Over the ages, human beings have evolved along with the societies they live in. The bedrock of this evolutionary process is ‘change’. From hunter-gatherer society to pastoral, horticultural to agrarian, feudal to industrial, post-industrial and so on, societies have always developed and will continue to do so. Change – the only static thing in this universe – not only transforms the way we live but also the prevalent system of the time. 

Similarly, the international system has always remained in transition. We have witnessed the change when, after the Treaty of Westphalia, concept of nation-states emerged marking the gradual demise of imperialist order. And, when the nation-states became stronger they paved the way for a multi-polar world (during interwar period). Consequently, after the Second World War, bi-polarity (during Cold War) was witnessed and now, the order is uni-polar with US being the sole superpower. However, with the rise of intergovernmental organizations, supranational independent institutions and power blocs the order is once again receptive to change.

During the Dark and the Middle Ages of the Western Civilization, there was no progress as such because it firmly and radically adhered to the established practices and norms under the auspices of Church which used to be the central power. Generally, any voice of reasoning or rationality was shunned as there was an outright rejection to change until the Renaissance and Reformation, which remarkably brought western civilization on the path of progressiveness and prosperity.

On the other hand, when the western civilization was undergoing the Dark Ages, the rule of Prophet Muhammad and Rashidun Caliphs entailed revolutionary changes in the areas such as women rights, slavery, family structure and social structure. Therefore, the existing evil practices espoused by pagan Arabs were condemned and renounced giving impetus to a change; it was not merely a sociological change but also a political and economic change. Sociologist Robert N. Bellah in his book, Beyond Belief, has argued that Islam in its 7th century origins was, for its time and place, "remarkably modern...in the high degree of commitment, involvement, and participation expected from the rank-and-file members of the community."

Moreover, special attention was given to the significance and dissemination of knowledge as well, which was evident during the Islamic Golden Age. In fact, it was Muslim philosophers like Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) who valued and preserved the works of Aristotle. Their work massively contributed in the development of the European philosophy while the former has been recognised as the ‘founding father of secular thought in Western Europe’. Also, unparalleled achievements were witnessed in the field of arts, science, medicine, astronomy, mathematics...etc. Notably, such accomplishments were only possible because the Muslims of that time positively responded to the changing dynamics of that period. However, Muslims’ intellectual supremacy soon deteriorated as a result of radicalization, fundamentalism and preference of taqleed (imitation) over ijtihad (independent reasoning).

Till this day, we have failed to regain our lost glory of extraordinary advancement just because we halted the essential process of responding and adapting to change. Having role model(s) who pass on sexist remarks about women, neglecting the importance of education, human rights and equal treatment of women, viewing every other initiative of the west as a device to deviate us from the righteous path are some of our ill-conceived notions which assists us in living a false belief that the whole world is conspiring against us. We are intelligent enough to decode a Jewish conspiracy (Yahoodi Sazish) in every single thing but, naïve enough to elucidate and rectify our own mistakes.

Now, it is imperative for us to realise the cause of our failure i.e. not responding and adapting to change. Muslims, in general, blame the West for their perennial demise but, in reality, it is because of the incompetence and inability to adopt the evolving ideas, norms and values which have always impeded growth and prosperity. It is high time we change the way we think, we see, we perceive and the way we act. The time has changed, international order has changed and most importantly, ideas have changed. In the end, it is important to note that, ‘it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change’.