Causes of Victory and Defeat
Al-Jihad, 1411 Dar al Afaq, Riyadh
O brethren: We all must depend on Allah and observe conditions for victory, some of which are:
First: Sincerity of intention to Allah, so that we intend by our jihad raising of the Word of Allah, establishing of the Shari'ah, and the rule of the of Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) [transl: i.e. and that we do not fight for nationalistic causes and such].
Second: That we practice patience and piety (Taqwa), for Allah is with the patient, and He is with the god-fearing. We must be patient in jihad and have Taqwa of Allah by observing His orders and leaving His prohibitions, for variance with the orders of Allah and His Messenger is a cause of defeat. The Companions who disobeyed orders of Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), in the battle of Uhud, were defeated because of that, after they were victorious at first. But after that, Allah's forgiveness reached them so He forgave them.
Third: That we know our strength - and that there is no power or movement except with Allah - so that we are not amazed by our strength and numbers, for conceitedness and being proud of oneself is a cause of defeat. The companions were amazed with their numbers in the battle of Hunayn, but they didn't benefit them in any way. They were then turned back, fleeing, but Allah sent His tranquility upon His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and upon the believers, and sent an army from His angels so the final victory was for the believers.
Fourth: That we prepare material strength for use against enemies- what is appropriate of arms and strength in that particular time and situation - so that we may respond to the weaponry of the enemy with its like.
When we fulfill these four matters, then, as Allah said,
"O you who have believed, if you support Allah, He will support you and plant firmly your feet." [Noble Quran 47:7]
"And Allah will surely support those who support Him (i.e. in His cause). Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. [And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give Zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters." [Noble Quran 22:40-41]
Just like there are causes of victory, there are also causes of defeat. From them are:
First: Being extravagant, negligent with regards to Allah's rights, doing what Allah forbade and leaving what He ordered, so that defeat be a measure of discipline and an expiation for one's evil deeds.
Second: Taking pride in one's self, power, greatness in numbers, or material strength.
Third: Disunity and differing. Allah said:
"Do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart." [Noble Quran 8:46]
Allah clarified in His book these three causes of defeat so that people be warned about them. In the battle of Uhud, disobedience, dissension and disagreement occurred among some Muslims, and it led to their defeat. Allah said,
"And what struck you on the day the two armies met [at Uhud] was by permission of Allah that He might make evident the [true] believers." [Noble Quran 3:166]
A great wisdom is mentioned in this.
In Hunayn, Muslims were amazed by their numbers. They were twelve thousand, and some said, "Today we cannot be defeated because of a small number", so Allah said informing about that day:
"...and on the day of Hunayn, when your great number pleased you, but it did not avail you at all, and the earth was confining for you with [i.e. in spite of] its vastness; then you turned back, fleeing. Then Allah sent down His tranquility upon His Messenger and upon the believers and sent down soldiers [i.e. angels] whom you did not see and punished those who disbelieved. And that is the recompense of the disbelievers. Then Allah will accept repentance after that for whom He wills; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." [Noble Quran 9:25-27]
The wisdom in this is that servants should know that victory is from Allah and that it is not achieved only by having the means for victory and by vanquishing the enemy, especially when the servant is being proud and is forgetting that all matters happen only by the permission of Allah, and that the servant, when he relies on his strength, is entrusted to his weakness and feebleness. Therefore, since these three matters - negligence with regards to the rights of Allah, conceitedness and dissension and differing - are from the causes of defeat, it is obligatory for armies of the sincere to ponder these causes and how they brought about their defeat, and then end that disease, so that the final outcome be good.
"But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows, while you know not." [Noble Quran 2:216]
O brethren: Allah said,
"And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war [or equipment which serves the same purpose] by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged." [Noble Quran 8:60]
Allah ordered that we prepare against our enemies what we are able of power, and the word strength here is an indefinite noun, as is apparent, and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained the intended meaning by saying: "Verily, the strength is throwing [i.e. shooting], verily the strength is throwing." He also said (peace and blessings be upon him) "[Learn to] throw and [learn to] ride and if you [learn to] throw, it is dearer to me than if you [learn to] ride." So Allah ordered that we prepare what we are able of power, and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), explained the strength to mean throwing (i.e. shooting). Then Allah said:
"...and of steeds of war [or equipment which serves the same purpose] by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows."[Noble Quran 8:60]
The enemy of Allah and our enemy are those who disbelieve and make their disbelief public, and others whom we do not know but whom Allah knows. It is said: What is meant here are those who are far from the believers on that day; that is far, with regards to their place. And it is said, hypocrites are intended with these words. Allah said:
"And among those around you of the Bedouins are hypocrites, and [also] from the people of Madinah. They have become accustomed to hypocrisy. You do not know them, [but] We know them." [Noble Quran 9:101]
Because, when hypocrites see the glory of Islam, they will be terrified and fearful. For this reason, hypocrisy in this Ummah did not happen until after the battle of Badr, when Allah gave glory to Muslims, and humiliated the polytheists. And what is intended by "others besides them" are either people whom fighting of the believers hasn't reached yet and the believers do not know about them (i.e. they had wanted to fight and oppose the believers, but didn't because they became fearful after the believers defeated the polytheists), or hypocrites.