Journal of the History and Culture of the Middle East
Ed. by Heidemann, Stefan / Hagen, Gottfried / Kaplony, Andreas / Matthee, Rudi
2 Issues per year
CiteScore 2016: 0.21
SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.131
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 0.164
Abstract: “Al-Jāhiliyya” evokes vivid images of idol worship, tribalist antagonisms, and violence commonly assumed to be emblematic of the Muslim representation of pre-Islamic Arabia as a “barbaric” anarchical society. Such associations, however, overlook manifold complexities of the era’s portrayal in classical Arabic literature, and this paper calls for a more nuanced reading of classical narratives of al-Jāhiliyya. Exploration of the word’s semantic shifts evidenced in Arabic lexicography and Qurʾānic exegesis between the third/ninth and seventh/ thirteenth centuries reveals that only after the fourth/tenth century did the now common Jāhiliyya stereotypes become virtually synonymous with pre-Islam. Via a survey of third/ninth century Arabic writings, this paper also explores how and why certain discourses articulated rather positive memories of pre-Islamic times.