ABSTRACT

History shows us a penetration of Arabia by the Egyptians and Akkadians in early times, and this external contact increased as time went on, partly by colonization, but mainly by the development of trade routes by which the merchandise from South Arabia, and imports from India and East Africa, were conveyed to the western world and more particularly to the Byzantine Empire. We have seen scattered references to Byzantines and others who passed down into Arabia, as missionaries, colonists, or commercial agents, and so find indirect suggestions of intercourse with Arabia. This might be endorsed and emphasized by indirect methods if we could recover sufficient evidence about the social life, institutions, etc., of pre-Islamic Arabia, but unfortunately our material is inadequate and unreliable, unreliable especially in the information given by Muslim writers as they, living in a more sophisticated age, were unable to appreciate the features of the “days of ignorance” which postulated a stage of social development entirely different from anything they observed in the life of the community with which they were familiar.