An indication of defeat is when Shaitan makes victory seem impossible and out of reach. The hypocrite, liar, deceiver and defeated person will believe that victory of Allah is so distant and unattainable. The believer, however, believes in the promise of Allah even against all the odds.
If a condition makes you defeated, realise that the condition is not to blame. Your despondency, pessimism and lack of iman by placing reliance on your condition instead of in Allah is your defeat, not your surrounding circumstances.
All this depends on the status of your iman. If your iman is strong, and you believe in Allah and His sunnah, you will rise up and the conditions will change once you achieve unity with Allah.
What happens if the condition doesn't change? That means your purification is not complete! Alternatively, Allah may have put you at a place and a time for a wisdom that Allah knows. For example, YUNUS AS did not believe in the condition set by Allah and abandoned his community of his own accord instead of obeying Allah's command to give them da'wah. This was why his condition worsened to the extent he was thrown overboard in the middle of the sea, and swallowed by a whale, until he repented to Allah for his mistake.
We can only comprehend the wisdom of Allah if we follow the sunnah of Allah and interpret events in light of the sunnah of Allah. The journey of Rasulullah SAW contained unbelievable odds. The beginning was difficult, and it appeared that every single avenue was blocked. From a logical perspective, circumstances were futile from the outset. Yet, after two decades of perseverance and trust in Allah, the opening came one after another, in overwhelming waves – a victory that will continue until the end of time.
This journey, in summary is:
Journey of guidance
Followed by hardship and trial
Followed by an opening
Followed by more trial and sacrifice
Followed by more opening.
There is no other way. This is the sunnah of Allah which will never change.
Learning from Past Defeats
Surah Hud at verse 117 states "And your Lord would not have destroyed the cities unjustly while their people were reformers." We can see from history that when people stop doing da'wah, this was the end of their civilization. We do not have to look too far back into history – look at the decline and collapse of the Ummayad and Ottoman empires, which occurred when the Muslim rulers became corrupted, immersed in dunia and stopped propagating the message of Islam.
The end of your own efforts to spread the message of Allah, whether through your words, actions or finances, will mark the end of your own strength and victory. When da'wah is no longer alive in your heart, defeat will follow. At the very least, if you do not have the means or the ability, keep the da'wah alive in your heart with your intentions.
Surah An Nahl at verse 118 reminds us of prior civilizations, but it is of universal application to all of us as a warning: "And We wronged them not, but they used to wrong themselves."
This was clearly demonstrated in the history of Islam. When Muslims behaved in complete submission to Allah, Allah gave them complete victory. When the behaviour of the Muslims was mediocre, Allah gave them mediocre victory. When Muslims stop living by the principles of Islam, Allah rewarded them complete and utter defeat. We see this in the rise and fall of various Islamic civilisations, even the ones that were the centres of learning and had the most elite of the Muslims with them previously. The same principles apply on an individual and collective level.
The elements of defeat start when we abandon the message. It happens when we are complacent, and surrender to some basic ritual and feel self satisfied about our minimal efforts. Defeat is around the corner when we are busy with all the fiqh, problems and philosophy, and keep ourselves occupied with arguing and bickering over insignificant issues which can tear the ummah apart. The excessive love of dunia is also a defeat, as are the diseases of the heart that consume us from within, making us forget the grave and the journey of the soul after death. Defeat occurs when we, as a people, are divided over small and petty branches of understanding, and relapse to our own ignorance and tribalism acquired from our ancestors, culture and habit instead of following Allah and Rasulullah SAW and the right advice.
Defeat occurs with lack of the right leader with the right understanding and sincerity, and lack of sincerity and truthfulness of those who make da'wah to Allah. It is manifested by the death of the souls of the so-called Muslims in sacrificing their money for sabeelillah.
Denying the status of the ummah and the condition, denying the act of commanding the right and forbidding the wrong, denying the message of the journey of seeking knowledge from every perspective in life and to understand knowledge from every angle, the ruptured unity of the family and the pillars of individual family members ... these are the ongoing defeats we face every day unless we urgently take it upon ourselves to change.
Even a cursory glance at the current situation today will reveal that majority of us are in deep defeat, at so many different levels. However, the most devastating defeat is if, after this awareness, we still turn our backs on the journey of iman, belief and tawakul of Allah, and we do not reform ourselves while we still can.
Otherwise, history will repeat itself. We need to learn from the history and see what happens, if we are truly Muslims. May Allah guide us to the true path, ameen.