We will be going into further detail about the religious background of Arabia, this way we’ll know the environment in which the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) lived. Obviously they started on Tawheed because of the dawah of Ismael (as), he was their prophet and they followed him. The Arabs of Arabia started out as Muslims, as believers in the Oneness of Allah but where did it all go wrong? to such a degree for them to reach to the level that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was sent. In the time of Rasul’Allah(ﷺ) there were three religions in Arabia. Idol worshipping, Christianity and Judaism. We’ll start how these three religions came into existence.

Amr ibn Luhay al Khuza’ah, if we remember he is the leader of Khuza’ah tribe. This man was very generous, very strong, very much respected by his people. They used to respect him so much and admire him so much that, his words were taken as law. Amr ibn Luhay al Khuza’ah, he travel to Sham (Syria). The translation of a Sham is as Syria even though it’s not a correct translation, because sham refers to Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. That land is called a Sham. While the centre of a Sham is Jerusalem. But it has been translated into English as Syria, so we’ll go by that translation for now. Here we have Amr ibn Luhay al Khuza’ah travelling to Sham (Syria), when he goes there and he finds these idols. He asks the people “What are these?”, they told him “Well, these are intermediates between us and Allah. So if we want to ask for rain, we ask them. They appeal on our behalf to Allah. When we want children then we would go to a different Idol. When we want this or that, we would go to that Idol, in war – we have a certain idol, they appeal on our behalf to God and they perform things for us”. Amr ibn Luhay said “Excellent. This is what we need.We need someone to appeal to our Lord to provide us with rain, to provide us with wealth. How about you hand me over one of these idols so I can take it back home”. The people gave him pretty good idol, a huge idol call Hubal. Amr carried Hubal with him back to Mecca and he established it next to al Harram (the Kaaba). He told his people “These will intercede on your behalf to Allah. Ask them whatever you want”.

It started spreading like wildfire

Mecca being the centre of Arabia, the religious authority of Arabia. Bringing an idol to Mecca carried with it such a heavy weight, you have the Arabs coming from all over to make Hajj. That meant all of them were exposed to this new biddah (innovation) in religion, it started spreading like wildfire because it was coming from the religious centre. Not only that but it was adopted by Amr ibn Luhay al Khuza’ah who was so respected by his people and it also became a business. In Mecca they would make idols to export to the other tribes. Every time they came to Mecca they would carry with them an idol to take home, why? because they could not come all the time to ask the big Idol Hubbal. They would have these idols that they would carry with them and then this concept was developed further. I mean it starts out small and then it grows. The concept was carried further, to the stage that they were making portable idols. You carry it in your backpack wherever and whenever you’re traveling, you have one with you.

Who would be Umar ibn Khattab be without Islam?

Here is the story of Umar ibn Al Khattab (R.A), he was once seen crying and laughing. He was asked “Why were you crying and why were you laughing”. He said “The reason why I was laughing is, I remember in the time of Jahiliya (in the time of ignorance). I was traveling and I wanted to pray. But then I remember that I forgot to bring my God with me, so what I did is I tried to think of a way I want to pray. I had some dates with me and I molded the dates into a form of an idol and I worshipped it. Later on that night I became hungry so I ate my idol”. He said “That’s why I am laughing”, and you see now he’s looking back and saying “What! what was I doing, how could I do that”. This is how Islam changed him and how Islam changed them, see who was Umar ibn Khattab and who he became after Islam. These giant, the Sahaba companion of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) when we read about them and their wisdom. This is where they were, this shows you how Islam had the power to change them from being nothing to being the best. How Islam transformed them in a very short period. That’s a miracle. That’s a miracle of Islam that it had the capacity to bring such a people, to bring about in their lives such a change and make them into these giant figure. Umar ibn Khattab, who would be Umar ibn Khattab be without Islam?Abbas Mahmoud al-Aqqad the Egyptian historian writer asked that question in his book. He says “Who would Umar ibn Khattab without Islam?”. He said “Maybe he could grow to become the leader of his clan. His family of Banu Adi which were a very small branch of Quraish, or maybe he could have been one of the prominent leaders of Quraish or if we extend that further than he might be the head of Quraish, which is a far-fetched assumption because the other clans of Quraish who held power in the past would never allow such a thing to happen”. They said “We’re were stretching it too far to say that he would become a leader over Quraish. But the most likely scenario was that Umar ibn Khattab would die at a young age. He used to drink a lot before Islam”. Meaning, most likely he would have died at the young age and Umar ibn Khattab would have been an obscure figure of history. But with Islam not only did he become a leader of Quraish or Arabia. He became the ruler of two thirds of the world at that time. One of the greatest men that ever lived in history. That is the transformation that Islam brought in their lives.

Huge import and export business

Going back to the story, idols were being exported and now they were being made in different shapes and forms. You have different idol for different purpose. The Kaaba was surrounded with idols, three hundred and sixty idols surrounding the Kaaba. Shirk was in every direction, what started out as one idol imported. Turned into a huge exporting business, shirk all over. That is how the religion of Ismael changed down the line. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) says “I have seen Amr ibn Luhay al Khuza’ah dragging his intestines in hellfire because he was the first man to change the religion of the Arabs”. So Rasul’Allah (ﷺ ) said ” I saw him in a hellfire going around his intestines trying to pull them back in his stomach”. This is how idol worshiping was introduced in Arabia.

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