Various Religions and Beliefs of Arabs Before Islam

Muslims today know the beliefs of the Arabs before Islam was the sole group. Pagans. In fact, the Arabs before Islam had a variety of religions and beliefs. This is as recorded by Imam Al-Syihristani (d. 479 AH) in his book, Al-Milal Wan Nihal (‘Religion and belief’).

In a discussion about the religion and beliefs of the Arabs before Islam, he said that the Arabs consisted of various groups (ashnafun syatta). Some of them tend to reject the religion of the heavens, but there are others who seek and accept it.

The first group is called mu’aththilah al-‘arab which means ‘Arab atheists‘. The group rejects metaphysical beliefs, especially those derived from the concept of revelation. These ‘Arab atheists’, according to Al-Syihristani, are diverse. There are at least three large groups.

Rejecting the Concept of the Creator and the Hereafter

This group can be called the anti-concept Creator and the anti-concept of post-death life (read: hereafter). The group believes that life is derived from mere material. The end of material existence is only a matter of time running randomly. This group is described by Qs. Al-Jatsiyah: 24 as follows,

{وَقَالُوا مَا هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا وَمَا يُهْلِكُنَا إِلَّا الدَّهْرُ}

They say, “There is nothing but this life. We die and we live. Nothing destroys us except time.”

According to Al-Syihristani, this verse shows one of the beliefs that lived among some pre-Islamic Arabs who believed that their lives were merely a coincidence, when time united all matter and energy.

When death comes, time will describe the relationship of matter and energy. After the unraveling of life, there is nothing else. Furthermore, Al-Syihristani understood that they did not recognize the existence of God who planned, organized and created life and death.

There is no conviction in the life after death, nor the trial of the Hereafter, nor the retribution of mankind in this world. It is understood that some Arabs understood primitive materialism.

Believe in God the Creator, But Reject the Concept of the Hereafter
Believe in God the Creator, But Reject the Concept of the Hereafter

Believe in God the Creator, But Reject the Concept of the Hereafter

If the previous group rejected the total concept of God and post-death life, the pre-Islamic Arab agnotic group believed there was a God who created the universe.

However, they refused to believe in the concept of post-mortem life (read: the hereafter). The beliefs of this group are described in the Qur’an as follows,

{وَضَرَبَ لَنَا مَثَلًا وَنَسِيَ خَلْقَهُ قَالَ مَنْ يُحْيِ الْعِظَامَ وَهِيَ رَمِيمٌ }

God sets forth a parable for us, and He forgets His creatures. They say, “Who will give life to these bones when they are melted?” (Qs. Yasin: 78)

In this verse, the Quran describes the beliefs of some Arabs who believe in God the creator, but feel that the resurrection of the body again after death, is impossible.

God’s existence is rational. But the existence of post-mortem life is very contrary to their minds. The Quran certainly refutes this belief with various arguments scattered in many parts.

Believe in God and the Hereafter, But Reject the Apostolic Concept

Other groups in the pre-Islamic Arab community were those who believed in god the creator of the universe and post-death life. But they rejected the existence of God’s messengers.

They ultimately prefer to worship idols that are considered to be liaisons with God. They believe that they will help them in the Hereafter.

Among the idols revered by this community are Wudda, Suwa’, Yaghuts, Ya’uq, and Nasra. Wudda was an idol of the Kalb tribe in Daumatul Jandal. Suwa’ is an idol of the tribe of Hudzail.

The hudzails visited and slaughtered livestock to offer to suwa’s idols. Yaghuts belonged to the Tribe of Madzhaj and several tribes from Yemen. Ya’uq was an idol of the Hamdan tribe.

Arabic Women Before Islam Exist

Nasar is an idol of the Kila’ Dzi tribe in the Himyar region. Lata belongs to the Tsaqif tribe in Thaif. Uzza belonged to the Quraysh, the Kinanah and Sulaim. Manata belongs to the Aus, Khazraj and Ghassan tribes.

In addition to the above idols, there are also hubal idols, the largest idols placed on the Ka’bah. Isaf and Nailah are two idols placed in Shafa and Marwa.

Pre-Islamic Arab Minority Religion

Pre-Islamic Arab Minority Religion
Pre-Islamic Arab Minority Religion

In addition to religions based on idolatry, there are also religions rooted in the tradition of revelation or klenik. Among them, there is a minority of Arabs who eventually converted to Judaism or Christianity.

There are also Arabs who practice the worship of angels, even worship the jinn. They believed that the angels were daughters of God.

Some follow the Shabi’ah beliefs. Where his beliefs are based on astrological systems. The group believes that the changes of the universe, including human fate, are determined by changes in constellations.

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