Seerah – Life of the Prophet: Pre-Islamic Society Pt 2
Episode 4: Pre-Islamic Society Pt 1
Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
In this episode, the religion of Pre-Islamic Arabia is explored. In surah Yasin, it is mentioned that Prophet Muhammed (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was sent to warn the people.
‘That you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are unaware.’ (V36:6)
Guidance had not been sent for a long time: the message of monotheism had been brought by previous prophets. Over time, the message had been diluted and corrupted. Christianity and Judaism were practiced by the fringes of society.
Notably, idol worship was introduced to the area by a leader named Amr bin Luhayy. Although Allah was accepted as the supreme God, the idols were considered to have their own levels of influence as intermediaries. In each area, mini sanctuaries similar to the Kaba in Makkah were established with idols at their centre. Ultimately, the idols became the ends and not the means of worship.
Lack of religious guidance gave rise to the practices of superstition, belief in evil omens, and the use of gambling and divination by shooting arrows, watching the directions of flight of birds, and astrology. The minor remnants of the practices of past prophets were that the Kaba in Makkah was seen as a sacred place and that the idols were accountable to the higher authority of Allah. However, innovations far from the practices of past prophets also crept in, like doing tawaaf naked, whilst clapping and whistling. Religious practice was amended to suit the people, for example, with the rearranging of sacred months during times of warfare.