life of Arabs in Arabia
Submitted by on Wed, 15/09/2010 - 23:43
Dear Brother / Sister,
Arabs lived as nomads in the Arabian Peninsula before Islam. Their livelihood was based on animal breeding, and some Arabs were engaged in farming in oases in the inner parts of Arabia. In addition to this, one of the most important ways of livelihood was also robberies of caravans which were the custom of the desert. The way of being organized of Arabs before Islam was the classical Badawi system (nomadic way of living).
According to that system, there was a committee whose members were respectable persons of tribe. In tribal life, rules were formed according to the ancestors’ way of living and there was no private land. Meadows, waters, and sometimes even herds were common property of the tribe. Makkah turned into a commercial center because of its convenient position and people were settled there. The settled life, development of trade, and private riches earned as a result of it accelerated the collapse of tribal life.
Tribal ties became loose. Economic concerns and the idea of earning more replaced tribal solidarity. The fact that Makkah was getting urbanized more and more and due to the hierarchy among tribes and members of tribes, a new separate regime emerged. According to that regime, the city was governed by a council. As for the council, it consisted of ten leaders who had different roles inside that regime and whose powers inherited from father to son. Thanks to the Kaaba which was worshipped, Makkah was considered as Holy Land. Among tribes, peace was announced by the city government for development of trade and tribes went on pilgrimage by visiting the temple in Makkah in that period. Loots and robberies against caravans which were the cornerstones of trade still went on although if they decreased within that period. The continuing wars and tribalism, though they were about to disappear, were the biggest obstacles to social life and trade. There was a need for an institution which would organize life and relationships among tribes. That would be a state.
Tribal life in Arabia started to be shaken to the foundation. However, there was no slavery in progress. After primitive communal society, the next step as a result of natural development would be slavery society. However, slavery had not developed, that is, labor of slaves had never been crucial to social development and production. Although there were slaves owned by people within the society, they were mostly used for housework, protection of caravans, and as concubines (female slaves). It was rare to see labor of slaves in the production.
Dominant religion before the rise of Islam was paganism. Each tribe had many idols each of whom were symbol of a god. The idols had been sculptured as figures such as a woman, bird, lion etc. the inside Kaaba, which was considered holy by all tribes. It was full of idols and there were also about one hundred temples far from the Kaaba in Arabia. Judaism and Christianity had also entered Arabia through merchants. However, Arabs did not show interest in those religions that they did not see close to themselves. Those religions had very little support within Arabia. Islam, unlike Christianity, arose within those historical conditions. When Christianity arose, the state of Rome was a slavery society. Christianity also existed by rejecting the authority of that state and giving hope to the oppressed class. However, tribal system was still dominant although it was about to collapse in the conditions in which Islam arose. Therefore, Islam’s development process would be different from Christianity.
Questions on Islam
- How was life in Arabian Peninsula before Islam? Could you please give information about the belief systems of that time?
- Before the Lord of the Universe (pbuh) was given the duty of prophethood, how was religious, moral and social state of humanity and world?
- How did the second trade journey of the Prophet (pbuh) to Damascus take place? What were the extraordinary incidents that were signs of prophethood during this journey?
- The Prophet goes to Damascus for the second time
- The State of Arabia
- What was the religious, ethical and social situation of the humanity and world like before Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) was given the duty of prophethood?
- Why there are so many foreign words in the Arabic of Quran?
- What was the geographical, political and social situation in Madinah like when the Prophet (pbuh) migrated to Madinah?
- Salman al-Farisi (r.a.)
- 4. Makkah Period of Hazrath Muhammad