Jahiliyyah is defined as ‘ignorance or deviated’. In essence, it refers to the jahiliyyah society in the Arabian Peninsula that lived some 1500 years ago prior to their reformation through Rasulullah, a society of backwardness in the aspects of achievement, akhlaq, and social, embedded with arrogance, pride, and ignorance in knowledge and intellect.
Without a prophet and a holy scripture as guidance, they were lost, far from the path of truth, and without a lifestyle that guarantees happiness. Such is the original state of affairs of the jahiliyyah society. Hence, any affairs in the form of thoughts, views, actions, and attitude that is in opposition to Islam falls within the category of jahiliyyah. Even though the Arabian jahiliyyah society has long vanished with the passing of time, the attitudes and characteristics of jahiliyyah in its modern form still exist until this very day.
In the midst of the rapid and advanced world that we live in today, there are still those displaying jahiliyyah in their perspectives, emotions, mindset, and actions. The jahiliyyah of the old was infamous with their uncivilized lifestyle and without Divine guidance. Only the mind and desire became their source of guidance. Hence, the birth of a society that is drowned in every form of munkar and oppression. Female infants were buried alive, prostitution and adultery were common, fighting and civil war became the means in achieving objectives, the strong oppress while the weak oppressed and enslaved. No justice or protection prevailed, void of a lifestyle that can develop harmony and tranquility, while sihr (black magic) and khurafat are commonly practiced. These are among the identities of the jahiliyyah of previous nations as a result of neglecting the teachings and guidelines of previous prophets. This was clearly explained by Allah in al-Qur’an (which means):
“… That you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are unaware.” [Al-Quran, surah Ya-Sin, verse 6]
From this verse, it can be understood that it is justified for them to become corrupted and misguided because they were deprived of admonition and guidance from Allah’s messenger upon a people. What about the jahiliyyah attitude and actions of today? They flourished even after the coming of Islam and Rasulullah, equipped with the Shari’ah and driven by the teachings of al-Qur’an and a hadith of Rasulullah in every aspect of livelihood.
However, they are stuck in the nasty characteristics and habits of the jahiliyyah society. Nowadays, we are exposed to various modern jahiliyyah that plagues our very own society. At one point, we were shocked by the news of a young mother who strangled her two sons with her iron’s cable because she was upset with her living conditions. Then, a wife poured acid on her husband’s face due to jealousy which led to their divorce. And also, young students getting involved in criminal activities including fornication, mugging other students, skipping school, and consuming intoxicants. And of course, the infamous gangster dilemma that never seems to cease. Furthermore, the story of a mother that was hacked in the head to death by her own children, the numerous newborns out of wedlock left in the dumpster, mosques, and even bus stations.
Also, the story of the young child that was abused, slapped, kicked, and stomped until death. Are not all these clear behaviors of jahiliyyah, more heinous and despised than the Arab jahiliyyah society in the pre-Islamic days? Let us ponder deep inside our own selves, why has our society stooped this low nowadays? Do we deserve to claim ourselves as Muslimin and ummah of Muhammad with all the scenario and lifestyle of today?
Should all these madness and insanity be left alone until it becomes traditions inherited by our grandchildren? As a firm believer, we surely will not feel easy and composed of these nightmare images. We must concede and admit that the various forms of modern jahiliyyah resulted from our reluctance in full acceptance of Islam as the absolute manual of life. Some from within our society are far off from the real understanding of Islam, so what more with their religious practice. If Islamic knowledge is not obtained, iman is not instilled into the heart, then one‟s life would be solely for satiating the lustful and worldly desire.
We are pre-occupied in handling worldly affairs throughout the day while ignoring death which is certain and the Hereafter without any effort of preparation for eternal bliss. Such is the distinct identity of our society of today. The heart that is filled with the love for Dunya and void of iman is very frail and fragile, easily succumbed to the whispers of shaytan (satan), constantly dragging away mankind into the valley of destruction.
Thus, let us return in upholding al-Qur’an and as-Sunnah as our life manual. Imaan and Islam must be contemplated, understood, and practiced. We must initiate fresh new measures heading towards the complete Islamic lifestyle which will guarantee happiness. Among the measures that need to be undertaken in eradicating jahiliyyah from our society are:
1. The parents and teachers must take on their role as the guide and mentor for the children. Educate our children with Islamic knowledge as the fundamentals in shaping their self-identity. Ensure that our children are capable of performing salah and safeguarding their religion while striving for academic excellence. Nurture into them virtuous character and akhlaq. Remember, for each child that grows up with bad akhlaq, it is we that will be held responsible for such failure.
In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah, the Messenger of Allah said (which means):
“Every child is born in a state of fitrah (the natural state of man, i.e., Islam), then his parents make him into a Jew or a Christian or a Magian.” [Hadith Agreed Upon]
2. Return into becoming a community that is alert and sensitive to its surrounding, and also attentively reminding each other. The Muslim Ummah must realize this reality. The negligence of this characteristic has caused us to live alone though surrounded by many others. The lack of unity and ukhuwah Islamiyyah will only weaken us. Hence, even if witnessing a child getting kicked and stomped in a soccer field, we could only afford to look until the soul of the innocent tiny being leaves its body. Is not this a real loss and disgraceful? As Allah has mentioned in al-Qur’an (which means):
“By time! Indeed, mankind is in loss. Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Al-Quran, surah al-‘Asr, verse 1-3]
3. True repentance and seek forgiveness from Allah with sincere determination in practicing authentic Islamic teachings. Take heed, for tawbah and istighfar, will incur the Rahmah of Allah and restore our strength as the Muslim Ummah living according to al-Qur’an and the Sunnah of Rasulullah. Allah has mentioned in al-Qur’an (which means):
“And O my people, ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in showers and increase you in strength [added] to your strength. And do not turn away, [being] criminals.” [Al-Quran, surah Hud: verse 52].
Let us recap a few important points from this topic:
- Modern jahiliyyah is the consequences of the ummah’s failure in inculcating and understanding Islam as a way of life.
- In reality, modern jahiliyyah is heinous and deviated for it occurs after the message of Islam by Rasulullah has spread far and wide.
- Modern jahiliyyah must be curbed and resolved by returning to the authentic Islamic teaching in its entirety and completeness.
- The Muslims and those in authority must not allow injustices, oppression, and brutality to become widespread and taking place without consequences.
- Every Islamic movement, NGO, individuals, and community members must take on their very role in preventing the jahiliyyah behaviors from plaguing the community.
Allah has mentioned in al-Qur’an (which means):
“And whoever desires other than Islām as religion – never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.” [Al-Quran, surah Ali-Imran,verse 85].
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