Religions of the Arabs

Most of the Arabs had complied with the call of Ishmael , and professed the religion of his father Abraham . They worshipped Allâh, professed His Oneness, and followed His religion a long time until they forgot part of what they had been reminded of. However, they still maintained fundamental beliefs such as monotheism as well as various other aspects of Abraham’s religion, until the time when a chief of Khuza’ah, namely ‘Amr bin Luhai came back from a trip to Syria. He was renowned for righteousness, charity, devotion and care for religion, and was granted unreserved love and obedience by his tribesmen In Syria, he saw people worshipping idols, a phenomenon he approved of and believed it to be righteous since Syria was the locale of Messengers and Scriptures. He brought with him an idol (Hubal) which he placed in the middle of Al-Ka’bah and summoned people to worship it. Readily enough, idolatry spread all over Makkah and thence to Hijaz, people of Makkah being custodians of not only the Sacred House but the whole Haram as well. A great many idols, bearing different names, were introduced into the area.’! An idol called Manat was worshipped at Al-Mushallal near Qudayd on the Red Sea. Another, Al-Lat, in Ta’if; a third. Al-‘Uzza, in the valley of Nakhlah, and so on and so forth. Polytheism prevailed and the number of idols increased everywhere in Hijaz, ‘Amr bin Luhai, with the help of a jinn companion who told him that the idols of Noah’s folk – Wadd, Suwa’, Yaguth. Ya’uq and Nasr – were buried in Jeddah, dug them out and took them to Tihamah. Upon pilgrimage time, these idols were distributed among the tribes to take back home. 121 Every tribe and house had their own idols, and the Sacred House was also overcrowded with them. On the Prophet’s conquest of Makkah, 360 idols were found around AlKa’bah He broke them down and had them removed and burned

[1] Mukhtasar Seeratir-Rasul by Sheikh Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Wahhab, p. 12.

The migration of the Jews from Palestine to Arabia passed through two phases: first, as a result of the pressure to which they were exposed, the destruction of their temple, and taking most of them as captives to Babylon, at the hand of the King Bukhtanassar. In the year B.C. 587, some Jews left Palestine for Hijaz and settled to the northern areas whereof.’11 The second phase started with the Roman occupation of Palestine under the leadership of the Roman Butas in 70 C.E. This resulted in a tidal wave of Jewish migration into Hijaz, and Yathrib, Khaibar and Taima’, in particular. Here they converted many tribes to their faith. built forts and castles, and lived in villages. Judaism managed to play an important role in the pre-Islam political life When Islam dawned on that land, there had already been several famous Jewish tribes – Khabeer, Al-Mustaliq, An-Nadeer. Quraizah and Qainuqa’. As-Samhudi mentioned that the Jewish tribes counted as many as twenty. 121 Judaism was introduced into Yemen by someone called As’ad Abi Karb. He had gone to fight in Yathrib and there he embraced Judaism and then went back taking with him two rabbis from Bani Quraizah to instruct the people of Yemen in this new religion. There Judaism found fertile ground to propagate and gain adherents. After his death, his son Yusuf Dhu Nawas rose to power, attacked the Christian community in Najran and ordered them to embrace Judaism. When they refused, he ordered that a pit of fire be dug and all the Christians be dropped to burn therein. Estimates say that between 20-40 thousand

Christians were killed in that human massacre. This occurred in October 523 C.E.14) The Qur’ân related part of that story in Chapter Al-Buruj

[1] Qalb Jaziratil-Arab p.151. (2) Wafa’ Al-Wafa’ 1/165. Qalb Jaziratil-Arab p.151. B] See Ibn Hisham 1/20-22. 27. 31. 35. 36. and the books of Tafsir under Surat Al

Buruj [4] Al-Yaman ‘Abrat-Tarikh pp. 158-159.

Christianity first made its appearance in Arabia following the entry of the Abyssinian (Ethiopian) and Roman colonists into that country. Abyssinian (Ethiopian) presence began in 340 C.E. and lasted until 378 C.E.!!! It was with them that the Christian religion entered Yemen. It was approximately this time when a Christian missionary called Fimion, known for his selfless behavior and working miracles, had entered into Najran. There he called people to Christianity, and by virtue of his honesty and truthful devotion, he managed to persuade them to respond positively to his invitation and embrace Christianity The Abyssinian (Ethiopian) colonization forces entered Yemen again in 525 C.E. It was as retaliation for the injustice of Dhu Nawas, and they started to zealously propagate their faith. They even built a church and called it Yemeni Al-Ka’bah with the aim of directing the Arab pilgrimage caravans towards Yemen, and then made an attempt to demolish the Sacred House in Makkah. Allah the Almighty however punished them and made an example of them – here and in the hereafter. The principal tribes that embraced Christianity were Ghassan, Taghlib, Tai’ and some Himyarite kings as well as other tribes living on the borders of the Roman Empire, Magianism was also popular among the Arabs living in the neighborhood of Persia, Iraq, Bahrain, Al-Ahsa’ and some areas on the Arabian Gulf coast. Some Yemenis are also reported to have professed Magianism during the Persian occupation. As for Sabianism, excavations in Iraq revealed that it had been popular amongst Kaldanian folks, the Syrians and Yemenis. With the advent of Judaism and Christianity, however, Sabianism began to give way to the new religions, although it retained some followers mixed or adjacent to the Magians in Iraq and the Arabian

Gulf, 13)

DIJ Al-Yaman ‘Abrat-Tarikh pp. 158-!59 and Tarikhul-‘Arab Qablal-Islam p. 122. 121 See the details in Ibn Hisham 181-34. 13) Tarikh Ardil-Qur’an 2/193-208.

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