Reflections on the ‘Conspiracy’ Theory and Muslim Attitudes

By Waris Mazhari


Many Muslims think that a fundamental cause of the current problems of Muslims globally is what they decry as a ‘Western conspiracy’ against Islam and Muslims. They think that over the last few centuries Western countries have reduced Muslims to such a state of utter helplessness that the latter can hardly do anything to change their own conditions, try as hard as they might. The ‘hidden hand’ of what they call the ‘enemies of Islam’, will, they argue, simply not allow Muslims to get out of the unenviable situation in which they find themselves today. The Muslim religious and politically-oriented media is replete with stories of what are termed as ‘conspiracies’ of non-Muslims, particularly the West, against Islam and Muslims. This, in fact, is the only topic that a great many self-styled Muslim thinkers and writers can write about.

The simple fact is that this way of thinking only reveals the present-day Muslims’ extreme intellectual crisis. This crisis does not have to do with material resources or the lack thereof. Rather, it is a crisis of thought. Whatever Muslims might have faced, or are facing today, at the hands of others is plain enough to see—but it is all the price of the Muslims’ own weaknesses and wrongdoings, which they try to conceal blaming it on what they brand as the immorality of others. This is despite the fact that the Muslims’ own moral condition is woefully lamentable—this being so obvious a fact that it needs no elaboration at all.

Thinking in terms of the so-called ‘conspiracy theory’ is absolutely un-Islamic. If this theory were accepted as true, it would mean that the collective fate of Muslims is not in their hands but, rather, in the hands of their supposed opponents. It would mean that their supposed opponents, rather than Muslims themselves, are writing the Muslims’ fate. If this absurd claim is accepted, one would have to invent an entirely new meaning of the following Quranic declaration (13:11):

God does not change the condition of a people’s lot, unless they change what is in their hearts.

God does not change the condition of a people’s lot, unless they change what is in their hearts.

It is not completely untrue to say that Muslims have been the victim of some Western conspiracies. But the way that this is sought to be generalized and exaggerated completely out of proportion is utterly nonsensical, being indicative of deep-rooted and widespread intellectual bankruptcy among Muslims.

If you survey the 1400-year history of Islam, you will notice that Muslims have gone through numerous ups and downs. One of the most tragic developments in Muslim history was the enormous devastation wrought by the Tartars in the 13th century, who rampaged through many Muslim lands. They brought widespread slaughter and destruction in their wake, provoking a contemporary historian to comment that it seemed that Islam would be wiped off from the face of the earth. The Tartars seemed so utterly invincible that people thought it impossible that they could ever be defeated. Yet, even in such a trying situation, the ‘conspiracy theory’ did not seem to have had many takers among Muslims of that period. Generally speaking, the Muslims believed that whatever had befallen them was a result of their own misdeeds, in accordance with the Quranic teaching: ‘Whatever misfortune befalls you is of your own doing’ (42:30). This is why not long after the Muslims had been militarily crushed by the Tartars, the latter were won over to Islam.

There are several reasons why the ‘conspiracy theory’ has so many takers among Muslims today. One basic reason is the marked tendency in Muslim intellectual circles to refuse to engage in self-criticism and introspection. A second reason is the failure of movements and parties that arose in the 20thcentury in the name of defending Muslims and reviving Islam in securing their basic goals. This led to mounting frustration in their ranks, accompanied by extreme emotionalism, fear, suspicion and confusion—all of which made themmore prone to thinking in terms of conspiracy theories.

Thinking in terms of conspiracies is entirely opposed to the teachings of the Quran. It is a result and a symbol of a defeatist mentality, of a destructive, not constructive, mind-set.

This issue needs to be understood in the light of the teachings of the Quran. The Quran mentions conspiracies (secret planning) against Muslims on the part of their enemies. The Quran relates:

And they schemed but God also schemed and God is the Best of Schemers.(3:54)

Remember how those who bent on denying the truth plotted against you to imprison you or kill you or expel you: they schemed—but God also schemed. God is the best of schemers (8:30)

They are planning a scheme, and so am I (86:15-16)

From these Quranic verses one learns that for one’s enemies to make conspiracies or secret plans against one is to be expected .But since conspiring against others is an act against nature, it cannot be so decisive as to overturn someone’s fate. Therefore, the misfortune of Muslims today is an outcome of their own handiwork. Another important point that emerges from these Quranic verses is that God has made a natural arrangement to cause the conspiracies of one’s foes to fail. No party, community can subordinate or destroy Islam or its followers on the basis of a conspiracy.  This is why in numerous hadiths reports that foretell about the weakness and disgrace of Muslims, the responsibility for this is placed on Muslims themselves. For instance, it is related that the Prophet said: The nations are about to call each other and set upon you, just as diners set upon food.” It was said: “Will it be because of our small number that day?” He said: “Rather, on that day you will be many, but you will be like foam, like the foam on the river. And Allah will remove the fear of you from the hearts of your enemies and will throw wahn (weakness) into your hearts.” Someone said: “O Messenger of Allah! What is wahn?” He said: “Love of the world and the hatred for death.” (Source: Abu Daud,hadith no.4297).

The notion that other communities have reduced Muslims to a state of utter helplessness and weakness through their ‘conspiracies’ and that they have, as it were, sealed the Muslims’ fate, is nothing but absurd escapism and an excuse for Muslims not to do anything positive and practical to help improve the situation that they find themselves in. For instance, vast numbers of Muslims rant and rave against the West’s conspiracies, but a huge proportion of these very same people pines to get to live in those countries and lead a life of luxury! I have met numerous Muslims who never tire of expressing hatred for the West, but who, with the very same passion, also long to get an American ‘green card’ or British passport for themselves or their children! This is a very obvious and regrettable case of double-standards.

By constantly harping on their perceived victimhood, weakness and vulnerability at the hands of others such Muslims are certainly not helping themselves. This attitude does nothing to get them out of the situation they find themselves in, at the same time as it makes others also believe that Muslims are a spent people, a people who are capable only of agitating, protesting, wailing and shrieking and of nothing good and positive.

The fact of the matter is that in this world, an individual or community’s progress or regress, prosperity or degeneration, victory or defeat, rise or fall are all linked to the laws of Nature. The principles on which these laws are based are one and the same for all people. They are unchangeable. As the Quran (35:43) says:

You will never find any change in the ways of God’.

These principles and laws apply in exactly the same way to Muslims as they do to other people. There are simply no short-cuts especially for Muslims, and nor can any exceptions be made for them.


The conspiracies of one community simply cannot block the path of another community. If, as a result of a conspiracy, a person or community finds one door closed to it, there will be other doors that remain, at the same time, open to it. But one needs to look for these doors and then set out on the path that these doors lead to, instead of banging against the one blocked door and destroying oneself in the process.


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