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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.

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pre islamic arabia

PRE-ISLAMIC ARABIA

THE AGE OF JAHILIYYA

the meccan system
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, 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
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
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
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
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 (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
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
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
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