PRE-ISLAMIC ARABIA THE AGE OF JAHILIYYA
THE MECCAN SYSTEM • Arabian Peninsula hosted two categories of indigenous populations: Nomadic Arabs or Bedouin and settled Arab agriculturists. • South and North Arabia were experiencing a period of decline. • A shift in power and influence away from sedentary communities and toward dominant nomadic tribes
MECCA, THE BACKDROP TO EMERGENCE OF ISLAM • Mecca, as a religious shrine, sacred spring Zamzam in an unlikely place • Commercialism along with pilgrimage • Diverse cultural and religious peoples intemingled • Domestication of the camel along with cultivation of the date palm provided the transportation and nourishment for travel
BEDOUIN CULTURAL VALUES • Fate: qadar, qada are associated with the sense of decree; dahr associated with the meaning of time as destiny; • Death is preordained, patience is the best attitude to be taken; destiny is capricious, impersonal; • The sense of dislocation affected Arabia.
MURUWWA OR MURU’A • Harsh conditions and few resources in desert engendered survival traits known as the Code of Honor: • HOSPITALITY and GENEROSITY, STRENGTH and BRAVERY, GOOD JUDGMENT, and an intense LOYALTY to one’s kin and clan part of Muruwwa • `IRD = Honor of warriorship
TRIBAL SOLIDARITY AND ORGANIZATION • No concept of law in political-juridical sense • No authority to legislate or enforce universal rules beyond kinship group • Notion of universal justice or abstract legal principles was absent • Protection under family and extended kinship relations
INDIVIDUAL WITH KINSHIP • Primary loyalty to closest relations • Feeling of Tribalism = to be aware of one’s close relationship to the “other” to determine quality of interaction and mutual responsibility • Solidarity = protect one’s tribal members from constant threat of predatory raids from outsiders.
RAIDING (al-ghazw) • Raiding practiced against outsiders as an important means of gaining or redistributing resources • Raiding practiced during certain periods of the year, “rules of engagement” honored • The Sayyid (tribal leader) received one-fifth of any spoils
REVENGE (qisas) • Lex talionis (retaliation or retribution) when blood was spilled • The system of mutual revenge (tha`r), as a preventive to reckless killing • The system of diya (paying a bloodwit) evolved as a less honorable substitution • “Fighting” a natural part of Bedouin life
RELIGIOUS LIFE • Hanifiyya = Arabian monotheism • No religious wars were fought in north Arabia, although such wars were fought between Jews and Christians in southern Arabia (Dhu Nuwas converted to Judaism) • Sacred Time and Sacred Space necessary for pilgrimage, killing prohibited (ahram)
SIGNIFICANCE OF JAHILIYYA • “IGNORANCE” as opposed to “KNOWLEDGE” a less important meaning • J.h.l. and h.l.m. Hilm opposite of Jahl = conveys the meaning of gentility and civilization. • Halim a civilized person. • Jahil a barbarian, cruel, violent person • Pre-islamic Arabian culture shows both