The Pre-Islamic World

Reuven Firestone

in Jihād

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154948
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849239 | DOI:
The Pre-Islamic World

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This chapter examines sources used in this study and provides an outline of pre-Islamic thinking about issues related to warring in order to establish paradigms against which developing Islamic views are analyzed. The evidence suggests that in pre-Islamic Arabia, armed aggression between nomadic tribes and between nomads and settled populations was a normal part of life. The economic and social benefits of warring were reason enough for the powerful to engage in the act of war, while the weak had no alternative but to protect themselves though preemptive aggression, or alliances. In Islamic texts, the sense of the jāhiliya in reference to the pre-Islamic period tends to emphasize only the cruelty, barbarism, and anarchy that Islam wished to associate with Arabia before the coming of Muḥammad and the Qurʾān.

Keywords: pre-Islamic Arabia; Bedoiun Nomadism; holy war; tribal solidarity; raiding; Central Arabia

Chapter.  10514 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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