We cannot deny that the pre-Islam Arabs had such a large bulk of evils. Admittedly, vices and evils, utterly rejected by reason, were rampant amongst the pre-Islam Arabs, but this could never screen off the surprise-provoking existence of highly praiseworthy virtues, of which we could adduce the following:
Hospitality: They used to emulate one another at hospitality and take utmost pride in it. Almost half of their poetry heritage was dedicated to the merits and nobility attached to entertaining one’s guest. They were generous and hospitable on the point of fault. They would sacrifice their private sustenance to a cold or hungry guest. They would not hesitate to incur heavy blood-money and relevant burdens just to stop blood-shed, and consequently merit praise and eulogy.
In the context of hospitality, there springs up their common habits of drinking wine which was regarded as a channel branching out of generosity and showing hospitality. Wine drinking was a genuine source of pride for the Arabs of the pre-Islamic period. The great poets of that era never forgot to include their suspending odes the most ornate lines pregnant with boasting and praise of drinking orgies. Even the word ‘grapes’ in Arabic is identical to generosity in both pronunciation and spelling. Gambling was also another practice of theirs closely associated with generosity since the proceeds would always go to charity. Even the Noble Qur’ân does not play down the benefits that derive from wine drinking and gambling, but also says,
“And the sin of them is greater than their benefit.” [2:219]
Keeping a covenant: For the Arab, to make a promise was to run into debt. He would never grudge the death of his children or destruction of his household just to uphold the deep-rooted tradition of covenant-keeping. The literature of that period is rich in stories highlighting this merit.
Sense of honour and repudiation of injustice: This attribute stemmed mainly from excess courage, keen sense of self-esteem and impetuosity. The Arab was always in revolt against the least allusion to humiliation or slackness. He would never hesitate to sacrifice himself to maintain his ever alert sense of self-respect.
Firm will and determination: An Arab would never desist an avenue conducive to an object of pride or a standing of honour, even if it were at the expense of his life.
Forbearance, perseverance and mildness: The Arab regarded these traits with great admiration, no wonder, his impetuosity and courage-based life was sadly wanting in them.
Pure and simple bedouin life, still untarnished with accessories of deceptive urban appearances, was a driving reason to his nature of truthfulness and honesty, and detachment from intrigue and treachery.
Such priceless ethics coupled with a favourable geographical position of Arabia were in fact the factors that lay behind selecting the Arabs to undertake the burden of communicating the Message (of Islam) and leading mankind down a new course of life.
In this regard, these ethics per se, though detrimental in some areas, and in need of rectification in certain aspects, were greatly invaluable to the ultimate welfare of the human community and Islam has did it completely.
The most priceless ethics, next to covenant-keeping, were no doubt their sense of self-esteem and strong determination, two human traits indispensable in combatting evil and eliminating moral corruption on the one hand, and establishing a good and justice-orientated society, on the other.
Actually, the life of the Arabs in the pre-Islamic period was rich in other countless virtues we do not need to enumerate for the time being
The Sealed Nectar