Pre-Islamic Arabia

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     Muslims are taught that prior to Islam, Arabia was a place rampant with inequities and decadence. Women were used and abused, and arabs went around burying female babies due to their uselessness. Islam, they say, changed all that for the better.

     If it were true that Arab custom led to the proclivity of burying so many female babies, there would have been a shortage of females in that area. That was never documented as being so.   Muslims also claim that the pagan custom of polygamy was kept in the Islamic religion because it helped women find mates during times of war, when males were at a shortage. If Arab pagans went around burying so many female babies, there would never have been an overabundance of females, and wartime would have evened out the gender gap. So either Arabs burying females was limited to a small section of Arabs, and is exaggerated by Muslims, or the practice of polygamy has no benefit other than men collecting women.   Actually, both seem to be true.

     Khadijah, Mohammad's first wife, was a wealthy businesswoman who inherited her money from her father and late husband. Evidently, pagan Arabs did not preclude women from getting their full inheritance. Islam cut their inheritance in half under the guise that women dont need much money since they are to be taken care of by their husbands. Naturally this impoverishes a widow or divorcee and forces her to marry again, even to accept polygamy. Khadijah also proves that in Pre-Islamic Arabia, women evidently were allowed to own businesses. Muslims say Islam does not preclude that, but in the Koran and by Mohammad's own words, women are described as having little business sense and therefore, their word in court or as a witness is only worth half that of a  man's.

     The first recorded female doctor was Lady Pesheshet, in ancient Egypt centuries before Islam. Queen Ahhotep was a regent in ancient Egypt and also presided over the military, long before Islam. Egypt also had many female pharaohs. Even Babylon had queens who ruled, such as Queen Shagshag , who was also a chief priestess. Assyrian queen Sammuramat accompanied her husband into battle.   Queen Pourandokht  was a Persian queen before Islam.  Her sister, Azarmidokht, ruled as Queen after her. Ancient Iranian coins show the queen on one side of the coin, indicating the significant role of women during that time.

     According to the Greek historian & biographer Plutarch, Iranian women used to participate in social affairs and fight in the battlefield.  The Zoroastrian holy book Avesta, indicates that women in Iranian society were to some extent equal to men and enjoyed a number of legal and social freedoms.  They managed property, represented their husbands at court, became judges, and performed religious ceremonies.  Muslims claim that only Islam gave women such rights, and did it long before any nation.  Evidently that claim is false. 

      Ancient Arabia was comprised of so many tribes, customs, divisions, that it is impossible to pigeon-hole the entire area and make a blanket statement that women were treated one way only. In some parts, it would be fair to say that women were treated very poorly, but in others, there is proof that they held more rights before the onset of Islam. To say that women were forced to walk around naked before Islam veiled them, has no merit, no basis, and reeks of desperation.