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  There is no defying the fact that in 610 A.D. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) brought about the greatest revolution known to the history of mankind. The Arabs to whom this great divine message was first communicated were the most ignorant and backward nation of that time. With the advent of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), however, the same backward people took a leap towards virtue, humanity, knowledge and wisdom. They stepped from darkness into light. The teachings of Islam revolutionised their very being and within two generation they became the leaders of the civilised world.

Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him), after his migration had conveyed the doctrine of tawheed (monotheism) to the Arabs. He had settled his elder son Ismail (Peace be upon him) in Makkah and both of them had built the ka’bah some two and a half thousand years before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

A few centuries after Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail (Peace be upon them both) idolatry was introduced in Arabia. In the sixth century we find them plunged in idolatry. Although they paid verbal homage to Allah as the supreme being, in their hearts a host of deities were enthroned. Each tribe and city had its idol. The pagan Arabs invoked the blessings of their idols.

The Arabs possessed certain values that marked them out in their contemporary world. “They were unrivalled in eloquence and in the skillful use of their language. Freedom and honour they valued above their lives. They were superb horsemen. They were ardent, bold, chivalrous, plain of speech, strong of memory, hardy, firm of determination, truthful, loyal and trustworthy” [1]

Except in Yemen which was under Iranian control, the Arabs had no organised government. Most of the people were Bedouins who nomad and knew of no settlements. A group of families who lived in tents made a clan and then eventually a tribe. Each tribe had it’s own tribal code of conduct. Loyalty to the tribe was considered necessary. There were frequent inter-tribal disputes, which at times lasted for generations. The Arabs were socially backwards and the society was morally corrupt. They had no moral values. Some of their social habits were outrageous. They were addicted to alcohol and took pride in gambling. Usury was most callously indulged in. Adultery was not considered much of a vice thus prostitution was rampant and brothel houses were maintained.

[1] Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi – Islam and the World 1980


Ahmed, Hasanuddin, A Brief History of Islam, Goodword Books, New Delhi, India, 2006, p.47-48.

* With minor changes.