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Pre-Islam Religious Conditions of Arabia

Before the rise of Islam at the hands of Prophet Mohamed, the Arabs were idolaters and their holy city was Mecca. In Mecca, there was the ancient and most revered shrine of the Kabba, where a sacred black stone (that was believed to have been given by an angel to Prophet Abraham) was preserved. To this Mecca Shrine, pilgrimages were (and are still) flowing from the most remote parts of Arabia. Polytheism was the prevailing religion of Arabia. Each tribe (and consequently each city) had its own special gods and goddesses, temples and distinct forms of worship. In Mecca, which was considered the centre of their national life, there were 360 idols in the Kabba Shrine representing all the gods and goddesses worshipped by the Arabs. There were still many followers of other faiths. The Jews and the Christians were to be found in great numbers in some parts of the Peninsula. At that time, there was much unrest in Arabia. This Southern land experienced conditions similar to those which Judea witnessed at the time of the appearance of Christ. There were many seekers after God, people who were dissatisfied with the old idolatry and had the readiness to embrace a higher faith. Such was the religious condition of the tribes of Arabia about the beginning of the seventh century of our era. Then, from among them appeared a prophet under whose teachings the followers of all idolatrous worships were led to give assent to a single and simple creed. They were animated by a great enthusiasm that drove them forth from their deserts upon a career of conquest which could not be strayed, until they had overrun the fairest portions of the Roman and Persian Empires and given a new religion to a large part of the human race, numbering no less then three hundred millions of them.

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