Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Manat

Matriarchal: Pre-Islam Arab cultures?

In a previous article I stated that:

First,  Arabic tribes are as ancient as antiquity; it appears that the first time the word “Arab” was discovered in manuscripts was in 853 BC as a coalition of Arab tribes, associated with Syria and a few Israelite tribes in northern Palestine to counter an Assyrian incursion in the Levant (Near East region of current Syria, Lebanon and Palestine).

Second, many “Arabic” stories and myths were altered and recounted by bordering Empires to fit their environment and culture.

Third, Arabic tribes extended to the desert region between the Euphrates and Tiger Rivers, to the vast stretch of land bordering the Red Sea, to Southern Palestine and Jordan, to the Sinai Peninsula, and to the lands bordering the Persian Gulf.

Fourth, the Arabic tribes languages and cultures were influenced by the urban civilization in Yemen, the various Persian Empires and India, and the various Western Empires of Greek, Roman, and Byzantium Empires before the advent of Islam. I am inclined to believe that India civilization was the most influential, particularly in the separation of genders at home and in public, and the “hareem” tradition…

Fifth, the dominant Empires at every period paid tributes to coalition of Arabic tribes in return of keeping the peace on demarcation borders, facilitating trade caravans, and for gathering intelligence on the enemy as advance signs of changing policies, and for joining in battles.

In the origin, ancient Arabic tribes had matriarchal social structures.

A tribe had higher standing compared to others when its matriarch owned more husbands, particularly, captured enemy men.  It was women who took the initiative of selecting their men.  More often than than not, disputation for acquiring men resulted in tribal wars.

The Command of a tribe was in the hand of the woman who had the most of husbands.

Thus, it was common for the victor tribe to mutilate the husbands of vanquished tribes. It is no enigma why the three most venerated idols were women warriors such as Manat, Uzzat, and Lat.  It is no enigma why the Prophet Mohammad was ready to strike a compromise with the tribes of Mecca, before being chased out of the city, to considering the three goddesses as valid supporters to the all-encompassing God Allah.

Fact is, there was an idol called Allah who was considered to be above all idols, but he had no particular talents for business and didn’t generate donations to the clan that owned it.  It is no surprise that most love poems alluded to female camels and horses that had names .

With time, women realized that it was not a good policy to mutilate “enemy” men, but that sexual attraction skills were more beneficial in wooing husbands.  Thus, the development of garment, aromatic, and jewelry industries.  Textile art witnessed great expansion; mainly in veils to guard against sun rays and desert dust.

Public duels within a tribe were among women who danced best and seduced most men.

Belly dancing (raksa) were restricted to women who knew the language of the message to send.  The raksa was based on fast paced rhythm of monochord percussion instruments.  For example, choreographic dances were selected according to the alphabetic string of characters forming a word or a sentence.

This dance language was known by women.  Men were totally ignorant of what was being said or discussed in the dances.

Most probably, patriarchal structures supplanted the previous structure due to influences of Jewish tribes and the tribes that settled in Syria and Iraq. Thus, more male idols were imported to strengthen patriarchal societies within Arabic tribes.

Thus, as you read about pre-Islam cultures of Arabic tribes you should keep in mind thousand of years of traditions and customs.  Pre-Islam Arabic cultures are lumped by the new emerging Islam as “Period of Ignorance (Jahilyya)” meaning ignorance of the One and Unique God Allah.

Fact is, many Arabic tribes were already Christians or what is labelled “heretic” Christians, because they had dogmas different from the Byzantine Orthodox dogma.  Fact is, many Arabic tribes were Jewish;

Fact is,  many more believed in Mazda (the dominant religion in Persia.)

Fact is, most of the idols that Arabic tribes venerated were imported from Syria, Persia, and India.  Islam became the common denominator religion among Arabic tribes during the Prophet Muhammad life.

I might describe a few of the pre-Islam poets and cultures in a third articles.  What follows are a few pre-Islam saying extracted mostly from “The enigma of Qaf” by Alberto Mussa:

“When I tell a lie, am I not restoring an ancient truth?”  (The Arabic Scheherazade)

Two write:  The one with a lousy memory and the other who lacks verbal expression skills”

“I love women who, when naked, are never totally nude” (Poet Imru2 al Qayss)

“Honor is but another form of fear” (Poet Shanfara)

“Is there any greater glory than being ignored by hyenas?” (Poet Amru ben Kulthum)

Three are stupid:  the one who does not know that he doesn’t; the one who knows that he doesn’t; and the one who doesn’t know that he knows.”  (Poet Labid or Lubad)

“Having respect for your enemies is celebrating a cult to the dead.” (Poet Antara)

“O beauty! O Women! O desert!” (Anonymous)

Three possess faith: The Persian in his horoscope, the Jew in his laws, and the Arab in his camel.”

Two are innocents:  A beautiful girl and an armed man.”

“What you don’t own, steal it” (Ali Baba)

Why ask of God what I can buy on the market?” (Mundhir)

“The greatest merit of an atheist is that he does not believe in demons.”

Four are pleasures: laughing, eating, loving, and knowing.”

I love the concept of woman, and only that concept. This one woman, the other one: Who can tell me the difference?” (Poet Imru el Qayss)

“True wise men can never be happy.”

Even talking about a single evident fact requires that you have read a thousand book.” (Malika)

“Ask the dead if they really want peace!” (Poet Tarafa)

“Realising your desires is the work of an imbecile.” (Aladin)

“I have never forgiven: I have not the pretension of possessing a virtue attributed to God.”

Nothing is that grand to merit being taken seriously.” (Poet Al Aasha the dim sighted)

“We don’t kill a pork without soiling the knife.”

“I love the tribe of bats:  Every female is beautiful.”

“The best in life are those that we have no use of them.” (Poet Zuheir)

I am immortal: I will never know when I died.” (Harith bi Hilliza)

“I don’t like everything that I possess, but I possess everything that I love.” (Poet Nabigha al Zubyani)

“The best of blind people are those who want to see.”

Date Zero: Prior period to Islam is untouchable to investigation; (April 1, 2010)

Islam calendar starts in 622 AC, the date the Prophet Muhammad fled to Medina (Yathreb) from Mecca.

The past or before date zero, or the culture and tradition of pre-Islam Arabic Peninsula, has been practically untouched by researchers and Islamic investigators.

The period prior to 622 or year one of “Hegire” is lumped as the period of ignorance (Jahiliyya) by Moslems.

The Arab World still teaches pre-Islamic poetry and poets; it is mostly through these poems that the Arabs are acquainted with the very rich parts of pre-Islamic culture, traditions, and customs.

Fact is, you cannot understand Islam without the contexts that pressured the prophet Muhammad to compromise with the multitude of tribes allied to Byzantium and Persia empires.

We can claim that a curtain (hijab) has descended on pre-Islamic period simultaneously with the veil that descended on women after the Prophet’s death.

Thus, women were banished from political power and dealing with political affairs in public two decades after Muhammad’s death.

This is no coincidence that Islam after Muhammad’s death had made the connection between pulling a curtain on the Jahiliyya period and the veiling of women in society; removing women from the public political landscape.

During Jahiliyya, each Arabic tribe worshiped idols made of wood or stone; there were many Jewish and “heretic” Christian-Jew sects (as labeled by Christian Orthodox Byzantium Empire) in Arabia and in Mecca.

The 3 most potent and powerful idols were female idols such as Al Uzza, Manat, and Al Lat.  Although the tribes made their yearly pilgrimage to Mecca where the Kaaba contained over 360 idols, this pilgrimage was mainly for doing commerce and enjoying the weeklong festivities and debauchery.  The main pilgrimage (hajj) for the powerful tribes was to their preferred idols in other locations and towns.

The pragmatic nomads in the Arabic Peninsula and the neighboring deserts have created idols commensurate to their individualistic needs to vent their frustrations with periodic sacrifices, including babies of both genders.

During Muhammad’s time, baby girls were mostly the sacrificial human kind by poor families, especially in periods of great food distress.

Since violence, revenge, and frequent wars “razzias” against other clans were the norm for looting of animals, camels, and slave girls…  powerful female goddesses were purchased and erected for pilgrimage as scapegoats to the tribes’ violent activities.

Thus, female goddesses represented violence, symbol that violence and revenge are the mark of female behavior and dark spirit.

For example, goddess Manat (death) was the oldest idol and was worshiped by the tribes of Aws and Kazradj that inhabited the region of Yathreb, later called Medina (the first Islam City-State).  The original meaning of Manat is taken from a Semitic root meaning “counting of the days of life” that connote death (manyya).

The temple of Manat was a natural rock (sakhra) on the coast between Mecca and Yathreb; the two tribes considered that the pilgrimage was not complete until they stopped at the temple of Manat where they shaved their head and offered sacrifices. Manat was a powerful goddess dictator (taghia) and swords were deposited in her temple.

The Prophet gave his nephew Ali bin Abi Taleb the two swords in the temple after it was demolished; one of the sword was called Zul Faqar. Representatives of the tribes of Aws and Khazradj had extended permission to Muhammad, after three years of negotiation, to settle in Yathreb with his converts after the tribes of Mecca decided to chase them out.

The other female goddess was Al Lat and was worshiped in Taif, a region on the eastern shores facing Persia.  The main tribe of Taif, the Banu Taqif, erected square walls around the rock of Al Lat.  Most desert tribes, all the way to Palmyra in northern Syria, worshiped this goddess.

Al Lat had all the attributes of goddess Athena wearing battle helmet, breastplate, armor, and holding a lance.  Banu Thaqif was one of the latest tribes to submit to Allah because Muhammad failed at several expeditions to enter Taif. Actually, it was Taif that was the preferred destination to Muhammad when he decided to flee Mecca but he was chased out of Taif after his failed negotiation to settle there.

The third most powerful “taghia” goddess was Al Uzza (dignity, physical force and power); the most powerful tribe of Quraich in Mecca consecrated her.  Al Uzza was the most violent divine warrior and was represented in the form of a tree or three acacias trees and located way up north in Nakhla as Shamiya on the way to Iraq’s caravans.

The temple of Al Uzza was equipped with a slaughtering alter (manhar) called “ghabghab”.  General Khaled bin Al Waleed was ordered to destroy the temple of Al Uzza in 630 after Muhammad entered Mecca peacefully as the victor.

General Al Waleed was the Quraich leader who defeated Muhammad’s troops in the battle of Uhud; this failed campaign of the Prophet generated 3 years of civil unrest in the City-State of Medina and most of the verses that abridged female equal rights that were previously gained in the first four years.

Note: About ten years after Muhammad’s death, the Arabic Islamic Empire had extended vastly.

The governor Abu Mussa al Ach3ari wrote to the second caliph Omar bin Al Khattab: “You sent me several letters that were not dated.” Omar assembled a council to set up a calendar.

A few opted to using the Byzantium calendar, others the Persian calendar, but the majority recognized that a calendar means power and wanted an Arabic/Islamic calendar.

The discussions led to adopting the date of the Prophet’s immigration to Medina in 622 AC as Date Zero. Omar had said: “this is the year that divided truth from falsehood.”

Islam lunar calendar is of 354 days and started with the month of “Muharram”; the pre-Islamic particular month that prohibited wars and revenge among clans.

In pre-Islam, the tribes used to add one month on the third year for calibration with their commercial dealings. Muhammad forbid to add this month; thus, the Islamic calendar is one year ahead for every 33 Christian years since the year 622.

“The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdie (Started October 30, 2008)

This manuscript is of 547 pages and divided into 9 parts:

The Angel Gibreel (Gabriel), Mahound, Ellowen Deeowen, Ayesha (Aicha), A city visible but unseen, Return to Jahilia, The Angel Azraeel (Satan), The Parting of the Arabian Sea, and A Wonderful lamp.

I will only review Mahound because this section is crucial for setting the geo-political, commercial and societal structure in Mecca and the neighboring towns.  This description would help comprehend the climate within which Islam was born and expanded.

Mahound is one of several names given to the Devil.

It is very unfortunate that Rushdie decided to represent the Prophet Muhammad by this name which forbade over a billion of Moslems from reading this essentially wonderful and most informative book.

Many “fatwas” in the Moslem World and especially in Iran of Khomeini permitted the killing of Salman Rushdie for this blasphemy.

Rushdie has been since then protected by the British police and been mostly in hiding. Actually, Moslems should be thankful to Rushdie in not naming their Prophet for two verses that deviated from the message of One God.  I will use the name of Muhammad instead.

Mecca at the time of Muhammad was built 4 generation ago to cater for desert caravans bringing goods from Zofar and Yemen to bifurcate toward Egypt, Iraq/Iran, or Syria/Turkey.  It barely rain in that region and the only potable well was called Zamzam.

The mythical story goes that Abraham abandoned his Egyptian wife Hagar and his son Ismail to their fate in this unforgiving area.  Luckily for Hagar, Angel Gabriel (Gibreel) uncovered for Hagar the well Zamzam and she survived with her newly born son.

Once a year, the Bedouins of Arabia who adored 360 idols, and imported from the neighboring countries to encourage pilgrimage to the Black Stone (Al Ka3ba), celebrated the passage of Abraham (Ibraheem) in the vicinity!

Mecca was structured around concentric dwellings starting from the Black Stone and fanning away.  Houses closest to the Black Stone belonged to the most prominent personalities in the city council and their respective clans in the extended Kuraich (Shark) tribe.

There were 4 main clans and each clan was specialized in one kind of commerce:  the Scarlet tents sold spices and scents, the Black tents the cloth and leather, the Silver tents precious metals and swords and the fourth colored tents or the owners of the Dappled Camels specialized in entertainments, wine, hashish, and the slave trade. Water carriers were despised because any overflowing of water would damage the streets and homes built out of sand.

Around the year of 600, the businessmen in Mecca were losing trade to the sea transports; worse, another new and famous Temple was built in the town of Sheba in Yemen and pilgrims were investigating these new regions.

The pilgrims were getting scarce in Mecca because they realized that they were being milked from every penny they had and young girls were abducted for ransom.  Consequently, in order to keep afloat the Kuraich tribe encouraged vile entertainment activities during the pilgrimage season to attract more customers.

The Black Stone enshrined around 360 idols brought from around the neighboring civilizations to entice pilgrims in from all around the regions.  The colossus Hubal the shepherd was sent by the Amalekites of Hit, the idol Kain was the patron of musicians and blacksmiths, Astarte (He-of-Shara) was brought by the Nabataean as well as saturnine Nakruh.  Manaf was the sun-god, the eagle-form Nasr, See Quzah that hold the rainbow; Uzza the goddess of beauty and love, and Lat the all-powerful mother goddess.  The idol Allah had some sort of overall authority, an all-rounder in an age of specialist idols and thus was not that popular and didn’t generate money.

Hind, the all-powerful wife of the preeminent Karim Abu Simbel owned the 3 most famous goddesses of Lat, Manat, and Uzza.

Muhammad was rich after marrying Khadija, but he was an orphan and his clan was of lower status and thus was not represented in the city council. His wife Khadija was about 7 years older than him and she had hired him to lead and manage her caravans heading to Damascus.

Khadija was the first person to believe in the predication of Muhammad.  By the age of 44 Muhammad message of “no God but Allah” was not making any major breakthrough among the city dwellers.  The very young and most prominent poet lampoonist Baal had pinned up all over town “Messenger, do please lend a careful ear.  Your mono-philia, your One, One, One, isn’t for Jahilia, return to sender”

Beside his uncle Hamza and a few poor fellows, not many were paying any attention to Muhammad revelations.  Among those poor individuals were Khalid the water carrier, Salman from Persia (who later would suggest to dig a wide ditch around Medina to prevent the cavalry of Kuraich to enter the town), and Bilal the mighty slave that Muhammad set free from his owner and would later be appointed the first official “muazen” calling the believers to the five prayers of the day.

In order for his message to breakthrough Muhammad was inclined to accept the deal of Abu Simbel.

Abu Simbel would recognize Allah as the mightiest God and would offer Muhammad a seat in the city council in return of recognition of Lat, Manat, and Uzza as gods or the best who can intercede with Allah.  Muhammad thus returned from the Cone Mountain and delivered the verses stating that “Lat, Manat, and Uzza are the exalted birds, and their intercession is desired indeed”

The disciples of Muhammad were beside themselves and could not assent to accepting a God but Allah.  Muhammad did not dare face his wife Khadija that night and did not enter his house.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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