term for the period of "ignorance" prior to the rise of Islam

Jahiliyyah (Arabic: ‏جَاهِلِيَّة‎‎ ǧāhiliyyah/jāhilīyah "ignorance"), or the Age of Ignorance, is an Islamic concept referring to the period of time and state of affairs in Arabia before the advent of Islam in 610 CE.


  • Then, following misery, He sent down upon you a feeling of security, a slumber overcoming a party among you, while another party cared only for themselves, thinking false thoughts about God, thoughts fit for the Age of Idolatry.
    • Quran 3.154
  • Remain in your homes, and do not display your adornments, as was the case with the earlier Age of Barbarism.
    • Quran 33.33
  • When a person embraced Islam during the time of the Prophet, he would immediately cut himself off from Jahiliyyah. When he stepped into the circle of Islam, he would start a new life, separating himself completely from his past life under ignorance of the Divine Law. He would look upon the deeds during his life of ignorance with mistrust and fear, with a feeling that these were impure and could not be tolerated in Islam! With this feeling, he would turn toward Islam for new guidance; and if at any time temptations overpowered him, or the old habits attracted him, or if he became lax in carrying out the injunctions of Islam, he would become restless with a sense of guilt and would feel the need to purify himself of what had happened, and would turn to the Quran to mold himself according to its guidance.
    • Sayyid Qutb in his influential work Ma'alim fi al-Tariq "Milestones"
  • The time before Islam is a time of blackness: that is part of Muslim theology. History has to serve theology.
    • V.S. Naipaul, Among the Believers.
  • It [Islam] has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples. To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say 'my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn't matter'... This abolition of the self demanded by Muslims was worse than the similar colonial abolition of identity. It is much, much worse in fact... You cannot just say you came out of nothing...
    • V.S. Naipaul [1] , VS Naipaul launches attack on Islam [2]

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