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jahiliyah

in Islam, the period preceding the revelation of the Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad. In Arabic the word means "ignorance," or "barbarism," and indicates a negative Muslim evaluation of pre-Islamic life and culture in Arabia as compared to the teachings and practices of Islam. The term has a positive connotation only in literature; pre-Islamic Arabic poetry is esteemed by Muslims for its precise and rich vocabulary, sophisticated metrical structures, and fully developed systems of rhyme and thematic sequence

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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