League of History

Age of Ignorance in Arabia


During the Age of Ignorance in Arabia everyone participated in the art of poetry. Men, women, children, old and young, all were poets of higher or lower degree. They were born with poetry and eloquence. Their 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 the non-Arabs as unable to speak. But the Qur’an shattered the arrogance of their eloquence and rhetoric into pieces and they had to bow down before the glory of the Book of Allah.

The one whose ode of tribute was acknowledged as the best in a poetic congregation on the occasion of fairs, special functions, and Hajj, was immediately accepted as the best among them in position and stature. To them, poets were equal to brave commanders and kings or even greater than them in status. In fact, it was an easy job for the poets to cause tribes to fight against one another, to make tribes extraordinarily brave, to keep the fighting going, or to put an end to it. The best odes of tribute were hung over the walls of the Kaaba. Thus seven such odes of tribute known as the Seven Golden Odes were written by Imra-ul Qais bin Hijr Kindi, Zuhair bin Abu Salma Muzani, Labid bin Rabi’ah, Amr bin Kulthum and Antarah Absi.


During the Age of Ignorance, the Arabs had a great enthusiasm for hunting and so there are a great number of terms in Arabic for hunting activities. The game which moves from right to left was called Sineft, while the one going from left to right was called Bi1reh. The game coming from the front was called Niteh and the one from behind was Qa’eed. The hunter’s ambush was named Qarrah. 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, and the state of going out to hunt and coming back without hunting was called Ikhfflq. On hunting an animal they ate its meat without any sense of its being permitted or prohibited. Islam brought about the limitation of lawful and unlawful and imposed certain restrictions on hunting.


Arabia produces neither silk nor cotton. Some regions produce them in such a meager quantity that is quite insufficient for the needs of the people. Yemen has been noted for its cloth from ancient times. The Arabs generally had very simple clothes to wear. Wearing coarse clothes with leather patches was customary. Some people would make a sheet by joining small leather patches held together by pins, and such a sheet or mantle served the purpose of wrapping and spreading. Garments were also woven from camel and sheep hair, and those pieces of cloth were also used for making tents and for bedding and carpeting. Loose low-hanging colorless shirts, waist sheets, and turbans or scarves on the head were standard dresses. They knew about aloeswood, ambergris, and incense. Their food was also very simple and unceremonious. They could be content with unpalatable food with a bad taste. Meat and flesh happened to be very tasty and valuable things to them. Milk and meat were most common. Cheese, battered barley grain, dates, olive oil, and Harirah were their common items. Sieving of flour was not a common practice; they rather baked bread with unsieved flour. They had no proper etiquette of dining. This can be assessed from the dos and donots prescribed by the Prophet SAW for eating and drinking in Ahadith which forbids many kinds of misbehavior like gluttony, shamelessness, unclean habits, and nonsensical talk while eating.


As mentioned previously, Arabia had two types of people, one settled in cities and settlements and another living a nomadic life, the latter were larger in number. Although the citizens carried some qualities like rights of neighbors, trusteeship, and honesty, the defects of deceit, cheating, and conniving in trade and business were plentiful. They were experts in raiding and highway robbery of the nomadic type Almost all were addicted to looting the travelers and snatching away goods by force. On finding someone making a journey alone, they covered and hid the wells which were on the way with grass and other things so that the traveler would die of thirst and they would take his goods. Some of them were proverbially experts is committing theft. These thieves were called Dhubin-ul-Arab (wolves of Arabia).


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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