The term Jahiliyyah is an Islamic term that refers to the period of time, and the state of humanity before the call of the Prophet Muhammad (s), where the landmarks of the prophethood were forgotten, and the traces of monotheism were erased.
In the Holy Quran, there are four certain words, which are mentioned in connecting with the term of Jahiliyyah which collectively represent the aspects and characteristics of the Jahiliy community.
Firstly: The thought of ignorance
In Surat Al-Imran, Allah says which means: “Then after the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party of you, while another party was thinking about themselves (as how to save their own selves, ignoring the others and the Prophet) and thought wrongly of Allah – the thought of ignorance ….”(Quran 3:154).
In this verse, Allah describes how the hypocrites ascribed to Allah what the polytheists ascribed to Him regarding the doubts in His decree and denying His messenger’s call.
In addition, the verse described the hypocrites’ suspicion in two atrocious descriptions which are: wrong thoughts and thought of ignorance because every wrong thought is considered as a thought of ignorance. This type of Jahiliyyah is the Jahiliyyah of thought, doctrine, and perspectives.
Secondly: The laws of ignorance
In Surat Al-Maa’idah( The table ), Allah says that means: “Do they then seek the judgement of (the Days of) Ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm faith.” (Quran 5:50).
Commenting on this verse Ibn Katheer said: “The Almighty Allah criticizes those who refuse and deny the rightful judgment of Allah that includes all what is good and what is free from all evil, and they prefer to follow the human desirable, misguided and prejudiced views instead.
The question in the verse is confirmatory, which makes it clear that no law is better than Allah’s law. This indicates that any ruling other than the ruling of Allah is invalid, and every law that contradicts the law of Allah is evil, unjust and abominable. The type of Jahiliyyah in this verse is the Jahylyya of law, ruling and legislation.
Thirdly: The behaviour of ignorance
In the Surat of Al-Ahzab (The Confederates), Allah says that means: “And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance….” (Quran 33:33).
Talking about ignorance in this verse came in the context of directing Muslim women to virtues and forbidding them from vices.
The verse warns the mothers of the believers (the prophet’s wives) from doing what the women before Islam used to do of displaying themselves and exposing their beauties and their hidden adornments to the non-mahram men.
It also considers such acts as ignorant and cheap behaviour, that shouldn’t be carried out by the mindful, disciplined, aware and chaste woman.
This type of ignorance relates to social and moral living.
Fourthly: The false pride of ignorance
In Surah Al-Fath (The Victory), Allah says that means: ” When those who disbelieve had put in their heart’s pride and haughtiness of the time of ignorance…” (Quran 48:26).
The verse talks about the treaty of Hudaibiya when the disbelievers of Quraysh prevented the prophet and his companions from entering Makkah to perform Umrah.
They did so out of their false pride and haughtiness. This is the national and the political type of Jahiliyyah.
By looking and reflecting on the four verses quoted above and categorization of Jahiliyya, we clearly find a brief description of the pre-Islamic society with its ignorant characteristics, perceptions, behaviour and beliefs in opposition to the enlightened Islamic system established by the prophet (s).