Article

Pre-Islamic Arabia/The Jahiliyya

Gerald Hawting

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online April 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0142
Pre-Islamic Arabia/The Jahiliyya

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Although sometimes used synonymously, the phrase “pre-Islamic Arabia” and the Arabic al-jahiliyya have different connotations. The English phrase implies only a temporal relationship to Islam. The Arabic expression (meaning literally “the age or condition of ignorance”), on the other hand, indicates an evaluation of selected parts of earlier Arabian history from a strongly Islamic perspective. The idea of the Jahiliyya is a construct of Islamic thinkers, developed for particular purposes. It ignores much of great interest for modern scholarship on the Arabs and Arabia and focuses on the immediate background of Islam, the life of the Arabs of western central Arabia (the Hijaz) in the century or so up to and including the early career of the prophet Muhammad (d. 632). This bibliography entry concentrates on aspects of pre-Islamic Arabia that are usually seen as relevant for understanding the rise of Islam, and it does not attempt to cover in any detail those many aspects of Arabian history that do not obviously relate to Islam. Although this entry sometimes goes beyond what has been traditionally included in the notion of the Jahiliyya, it is not concerned substantially with pre-Islamic Arabia in the wider sense.

Article.  9302 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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