Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘matriarchal society

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.”

Medina, the first Islam City-State; (Mar. 26, 2010)

Many Moslems do not turn toward Mecca to get inspiration: They turn toward Medina where the Prophet Muhammad ruled, established his message, and was buried.  The Prophet Muhammad was buried in his green overcoat, in the ground, under the bed of Aicha, his most beloved wife, in this humble room apartment, a door opening directly to the first mosque.

The same small “apartment” where the Prophet head was in the mosque, extending his head through the door for Aicha to wash his long hair.

Muhammad had to flee Mecca in 622 after his powerful wife Khadija trespassed. Mecca had over 360 idols representing the Gods of countless tribes, paying pilgrimage every year and being scalped of every dime they carried with them on a week-long debauched festivities.

Muhammad was welcomed in Medina (Yathreb) as a prince after the two main tribes of Aws and Khazraj extended an invitation to settle after many years of negotiation. The immigrant Moslems from Mecca (the Muhajirun) had preceded their Prophet to Medina many months ahead of him.  The Muhajirun were the strangers and they were almost penniless; the tribes of Medina had to accommodate them within their residences and find them work in their fields to earn a living.

The first 4 years were glorious years: it was the period when recognition of individual rights and development as equal converts to Allah superseded tribal attachment and customs.  Women didn’t wear the veil and walked the streets unaccompanied my male relatives.

The veil was a custom in Mecca for the aristocratic women to be discriminated from common women and slaves.  Medina was an agricultural vast city extending for miles over several villages of clans and tribes. Women worked the field with men, and wearing veil was unheard of.

The women in Medina were working people and Medina was mainly a matriarchal society.  The wife had to simply lock the door of her tent for the husband to go find a sleeping place among his clan.

The muhajirun from patriarchal Mecca felt lost and appalled in this new community of traditions and customs, where sexuality was not a big deal and women had a say in city politics.

In the first four years, women demanded equality with men and got it in the Koran. The Prophet went at great length detailing heritage procedure and shares for every member of the family; even an orphan and a child born from a slave and a free person (regardless of gender) had a share as any other member of the family.

Muhammad insisted that at least one of his wives join him in his military expeditions to the grand dam of the masculine army.  People of both genders would visit the Prophet’s wives for clarifications and explanations on verses of the Koran and the daily routines of behavior.  There was no dividing space line between private and public life: And the Prophet was constantly harassed with countless queries even in his residence because the new converts wanted to learn the new message of change.

Then, Muhammad lost the battle of Uhud in 626 against a coalition of tribes under the leadership of Quraich of Mecca.

Three hard years of civil unrest in Medina followed.  Muhammad opted for defensive attitudes and no serious military campaigns “razzia” brought much loot for the survival of the growing followers in Medina.

Believing in Allah and his Prophet took serious shaking down and the incredulous turn to cynicism, calumny, and even open anger.  One clan leader entered the apartment of Aicha and Muhammad and demanded of the Prophet to swap Aicha with one of his wives.

The wives of Muhammad were apprehended in the streets with sexual overtones under the pretense that the “munafikeen” thought they were women slaves since they wore no veil.

The second Caliph Omar was the most intransigent misogyny “muhajer”:  he kept harassing the Prophet for demanding women to wear the veil and to refrain from dealing in public affairs.

People were becoming openly highly critical of Muhammad’s behaviors and his selection of newer wives.  This open space between private and public life was to tumble down gradually under the massive pressures of little military excursions and civil unrest.

Verses were pronounced to drop curtains in Muhammad’s apartment for visitors who were not invited.  Omar obtained that the wives of the Prophet start wearing veils when out of their residences.  The Prophet who never beat or slapped any of his wives had also to permit male ascendancy in the family.

Violent Omar was told by Muhammad “You may slap your wives but this would be the behavior of the unaccomplished Moslem

The next year to the battle of Uhud, Quraich tribes came back and set siege to Medina for 28 days.

For the first time in Arabia, a large ditch was dug around a city for defense purposes to enemy cavalry. Civil unrest in Medina grew and women avoided walking out their residences.  The Prophet had to give priority to political survival at the expense of equal rights to all converts, for both genders, for class differences, and for further emancipation of slaves.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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