by Abul hasan ‘Ali Nadwi
For their manly qualities of head and heart, the Arabs deserved, or, were rather the only people entitled to the honor of the advent of the last Prophet of God peace be upon him amongst them and to be made responsible for propagation of the message of Islam. But, in no part of the Peninsula was there any indication of an awakening or a vexation of spirit showing the sign of life left in the Arabs.
The Arabian Peninsula is enclosed in the west by the Red Sea and Sinai, in the east by the Arabian Gulf, in the south by the Arabian Sea -which is an extension of the Indian Ocean- and in the north by old Syria and part of Iraq. The area is estimated between 1 and 1.25 million square miles.
Arabs have been divided according to lineage into three groups:
Perishing Arabs: The ancient Arabs whose history is little known, and of whom were ‘Aad, Thamood, Tasam, Jadis, Emlaq and others.
Arabia had been the birth-place of several prophets of God in the bygone times. The Qur'an says:
And make mention (O Muhammad) of the brother of A'ad when he warned his folk among the wind-curved sandhillsand verily warners came and went before and after himsaying: Serve none but Allah. Lo! I fear for you the doom of a tremendous Day.
The patriarch Ibrahim (Abraham) Peace Be Upon Him, came down to the valley of MAKKAH surrounded by mountains, naked rocks and bare and rugged crags. Nothing to sustain life, neither water nor verdure, nor food grains, was to be found there. He had with him his wife Hajar (Hagar) and their son Isma'il (Ishmael) 'alaihimus salaam.
Great religions of the world had spread the light of faith, morality and learning in the ages past, but everyone of these had been rendered a disgrace to its name by the sixth century of the Christian era. Crafty innovators, unscrupulous dissemblers and impious priests and preachers had, with the passage of time, so completely distorted the scriptures (1) and disfigured the teachings and commandments of their own religions that it was almost impossible to recall their original shape and content.
This was the plight of the great religions sent by God, from time to time, for the guidance of humanity. In the civilized countries, there were powerful governments and great centers of arts and culture and learning but their religions had been garbled so completely that nothing of their original spirit and content was left in them. Nor were there any reformers or divinely inspired guides of humanity to be found anywhere.
God answered each and every prayer sent up by Ibrahim and Isma'il (Peace Be Upon Them). The descendants of Isma'il multiplied exceedingly, so that the barren valley overflowed with the progeny of Ibrahim. Isma'il peace be upon him took for his wife a girl of the tribe of Jurhum,(86) a clan belonging to the 'Arab 'Aribah. In the lineal descendants of Ismail, 'Adnan was born whose lineage was universally recognised as the most worthy and noble among them.
Those not conversant with the conditions in MAKKAH at the time of the Prophet's peace be upon him birth nor familiar with the social life, history, legends, literature and poetry of Arabia during the pre-Islamic times picture MAKKAH in their mind's eye as a hamlet with a few tents of goat's hair scattered hither and thither, surrounded by sheep, horses and camels and half-clad women and children, within a narrow valley flanked by sharp, jagged hill-tops.