In Surah Naml, Allah(SWT) mentions the story of Sulayman(A) and the Queen of the kingdom of Saba (Sheba) . Sulayman(A) upon hearing the of the kingdom of Saba decides to send her a letter, inviting her to Islam,
"Be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit to Allah with full submission)"-Surah Naml(27)-31The Queen first asks her advisers as to what to do, then decides to negotiate a peace treaty. Allah(SWT) explains her reasoning in the Quran,
She said: "Verily, kings, when they enter a town (country), they despoil it and make the most honorable amongst its people the lowest." And thus they do.
And thus they do. وَكَذَلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ
The Queen of Saba states in the above ayah that the most respected individuals of a society become the most downtrodden when a country is invaded . The upper classes become the lower classes while the lower classes become elevated in their ranks.
One needs to cast only a cursory glance at society to see the truth in her words. Members of the royal family were literally beheaded after the French Revolution. This would have been the same fate of last Shah of Iran if it were not for American intervention after the Iranian Revolution. And who benefited most from this change of government? Ayatollah Khomeini, who was once banished from the country. The same fate occurred in Pakistan to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto when Gen Zia-ul-Haq took power. And it happened to Muslim Spain when the Christians took power. The Muslim rulers used to live in luxurious palaces but when the Christians came, they became so poor that they had to beg others for money.
The Indian Subcontinent
The British first arrived in the Subcontinent in 1612. In 1857, their process of invasion of the subcontinent was complete. From the onset of their arrival into the subcontinent, they started the process of overturning society, making the most respectable individuals, the most ignoble.
Who was this elite class before the arrival of the British? Other than the chosen nobles, they consisted of the Ulema, the scholars of Islam. During the time of the Mughals, the Ulema were highly respected by the people, served as advisers to the Mughal Emperor and were given special accommodations near the compounds of the royal family.
On the other hand, the dregs of society consisted of the drunkards, the thieves, the prostitutes and the serial-killers. These people were systematically punished, humiliated and loathed by the common people as well.
The Gradual Change
In the 21st Century though, we see a totally different picture. The elite class- the politicians, the multi-millionaires, those who control the government of Pakistan consists of those who often practice Zina, carry out mass-scale murders, and use tax money for themselves. And what about the Ulema? They have been reduced to the most disliked, disrespected, loathed, group of society.
Talking to my many relatives and others in Pakistan, I realize that the respect I would have for a scholar, a person who knows the religion of Islam, is absent from them. More so, the Ulema been the subject of jokes, criticized, bad named, thought of as frightening and more. The term "Mullah" has become a slang used to criticize someone. All this from my fellow Muslims.
On the other hand, I hear success stories after success stories of people who gained a lot of wealth, became rich and have these awesome jobs which give them a lot of cash. These 'successful' people are often either non-Muslims or people that don't even practice Islam. What is more interesting is that I hear these stories from people of all segments of society. Whether they are upper, middle or lower class, religious or nonreligious, they all tell me the stories of the 'successful'. In other words, the general public looks up to the nonreligious, non-practicing Muslims. (If you got confused in this last paragraph, read my post, What's Our Goal?- Part 1, to see where I'm headed)
Was this change sudden, abrupt? No, it took alot of time. For many centuries, the British aimed to turn this society upside down, but met strong resistance. When they finally left in 1947, they had harnessed so many 'agents' united in this struggle that the process continues until today.