Aspects of the Days of Ignorance (Masaa'il-ul-Jaahiliyyah)
By Shaykh-ul-Islaam Muhammad Ibn 'Abd-il-Wahhaab
These are the aspects that the people of the Days of Ignorance - both the people of the Book and the non-People of the Book - were upon, which the Messenger of Allaah, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), opposed. They are from the matters that every Muslim is required to possess knowledge of. This is since with (understanding) one side of the opposite, the goodness of the other side of the opposite can be made apparent. And it is by (making apparent the) opposite of something that matters become clarified.
The most important of these aspects (of the Days of Ignorance) and most severe in terms of danger was the absence of faith (Eemaan) in the heart, for what the Messenger of Allaah, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), came with. And if approval for what the people of the Days of Ignorance were upon is further added to this (absence of faith), then the total ruin is achieved, as Allaah says:
"And those who believe in the falsehood while disbelieving in Allaah, it is they who are the losers." [Surat-ul-'Ankaboot: 52]
Points 1 - 40:
- They performed worship by mixing righteous people into their supplication and worship of Allaah. They only did this desiring that these (righteous people) act as intercessors for them before Allaah, based on their notion that Allaah loved this and that these righteous people loved Him. Allaah says:
"And they worship besides Allaah things that harm them not nor profit them, and they say: 'These are our intercessors with Allaah.'" [Surah Yoonus: 18]
And He says:
"And those who take associates apart from Him, (they say): 'We worship them only so that they may bring us nearer to Allaah.'" [Surat-uz-Zumar: 3]
This is the greatest of matters that the Messenger of Allaah opposed them in. So he brought sincerity (i.e. doing deeds sincerely for Allaah alone and not for anyone else) and informed that it was the Religion of Allaah, which all the messengers were sent with. And he informed us that no deeds are accepted (by Allaah), except those done sincerely (for Him alone). And he, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), informed that whosoever does what these (polytheists) approved of, then Allaah has forbidden Paradise for him and his final destination will be the Hellfire.
It is due to this aspect that mankind becomes divided into Muslims and disbelievers. And it is due to it that enmity (between the two) occurs. And it is for this purpose that Jihaad was legislated, as Allaah says:
"And fight them (disbelievers) until there is no more fitnah (evil/disbelief) left, and the religion is for Allaah alone." [Surat-ul-Anfaal:39]
- They divided into sects within their religion. Allaah says:
"And do not be among the polytheists - of those who split up their religion and became divided into sects - each sect rejoicing in that which it has." [Surah Room: 32]
They also split up into divisions with regard to their worldly affairs, and they saw that as being the correct thing to do. So Allaah prescribed unity and agreement in the Religion, saying:
"He has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Nooh and that which We have inspired in you (O Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم)), and that which We ordained for Ibraaheem, Moosaa and 'Eesaa, (saying): 'You should establish the Religion and make no divisions within it.'" [Surat-ush-Shooraa: 13]
And He says:
"Verily, those who split up their religion and became sects, you have no concern with them in the least." [Surat-ul-Ana`aam: 159]
He has forbidden us from being similar to them, saying:
"And be not like those who split up and differed after the clear signs came to them." [Surah Aali `Imraan: 105]
And He has forbidden us from splitting up into sects in the Religion:
"And hold firmly onto the Rope of Allaah, all of you together, and be not divided." [Surah Aali `Imraan: 103]
- They held the acts of opposing the figure of authority and failing to comply with him as being something virtuous. And they saw the acts of hearing and obeying as being humiliating and degrading. So Allaah's Messenger, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), opposed them and commanded that patience be observed when facing the oppression of the rulers. And he commanded with hearing and obeying them,  as well as advising (them). And he, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), spoke extensively in regards to that and he constantly brought it up and repeated it.
These (first) three aspects (of the Days of Ignorance) have been gathered together in what has been related on the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), in the two Saheehs, that he said:
"Indeed, Allaah is pleased with three things for you: 1) That you not worship (anything else) except Allaah and that you not associate anything with Him, 2) That all of you, together, hold tightly onto the Rope of Allaah and not be divided into groups, and 3) That you mutually advise he whom Allaah has given authority over your affairs." 
There did not occur any defects in the religious and worldly affairs of mankind, except that it was due to a violation of these (first) three aspects, or one of them.
- Their religion was built upon certain principles, the greatest of which was taqleed (blind following). So this was the biggest principle for all of the disbelievers - the first and last of them - as Allaah says:
"And similarly, We sent not a warner before you (Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم)) to any town (people), except that the luxurious ones among them said: 'Verily, we found our forefathers following a certain way and religion, and we will indeed follow in their footsteps.'" [Surat-uz-Zukhruf: 23]
And He says:
"And when it is said to them: 'Follow that which Allaah has sent down', they say: 'Nay, we shall follow that which we found our forefathers (following).' Would they do so even if the Devil invites them to the torment of the Fire?" [Surah Luqmaan: 21]
So He revealed to them His saying:
"Say: 'I exhort you to one thing only - that you stand up for Allaah's sake in pairs and singly - and then reflect (upon the life of the Prophet). There is no madness in your companion (Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم)).'" [Surat-us-Saba`: 46]
And His saying:
"(Say to the disbelievers): 'Follow what has been sent down unto you from your Lord, and follow not any partners besides Him.' Little do you remember!" [Surat-ul-A`araaf: 3]
- From their greatest principles was that they were deceived by (following) the majority, using that as a proof against the correctness of a matter.  And they also used as evidence for declaring the falsehood of something, the fact that it was strange and that its adherents were few. So Allaah prescribed the opposite of that and He clarified this in many places of the Qur'aan.
- They relied upon (the actions of) their ancestors as evidence (for their doings), as is found in His saying:
"Then what about the generations of old?" [Surah Taha: 51] 
And His saying:
"We never heard of this thing (which you have brought), amongst (the speech of) our forefathers." [Surat-ul-Mu`minoon: 24] 
- For means of evidence, they relied on the claim that they were a people that had been given strength in understanding and works, as well as in dominion, wealth and status. So Allaah refuted that by saying:
"And indeed We had firmly established them (disbelievers of old) with that wherewith We have not established you (O Quraish)!" [Surat-ul-Ahqaaf: 26]
"Although aforetime, they had invoked Allaah (for the coming of Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم)) in order to gain victory over those who disbelieved. Then when there came to them that which they recognized (i.e. the Prophet), they disbelieved in him." [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 89]
"Those who have been given the Scripture recognize him (Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم)) as they recognize their own sons." [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 146] 
- They used as evidence for determining the falsehood of a matter, the fact that only the weak ones followed it, as is found in Allaah's saying:
"They said: 'Shall we follow you, when the lowliest of people follow you?'" [Surat-ush-Shu`araa: 111] 
And He says (relating their statements):
"Is it these (poor believers) whom Allaah has favored from amongst us?" [Surat-ul-Ana`aam: 53]
So Allaah refuted this claim, saying:
"Should not Allaah know best those who are grateful?" [Surat-ul-Ana`aam: 53]
- They followed and took their example from their evil and wicked scholars and worshippers. So Allaah revealed His saying:
"O you who believe! Verily, there are many of the (Jewish) rabbis and (Christian) monks that take the wealth of mankind unjustly and hinder them (mankind) from the way of Allaah." [Surat-ut-Tawbah: 34]
And His saying:
"Do not go to extremes in your religion (by believing in something) other than the truth. And do not follow the vain desires of people that went astray, from times of past, and who misled many and strayed (themselves) from the Right Path." [Surat-ul-Maa'idah: 77]
- They used the following argument for determining the falsehood of a religion: That the ones who followed it possessed a short amount of understanding and lacked good memory, as Allaah says:
"They followed you without thinking." [Surah Hood: 27] 
- They used a wicked and false type of reasoning to establish evidence, as occurs in His saying:
"You are no more than human beings like us!" [Surah Ibraaheem: 10] 
- They rejected the correct and true way of reasoning. The reason for the occurrence of this aspect and the one before it was due to a lack of understanding, on their part, of (what consisted of) similarities and differences (i.e. similarities and differences between the Prophets and normal human beings).
- They went to extremes with regard to their scholars and righteous people, as is found in His saying:
"O People of the Book! Do not go to extremes in your religion (by exceeding the limits set forth by Allaah). And do not speak concerning Allaah, except that which is true." [Surat-un-Nisaa: 171]
- Everything that has been mentioned previously is based upon a principle, which is denying and affirming. Thus they followed (their) desires and speculation while turning away from what Allaah revealed to them.
- They used the claim that they had a "lack of comprehending" as an excuse for not following what Allaah revealed to them, as Allaah says:
"(They said): 'Our hearts are sealed (with coverings).'" [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 88]
And He says:
"(They said): 'O Shu'aib, we do not understand much of what you say!'" [Surah Hood: 91]
So Allaah declared them to be liars and clarified that their lack of understanding was due to the sealing of their hearts, and the sealing of their hearts was due to their disbelief.
- They replaced what came to them from Allaah with books of magic, as Allaah mentions in His saying:
"And when there came to them a Messenger from Allaah confirming what was with them, a party of those who were given the scripture threw the Book of Allaah behind their backs, as if they did not know! And they followed (instead) what the devils gave out (falsely of magic) in the lifetime of Sulaymaan." [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 101-102]
- They ascribed their falsehood to the Prophets, as is found in Allaah's saying:
"And Sulaymaan did not disbelieve" [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 102]
And His saying:
"Ibraaheem was neither a Jew nor a Christian." [Surah Aali 'Imraan: 67] [href]10>[/href]
- They contradicted themselves in their affiliations, for they affiliated themselves to Ibraaheem, yet they openly manifested their abandonment of following him.
- They would slander and accuse righteous people based on the actions of other who had close relations with these (righteous people). An example of this is found in the Jews' slander of 'Eesaa and the Christians' and Jews' slander of Muhammad. 
- They believed that the tricks of the sorcerers and their likes were from the miracles of the righteous people. And they attributed it to the Prophets, such as their ascribing it to Sulaymaan.
- They performed worship by whistling and clapping their hands. 
- They took their Religion as an amusement and a game. 
- They were deluded by the life of this world. So they perceived Allaah's bestowal of worldly material (on someone), as an indication of His contentment (with that person),  as He says:
"And they say: 'We are abundant in wealth and in children. And (because of that) we are not going to be punished.'" [Surah Saba': 35]
- They refused to enter into the truth when they saw that they had already been preceded to it by the weak and poor - out of pride and disdain - so Allaah revealed:
"And turn not away those who invoke their Lord, morning and afternoon seeking His Face." [Surat-ul-Ana'aam: 52] 
- They determined the truth to be false based upon their argument that the weak and poor people took precedence in accepting it. This is as He says:
"(They said): 'Had it (i.e. Islaam) been something good, they (poor and weak ones) would not have preceded us in (accepting) it.'" [Surat-ul-Ahqaaf: 11]
- They distorted (i.e. tahreef) the Book of Allaah after having comprehended it, while doing so knowingly (i.e. deliberately and not out of ignorance). [href]16>[/href]
- They authored books of falsehood and then attributed them to Allaah, as is found in His saying:
"Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say: 'This is from Allaah.'" [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 79]
- They did not accept anything from the truth, except for that which was (in accordance) with their party/group. Allaah says:
"And when it is said to them (Jews): 'Believe in what Allaah has sent down', they say: 'We will believe in (only) what was sent down to us.' And they disbelieved in that which came after it, whereas it is the truth confirming what is with them." [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 91]
- But in spite of this, they did not even have knowledge of what the party/group (that they adhered to) used to believe, as Allaah points out in His saying:
"Then why have you killed the Prophets of Allaah aforetime, if you indeed were believers?" [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 91]
- It is from the amazing signs of Allaah that when these people abandoned the command of Allaah to unite and began to commit that which Allaah forbade from evil, the matter became such as: "Each group rejoicing in that which it has."
- It is also from the amazing signs of Allaah that these people held the highest degree of hatred for the religion they affiliated themselves with, while having love for the religion of the disbelievers - those who were enemies to them and their Prophet. And their trial was found in the extent of their love (for that religion of their enemies). As they did with the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), when they approached him with the religion of Moosaa, while (in reality) they were following the books of magic. And that (magic) was from the religion of the people of Pharaoh.
- They disbelieved in the truth if it was found with someone that they did not like or agree with. Allaah says:
"The Jews say that the Christians follow nothing (i.e. are on the wrong Religion) and the Christians say that the Jews follow nothing." [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 113]
- They rejected what they agreed was part of their Religion, as they did during the Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (i.e. the Ka'bah).  Allaah says:
"And who turns away from the religion of Ibraaheem (pure Tawheed), except he who fools himself." [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 130]
- Every one of (their) groups claimed that they were the saved one.  So Allaah declared them to be liars with His saying:
"Bring forth your proof if you are indeed truthful." [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 111]
Then He clarifies what is correct, saying:
"Rather, whosoever submits himself to Allaah while he is a good-doer,  then his reward is with Allaah." [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 112]
- They performed their acts of worship while exposing their private parts, as Allaah says:
"And when they committed an evil deed (i.e. going around the Ka'bah in a naked state), they said: 'We found our forefathers doing it.'" [Surat-ul-A`araaf: 28]
- They performed worship by forbidding the lawful, in the same manner that they worshipped by ascribing partners to Allaah. 
- They observed their worship by taking their rabbis and monks (i.e. learned people) as lords besides Allaah. 
- They denied Allaah's Attributes, as Allaah says:
"But you thought that Allaah did not know much of what you were doing." [Surah Fussilat: 22] 
- They denied Allaah's Names, as Allaah says:
"While they disbelieve in Ar-Rahmaan (The Most Merciful)." [Surat-ur-Ra`ad: 30] 
- They committed ta`teel (negation of Allaah's Names and Attributes), as is found in the statement of the people of Pharaoh. 
 The Messenger of Allaah, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said:
"Hearing and obeying is (obligatory) upon the Muslim, in that which he loves and hates, so long as he is not commanded with disobeying (Allaah). So if he is commanded to commit disobedience (to Allaah), then there is no hearing and obeying." Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: Book of Rulings (no. 7144) and Saheeh Muslim: Book of Leadership (no. 1839) from the hadeeth of Ibn 'Umar, radi-Allaahu 'anhumaa
 Saheeh Muslim (no. 1715) and Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree (3/270)
 They saw that the more adherents an ideology or a practice had, the truer it was. Thus, when they saw that the followers of the truth were few and the followers of falsehood were many, they chose the falsehood over the truth. So Allaah opposed this in many places of the Qur'aan, praising the few and condemning the majority, as He says:
"But few of My servants are grateful." [Surah Saba: 13]
 This was the saying of Pharaoh, when the Prophet Moosaa came to him with the truth from his Lord. So Moosaa's argument was based on revelation, while Pharaoh's argument was based on logic. Thus he questioned Moosaa if what he came with was the truth, then what will become of the nations of the past that never knew of nor followed this way. Does it mean that they are all wrong and you are right? So Moosaa's response was:
"The knowledge thereof is with my Lord in a Record. My Lord neither errs nor forgets." [Surah Taha: 52]
 This was what the people of Nooh said to him in their rejection of him.
 This verse is referring to the Christians and the Jews who knew the Prophet Muhammad better than they knew their own children because of what they read of his description from their revealed books of old.
 This was the response that Nooh received from his people when he called them to worship Allaah alone. So he said to them after hearing their argument:
"And what knowledge have I of what they used to do (before following me)?" [Surat-ush-Shu`araa: 112]
 This was the response that Nooh got from some of the chiefs among his people, when he called them to worship none but Allaah. They claimed that the only ones that followed him were the poor and weak, and that they did so "without thinking."
 This was the response of the people of Nooh, 'Aad and Thamood, when their respective Prophets called them to worship Allaah alone.
 Here, Allaah refutes the claims of the Jews and Christians. Each one invented their own religion and then ascribed them to certain Prophets, such as the Jews when they ascribed their magic to Sulaymaan and the Christians when they ascribed their false religion to Ibraaheem. So Allaah clarified the reality of the matter in these two ayahs.
 The Jews slandered and accused 'Eesaa by accusing his mother, Maryam, of committing fornication. Allaah says concerning this:
"And because of their (Jews') disbelief and because of their uttering against Maryam a great slander (that she committed fornication)!" [Surat-un-Nisaa: 156]
 The proof for this is found in Allaah's saying concerning the disbelievers:
"And their prayer at the House (Ka'bah) was nothing but whistling and clapping of hands. So taste the torment because of what you used to disbelieve." [Surat-ul-Anfaal: 35]
This point is connected to the following one in that the disbelievers only did this because they took their religion as a game and an amusement.
 Allaah refutes this, saying:
"And leave alone those who take their Religion as play and amusement, and whom the life of this world has deluded." [Surat-ul-Ana'aam: 70]
 This means the more worldly matters one amassed the more he felt that Allaah was pleased with him and his condition, regardless if he was upon disbelief.
 After stating this ayah, Allaah says:
"Thus We have tried some of them with others, that they may say: 'Is it these (poor believer) whom Allaah has favored from amongst us?' Does not Allaah know best those who are grateful?" [Surat-ul-An'aam: 53]
 Allaah says:
"And verily, among them, there is a party that distorts the Book with their tongues (as they read), so that you may think that it is from the Book, but it is not from the Book. And they say: 'This is from Allaah', but it is not from Allaah. And they speak a lie against Allaah while knowing it." [Surah Aali 'Imraan: 78]
 The polytheists made Hajj, but in a corrupted way from that of their forefather Ibraaheem. So by doing this, they rejected the correct form of Hajj, which they believed was part of the Religion, in favor of their own manner of performing Hajj. This included placing idols around the Ka'bah and at the sites of Safaa and Marwaa, making tawaaf around the Ka'bah while naked, and whistling and clapping in prayer at the Ka'bah. The Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), opposed them in all of their acts of Hajj and established the correct way of performing it according to the Sunnah.
 As is found in their saying:
"None shall enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian." [Surat-ul-Baqarah: 111]
 "Whosoever submits himself to Allaah" refers to sincerity and "while he is a good-doer" refers to actions in accordance with the Sunnah - the two conditions for having a good deed accepted - sincerity and compliance with the Sunnah. So Allaah clarifies that the true saved group is the one that implements the Tawheed and the Sunnah, and Allaah knows best.
 Allaah says:
"And do not say concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely: 'This is lawful' and 'This is forbidden' so as to invent lies against Allaah. Verily, those who invent lies against Allaah will never prosper." [Surat-un-Nahl: 116]
 This point is connected with the last one in that the first point refers to the learned scholars amongst the People of the Book who made the lawful forbidden and the forbidden lawful. The next point refers to those amongst the People of the Book that followed these evil scholars, such that by their obeying them in their changing of the commands of Allaah, they in reality took them as gods besides Allaah. Allaah says:
"They (Jews and Christians) took their Rabbis and Monks as lords besides Allaah..." [Surat-ut-Tawbah: 31]
 The Attribute of Allaah that was denied by them in this verse was that of His Knowledge.
 The Name of Allaah that they denied according to this verse was Ar-Rahmaan.
 The Shaykh is referring to Allaah's saying, relating it to Pharaoh that he said:
"I did not receive any knowledge that you have a god besides me." [Surat-ul-Qasas: 28]
Also, when drafting the treaty of Hudaibiya, the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), told 'Alee to write "Bismillaah-ir-Rahmaan-ir-Raheem." So the disbelievers objected and told him to just write "Bismillaah" and that they did not know who Ar-Rahmaan and Ar-Raheem was. This is an example of their ta'teel, or negation of those Names and Attributes that Allaah has affirmed for Himself.