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Monday, May 2, 2011

The Journey of Mohamed – Seal of Islam [PART ONE]: The Pagan Arabia – Pre-Islamic Arabia


There is much that we can learn from the life and teaching of Mohamed [Peace be upon him]. Prophet Mohamed is definitely the most influenced personality to have lived on the face of our planet. It is important to understand and learn as much as possible of the last messenger sent on to mankind, it is also a religious obligation for all of us Muslims to follow his way of life and practice his teaching on an everyday basis. A Muslim’s fundamentals and principles are based on the Quran – the holy book of God and the Sunnah – the life and teachings of prophet Mohamed.

I am neither a Sheikh nor a religious scholar, but I am an admirer of Prophet Mohamed. I hope to write a series of short articles that come out in parts, which covers The Journey of Mohamed – life of the last prophet. I will compile and write these articles from different credited sources (approved scholars), to give a fairly shorter narration that covers important events and information that can help readers to understand the story of the Prophet.

Last but not least I would like to thank Hussain Mohamed Haneef, my very close friend who had reviewed and commented on content of these Articles, gratitude for your time and encouragement. My sincere appreciation to DhiIslam.com (English) for providing the necessary platform, and giving me the opportunity to contribute. 

I hope this will benefit readers, as will become useful for anyone who is interested in Islam, the Prophet and his life story.

Maeed Mohamed Zahir


The Journey of Mohamed – Seal of Islam [PART ONE]:

The Pagan Arabia – Pre-Islamic Arabia

“The heavenly bodies and other powers of nature, venerated as deities, occupied an important place in the Arabian pantheon. The sun (Shams, regarded feminine) was worshiped by several Arab tribes and was honored with a sanctuary and an idol. The name Abd Shams, ‘Servant of the Sun’, was found in many parts of the country. The sun was referred to by descriptive tides also, such as Shariq, ‘the brilliant one’. The constellation of the Pleiades (al-Thurayya), which was believed to bestow rain, also appears as deity in the name Abd al-Thyrayya. The planet Venus, which shines remarkable brilliance in the clear skies of Arabia, was revered as a great goddess under the name of al-Uzza, which may be translated as ‘the Most Mighty’. It has a sanctuary at Nakhlah near Mecca. The name Abd al-Uzza was very common among the pre-Islamic Arabs. The Arabian cult of the planet Venus has been mentioned by several classical and Syriac authors” writes the Muslim Sheikh Inayatullah.

Polytheism and worship of idols was the most prominent feature of the Arabs during these times. They had forgotten the teaching of Ibrahim and other messengers that were sent on to them years ago. The idols that the Arabs used to worship in the Arabic peninsula were so many. In addition to the major three, al-Laat, al-Uzza and Manaat, they used to worship Hubal, Isaaf and Naa’ilah (idol gods and goddesses). And there were many others, all idols and pagan religions.

It is believed that the pre-Islamic Arabs were mostly illiterate, superstitious and unlearned nomadic tribes. They were people who believed in no afterlife, neither of the Angles nor of the Satan. They worshiped and sacrificed, including humans, to their self made gods and goddesses. They were culturally isolated and economically underdeveloped.

Not only the idols, the stars and the saints, were worshipped in Arabia, but the demons and jinn also were acclaimed as gods in every section of their society. They also adored the graves of their forefathers and sought assistance from the departed souls in the hour of distress. They believed that the souls of the dead person had the power to incarnate itself in different bodies, both human and non-human. The pages of history reveal the fact that fire was also worshipped in Arabia as a symbol of divine power. This practice seems to have penetrated in the Arab lands from their neighboring country Persia, where it had been rooted deeply.

The Jews who fled in great numbers into Arabia from the fearful destruction of their country by the Romans made proselytes of several tribes, those of Kinanah, al-Harith Ibn Ka'bah, and Kindah in particular, and in time became very powerful, and possessed of several towns and fortresses.
Christianity had likewise made a little progress amongst the Arabs before the advent of Mohamed. How this religion was actually introduced into this land is uncertain, but the persecutions and disorders which took place in the Eastern Church soon after the beginning of the third century, obliged great number of Christians to seek shelter in that country of liberty. The principal tribes that embraced Christianity were Himyar, Ghassan, Rabi'a, Tagh'ab, Bahra, Tunukh, part of the Tay and Khud'a, the inhabitants of Najran, and the Arabs of Hira. As to the two last, it may be observed that those of Najran became Christian in the time of Dhu Nuwas. Christianity as a religion could not, however, succeed in making a permanent hold in Arabia and could not supersede idolatry.

The pre-Islamic Arabia is also referred as to Jahiliyya , It was a time when Arabia was in a state of ignorance.  It is referred to the period before the rise of Islam in 610 C.E.


The Western side of the Arabian Peninsula is a region known as the Hejaz, or barrier. Ancient geographers had classified the Peninsula as Arabia Petraea, comprising to the present Hejaz and eastern part of Najd. Extending along the Red Sea in between Syria in the north and Yemen in the south situates the famous cities of Mecca, Medina and Jeddah. Mecca possessed a well of great depth, the ‘Zemzem’, it was a site of great advantages and two ancient caravan routes met there. An east-to-west route ran from Africa through the peninsula to Iran and Central Asia, and a northwest-southeast route brought the spices of India to Mediterranean world. Mecca was an important religious sanctuary. The ancient square cubic structure built of granite blocks stood near the well of Mecca. Known as the Ka’bah, built by Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ismail (Ishmael), [Peace be upon them] was in Mecca.

For centuries Ka’bah had been a holy place of annual pilgrimage for the Arabic tribes and a focal point of Arabic cultural and linguistic unity. The Ka’bah was draped with the pelts of sacrificial animals and supposedly held the idols and shrines of some 360 gods and goddesses. 

The city of Mecca occupied a prominent position in the Arab world. It was regarded as a commercial center and a sanctuary of holiness attracting innumerable people from all parts of Arabia, making the custodians of this holy city people of great influence and wealth. Therefore on occasions there had been constant struggle to secure the eminent control over the ‘House of God’.

History tells us that, Ishmaelites remained the guardians of the Kaa’ba for a long time. Afterwards it passed on to the Jurhamites and then to the Amalekites. Later on, the Ishmaelites and the Jurhamites join hands to expel the common foe, the Amalekites, from Mecca and having succeeded in doing so the Jurhamites finally became the guardians of the city.

Banu Bakr and Banu Khuza’ah envied this privilege of the guardianship of Ka’bah and combined to dislodge the Jurhamites. After which the Qusayy conspired with Bani Kinanah, defeated Banu Bakr and Banu Khuza’ah and established their own authority over Mecca and Ka’bah. Thus the control of Mecca and Ka’bah was restored to the Qurayshites after the lapse of about four hundred years. The custodianship of Ka’bah passed first on to Abd al-Dar and then to his sons and grandsons. At the time of Prophet Mohamed’s Birth this honor was enjoyed by his family.

To cite William Muir, The life of Muhammad (1912):
“The house of Abd al-Dar originally possessed all the public offices; but in the struggle with Hashim they were stripped of several important dignities, their influence had departed, and they were now fallen into a subordinate and insignificant position. The offices were retained by them were still, undoubtedly, valuable; but divided among separate members of the family, the benefit of combination was lost; and there was no steady and united effort to improve their advantages towards the acquisition of social influence and political power. The virtual chiefship of Mecca, on the other hand, was now with the descendants of Adb Manaf. Among these, again, two parties had arisen-the families, namely of his sons Hashim and Abd Shams. The grand offices of giving food and water to the pilgrims secured to the house of Hashim, a commanding and permanent influence under able management of Abd al-Muttalib who, like his father Hashim, was regarded as the chief of the Sheikhs of Mecca.”

>> Abdul Hameed Siddiqui, The life of Muhammad (1975)
>> Stearns, Peter N, Islam from the Beginning to 1300 (1992)

>> William Muir, The life of Muhammad (1912)

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