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Age of Ignorance

(3,137 words)

Author(s): Shepard, William E.
This phrase is a common translation of the Arabic word jāhiliyya used by Muslims to refer to the historical period in west-central Arabia covering the centuries immediately prior to the mission of Muḥammad, a period characterized by ignorance of the divine truth. To the original audience of the Qurʾān, however, it almost certainly referred primarily to the moral condition of those individuals and their society which led them to oppose the mission of the Prophet (see opposition to muḥammad ) and only secondarily, if at all, to a defined historical epoch. It is also possible…


(1,366 words)

Author(s): Shepard, William E.
Lack of knowledge (see knowledge and learning ). The words ignorance, ignorant, etc., usually translate Arabic words derived from the root j-h-l, which appear twenty-four times in the Qurʾān. One of these words, jāhiliyya, is discussed in the article age of ignorance. The present article discusses the others and also briefly considers other roots that convey ideas related to ignorance. The classical Arabic dictionaries define j-h-l mainly in contrast to ʿ-l-m, knowledge, but Goldziher, Izutsu and others have argued that in pre-Islamic literature j-h-l almost always refers to e…