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CONDITION OF ARABIA BEFORE ADVENT OF ISLAM

Genealogists divided the Arabs into two major groups:


First: The Arabs who perished having no descendents such as `Aad and Thamood.
Second: The Arabs who remained and they are divided into two groups:
1- Pure Arabs who were Yemenis and were originated from the progeny of Ya`rub Ibn
Qahtaan.
2- Arabized Arabs who originated from `Adnaan who himself originated from the
progeny of (Ishamel) Ismaa'eel the son of (Abraham) Ibraaheem, may Allaah exalt
their mention. They were called Arabized Arabs because their forefather, Ismaa'eel,
may Allaah exalt his mention, was a non-Arab while their mother was an Arab
woman from the tribe of Jurhum.
The Arab region had an organized political life before Islam, especially in Yemen
where there was agriculture and hence settlements.
There were many successive dynasties,
such as the Dynasty of (Ma'een), the Dynasty of Qutbaan, the Dynasty of (Sheeba)
Saba' after which a chapter in the Quran was named, and the Dynasty of Himyar
which remained until it was occupied by the Ethiopians in the sixth century A.D.
Later on, the Persians took control of Himyar until Islam freed it from Persian
occupation and its people embraced Islam.
After the destruction of the Dam of Ma'rib and the economic fall, the Arabs migrated
from Yemen to the northern boundaries of the Arabian Peninsula where they founded
some Arab emirates that continued to exist until after the emergence of Islam.
In Iraq, there was the Manaathirah Emirate with Al-Heerah being its capital while in
southern Levant, there was the Ghassaani Emirate. There were other Arab emirates
in the Eastern Peninsula specifically in Bahrain, and Yemen, and in south Eastern,
Oman. All these emirates embraced Islam during the reign of the Prophet, sallallaahu
alayhi wa sallam, and became parts of the Muslim state. As for the rest of the Arabian
Peninsula, its people used to lead a tribal life where each tribe was ruled by its
chieftain who had the upper hand and the final say.
The social condition in the Arab region varied from one place to another depending
on the difference between the urban and Bedouin lifestyles.
In the urban areas where there was a stable life and a political regime, the society was
divided into various classes:
The kings, rulers and princes who were the elite of the society and led a luxurious
life.
In the second position were the tradesmen and rich people.
And finally, the category of poor people who were the lowest class in the society.
As for the Bedouins, they were divided into two classes:
The first class:
The Masters: they were all Arabs whether they were rich or poor. Poverty was never
an obstacle facing the freedom and sovereignty of an Arab. However poor he might
be, he was still proud of his freedom and had full command over his own affairs.
The second class:

The slaves and servants: they were owned by rich people and they were the backbone
of economic life.
The Bedouin life had some good traits which Islam approved of and encouraged such
as generosity and supporting the needy and those in distress. There were other bad
habits which Islam fought until it eliminated them, such as burying baby girls alive
out of fear that they might bring them shame. This habit was adopted by certain Arab
tribes only but it did not express the view of all the Arabs towards women.
Monotheism was introduced to the Arab region a long time prior to the emergence of
Islam. In this region, divine messages were sent down such as the message of Prophet
Hood (Hud), may Allaah exalt his mention, in the south Eastern region of the Arabian
Peninsula. There was also the message of Prophet Saalih, may Allaah exalt his
mention, in the North West of the Peninsula. The Arabs also knew about monotheism
through the message of Prophet Ismaa'eel, may Allah exalt his mention. Yet, as years
passed, they forgot these Messages and converted to idolatry; as they had many idols
such as Hubal, Al-Laat and Al-`Uzzaa.
Although idolatry was wide-spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula, there was
some proof indicating that they did not really believe in them because they said, as
stated in the Quran (what means): {We worship them only that they may bring us
near to Allaah}.[Quran 39:03]
Among them were some Arabs who totally refused idolatry and they were called
"Hunafaa" [believing in one God] such as Waraqah Ibn Nawfal, Zayd Ibn `Amr Ibn
Nufayl, `Uthmaan Ibn Al-Huwayrith, `Ubaydullaah Ibn Jahsh, and Qiss Ibn Saa`idah.
These men did not accept idolatry. Some embraced Christianity while others hoped
for the emergence of a true religion.
Although idolatry dominated the Arab region, Judaism and Christianity were also
present. Christianity was dominant in Najran which was a part of Yemen. Judaism,
on the other hand, prevailed in northern Hijaaz in Al-Madeenah, Khaybar, and AlRay and Tayma' vallies.
It is strange that neither Judaism nor Christianity became wide-spread in the Arab
region. As far as Judaism is concerned, it did not prevail because it is not a missionary
religion, as the Jews consider it a special Message for them only.
The pre-Islamic Arabs were mostly illiterate with few exceptions. For example, the
total number of literate people in Makkah was less than twenty. Despite this, the
Arabs had a fair portion of knowledge and they had contact with the outside world
through their commercial journeys. They knew the Persian culture through the Arab
Heerah Emirate and the Greek culture through the Arab emirates in Levant.
The Arabs excelled others in genealogy because of their pride in being traced to their
tribes..
In the cultural field, the Arabs were excellent in rhetoric and eloquence. The Arab
was, by nature, skillful in rhetoric and, by instinct, eloquent. The proof of this was
their understanding of the Quran which was revealed in their language and which
represents the peak of rhetoric and eloquence.
The Arabs were also well-versed in poetry as it constituted the biography of their
lives. They had hundreds of poets. In addition to its being a highly developed literary

genre, poetry is also considered second to the Quran a source of knowledge of the
various aspects and characteristics of Arab life.