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The Sealed Nectar

 The Sealed Nectar by Shaykh Safi ur-Rahman

Dedication of certain animals (such as Bahira, Sa’iba, Wasila and Hami) to idols, which
meant sparing such animals from useful work for the sake of these heathen gods. Bahira, as
reported by the well-known historian, Ibn Ish, was daughter of Sa’iba which was a female
camel that gave birth to ten successive female animals, but no male ones, was set free and
forbidden to yoke, burden or being sheared off its wool, or milked (but for guests to drink
from); and so was done to all her female offspring which were given the name ‘Bahira’, after
having their ears slit. The Wasila was a female sheep which had ten successive female
daughters in five pregnancies. Any new births from this Wasila were assigned only for male
people. The Hami was a male camel which produced ten progressive females, and was thus
similarly forbidden. In mention of this, the Qur’ânic verses go:

“Allâh has not instituted things like Bahira ( a she-camel whose milk was spared for the
idols and nobody was allowed to milk it) or a Sa’iba (a she camel let loose for free pasture
for their false gods, e.g. idols, etc., and nothing was allowed to be carried on it), or a Wasila
(a she-camel set free for idols because it has given birth to a she-camel at its first delivery
and then again gives birth to a she-camel at its second delivery) or a Hâm (a stallion-camel
freed from work for their idols, after it had finished a number of copulations assigned for it,
all these animals were liberated in honour of idols as practised by pagan Arabs in the pre-
Islamic period). But those who disbelieve, invent lies against Allâh, and most of them have
no understanding.” [5:103]
Allâh also says:

“And they say: What is in the bellies of such and such cattle (milk or foetus) is for our
males alone, and forbidden to our females (girls and women), but if it is born dead, then all
have shares therein.” [6:139]
It has been authentically reported that such superstitions were first invented by ‘Amr bin Luhai.
The Arabs believed that such idols, or heathen gods, would bring them nearer to Allâh, lead them to
Him, and mediate with Him for their sake, to which effect, the Qur’ân goes:

“We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allâh.” [39:3], and
“And they worship besides Allâh things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say:
These are our intercessors with Allâh.” [10:18]
Another divinatory tradition among the Arabs was casting of Azlam (i.e. featherless arrows which
were of three kinds: one showing ‘yes’, another ‘no’ and a third was blank) which they used to do in
case of serious matters like travel, marriage and the like. If the lot showed ‘yes’, they would do, if
‘no’, they would delay for the next year. Other kinds of Azlam were cast for water, blood-money or
showed ‘from you’, ‘not from you’, or ‘Mulsaq’ (consociated). In cases of doubt in filiation they would
resort to the idol of Hubal, with a hundred-camel gift, for the arrow caster. Only the arrows would
then decide the sort of relationship.If the arrow showed (from you), then it was decided that the
child belonged to the tribe; if it showed (from others), he would then be regarded as an ally, but if
(consociated) appeared, the person would retain his position but with no lineage or alliance contract.

This was very much like gambling and arrow-shafting whereby they used to divide the meat of the
camels they slaughtered according to this tradition.
Moreover, they used to have a deep conviction in the tidings of soothsayers, diviners and
astrologers. A soothsayer used to traffic in the business of foretelling future events and claim
knowledge of private secrets and having jinn subordinates who would communicate the news to
him. Some soothsayers claimed that they could uncover the unknown by means of a granted power,
while other diviners boasted they could divulge the secrets through a cause-and-effect-inductive
process that would lead to detecting a stolen commodity, location of a theft, a stray animal, and the
like.

The astrologer belonged to a third category who used to observe the stars and calculate their
movements and orbits whereby he would foretell the future. Lending credence to this news
constituted a clue to their conviction that attached special significance to the movements of
particular stars with regard to rainfall.
The belief in signs as betokening future events, was, of course common among the Arabians. Some
days and months and particular animals were regarded as ominous. They also believed that the soul
of a murdered person would fly in the wilderness and would never rest at rest until revenge was
18
taken.

Superstition was rampant. Should a deer or bird, when released, turn right then what they
embarked on would be regarded auspicious, otherwise they would get pessimistic and withhold from
pursuing it.
People of pre-Islamic period, whilst believing in superstition, they still retained some of the
Abrahamic traditions such as devotion to the Holy Sanctuary, circumambulation, observance of
pilgrimage, the vigil on ‘Arafah and offering sacrifices, all of these were observed fully despite some
innovations that adulterated these holy rituals. Quraish, for example, out of arrogance, feeling of
superiority to other tribes and pride in their custodianship of the Sacred House, would refrain from
going to ‘Arafah with the crowd, instead they would stop short at Muzdalifah. The Noble Qur’ân
rebuked and told them:

“Then depart from the place whence all the people depart.” [2:199]
Another heresy, deeply established in their social tradition, dictated that they would not eat dried
yoghurt or cooked fat, nor would they enter a tent made of camel hair or seek shade unless in a
house of adobe bricks, so long as they were committed to the intention of pilgrimage. They also, out
of a deeply-rooted misconception, denied pilgrims, other than Makkans, access to the food they had
brought when they wanted to make pilgrimage or lesser pilgrimage.
They ordered pilgrims coming from outside Makkah to circumambulate Al-Ka‘bah in Quraish uniform
clothes, but if they could not afford them, men were to do so in a state of nudity, and women with
only some piece of cloth to hide their groins. Allâh says in this concern:

The Sealed Nectar

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