The Holy Prophet Muhammad: The Way of Life

is a land of unparalleled charm and beauty, with its trackless deserts of sand dunes and mirages in the dazzling rays of a tropical sun. Its starry sky has excited the imagination of poets, travelers and mystics. It was in this land, that the Holy Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace, was born in the city of Mecca, which is about fifty miles from the Red Sea. (Culled from Life of Muhammad by Sufi Mutiur Rahman Bengalee M.A. p.70)

It was in the latter half of the sixth century, when the world was plunged in utter darkness that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was born. The then known world stood on the verge of destruction, with chaos as the order of the day and pre-Islamic Arabia was no exception to this, rather it was in the lowest depths of abysmal darkness; infanticide was rampant, debauchery was looked upon as chivalrous, drunkenness was a common sight and all forms of evil was glorified.

J.H. Denison in his Emotions as the basis of Civilization wrote:

In the fifth and sixth centuries, the civilized world stood on the verge of chaos.... it seemed that the great civilization which had taken four thousand years to construct was on the verge of disintegration ... Civilization like a gigantic tree whose foliage had over-reached the world ... stood tottering … rotted to the core ..... It was among the Arabs that the man was born who was to unite the whole known world of the East and the South.
(pp. 265-269)

The religious attachment of 6th century Arabia was idolatry, though there were a sprinkling of Atheists and worshippers of heavenly planets, who offered sacrifices to the sun, moon and other heavenly bodies. Christians and Jews were also to be found. The center of Christian activity was al-Najran, while the Jews were concentrated in Khaibar and Medina. In spite of these varied religious concepts, there was also a group who sought to follow the religion of their forefather Abraham.

The administration of their affairs, like their religious beliefs was also in a state of disarray. Sir William Muir had this to say:

The prospects of Arabia before the rise of Mohamet was as unfavorable to religious reform as they were to political union or national regeneration. (Life of Mohamet Intro. ch.2)

In spite of their religious and administrative divisions, the Arabs possessed a remarkable memory and were an eloquent people. Their eloquence and memory found expression in their poetry. Every year a fair was held for poetical competitions at Ukaz.

In his book The Literary History of the Arabs, R.A.Nicholson writing about the poetical ability of the Arabs, states:

It is related that Hammad said to Caliph Walid bin Yazid: 'I can recite to you, for each letter of the alphabet, one hundred long poems, without taking into account short pieces, and all of that composed exclusively by poets before the promulgation of Islam. (p. 1 32)

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