This article offers an in-depth discussion of the theory of civilization of Shāh Walī Allāh of Delhi, a prominent Muslim scholar in eighteenth-century India. It shows that Shāh Walī Allāh articulates a naturalistic understanding of the genesis of social life and the evolution of civilization, outlines the factors involved in the decline of the state and the empire, and sets forth a program for dealing with a broad range of emergencies. It explores the ways in which Shāh Walī Allāh’s thought relates to previous Islamic political discourse, notably the akhlā q (Ṭūsī, Dawwānī) and Indo-Islamic (Baranī, Abū’l-Faẓl) traditions of political thought. It also investigates Shāh Walī Allāh’s use of the Byzantine paradigm as a heuristic device to trace the causes of the dissolution of the Mughal Empire. The article looks at Shāh Walī Allāh’s analysis of Byzantine decline from a cross-cultural perspective and places him in conversation with Byzantine political writers who discuss the factors that led to the decay of the Byzantine Empire.