Pre-Islamic Arabia – The days of ignorance in Mecca

SHAFAQNA – In pre-Islamic days, that Muslims call the Days of ignorance, the religious background of the Arabs was pagan, and basically animistic. Through Moon, Sun, Stars, Planets, Animals, wells, trees, stones, caves, springs, and other natural objects man could make contact with the deity. At Mekka, Allah was the chief of the gods and the special deity of the Quraish, the prophets tribe. Allah had three daughters: Al Uzzah (Venus) most revered of all and pleased with human sacrifice; Manah, the goddess of destiny, and Al Lat, the goddess of vegetable life. These three daughters of Allah (there is a Quranic verse about them) were considered very powerful over all things. Therefore, their intercessions on behalf of their worshippers were of great significance.

On rituals, Encyclopedia of Islam (New Edition, s.v. Kaaba) states: It is incontrovertible that Islam took from the pagan Arabs an entire pre-Islamic ritual, previously steeped in paganism. This ritual is the veneration of and the pilgrimage to the Kaaba at Mecca. For the pre-Islamic Arabs, the Kaaba was the center of worship where the Jahilis prayed and went round it seven times. The Jahilis went on pilgrimage to the Kaaba once a year in Dhul-Hijja for a week, and they performed the Waqfa [standing in or stoppage at] on Mount Arafat (Al-Udhhri, 1991, 77). In their ritual, the Pre-Islamic pilgrims halted at Muzdalifa, stayed at Mina, made seven runs between Safa and the Marwah hills, sacrificed animals, and shaved their heads.They performed the lesser pilgrimage (Umrah) outside the month of Dhul-Hijja. Islam adopted the entire ritual. It recognized the Kaaba as the temple of God and the center of worship, retained the Black Stone, consecrated the Haram sanctuary, and ordered Muslims to perform the pilgrimage, if possible, once in a lifetime on the eighth day of the last month of the Islamic lunar year, Dhul-Hijja. Muslims today, like their pre-Islamic ancestors, circumambulate the Kaaba seven times, halt at Muzdalifa, stay at Mina, make seven runs between Safa and the Marwah hills, sacrifice animals, stone the devil, shave their heads, and wear a special simple garb. They perform the lesser pilgrimage (Umrah) outside the month of Dhul-Hijja, Islam has also in common with the pre-Islamic Arabs their belief in Jinn. The pre-Islamic Arabs were fully convinced, in the existence of shadowy, crafty, mischievous, even destructive beings called jinn (Watt and Bell, Introduction to the Quran, 1977, 153). While usually invisible, the jinn are capable of assuming forms of snakes, scorpions, lizards, and other creeping things or mad humans (Ibid.). Sura Al-Jinn (Quranic Chapter number 72, composed of 28 Verses), is dedicated to these spirits. Other parts of the Quran recognize Jinns existence: They link Him with jinn by lineage (37:158); that God created Jinn from fire (55:15), and that Jinns end, like mens, is to serve and worship God (51:56). The Quran reveals also that God sent messengers to Jinn and men (6:130), and teaches that Jinn may believe in God and His Holy Book: (72:1), as well as that Jinn may be unbelievers as well (6:130). Jinn promised that they will not Associate in worship any gods with our Lord (72:2).

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