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The Arabs Before The Advent 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 Arabs' Political Condition:

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. There was a great civilization in Yemen as it was famous for building dams in order to store rain water for agriculture such as the Dam of Ma'rib. Trade also flourished because of its distinctive geographical location on the southern entrance of the Red Sea. Relying on this location, Himyar became a great trade centre between the Far East, Eastern Africa and Europe.

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 Arabs' Social Condition:

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.

The Arabs' Religious Affairs:

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 Allaah 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 Al-Ray 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 Arabs' Cultural Condition:

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 also acquired a lot of information from experience and necessity such as astronomical and geographical information. They came to know such facts because of their frequent travel, relocation, and the need to know the seasons of rainfall and the direction of the winds.

The Arabs excelled others in genealogy because of their pride in being traced to their tribes. They paid much attention to this science to the extent that they were interested to know the genealogy of horses in addition to knowing the genealogy of people.

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.

Besides poetry, the Arabs were also well-versed in oration. They used to hold literary seminars which were similar to present day literary competitions. One of the most famous seminars was `Ukaath where arbitration committees were held to issue their judgments on poets and orators. The winning poem or religious speech would be reiterated by people who would then memorize it and praise the poet or orator. Magnificent poems were hung in the Ka'bah and these were known as Mu`allaqaat (The Hung Poems) such as the poem of Imri'u Al-Qays and that of Zuhayr Ibn Abu Salmaa.

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Our Religion
What is Islam
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Belief in Allaah
Belief in the Angels
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The Life of the Prophet
The Arabs Before The Advent Islam
Men Around The Prophet
The Mothers of the Believers
Children in the company of the Prophet Muhammad
Portraits from the life of the Prophet
Battles of the Prophet
The Children of the Prophet
 The Prophet's Ambassadors
Places in the Life of the Prophet
The physical description of the Prophet
Qur'an
Statistics About The Quran
The Compilation of the Quran
The Merit of the Glorious Quran and Some of its Chapters

The miraculous nature of the Quran

The Excellence of Learning the Quran

Five chapters in Quran

Great Muslim Charactersters
Mohammad Al-Faatih
Taariq Ibn Ziyaad

Salaahuddeen

Al-`Izz Ibn `Abdus-Salaam
Ibn Jareer At-Tabari
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Abu Bakr Ar-Raazi
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The World of Bees
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