Page 20 - Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum

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After the research we have made into the religious and political life of Arabia, it is appropriate to
speak briefly about the social, economic and ethical conditions prevalent therein.
The Arabian Society presented a social medley, with different and heterogeneous social strata. The
status of the woman among the nobility recorded an advanced degree of esteem. The woman
enjoyed a considerable portion of free will, and her decision would most often be enforced. She was
so highly cherished that blood would be easily shed in defence of her honour. In fact, she was the
most decisive key to bloody fight or friendly peace. These privileges notwithstanding, the family
system in Arabia was wholly patriarchal. The marriage contract rested completely in the hands of
the woman’s legal guardian whose words with regard to her marital status could never be
On the other hand, there were other social strata where prostitution and indecency were rampant
and in full operation. Abu Da’ûd, on the authority of ‘Aishah(May Allah be pleased with her)
reported four kinds of marriage in pre-Islamic Arabia: The first was similar to present-day marriage
procedures, in which case a man gives his daughter in marriage to another man after a dowry has
been agreed on. In the second, the husband would send his wife – after the menstruation period–
to cohabit with another man in order to conceive. After conception her husband would, if he desired,
have a sexual intercourse with her. A third kind was that a group of less than ten men would have
sexual intercourse with a woman. If she conceived and gave birth to a child, she would send for
these men, and nobody could abstain. They would come together to her house. She would say: ‘You
know what you have done. I have given birth to a child and it is your child’ (pointing to one of
them). The man meant would have to accept. The fourth kind was that a lot of men would have
sexual intercourse with a certain woman (a whore). She would not prevent anybody. Such women
used to put a certain flag at their gates to invite in anyone who liked. If this whore got pregnant and
gave birth to a child, she would collect those men, and a seeress would tell whose child it was. The
appointed father would take the child and declare him/her his own. When Prophet Muhammad
(Peace be upon him) declared Islam in Arabia, he cancelled all these forms of sexual contacts except
that of present Islamic marriage
Women always accompanied men in their wars. The winners would freely have sexual intercourse
with such women, but disgrace would follow the children conceived in this way all their lives.
Pre-Islam Arabs had no limited number of wives. They could marry two sisters at the same time, or
even the wives of their fathers if divorced or widowed. Divorce was to a very great extent in the
power of the husband.
The obscenity of adultery prevailed almost among all social classes except few men and women
whose self-dignity prevented them from committing such an act. Free women were in much better
conditions than the female slaves who constituted the greatest calamity. It seemed that the greatest
majority of pre-Islam Arabs did not feel ashamed of committing this obscenity. Abu Da’ûd reported:
A man stood up in front of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and said: “O Prophet of Allâh!
that boy is my son. I had sexual intercourse with his mother in the pre-Islamic period.” The Prophet
(Peace be upon him) said:
“No claim in Islam for pre-Islamic affairs. The child is to be attributed to the one on whose
bed it was born, and stoning is the lot of a fornicator.”
With respect to the pre-Islam Arab’s relation with his offspring, we see that life in Arabia was
paradoxical and presented a gloomy picture of contrasts. Whilst some Arabs held children dear to
their hearts and cherished them greatly, others buried their female children alive because an illusory
fear of poverty and shame weighed heavily on them. The practice of infanticide cannot, however, be
seen as irrevocably rampant because of their dire need for male children to guard themselves
against their enemies.
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