Jahiliyya : A Sample of modern times

The Term Jahiliyya is used to describe the period before Islam and Prophet Muhammad’s(saw) divine call for the people of Arabian peninsula.  It comes from the word jahil, which means ignorant, such a word is used to point out a man who lacks necessary knowledge about a particular subject. In broader term it might also mean “dumbed down”. From a sociological view, the jahiliyya term paints the picture of a society who is full of ignorant masses.

Today, one can find myriad number of sociologists that will describe the very modern times we are living as “full of ignorant masses”. Everybody with a bit of sense of mental responsiveness and awareness will complain about “ignorance of the people around him”. Some writers even suggest the word, sheeple, a tricky combination of the words, sheep and people.

When we look at history of Islam, many scholars have represented us a panorama of Mecca society, especially during the times of Prophet Muhammad’s(saw) birth.

Holy Quran mentions the word jahiliyya in the below ayat:

Is it a judgment of the time of (pagan) ignorance that they are seeking? Who is better than Allah for judgment to a people who have certainty (in their belief)? (Al-Maeda 5/50)

If one is inclined, it is really easy to peel off the layers of modernity to reach the conclusion that, modernity in its core is comprised of many twisted pagan traditions. Such an analysis is beyond the scope of this article, we hope to cover such issues in the future, inshaAllah.

However, it is very clear that the Jahiliyya period of Mecca is like a sample society of our modern times.

Striking similarities include but not limited to;

Excessively wild economy based on credit, usury and interest system that only serves for the benefit of the rich to make him richer and crush the poor only to make him poorer;

Ignorantly exploiting feminine body & sexuality in the name of “liberties” only to enslave them for men, to make financial gain from prostitution, which was practiced by many women and encouraged by their partners and relatives as well;

Labeling gambling and alcohol consumption as “adult form of special entertainment” which lead to physical and financial corruption in families, again something that distorts distribution of wealth and power in the society;

Every form of racism, jingoism, tribalism and sheer and blind arrogance based on any possible ethnic and ancestral root;

And most importantly worshiping the “fake” power of certain idols and icons and follow such symbols of “power status” blindly to seek spiritual relaxation without really knowing the fact that such worshiping only serves to increase the socio-financial power of the elite, who constructed such idols in the first place.

History of Islam scholars have studies this “jahiliyya” period deeply to inform the following generations so that they can have a better understanding of the Islam’s message, what kind of a society this message was delivered and what kind of a society Prophet Muhammad(saw) was born into, since he was to cast glittering rays of divine light of the paramount message of Holy Quran.

Baris Tarimcioglu/islamoformation.com



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