Saturday, 15 December 2012


Shaikh Saif ur Rahman Al Mubarakpoori (R.h) in the Sealed Nectar stated " 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" 

Before i begin, I'd like to link certain posts relevant to this topic which reflects how manners played an important role both before and After the advent of Islaam 

1) Natural Intelligence 

This natural intelligence took on different forms. First of All, they had very powerful memories. Consider the vastness of their language (i.e in Arabic). In Arabic there are 80 words that mean "honey" ; 90 that mean "fox" ; 500 that mean "lion" ; 1000, that mean "camel" and 1000 that mean "sword" and but obviously the arabs needed to have strong memories to memorize all of these words. 

'Arabs were illiterate yet they loved poetry as much as, or more than , any literate and civilized people. But in order to preserve poetry, and in order to pass it down to posterity , they had to rely on verbal communication and on powerful memories to retain long poems. Their love of language and lack of distractions such as the entertainment sources (T.v, internet, etc) we have today further helped strengthen their memories. 

their powerful memories helped them by heart the entire Qur'an and thousands of prophetic hadeeth (traditions, teachings, sayings, etc) and pass it on to future generations without changing a single word. 

2) Generosity and Hospitality 

I'm sure if anyone who has read the biography of prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and the events of Makkah prior the prophetic message, is aware of how the Nobles and chiefs of Makkah used to treat their guests who came for pilgrimage (even back then) with the best possible hospitality. 

The quality of generosity was deeply rooted in the 'Arabs. If an Arab owned nothing except a camel and if some guests had come for a visit, he would without a delay slaughter the camel and feed its meat to his guests. Of All the arabs perhaps the most famous and widely known for his generosity and has streets named across the Arabian gulf states such as Kuwait and etc is Al Haatim al Taee. His stories of generosity was spoken of and lauded in the Arabian society. One such example can be seen from the Hadeeth :

Abu Huraira reported: A man from the helpers had accommodated a guest and he had nothing with him but enough food for himself and his children. He said to his wife, “Put the children to sleep, put out the lamp, and serve our guest with what we have with us.” Then Allah revealed the verse, “Those who prefer the needy over their own selves despite themselves being in need.(Qur'an 59:9)

[Sahih Muslim, Book 23, Number 5101]

During the pre-Islamic period, When the season of Hajj started,Haashim ibn ‘Abd Manaaf used to say to the people of the Quraysh, "O you folks of Quraysh! You are the neighbors of Allaah and the custodians of His House; He has favored you with this position, and conferred this honor upon you; Then He asked you to observe the rights of a neighbor to his neighbor. So, treat hospitably His guests and visitors; they came to you unkempt and dusty from every country". Consequently, the tribe of Quraysh started supporting each other in providing services for the pilgrims, some families even sent small amount of provisions, and it was accepted from them because they hoped for its benefit.

Additionally, Qusayy ibn Kilaab once said to the Quraysh, "O you people of Quraysh! You are the neighbors of Allaah and the people of his Sanctuary, and the pilgrims are the guests of Allaah and the visitors of His House, and they are the most deserving people for your hospitality. So, provide them with food and beverages during this season until they depart".  

Instantly, the Quraysh answered his call, as they assigned a specified amount of money from their own wealth for the pilgrims every season, and they used to pay it to Qusayy who used it to produce food for the pilgrims in Makkah and Mina throughout the season

[Akhbaar Makkah by Al-Azraqi (1/194-195).]

Al-Azraqi said commenting on this, "In the time of ignorance, this task was called Ar-Rifaadah (showing hospitality to the pilgrims), and Islaam confirmed it, as it is prevalent until these days. It is this food made by the Sultan for the pilgrims in Makkah and Mina every year until the end of the season of Hajj"

[Akhbaar Makkah by Al-Azraqi (1/195)]

Almost half of their poetry heritage was dedicated to the merits and nobility attached to entertaining one’s 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 the boastful tales of their wine and food 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’an 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." [Al-Qur'an 2:219]

3) Keeping a covenant even at the cost of one's life and property 

Awf ibn Nu'maan said during the pre-Islaamic era: "It is better for me to die out of thirst than to break a promise." 

[Ref: Ibn Abu Ad-Dunya in his book As-Samt 465]

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. 

عَنْ طَلْحَةَ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَوْفٍ أَن رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لَقَدْ شَهِدْتُ فِي دَارِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ جُدْعَانَ حِلْفًا مَا أُحِبُّ أَنَّ لِيَ بِهِ حُمْرَ النَّعَمِ وَلَوْ أُدْعَى بِهِ فِي الإِسْلامِ لأَجَبْتُ

Talha ibn Awf reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, “Certainly, I witnessed in the house of Abdullah ibn Jud’an a confederacy which was more beloved to me than a herd of red camels; and if I were called to it now while in Islam, I would respond.”

[Al-Bayhaqi, Sunan Al-Kubra, Number 12114, Sahih]

وَأَسَدٍ وَزُهْرَةَ قَالُوا حِلْفٌ كَحِلْفِ الْفُضُولِ وَكَانَ حِلْفُهُمْ أَنْ لَا يُعِينَ ظَالِمٌ مَظْلُومًا بِمَكَّةَ

Ibn Hajar reported: Asad and Zuhri said, “A pact such as the confederacy of Fudoul, in which they agreed not to help an oppressor over an oppressed person in Mecca.”

[Fath ul-Bari]

Also see Hadith of Ibn Abbas (r.a) in Musnad Ahmad, Number 2904. 

The incident of Abdur Rahman Ibn Awf (r.a) one of the ten promised companions to paradise serves as an excellent example under this heading. 

Abdur Rahman ibn Awf reported: There was an agreement between me and Umayyah ibn Khalaf that he would protect my property in Mecca and I would protect his in Medina. When I mentioned the words, “The Most Merciful,” in the documents, he said, “I do not know the Most Merciful; write your name in the time of ignorance instead.” So I wrote my name Abdu Amr. On the day of the battle of Badr, when all the people were asleep, I went up to the hill to protect him. Bilal saw Umayyah and went to a gathering of the helpers and he said, “Here is Umayyah ibn Khalaf! Woe to me if he escapes!” So a group of the helpers went out with Bilal to follow us. I was afraid they would catch us, so I left Umayyah’s son for them to keep them occupied but the helpers killed him and they continued to follow us. Umayyah was a fat man, and when they approached us, I told him to kneel down and he knelt. I laid myself upon him to protect him, but the helpers killed him by passing their sword underneath me, and one of them harmed my foot with his sword. Salih ibn Ibrahim said, “Abdur Rahman ibn Awf would show us the scar on his foot.”

[Sahih Bukhari, Book 38, Number 498]

عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ حَدَّثَتْنِي أُمُّ هَانِئٍ بِنْتُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ أَنَّهَا أَجَارَتْ رَجُلًا مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ يَوْمَ الْفَتْحِ فَأَتَتْ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَذَكَرَتْ ذَلِكَ لَهُ فَقَالَ قَدْ أَجَرْنَا مَنْ أَجَرْتِ وَأَمَّنَّا مَنْ أَمَّنْتِ

Ibn Abbas reported: Umm Hani, daughter of Abu Talib, narrated to me that she pledged protection to a man among the idolaters (disbelievers) on the day Mecca was liberated. She came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and mentioned this to him and he said, “We give protection to one whom you give protection; we give security to one whom you give security.”

[Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Jihad, Number 2763, Sahih]

4) Bravery and Courage 

Arabs would praise a man for having died on the battlefield, and would insult or mock a man who died peacefully on his bed. The dead warriors wife and relatives would sing poetries in his praise and the society would lend an attentive ear.  

Nothing meant more to Arabs than individuals honor and the honor of his tribe and there are more than numerous incidents recorded in our ahadeeth as well as history to witness this. And when i say "Nothing" i literally mean "Nothing" 

If anyone as much as even dared to attack their or their clan's integrity or honor , they would defend it with their very lives. Often the Arabs fought for ego battles , or some unworthy dispute, and some arabs fought for evil ends however there were some those who fought for justice and peace to support the weak and old , especially if someone came seeking their help. They would consider it as an insult or a grave mishap if they failed to answer the call of help.

We have tons of ahadeeth pertaining to blood money i.e the fine one pays for killing someone, entire chapters are dedicated to this showing how the Arabs wouldn't wait one second to avenge their honor 


4) Love of Freedom, Dignity and Self Respect 

For a large section of the history the major world powers like the Romans and Persians did not interfere or meddle with the Desert Arabs. The wide peninsula of Arabic which the arabs loved was not ruled by any king or ruler , rather there were individual free tribes or clans and they ruled their respective designations. 

As mentioned above , the honor of an Arab meant more to him then his life so much so that the very own uncle (Abu Taalib) of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) despite knowing that his message was true , did not accept or yield to accepting Islam because he could not tolerate the mocking of his people who would insult him for changing the belief of their forefathers. 

One such incident would serve the purpose of this subtitle 

'Amr ibn Hind was the king of Al Heerah and he once arrogantly said to his companions "Do you know of any 'Arab whose mother would refuse to serve my mother?" 

the companions answers in an affirmative saying "Yes the mother of 'Amr ibn Kulthoom, the poor poet" 

the King invited 'Amr ibn Kulthoom to visit him and his mother to visit the kings mother. The king instructed his own mother to ask the invited guests ('amr and his mother) to hand over a serving tray after having completed the meal. The kings mother did as instructed and 'Amr ibn Kulthoom's mother replied " Let the one who needs something get it herself" 

The king's mother repeated her request and insisted that 'Amr's mother serve her , but instead of doing as asked 'Amr's mother yelled out "What humiliation, Oh! Taghlib " 
(Taghlib was the name of her tribe) 

Her son heard her scream and feeling enraged at this insult to his honor he caught hold of a sword hanging nearby and chopped off the head of the king with a single lethal blow. 

This is as Shaikh 'Ali Muhammad Al Sallabi reported in his book "The Noble Life of the Prophet Vol.1 Page 65 

Also see : Encyclopedia Britannica :

5) Truthfulness , Keeping promises and Honesty 

The arabs hated lying and looked at it with disgrace. An excellent example of this is the incident when Caesar (Haraql) invited Abu Sufyaan ( a bitter foe and enemy of Islam) and his companions who escorted him to Syria for trading (business),  to investigate about the "New religion which Muhammad was propagating" 

Incident # 1 : 

They were taken to Jerusalam and were presented at the Caesar's court. He asked them: "Who amongst you is most closely related to the man who claims to be the Prophet of Allah?" Abu Sufyan replied: "I am more closely related to him than all others". It was a fact because none of the Qurayshites in the caravan, except Abu Sufyan, was a descendant of Abd Munaf. Caesar said: "What is your relationship with Muhammad?" Abu Sufyan replied: "He is the son of my uncle". Caesar said: "Come nearer". After this he ordered the companions of Abu Sufyan to stand behind him. Then he turned to the interpreter and said: "Tell the companions of Abu Sufyan that I have made him sit before them so that I may question him about the man who claims to be the Prophet of Allah and I have made them sit behind him so that if he tells a lie they may not feel ashamed on account of looking him in the face and may contradict him. Abu Sufyan used to say later: "I swear by Allah that if I had not been afraid that if I told a lie those persons would contradict me, I would have told a lie. However, I felt ashamed and spoke the truth against my wish".

The following conversation took place between the Caesar and Abu Sufyan:

Caesar : To what sort of family does this proclaimer of prophethood belong?

Abu Sufyan: He belongs to a noble family.

Caesar: Did anyone amongst you make such a claim earlier?

Abu Sufyan: No.

Caesar : Did he ever tell a lie before he claimed to be a Prophet?

Abu Sufyan : No.

Caesar: Has there been any king among his ancestors?

Abu Sufyan: No.

Caesar: How is his wisdom, understanding and intelligence?

Abu Sufyan: We have not observed any defect in his wisdom, understanding and intelligence.

Caesar: What kind of people have embraced this religion -the nobles and aristocrats or the middle class and the poor?

Abu Sufyan: The middle class and the poor.

Caesar: Are his followers increasing or decreasing?

Abu Sufyan: They are increasing day after day.

Caesar: Does it so happen that someone of them may hate the religion of Islam and apostatize?

Abu Sufyan: No.

Caesar: Does Muhammad break promises?

Abu Sufyan: We have not seen any such thing from him so far.

We have since concluded a covenant with him and do not know how he will act in future (Abu Sufyan meant the 10-year's covenant concluded at Hudaybiya).

Caesar: Have you fought any battle against him so far?

Abu Sufyan : Yes.

Caesar: What was the result of your fighting?

Abu Sufyan: Sometimes we won and sometimes he was victorious. In the Battle of Badr he was successful against us, but I did not participate in that battle. A year later, (i.e. in the Battle of Uhud) we launched an attack on his city and split the bellies and cut off the ears and noses of the people.

Caesar: What does he order you to do?

Abu Sufyan: He orders us to worship Allah and not to associate anything with Him in the matter of authority .He forbids us to worship the idols which have been worshipped by our ancestors. He asks us to offer prayers, give alms, speak the truth, observe chastity, honor the promises and covenants and not to commit breach of trust".

The Caesar considered the investigation sufficient about the personality of the Holy Prophet and therefore replied to Abu sufyan debunking him. And the complete hadeeth describing this incident can be read from here :

[Ref: Sahih Bukhari, Tarikh e Tabari, Kaamil Ibn Atheer and etc] 

Incident # 2 :

Another story is of Al Haarith Ibn 'Ibaad who led an army that constituted of various subtribes of the Bakr tribe. The goal of the tribe was to attack Al Taghlib tribe but Al Haarith had a more personal goal wherein he wanted to avenge the death of his son by killing his killer, who happened to be Al Muhalhal - the leader of Al Taghlib tribe. 

The problem Haarith faced was that he didn't recognize Muhalhal. After having captured one of the warriors from the taghlib tribe, Haarith told him if you guide me to Muhalhal then i will set you free. The warrior replied " Should i take this as your promise?" and Haarith replied "Yes" . Upon this the warrior disclosed that he himself was Muhalhal and Haarith bound by his word and honor had to set him free without a word. 

[See Ali Muhammad Al Sallabi's Noble life of the prophet Vol.1 Page 60]

Incident # 3:

Another example involves Al No'maan Ibn Al Mundhir, who feared for his life after he refused to give his daughters hand in marriage to the emperor Kisra. Having first placed his family and weapons in the safekeeping of Haani Ibn Mas'ood Ash Shaibaanee, He (Al No'maan) traveled to Kisra , where Kisra treated him very harshly. Kisra sent a message asking Haani to hand over all of No'maan's trust, but Haani refused so Kisraa sent an army to fight Haani and his tribe (if required) 

Haani gathered his fellow tribesmen and delivered the following sermon the content of which proves everything i have enlisted above so far in this blog post. 

"Oh people of Bakr , one who is Killed yet has an excuse is better than one who is safe yet has fled (from the battlefield). Indeed, "caution" does not protect one from pre-ordainment (i.e qadr, destiny) And Indeed patience is one of the causes of victory. I say "yes to death", but "no to humiliation and baseness". To head towards death is better than to turn away from it, and to be stabbed in the upper part of the chest is better than to be stabbed in the back (i.e while fleeing the battlefield). Oh People of Bakr, Fight ! for death must come to us all. 

In this battle of Dhee Qaar, the Bakr tribe fought valiantly and triumphed over the Persians

[Ref: Taarikh Al Tabaree 2/207] 

6) Patience in hard times and contentment with bare necessities 

 This reminds me of the "Cry of the prophet" and the "patience of the sahaabas (companions)" How numerous ahadeeth do we have which narrates to us the difficult moments and times the prophet and sahaabas went through. The mockery, insult, abuse, attack (physically and emotionally)  , the cruelity, the harshness and absolute enemity. The times when the prophet (s.a.w) and his companions would spend days without eating, and eventually feed on fallen dates :( Allahumma sallai Ala Muhammad wa Aaala Aali Muhammad wa Ashaaba Muhammad 

Arabs were used to living in a harsh environment and the ability to endure hardship , a quality they probably developed through living in the harsh desert for many generations. Low supplies of food and water, Tortuous and rocky mountain pathways, the extreme heat of the desert - nothing seem to trouble them. 

There is much more to the Arab history and culture. But i shall keep this post short :)


  1. jazakallah khair.. this is something that i had been searching for long..
    may Allah accept thsi from you

  2. 300 my butt!!!
    greeks were cowards! unlike persians and arabs! read on umar ibn al khattab and khalid ibn walied!For a large section of the history the major world powers like the Romans and Persians did not interfere or meddle with the Arabs.
    nothing like today! freaken coward guys fighting with guns! real men use hands and swords! not guns


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