Arabia's Era of Depression

Arabia’s Era of Depression

For their manly qualities of head and heart, the Arabs deserved, or, were rather the only people entitled to the honor of the advent of the last Prophet of God (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) amongst them and to be made responsible for propagation of the message of Islam. But, in no part of the Peninsula was there any indication of an awakening or a vexation of spirit showing the sign of life left in the Arabs. There were scarcely a few Hanif,(62) who could be counted on one’s fingers, feeling their way towards monotheism but they were no more than the glowworms in a dark and chilly rainy night incapable of showing the path of righteousness to anybody or providing warmth to one being frozen to death.

This was an era of darkness and depression in the history of Arabia—a period of darkest gloom when the country had reached the rock-bottom of its putrefied decadence, leaving no hope of any reform or improvement. The shape of things in Arabia presented a task far more formidable and baffling than ever faced by any messenger of God.

Sir William Muir, a biographer of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who is ever willing to find fault with the prophet and cast derision upon him, has vividly depicted the state of affairs in Arabia before the birth of MUHAMMED (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) which discredits the view held by certain European orientalists that Arabia was fermenting for a change and looking forward to a man of genius who could respond to it better than any other. Says Sir William Muir: “During the youth of Mahomet, this aspect of the Peninsula was strongly conservative; perhaps it was never at any period more hopeless.”(63)

Reviewing the feeble stir created by Christianity and Judaism in the dark and deep ocean of Arabian paganism, Sir William Muir remarks, “In fine, viewed thus in a religious aspect the surface of Arabia had been now and then gently rippled by the feeble efforts of Christianity; the sterner influence of Judaism had been occasionally visible in the deeper and more troubled currents; but the tide of indigenous idolatry and of Ishmaelite superstition, setting from every quarter with an unbroken and unebbing surge towards the Ka’ba, gave ample evidence that the faith and worship of Makkah held the Arab mind in a thralldom, rigorous and undisputed.”(64)

R. Bosworth Smith is another European biographer of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who has also reached the same conclusion.

“One of the most philosophical of historians has remarked that of all the revolutions which have had a permanent influence upon the civil history of mankind, none could so little be anticipated by human prudence as that effected by the religion of Arabia. And at frist sight it must be confessed that the sicence of History, if indeed there be such a science, is at a loss to find the sequence of cause and effect which it is the object and the test of all history, which is worthy of the name, to trace it.”(65)

[62] Ibn Is’haq mentions four men and Ibn Qutaybaah gives the names of half a dozen other persons of the generation before Muhammad (peace be on him), who had abandoned pagan practices to seek the Hanifiyah, the true religion of Abraham. `

[63] Sir William Muir, The life of Mahomet, Vol. I, London 1858, p. ccxxxviii.

[64] Sir William Muir, The life of Mahomet, Vol. I, London 1858, p. ccxxxix.

[65] R. Boswarth Smith, Mohammad and Mohammadanism, London, 1876, p. 105

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