In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
One often hears these words repeated, and they are a major reason for the state of failure that the Ummah is enduring.
These words are rooted in a state of mental inability, even though this inability is illusory, not real. Indeed, disabled minds only produce failure.
There is no doubt that there are things in life that are impossible. This is why when the Prophet – blessings and peace be upon him – used to take the oath of allegiance from his companions, he would make them repeat, “[I will listen and obey] to the utmost of my ability”. Allah – Glorified is He – says “Allah does not burden any soul with more than it can bear” [2:286]
This shows that there are some things beyond our abilities. We are not talking about this fact here. For otherwise we may enter into a prolonged discussion, and end upholding the illusion “I can’t, it’s impossible”, and moreover giving this illusion an ‘Islamic’ justification!
These two phrases “I can’t, it’s impossible” – despite their difference in meaning – have become a law that is used to excuse every failure, negligence and backwardness. They are used to justify the current backwardness, to numb the senses, to destroy the resolve of the Ummah, and to kill every success in its infancy.
Many people, generation after generation, took these two phrases as a beacon guiding their lives, as a way of thinking that makes them accept the current bitter state of affairs, and at the same time feel satisfied that there is nothing they can do.
I stand perplexed before the incredible backwardness of the Ummah, despite its enormous potential for success, progress, and leadership. I have thought long and hard about this, and have decided that the most prominent reason for this backwardness – and there are many – is the illusion “I can’t, its impossible”. This illusion has turned into an unshakeable principle. From it we take off, and in its darkness we operate.
How many tribulations befell us, and are still falling, because of this illusion. The most dangerous of these is not realizing that this is just an illusion; that it disappears when we start investigating it. But you will find those who waste a part of their life defending the idol “I can’t, it’s impossible”. They waste a part of their life trying to prove that this idol is a solid fact; an unquestionable axiom.
This illusion did not form overnight. It is the result of an accumulation of many factors, over the course of many years. Instead of producing men who would lead the Ummah forward without surrendering to the difficulties and obstacles, we found those factors producing more hopelessness, failure and despair.
But I am also amazed at that idolatrous nation that took from difficulties a starting point for its progress, until it was able to compete vigorously with its former enemies, without surrendering to psychological defeat, nor emotional despair. Japan rose from the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to become an important economic power, and did not make those defeats a reason to cry and hope for the sympathies of others.
As for Germany, it came out from underneath the ruins of World War II to become a powerful nation, and its economy one of the strongest in the world. This despite the fact that Germany was destroyed not long ago – the period between its destruction and its rise as an economic leader is less than 30 years.
Let me just imagine. Had the revivers of the Ummah surrendered to the illusion “I can’t, it’s impossible”, how would the Ummah have been now?!!
Had Abu Bakr – may Allah be pleased with him – said, “I can’t fight the Arabs after their apostasy, and I will surrender to this bitter state of affairs”, what would the result have been? Simply thinking about that scares me.
Had Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal – may Allah have mercy on him – not took his solid stand in the face of the makers of fitnah, backed by rulers who did not realize the danger of what is being said…Had he surrendered and said, “I can’t, it’s impossible”, do you think that that great victory for Ahl-us-Sunnah (at the hands of one man!) would have taken place?
Had Salahu-ud-Din surrendered to the awful humiliation that the Ummah endured under the occupation of the crusaders, excusing himself that he cannot take on that great power that possesses the most powerful weapons, with the unqualified support of many countries… Had he accepted what many other rulers of his time had accepted, humiliation and subjugation, together with the guarantee of continued rule…Had he done this, and said the removal of the crusaders is impossible, would Jerusalem have been purified from the crusaders and their hatred? How today is like yesterday.
Had Shaikh-ul-Islam, Ibn Taymiyah – may Allah have mercy on him – not seriously raised the banner of knowledge, action and jihad, at a time of when callers to falsehood and innovation became outspoken, at a time of political and military defeats…Had he surrendered to the belief “I can’t, it’s impossible”, would history have recorded for us that huge heritage of heroism, knowledge and challenging of falsehood?
Had Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab – may Allah have mercy on him – when he found the Arabian Peninsula living in the darkness of ignorance, innovation and blind following, had he accepted for himself what other righteous people did, “I can’t, it’s impossible”, do you think the Peninsula would have awaken from its sleep and got rid of its idolatry and innovations?
Our long history is full of such pioneering leaders and revivers, who recorded for us the most admirable examples the Muslim’s ability to overcome the greatest of physical and mental obstacles, neither surrendering to psychological defeat, nor allowing the compound difficulties to numb their senses.
Many would say, “They were great men, and how few such men are!!”
I say that we did not know they were great until after they recorded those shinning pages of history with their admirable victories in different fields. Before that they were just ordinary men. However, for many reasons, they were able to climb the ladder of success that made them heroes and leaders. Foremost of these reasons is the destruction of the illusion “I can’t, it’s impossible”