Editor G.E. von Grunebaum captures the crux of the Islamic expansion by stating that "the civilization demonstrates its richness by being accessible from more than one vantage point" (1). In the process of examining the culture's overall effect, an aspect of Islam's "richness" would be the literary influence behind its overwhelming spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The poetry of pre-Islamic Arabia is a clearly overlooked factor in the development of the Islamic and Muslim traditions. As the incorporation of Ancient Arabian poetry appeared throughout the scriptures of the Qur'an, one could question to what extend did the literary and linguistic aspects of pre-Islamic poetry contribute to the rise of Islam during the 7th century? Reaching its height during the 7th century, Arabic poetry contributed tremendous literary esteem to the rise of Islam as seen through the poetic styles of the "Hanged Poems" by Antar, Imru-Ul-Quais, Zuhair and the stories of Thousand and One Nights. Embedded within the Holy Scriptures of the Muslim faith, pre-Islamic poetry serves as the literary and linguistic foundation of the Qur'an, which catapulted the teachings of Islam throughout the known world of its time.
[...] Therefore, the poetry of the Jahiliyah period is noted on different stylistic achievements that are known to specifically influence the literary development of the Qur'an. The traditions of the pre-Islamic Jahiliyah period were undoubtedly represented through the consistent themes of the culture's poetry. Development of this pre-Islamic poetry began with the nomadic Bedouin poets of the desert, who would function as the religious figures of their tribes (Esposito 33). As the Bedouins relayed the religious messages back to their people, they would formulate the words into poetry. [...]
[...] Thus, the arguments made by Iban Hazm and al-Ghazzali insist that Arabic poetry offers no support in the rise of the Islamic culture. However, there is no evidence to suggest that pre-Islamic poetry had either religious or pagan connotations (Ouyang 60). Analysis of pre-Islamic poetry, similar to its incomplete cipher, is also unclear in terms of its religious affiliations. The debate on the influence of pre-Islamic poetry on the rise of Islam is continuously debatable, yet there are sufficient distinctions that allow connections between the two literary factions. [...]
[...] In another literary critique, the formation of the Qur'an is strictly in poetic form. Each sura consists of short verses that mimic the lines of poetry. The Qur'an is written in poetic prose and also contains themes of the Jahiliyah period, which further supports the argument that pre-Islamic poetry had a contributing impact on the course of the Qur'an and thus, the rise of Islam. The Islamic expansion of the 7th century was a vast achievement that undermined several neighboring empires. [...]
[...] Situated in the Ka'aba of the holy temple in Mecca, the Mu'allaqats is a series of ten classical Arabic poems, seven of which were chosen by Ancient Arab critics to be placed in the Ka'aba for their noted literary precedence (Bakalla 119). Displayed in a highly respected temple, the Mu'allaqats of the ancient Arabic poets are considered to be the forefront of the Jahiliyah period. These revered poems are, again, characteristic of the nomadic themes of the Jahiliyah tradition and Bedouin narratives. [...]
[...] This consistent theme of morality and societal advice that emerged from pre-Islamic traditions is highly representative of the period's literary influence on the Qur'an. These elements were expounding factors that created the literary basis of the Qur'an. Characteristics of pre-Islamic poetry are evident in the scriptures of the Qur'an. There are several suras that expand on the themes of pre-Islamic poetry, such as The Cow and The Accessions. These two suras, of 114, respectively encompass the ideals of nomadic comfort and the communal efforts of belief and trust. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee