Political Conditions Before and After the Emergence of Islam

Political Conditions before the Emergence of Islam:

There is a great difference between the political conditions before and after the emergence of Islam. In regards to the political status of Pre-Islamic Arabia, it could be summarized that the Arabs did not have any well-defined organization in any form and there was nothing like government; the supreme authority of the Arabs was the authority of the chiefs of their tribes and there were no law and order in the society. They were divided into many tribes or clans; each tribe had its own head, and the people followed the commandments of the head of their clan. Generally, a state of hostility and war had been existing among the tribes just in order to show superiority in keeping the honor and prestige of one’s tribe.

At that time, tribal feuds, plundering, and raiding of one tribe by the other were common among the Arabs. Due to the absence of any central government or central power, these tribes were always in a state of war with each other often over very trivial issues that continued for many years. For instance, Ibn Isḥāq mentions that a ferocious battle had been fought between Quṣayyī and Ṣūfah [1], only on the issue that Quṣayyī claimed his prominence above Ṣūfah, in which Quṣayyī was victorious. Then, Khuzā‘ah and Banū Bakr became against Quṣayyī because they came to know that he would do the same as he did with the Ṣūfah and would prevent them from the affairs of the K‘abah and Makkah. So they made the decision to fight with him, and a very fierce battle took place in Al-A’bṭaḥ (الأبطح) in which people had been killed of both the parties. Finally, the war stopped with a peace treaty between them [2]. Furthermore, after the death of Quṣayyī, his sons established his tradition among the people and others. Then, the sons of ‘Abd Manāf (son of Quṣayyī), i.e., ‘Abd Shams, Hāshim, Al-Muṭṭalib, and Nawfal decided to take the authorities related to Ḥijābah (حجابة), Siqāyah (سقاية), Rifādah (رفادة) and Liwā’ (لواء) from the sons of ‘Abdal Dār (son of Quṣayyī) which were given to their father by Quṣayyī, considering themselves more entitled to these authorities due to their honor and superiority among their people. On that issue, the people of the Quraish divided into two groups, and a state of war was created between them, however, it was solved through a peace treaty between them on the condition that Banū ‘Abd Manāf fulfill the responsibility of Siqāyah and Rifādah, and Banū ‘Abdal Dār keep Ḥijābah, Nadwah, and Liwā’ in their hands [3].

Similarly, a dispute occurred on the matter of digging the Well of Zamzam, when ‘Abdul Muṭṭalib got the commandment from Allah to dig the well, and people of the Quraish made hindrance in its digging because they wanted to become part of this sacred work. But, after seeing the open pieces of evidence from Allah in this matter, they refrained and said to ‘Abdul Muṭṭalib that “By Allah, we will never dispute with you over Zamzam ”[4]. Besides that, Ibn Hishām also gave an account on the fierce wars of “Dāḥis and Ghibrā’” (حرب داحس والغبراء) [5] and Ḥāṭib (حرب حاطب) [6].

Types of the Arabian rulers

In regards to the political conditions, Safiur Rehaman Mubarakpuri, author of “Al-Rahiq al-Makhtum”, states that at the time of the emergence of Islām, the Arabian rulers were of two types:

(i) Crowned Kings:

They included the Kings of Yemen (ملوك اليمن), Kings of the Family of Ghassān (ملوك آل غسّان), and the Kings of Ḥīrah (ملوك الحيرة); actually, they were not independent and self-governing.

(ii) Heads of Tribes and Clans:

They have the same authority and privileges as that of the Crowned Kings; along with that they have an additional feature of self-governing and most of them were independent; and included all the other rulers except the Crowned kings.[7]

Furthermore, expressing its political condition he stated that the three Arabian countries having the neighborhood of foreigners were suffering from extreme weakness and inferior political conditions; people were classified into two classes, i.e. masters and slaves or rulers and subordinates.

Political Conditions after the Emergence of Islam

In contrast to this, after the emergence of Islam, a transformation took place in the political condition not only of the Arabs but also people of other religious communities. An important step in this context was the treaty made by Prophet Muḥammad (SAW) between the Muslims and the Jews which was the first written constitution drawn up by the Messenger of Allah after his arrival at Medina (Madinah) that formed the multi-religious Islamic state in Medina [8]. He established a new society by uniting all believers under the name of Ummah whose basic principles were faith, justice, honesty, and simplicity; not kinship and lineage. After the migration of Prophet Muḥammad (SAW) and his believers from Mecca (Makkah) to Medina (Madinah), he formed a bond of brotherhood between Muḥajirin (believers of Prophet Muḥammad who came from Makkah) and A’nṣār (dwellers of Madinah who accepted Islam). Besides that, as Ibn Hisham said, Prophet Muḥammad (SAW) sent some of his companions as envoys to the kings of various countries with letters inviting them towards Islam, such as, he (SAW) sent Diḥyah bin Khalīfah al-Kalbī to Caesar (قيصر) of Rome, ‘Abdullah bin Ḥudhāfah al-Sahmī to Khusrau (كِسرى) of Persia, ‘Amr bin U’mayyah Al-Ḍamrī to the Negus (نجَّاشي) of Abyssinia, Ḥāṭab bin Abū Balta‘ah to Muqawqis (مُقوقِس) the bishop of Alexandria, ‘Amr bin Al-‘Aāṣ al-Sahmī to Jayfar (جَيفر) and ‘Iyādh (عِياذ), sons of Al-Julundī and kings of Oman, Salīṭ bin ‘Amr to Thumāmah bin U’thāl and Hawdhah bin ‘Alī kings of Al-Yamāmah (اليمامة), etc [9].

However, as time passed and the Holy Prophet Muḥammad (SAW) got victories in the wars, and Islam spread everywhere, the political status of the people also increased in a positive manner. And we can see a great progressive change in the political conditions before and after the emergence of Islam.


[1] Ibn Hisham. Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2009, p. 104.

[2]Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, pp. 104-105.

[3]Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, pp. 109-111.

[4]Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, p. 119.

[5]Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, p. 215.

[6]Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, p. 216.

[7] Mubārakpurī, Ṣafīur Raḥmān.  Al-Raḥīq al-Makhtūm. 6th ed, Darussalam, 2004, p. 25.

[8]Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, pp. 353-354.

[9]Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, pp. 869-870.

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