Before Islam

“The world into which Muhammad was born is
described by subsequent Muslims in a single word:
ignorant. Life under the conditions of the desert had
never been serene. People felt almost no obligation to
anyone outside their tribes. Scarcity of material goods
made brigandage a regional institution and the proof
of virility. In the sixth century political deadlock and
the collapse of the magistrate in the leading city of
Mecca aggravated this generally chaotic situation.”
“Drunken orgies were commonplace, and the gaming
impulse uncontrolled. The prevailing religion watched
from the sidelines, providing no check. Best described
as an animistic polytheism, it peopled the sandy
wastes with beastly sprites called jinn or demons.
Fantastic personifications of desert terrors, they
inspired neither exalted sentiments nor moral
restraint. Conditions could hardly have been better
calculated to produce a smoldering undercurrent,
which erupted in sudden affrays and blood feuds,
some of which extended for half a century. The times
called for a deliverer.”