The advance or decline of peoples is bound up with a complex series of causes, which-leaving aside the influence of external factors-is rooted chiefly in the way in which religious beliefs and moral principles are assimilated by the people in question. This principle does not contradict that of divine predestination ( qada,' wa qadar).1 This is because the principle of causality is itself an expression of the universal will of God. In other words, the will of God manifests itself such that societies chalk out their own destiny by means of their beliefs and actions. A society that bases itself upon justice and rectitude will be prosperous and stable.
The will of God manifests itself such that societies chalk out their own destiny by means of their beliefs and actions. A society that bases itself upon justice and rectitude will be prosperous and stable. inversely, one that bases itself upon elements contrary to such principles will find an unpleasant fate in store for it. This principle is referred to in the Qur'an as the sunnat Allah, 'the way of God':
...But when a warner came to them, it did not increase them except in aversion. [Due to] arrogance in the land and plotting of evil; but the evil plot does not encompass except its own people. Then do they await except the way of the former peoples? But you will never find in the way of Allah any change, and you will never find in the way of Allah any alteration. (Sura al-Fatir, 42-43)
So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers. If a wound should touch you - there has already touched the [opposing] people a wound similar to it. And these days [of varying conditions] We alternate among the people so that Allah may make evident those who believe and [may] take to Himself from among you martyrs - and Allah does not like the wrongdoers - (Sura Al 'Imran, 139-140)
1.Translator's note: At this point, we are translating the term qada wa qadar as 'divine predestination', as the phrase has this meaning in Persian, even though in the original Arabic the two words have different connotations, qaada pertaining to the divine decree, and qadar to the 'measuring out' of what is decreed.