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Religions of the Arabs- The Religious situation

Religions of the Arabs- The Religious situation 

Source: Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar) – Memoirs of the Noble Prophet Muhammad [pbuh]

Most of the Arabs had complied with the call of Ishmael [AWS], and professed the religion of his father Abraham [AWS]. They had worshipped All? , professed His Oneness and followed His religion a long time until they forgot part of what they had been reminded of. However, they still maintained such fundamental beliefs such as monotheism as well as various other aspects of Abraham’s religion, until the time when a chief of Khuza‘a, namely ‘Amr bin Luhai, who was renowned for righteousness, charity, reverence and care for religion, and was granted unreserved love and obedience by his tribesmen, came back from a trip to Syria where he saw people worship idols, a phenomenon he approved of and believed it to be righteous since Syria was the locus of Messengers and Scriptures, he brought with him an idol (Hubal) which he placed in the middle of Al-Ka‘bah and summoned people to worship it. Readily enough, paganism spread all over Makkah and, thence, to Hijaz, people of Makkah being custodians of not only the Sacred House but the whole Haram as well. A great many idols, bearing different names, were introduced into the area. [Mukhtasar Seerat-ar-Rasool p.12]

An idol called ‘Manat’, for instance, was worshipped in a place known as Al-Mushallal near Qadid on the Red Sea. Another, ‘Al- Lat’ in Ta’if, a third, ‘Al- ‘Uzza’ in the valley of Nakhlah, and so on and so forth. Polytheism prevailed and the number of idols increased everywhere in Hijaz. It was even mentioned that ‘Amr bin Luhai, with the help of a jinn companion who told him that the idols of Noah’s folk – Wadd, Suwa‘, Yaguth, Ya‘uk and Nasr – were buried in Jeddah, dug them out and took them to Tihama. Upon pilgrimage time, the idols were distributed among the tribes to take back home. [Bukhari 1/222] Every tribe, and house, had their own idols, and the Sacred House was also overcrowded with them. On the Prophet’s conquest of Makkah, 360 idols were found around Al-Ka‘bah. He broke them down and had them removed and burned up. [Mukhtasar Seerat-ar-Rasool p.13-54]

Polytheism and worship of idols became the most prominent feature of the religion of pre-Islam Arabs despite alleged profession of Abraham’s religion.

 

The Religious Situation

Such was the religious life of the Arabians before the advent of Islam. The role that the religions prevalent played was so marginal; in fact it was next to nothing. The polytheists, who faked Abrahamism, were so far detached from its precepts, and totally oblivious of its immanent good manners. They plunged into disobedience and ungodliness, and developed certain peculiar religious superstitions that managed to leave a serious impact on the religious and socio- political life in the whole of Arabia.

Judaism turned into abominable hypocrisy in league with hegemony. Rabbis turned into lords to the exclusion of the Lord. They got involved in the practice of dictatorial subjection of people and calling their subordinates to account for the least word or idea. Their sole target turned into acquisition of wealth and power even if it were at the risk of losing their religion, or the emergence of atheism and disbelief.

Christianity likewise opened its doors wide to polytheism, and got too difficult to comprehend as a heavenly religion. As a religious practice, it developed a sort of peculiar medley of man and God. It exercised no bearing whatsoever on the souls of the Arabs who professed it simply because it was alien to their style of life and did not have the least relationship with their practical life.

People of other religions were similar to the polytheists with respect to their inclinations, dogmas, customs and traditions.

 

 

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