgwick, &Mårtensson, 2016). Indeed, Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East, are successfully competing with the west in terms of industrialization, and science and technology. Most Middle Eastern countries are rich in oil and minerals and are using these resources to regain their powers. Countries such as Dubai, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi are flourishing in trade and industry, thereby gaining respect from the western world.

Integration of Western Ideas into Islamic Reassertion

Islamists did not reject all the ideas from the western intruders. Some of the most radical Islamic activists have accepted some ideas and principles, usually without acknowledging the source. One such adaptation was political freedom with the practices and notions of the election, constitutional governments, and representation(Rafi & Ahmad, 2018). For example, Iran has drafted a constitution and elected a representative assembly and an episcopate, none of which is prescribed in ancient Islamic teachings, but adopted from western forms of government. Islamic nations have also retained numerous social and cultural customs from the west, such as military gear and even food. They continue to use western-designed guns, planes, and tanks for their military operations.

The ideas of the modernist Islamists fostered the re-interpretation of the Islamic doctrine, which would fit within modern society. The new doctrine was created during the late 19th Century and acknowledged that Islam, as a religion and ideology, had lost its position and authority in the world(Alkhateeb, 2017). For many theorists, this loss of power rested on the lack of a dynamic and modern scientific understanding in Muslim countries. They argued that the medieval Islamic understanding with its endorsement of classical science into the west was a catalyst for the development of modern European science and advancement in technology.

Countries like India, Egypt, Persia, Turkey, and Indonesia were all influenced by the ideologies of modern Islamists. In Egypt, modern theorists such as Tahtawi and Muhammad Abduh rediscovered the purpose of the Islamic principles and acknowledged that inept knowledge and acquired rational knowledge could mutually co-exist(Rafi & Ahmad, 2018). Therefore, these scholars affirmed that the study of westernized science was an acceptable form of Islamic education. During the 1860s, the Ottomans movement in Turkey discussed political and constitutional ideas along western lines. Another radical known as Jamal al-din condemned the aggression exercised by the European colonialists and opposed their dominance over Muslim states(Lia, 2017). However, he employed the need to gain modern science tools to fight against the west and reassert Islamist powers in the states.


The Islamists possessed massive control and power over the world until the 13th Century when the west took over and became the ruling powers. The emergence of western rule took away Islam’s values, beliefs, and doctrines. Muslim countries became secondary in rule, and the strong Islamic doctrines became forgotten. However, fundamental Islamic activists, radicals, and thinkers sought to reassert their powers in the world. Since time immemorial, they have attempted to reassert the Islamic doctrine through the Jihad wars, trade and industry, and political freedom and stability. Even though Islamists are reasserting their powers, they recognize that certain elements of the west need to be emulated for them to become equals. Although it is far-fetched, Muslim radicals continue to work towards reasserting their superior powers over the world. How far they are from this quest still remains the big ques


Alkhateeb, F. (2017). Lost Islamic History: Reclaiming Muslim Civilization from the past. Oxford University Press.

Lia, B. (2017). The Jihādī Movement and Rebel Governance: A Reassertion of a Patriarchal Order?. Die Welt des Islams57(3-4), 458-479.

Rafi, M. M., & Ahmad, H. (2018).Contending Visions of Contemporary Islamic Reassertion. Journal of Islamic Thought and Civilization8(2), 145-162.

Weismann, I., Sedgwick, M., &Mårtensson, U. (2016). Introduction: Islamic Myths and Memories Facing the Challenge of Globalization. In Islamic Myths and Memories (pp. 13-24). Routledge.

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