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Religions of Pre Islamic Arabia

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azimuth View Drop Down
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    Posted: 06 Jun 2010 at 11:40
As People who lived in the Arabian Peninsula were mainly Arabs yet they did not have a uniform religion, they had different gods, different believes, i will try to list most of their believes.

There are not much references from the pre Islamic time regarding the religious believes of Arabia, except from some archaeological findings mostly in Yemen and Northern Arabia and very little in Saudi Arabia.
The rest of the references are from the post islamic times from the Quran and early Islamic historians.

Religions were as follows:

1- Idols worshipping 
2- Djins (Spirits) worshipping
3- Iranian Religions such as Zoroastrians and others.
4-Judaisim
5-Christianity


will get into more details in coming posts.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2010 at 12:51

Reading Roman history I came upon a curious incident. This was during the late 4th or early 5th century and the Goths were attacking Constantinople. The Romans sent against them a group of Arab auxiliaries who - according to one source - had the custom of drinking the blood of the enemies they slew. The Goths, who were Christian, were allegedly gripped by supernatural fear and retreated.

Do you know of any such practice in pagan Arabia?
Sing, goddess, of Achilles' ruinous anger
Which brought ten thousand pains to the Achaeans,
And cast the souls of many stalwart heroes
To Hades, and their bodies to the dogs
And birds of prey
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2010 at 14:03

Muhammad's Uncle was killed at the Battle of Uhad and his liver was chewed by the wife of his opponents. They also often made neckalces out of teeth and bones and also displayed noses and ears.

 
Not too far fetched.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2010 at 14:19
One must not forget that Hamzah (the prophet's uncle) killed the father, uncle and brothers of that woman (Hind bint Utbah, the mother of Muawiyah).
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote azimuth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2010 at 11:24
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

Reading Roman history I came upon a curious incident. This was during the late 4th or early 5th century and the Goths were attacking Constantinople. The Romans sent against them a group of Arab auxiliaries who - according to one source - had the custom of drinking the blood of the enemies they slew. The Goths, who were Christian, were allegedly gripped by supernatural fear and retreated.

Do you know of any such practice in pagan Arabia?

Not sure about that, but it could be one of War techniques to spread rumors about how savage and tough you are to scare the enemies.

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote azimuth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2010 at 11:51
Here more details regarding the religions of Arabia.

Idol Worshipping:

There are several types of Idols depend on their shape and material

Sanam: is a sculpture made of Wood or Gold or silver or Copper or other materials other than Stones. 

Wathan: is a sculpture made of Stones such as Granite.

Some Historian dont see a deference between The Sanams and the Wathans others separate them not only by their material but also by their shapes as if its just a square rock or defined sculpture.

Ansab: is Not a made sculpture but just a stone with different shapes considered holy, its says that there was more than 360 Stones around the Kaaba in Makkah when the Prophet pbuh took Makkah.

Holy Trees: Some trees were worshipped like Idols, not because its a specific type of tree but of its Location in regard to special event in their History.

Holy Buildings: as they called it Houses of the Idols, the Kaaba in Mekkah is one them but its considered house of Allah who is not considered an Idol but like the Supreme God who through the Idols they can Worship him.

-------------------------

to be continued on the known names of Famous Idols and their shapes in a New thread.

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Edited by azimuth - 10 Jun 2010 at 15:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote azimuth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2010 at 16:07
Djin Worshipping

As mentioned in the Quran 

06:100 "Yet they make the Jinns equals with Allah, though Allah did create the Jinns; and they falsely, having no knowledge, attribute to Him sons and daughters. Praise and glory be to Him! (For He is) above what they attribute to Him!"
< ="utf-8">

34:41 " They will say, "Glory to Thee! our (tie) is with Thee - as Protector - not with them. Nay, but they worshipped the Jinns: most of them believed in them."
< ="utf-8">

Few historical books mentioned some Arabic tribes that worshipped the Jinns such as Bani Maleeh from Khuza'ah.

not much mentioned on the details of the worshipping.

Djins are viewed by that time Arabs as Strange creatures that looked like some animals and has the power to change its shape and can be invisible to human eyes. And if Harmed by Humans the Djins get revenge by making that human crazy.

There is a practice which i think can be considered Djins worshipping which is the witchcraft, I dont know how that is practiced before islam but in modern times what we hear is people who practice witchcraft has to humiliate Islam and its Holy Book to satisfy a Djin leader then he award them by giving them what they want.
Humiliation like reading the Quran Backward, having a bath in a Urine and praying fully naked...  those who do such thing are not considered muslims, but most of these people live in isolated areas far from Civilization and when outside they act like normal muslims so they wont be caught. their only source of money are from some people who seek their help in getting revenge from others or get information which are secret but only djins knows.

As per Islam those people and who believes them are Big Sinners. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote darknony Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jan 2011 at 16:32
I remember this Assyrian mithology about how the gods wanted to destroy all men then this one man who was a friend of a god tricked his friends into making him a big boat that saved him and the workers who built it. Then the gods regretted what they did. Its sorta like the Arc of Noah thing, probably based on the same giant flude that happened around that time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karmostaji Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2012 at 21:22
There is an old pre-Islamic Arab proverb: "When you enter a village, swear by its god".

The majority of Arabia's people were polytheists up till the 4th century AD. Over 100 gods were worshiped in south Arabia, and each polity had its principal patron god: Almaqah of Saba; Wadd of Ma'in; 'Amm of Qataban; and Sayin of Hadramaut.

Quote by Pliny:
Quote At Shabwa a tithe estimated by measure and not by weight is taken by the priests for the god they call Sayin, and the incense is not allowed to be put on market until this has been done.


In the small oasis of Dedan the inhabitants worshiped Dhu Ghaba, or "master of the grove".

There is also the god Kutba, deity of writing.

The Nabateans worshiped Dhu Shara, "master of the Shara mountains".

In the Hijaz there was Manat and Hubal, in Hawran there was Allat, and at Petra there was al-'Uzza, "the mighty goddess".

There was also a cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis in Nabatea; figurines of her were found at Petra.

In north Arabia there were references to the "ginnaye", a race of spirit beings. These are related to the jinn.

Judaism existed in northwest Arabia since ancient times. Judaism was prominent in south Arabia; the Himyarite king Abikarib As'ad converted to Judaism and the rest of his kingdom followed suit.

Later in the 4th to 6th centuries Christianity entered the peninsula. Byzantium promoted Christianity in south Arabia with the help of its ally Ethiopia, and clashes with the Jews of the region ensued. The inhabitants of north Arabia converted to Christianity in large numbers in this period.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2012 at 22:53
How spread was Judaism in pre-islamic Arabia? And what is the take of modern Arab historians on that subject? Were Judaism believers of Arabia arabized Jews or converted Arabs?  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karmostaji Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2012 at 23:41
Principally they were Arabized Jews who arrived in the aftermath of the Roman-Jewish wars, however they did exist in the area prior to this in smaller numbers...They typically held occupations like metalwork, weaving, tanning, jewellery. They spoke Arabic even though culturally they were Jews.


Edited by Karmostaji - 14 Feb 2012 at 23:42
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Feb 2012 at 13:54
Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:

How spread was Judaism in pre-islamic Arabia? And what is the take of modern Arab historians on that subject? Were Judaism believers of Arabia arabized Jews or converted Arabs?  
 
There were 50k jews in Yemen until the 40s. Zionism began in Yemen well before europe with several migrations to Palestine in the centuries before the 19th.
 
As for their origins, Jews of the North were migrants and their remnants converted later to Islam and some clans of my own tribe can trace their origins back to the jewish clans of pre-Islamic times.
 
Jews of Yemen were mostly converts from Himyar and their king Dhu Nuwas was famous for opressing Christians in Najran before Islam:
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Feb 2012 at 18:57
Yes, Dhu Nuwas is notoriously famous for his prosecution of Christians...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Feb 2012 at 19:12

Najran christians were not his subjects to opress. Najran was an independent city-state that acted as a neutral point of commerce between different tribes and kingdoms (Mecca, Medina, Taif, Jeddah and other cities had a similar role). Christianity was gaining ground and were allied to Ethiopeans who were a threat to him so he persecuted them.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fusong Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Feb 2012 at 21:36
without Muhammad Christianity could have taken the Arabian Peninsula 
Every ideology has a kernel of truth and sea of whitewash.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karmostaji Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Feb 2012 at 22:54
After defeating Dhu Nawas, Ella Asbeha (Kaleb of Axum) set up a Christian viceroy over the south Arabians, named Esimiphaeus. Later he too was deposed by insurrectionaries and in his place came Abraha, the same man infamous in the Quran for launching the expedition of the elephants against Mecca.

Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan, a Himyarite,  sought help from the Sassanid king Khosrau. Khosrau sent one of his commanders, Wahriz, to the shores of Aden and accompanied by Sayf, they defeated Abraha's son Masruq. Sayf was made viceroy of Yemen but was killed shortly after by Ethiopians, so Khosrau sent Wahriz once more and Yemen came under direct rule of Persia.


Originally posted by fusong fusong wrote:

without Muhammad Christianity could have taken the Arabian Peninsula 


We cannot be certain about this as the Persians had taken Yemen shortly before Muhammad was born.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2014 at 22:55
Originally posted by Karmostaji Karmostaji wrote:

After defeating Dhu Nawas, Ella Asbeha (Kaleb of Axum) set up a Christian viceroy over the south Arabians, named Esimiphaeus. Later he too was deposed by insurrectionaries and in his place came Abraha, the same man infamous in the Quran for launching the expedition of the elephants against Mecca.

Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan, a Himyarite,  sought help from the Sassanid king Khosrau. Khosrau sent one of his commanders, Wahriz, to the shores of Aden and accompanied by Sayf, they defeated Abraha's son Masruq. Sayf was made viceroy of Yemen but was killed shortly after by Ethiopians, so Khosrau sent Wahriz once more and Yemen came under direct rule of Persia.


Originally posted by fusong fusong wrote:

without Muhammad Christianity could have taken the Arabian Peninsula 


We cannot be certain about this as the Persians had taken Yemen shortly before Muhammad was born.
As I remember I read it that Persian King Khosru Parviz didn't want to send Persian army because Persia was at war with Romans. He chose a prisoner of Persian noble origin who had military experience as the commander and bunch of criminals and convicts who were rotting in the dungeons to take care of this matter. They were to choose stay in prison and die or fight and live freely outside Persia's boundary. The condition was if they succeed they should remain loyal to Persian king. They went there and conquered Yemen. Fifty years later Vahriz' son converted to Islam, perhaps because he could not return to Persia and claim Persian nobility. The Persian army remained there and mixed with the locals. There are some rumors that their remnant are still living in Yemen as a minority and oppressed by majority Yemenis.

For the last question I think If Muhamed had never come to Arabia. Persians would have prevented the Christianity to spread in Yemen, since Christianity was the state religion of Persian Archenemies, Romans. Persians were Zoroastrians at that time.

I cannot see any Zoroastrian Arabs except maybe in Oman pre-Islam era.



Edited by Harburs - 07 Jan 2014 at 22:58
"Turn yourself not away from three best things: Good Thought, Good Word, and Good Deed" Zoroaster.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Mar 2015 at 01:42
From what I understand, the Thousand Nights and One Night stories are pre-Muslim, albeit highly revised, and still reflect that background with Djinns and Efreets, etc.  However, at the same time, they are written in Classical Arabic, in which is the Koran is written, and therefore, they are very important to understanding the linguistic background of the Koran.
It is ironic that, in order to understand Islam, these pagan works are needed and thus preserved.
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