Morals and Behavior of People of Arabia

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Morals and Behavior of People of Arabia

Bedouin Group

Not much is know about the Arab Baidah, therefore not much can be compared against the morals of the contemporary nations of the world today.  However, it may be inferred that in earlier times with sparse human population, there is likely similarities among the various peoples.

Before the progress made by Banu Ismail (after Arab Baidah), traces are found of many tribes and kingdoms from the times of Arab Qahtan’s power throughout Arabia. Although in no period of their history did any one kingdom enjoy undivided power over all of Arabia.

Lack of pasture, water and the necessities of life always kept the Arabs wandering and living a Bedouin lifestyle. The lack of necessities of life caused them to neglect building a society. Life consisted of few activities and the uniformity of events gave them a great deal of leisure time. Due to absence of production and indigenous things of value, Arabia never attracted any foreign power with expansionist ideas. Thus the people of Arabia were generally unaware of the progress of other nations of the world and their society, character and way of living.

Under these circumstances two traits of character easily developed in the people of Arabia, First, is the development of the art of poetry and second, was the fondness for fighting and tests of strength.

Prophet Hud and Prophet Saleh and several others were sent to Arab Baidah. The disrespect and disobedience show to these Prophets resulted in their utter and total destruction. Some Prophets were also sent to the Qahtan Arabs they paid very little attention to their calls.

Reverence for the Kaaba and performing Haff was a sign of power for all the Arabs throughout history. Helping the helpless and the oppressed and keeping firm against the oppressors were qualities appreciated by all. Timidity and miserliness were taken as the greatest defects and the worst flaw of character.

Months of Peace

One or more months in a year were fixed during which they considered fighting as unlawful.  During this span of peace and order all fighting was suspended. During these specific days they would visit Kaaba and perform Hajj. During this same time fairs were held with poetic recitals and other commercial opportunities.

Faith and Religion

Before the introduction of Islam, the Arabs were passing through a state where some of their tribes acknowledged neither the creator nor reward and punishment while others were convinced of the existence of the Create but not of reward and punishment nor the day of judgement.  They were mostly polytheistic worshiping idols and fire. Kaaba was transformed into a center of idolatry as they kept 360 idols inside the Kaaba.

Jews had also come from Syria to settle in Madinah (Yathrib) and its suburbs. They began this migration a short time after the death of Prophet Musa. Among those jews, Banu Quraizah, Banu Nadir and Banu Qanuqa were the most well known. Some Christians also settled in the Ghassan and Najran area.

Idolatry

Worshiping human made gods was openly practiced all over Arabia. Four hundred years before the advent of Prophet Muhammad, the king of Hijaz was the first to install the idol named Hubal at the top of Kaaba and placed two idols of Isaf and Nailah (carved in shape of a woman) at the well of Zamzam.  Pictures of Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Ismail, Prophet Isa and Maryam were also worshiped in Kaaba.

Whenever any congregation of idolaters was organized and if an Arab was not able to attend during the days of peace, he would fix a stone called Duwwar and go around it like the Kaaba to compensate for missing the congregation.

Sacrifice

The idolator when coming to perform Hajj brought camels for sacrificing and offering to their idols. The calves of the camels and sheep and other animals were scarificed to the idols as well. They had a practice to suspend shoes from the neck of the camels and marked them to signify them as sacrificial animals. Some of the tribes sacrificed humans to the idols.

According to some historians, the idolaters believed in the Oneness of God and acknowledge Him. They worshiped idols because they believed that they will intercede with Him for them.

Star Worshiping

Worshiping stars was very common for the Arabs. Historians have no substantial proof of who among the Arabs, Egyptians, Greek or Persians were the first to institute the worship of start of if they came to it separately. Although it seems more likely that one or two of the people developed it and the others adopted it from them.

The Himyar tribe worshiped the Sun, while the Kinanah worshiped the Moon. Most of the tribal idols were named using the name of the stars. It is not surprising that the people passing their days and nights in open fields and deserts had their attention focused on the stars and planets.

Soothsaying

Soothsayers were found in large number in Arabia. A Kahin was one who claimed to have information about the unseen events of the past. Those giving information of the future were called Arraf.

Another kind of soothsayer was knows as Nazir. They claimed to tell about the unseen by focusing their eyes on a mirror or on a tray of water.

Omens

The Arabs believed in good and bad omens. They held crows to be very inauspicious and something that causes separation.  Owl was also very unlucky to them for its hooting cries, they believed caused death and destruction. Sneezing also carried an ill omen to them.

Fighting

Showing power and fighting a favorite past-time of the Arabs would breakout out over petty matters and insignificant incidents. Once hostilities began they could linger on for several generations and even centuries. There were more than one hundred famous fueds during the dark age of ignorance in Arabia, such as Buath, Kilab, Fatrat, Nakhklah, Qarn, Suban and Hatib.

No tribe ever benefited from these fueds, gaining only mutual suffering and destruction. They had an old practice of putting to death the women and children of the defeated enemy after taking them prisoner. However, if a person had eaten from their food or had received hospitality from them previously, they were safe from being killed. Hair were shaved of the released prisoners.

Poetry

During the age of ignorance in Arabia almost everyone participated in the art of poetry. The poetic exercises generally were impromptu. They needed no thinking or reflecting and never needed to search for topics. They were so proud of their eloquence and command of language that they considered all non-arabs as unable to speak.

The one whose ode of tribute was acknowledged as the best in a peotic congregation on the occasion of fairs, special functions and Hajj, was immediately accepted as the best among them in position and stature. The best odes of tribute were hung over the walls of the Kaaba.

Hunting

Arabs had a great enthusiasm for hunting so there are a great number of term in Arabic for that. The game which moves from right to left was called Saneh, while the one going from left to right was called Bareh. The game coming from the front was called Nateh and the one from behind was Qaeed. Zabiah was the name given to the ditch dug for hunting a lion.

They gave the name Talabbud to the state of the hunter when he crawled on his stomach sticking close to the earth. On hunting an animal they ate its meat without any send of its begin permitted or prohibited.

Food and Clothes

Arabia produced neither cotton nor silk. Some regions produced these materials in such meager quantity that it was insufficient for the needs of the people. Yemen has been noted for its cloth from ancient times. Arabs generally had very simple clothes to wear. Wearing coarse clothes with leather patches was customary.

Garments were also made from camel and sheep hair and those cloths were also used for making tents and for bedding and carpeting.

Their food was also very simple and unceremonious. Meat and flesh happened to be very tasty and valuable thing to them. Milk, meat, cheese, barley grain, dates, olive oil and harirah were their common staples. Sieving of flour was not a common practice. They baked bread with un-sieved flour

Summary

What has been described in the previous sections refers to the condition of Arabia and its people before the appearance of Islam. What has been stated regarding character, habits, living, religion and beliefs reflects the conditions from a century before the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and remained mostly unchanged until he was declared a Prophet. You can imagine what kind of environment the Prophet (PUBH) was sent to.