The comprehensive study of the formative period of Islam is a complex exercise (Lapidus, 2002). The earliest available biography of Prophet Muhammad was written after two-hundred years of Prophet’s demise (Janin, 2004), which makes many narrated account to be academically absurd. Firstly, many historians cite anecdotes and events about the life of Prophet Muhammad and early Islamic history, which contradicts with the Islamic sources like hadiths (Reynolds, 2012). Secondly, early Muslim historians regard pre-Islamic Arabia as Jahiliya (age of ignorance) and consequently misinterpret the existing practices and beliefs of Arabia before Islam, which were essentially the building blocks of a new Islamic system (Peters, 1994). Finally, non-Muslim historians, to most extent, describe the Islamic history in a political context (Robinson, 2003). Owing to the contradictory pronouncements and limitations related to the formative period of Islam, it is difficult to appraise information and study Islamic traditions in a social and cultural milieu. This paper critically analyses the ways in which Prophet Muhammad built on most of the existing pre-Islamic traditions (practices) and introduced many new traditions which changed the dynamics of Arab society for centuries to come. The paper examines the Islamic traditions on the basis of cultural and social grounds to develop a deeper understanding of Islam as the continuation of monotheistic religions but influenced by pre-Islamic Arabia.
Arabia, Pre-Islamic, Traditions, Social, Cultural
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Auranzaib Noor Ali
Postgraduate Student, Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP), Institue of iIsmaili Studies London (IIS), United Kingdom