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What causes a nation to fail?
There are lots of theories
Maybe it is disease?
When the Europeans arrived, carrying germs which thrived in dense, semi-urban populations, the indigenous people of the Americas were effectively doomed. They had never experienced smallpox, measles or flu before, and the viruses tore through the continent, killing an estimated 90% of Native Americans.
Maybe it is poor financial planning like Communist Russia
Maybe it is a revolution like Iran in 1978
One of the theories I particularly like states that: when the complexity of operating a society outstrips its utility then it is destined to fail…
There are endless books and theories to what causes a nation to fail, but these are all by products of one single criteria that God tells us in the Quran:
[16:112] GOD cites the example of a community that used to be secure and prosperous, with provisions coming to it from everywhere. But then, it turned unappreciative of GOD's blessings. Consequently, GOD caused them to taste the hardships of starvation and insecurity. Such is the requital for what they did.
[14:7] Your Lord has decreed: "The more you thank Me, the more I give you." But if you turn unappreciative, then My retribution is severe.
Word: رَغَدًا (raghadan)
Root: ر غ د
to be abound in a good thing; (eat) freely and plentifully and with ease; live in ease and affluence; be amble and pleasant (in life); freely; plentifully; with ease
This root and this word occurs only 3 times in the Quran, one of those times was in 16:112 as we just read
(2) Adam in Paradise
[2:35] We said, "O Adam, live with your wife in Paradise, and eat therefrom generously, as you please, but do not approach this tree, lest you sin.”
[20:116] Recall that we said to the angels, "Fall prostrate before Adam." They fell prostrate, except Satan; he refused. [20:117] We then said, "O Adam, this is an enemy of you and your wife. Do not let him evict you from Paradise, lest you become miserable. [20:118] "You are guaranteed never to hunger therein, nor go unsheltered. [20:119] "Nor will you thirst therein, nor suffer from any heat."
[7:17] "I will come to them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left, and You will find that most of them are unappreciative."
[20:120] But the devil whispered to him, saying, "O Adam, let me show you the tree of eternity and unending kingship." [20:121] They ate from it, whereupon their bodies became visible to them, and they tried to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise. Adam thus disobeyed his Lord, and fell.
(2) Children of Israel
Word: رَغَدًا (raghadan)
Lack of Confidence in God: They Refuse to Enter Jerusalem
[2:58] Recall that we said, "Enter this town, where you will find as many provisions as you like. Just enter the gate humbly, and treat the people nicely. We will then forgive your sins, and increase the reward for the pious." [2:59] But the wicked among them carried out commands other than the commands given to them. Consequently, we sent down upon the transgressors condemnation from the sky, due to their wickedness.
So much of what we have we did zero work for:
[56:57] We have created you, if you could only believe! [56:58] Have you noted the semen that you produce? [56:59] Did you create it, or did we? [56:60] We have predetermined death for you. Nothing can stop us— [56:61] from substituting new generations in your place, and establishing what you do not know. [56:62] You know about the first creation. Do you not remember?
[56:63] Have you noted the crops you reap? [56:64] Did you grow them, or did we? [56:65] If we will, we can turn it into hay. Then you will lament: [56:66] "We lost. [56:67] "We are deprived."
[56:68] Have you noted the water you drink? [56:69] Did you send it down from the clouds, or did we? [56:70] If we will, we can make it salty. You should be thankful.
[56:71] Have you noted the fire you ignite? [56:72] Did you initiate its tree, or did we? [56:73] We rendered it a reminder, and a useful tool for the users. [56:74] You shall glorify the name of your Lord, the Great.
Psalm 8:4 What is man that you are mindful of him
There is no appreciative without believing and glorifying God alone
Appreciation comes from worshipping God alone
[68:17] We have tested them like we tested the owners of the garden who swore that they will harvest it in the morning. [68:18] They were so absolutely sure. [68:19] A passing (storm) from your Lord passed by it while they were asleep. [68:20] By morning, it was barren. [68:21] They called on each other in the morning. [68:22] "Let us harvest the crop." [68:23] On their way, they confided to each other. [68:24] That from then on, none of them would be poor. [68:25] They were so absolutely sure of their harvest. [68:26] But when they saw it, they said, "We were so wrong! [68:27] "Now, we have nothing! [68:28] The righteous among them said, "If only you had glorified (God)!"
Remembering God Every Chance We Get
[18:23] You shall not say that you will do anything in the future, [18:24] without saying, "GOD willing." If you forget to do this, you must immediately remember your Lord and say, "May my Lord guide me to do better next time.”
It doesn’t matter how clever you are or how hard you work if we are not acknowledging that all our blessings come from God then we are destined to fail.
Example of the two men and their gardens
[18:32] Cite for them the example of two men: we gave one of them two gardens of grapes, surrounded by date palms, and placed other crops between them. [18:33] Both gardens produced their crops on time, and generously, for we caused a river to run through them.
[18:34] Once, after harvesting, he boastfully told his friend: "I am far more prosperous than you, and I command more respect from the people."
[18:35] When he entered his garden, he wronged his soul by saying, "I do not think that this will ever end. [18:36] "Moreover, I think this is it; I do not think that the Hour (the Hereafter) will ever come to pass. Even if I am returned to my Lord, I will (clever enough to) possess an even better one over there.”
[18:37] His friend said to him, as he debated with him, "Have you disbelieved in the One who created you from dust, then from a tiny drop, then perfected you into a man? [18:38] "As for me, GOD is my Lord, and I will never set up any other god besides my Lord. [18:39] "When you entered your garden, you should have said, 'This is what GOD has given me (Mã Shã Allãh). No one possesses power except GOD (Lã Quwwata Ellã Bellãh).' You may see that I possess less money and less children than you. [18:40] "My Lord may grant me better than your garden. He may send a violent storm from the sky that wipes out your garden, leaving it completely barren. [18:41] "Or, its water may sink deeper, out of your reach."
[18:42] Indeed, his crops were wiped out, and he ended up sorrowful, lamenting what he had spent on it in vain, as his property lay barren. He finally said, "I wish I never set up my property as a god beside my Lord." [18:43] No force on earth could have helped him against GOD, nor was it possible for him to receive any help. [18:44] That is because the only true Lord and master is GOD; He provides the best recompense, and with Him is the best destiny.
[18:45] Cite for them the example of this life as water that we send down from the sky to produce plants of the earth, then they turn into hay that is blown away by the wind. GOD is able to do all things.
If we are unappreciative we will lose everything as it is God who causes the provisions to be sent or turned to hay
If we think it is us who is doing this then we are worshiping our selves
How can we tell when as a society we are turning unappreciative?
[34:15] Sheba's homeland used to be a marvel, with two gardens on the right and the left. Eat from your Lord's provisions, and be appreciative of Him—good land, and a forgiving Lord. [34:16] They turned away and, consequently, we poured upon them a disastrous flood, and we substituted their two gardens into two gardens of bad tasting fruits, thorny plants, and a skimpy harvest. [34:17] We thus requited them for their disbelief. Do we not requite only the disbelievers?
[34:18] We placed between them and the communities that we blessed other oases, and we secured the journey between them: "Travel therein days and nights in complete security." [34:19] But they (turned unappreciative and) challenged: "Our Lord, we do not care if You increase the distance of our journeys (without any stations)." They thus wronged their own souls. Consequently, we made them history, and scattered them into small communities throughout the land. This should provide lessons for those who are steadfast, appreciative.
[34:20] Satan found them readily fulfilling his expectations. They followed him, except a few believers.
Just because God has blessed us tremendously does not mean we “deserve” any of this.
Once we think we deserve something we no longer become appreciative we think it is owed to us
[41:50] And when we bless him after suffering some adversity, he says, "This belongs to me. I do not believe that the Hour will ever come to pass. Even if I am returned to my Lord, I will find at Him better things." Most certainly, we will inform the disbelievers of all their works, and will commit them to severe retribution.
Children of Israel
[7:131] When good omens came their way, they said, "We have deserved this," but when a hardship afflicted them, they blamed Moses and those with him. In fact, their omens are decided only by GOD, but most of them do not know.
[11:9] Whenever we bless the human being with mercy from us, then remove it, he turns despondent, unappreciative. [11:10] Whenever we bless him, after adversity had afflicted him, he says, "All adversity has gone away from me;" he becomes excited, proud. [11:11] As for those who steadfastly persevere, and lead a righteous life, they deserve forgiveness and a generous recompense.
[19:77] Have you noted the one who rejected our revelations then said, "I will be given wealth and children"?! [19:78] Has he seen the future? Has he taken such a pledge from the Most Gracious?”
Entitlement is the opposite of gratitude
Entitlement - I deserve these eyes, I deserve this clean bill of health
God owes us nothing and we owe Him everything
If I believe it is owed to me then I don’t believe I have to work for it
Thinking nothing is their fault and everything is owed to them
[10:12] When adversity touches the human being, he implores us while lying down, or sitting, or standing up. But as soon as we relieve his adversity, he goes on as if he never implored us to relieve any hardship! The works of the transgressors are thus adorned in their eyes.
becomes accustomed to something habituation
Children of Israel Rebel
[2:61] Recall that you said, "O Moses, we can no longer tolerate one kind of food. Call upon your Lord to produce for us such earthly crops as beans, cucumbers, garlic, lentils, and onions." He said, "Do you wish to substitute that which is inferior for that which is good? Go down to Egypt, where you can find what you asked for." They have incurred condemnation, humiliation, and disgrace, and brought upon themselves wrath from GOD. This is because they rejected GOD's revelations, and killed the prophets unjustly. This is because they disobeyed and transgressed.
How can we tell that we have progressed from feeling entitled to feeling appreciative?
When we replace a sense of entitlement and exception that things are owed to me, to a life of service and gratitude and understanding how can I serve others based on the provisions and blessings that God has given me
When we are young we are self-centered this makes sense as in our youth we are trying to figure out who we are why are we here
But if we never grow out of that phase then we will never grow to understand how we can serve others…
Example of Moses -
When he was a baby he cried for milk when he refused any nursing mother aside from his own mother.
[28:22] As he traveled towards Midyan, he said, "May my Lord guide me in the right path." [28:23] When he reached Midyan's water, he found a crowd of people watering, and noticed two women waiting on the side. He said, "What is it that you need?" They said, "We are not able to water, until the crowd disperses, and our father is an old man." [28:24] He watered for them, then turned to the shade, saying, "My Lord, whatever provision You send to me, I am in dire need for it." [28:25] Soon, one of the two women approached him, shyly, and said, "My father invites you to pay you for watering for us." When he met him, and told him his story, he said, "Have no fear. You have been saved from the oppressive people."
Believing Nations Prosper
[10:98] Any community that believes will surely be rewarded for believing. For example, the people of Jonah: when they believed, we relieved the humiliating retribution they had been suffering in this world, and we made them prosperous. [10:99] Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed.* Do you want to force the people to become believers?
A society that believes in God will want to help out others in need.
Appreciative means grateful, helpful, charitable
Unappreciative ungrateful, self centered, selfish, stingy greedy
Done by choice not by force
Don’t attempt to outsource your righteous deeds for others to perform on your behalf