What was the economic condition of Arabia before the advent of Islam?
The leading aspect of the Arabs economy of that time from the viewpoint of production was animal husbandry and agriculture wherever it was possible. As far as trade and exchange were concerned, their main trade was with foreign lands. Both the Arabs of Yemen and Hejaz were engaged in this activity, but since foreign trade must have links with home trade in order to exchange home-made products with foreign goods, the Arabs of that age resorted to the same practice in keeping with the level of their civilization as they do in modern times. In the developed world of today one of the most significant essential and effective of economic practices is the organising of commercial and industrial fairs. The Arabs, too, at that time arranged fairs in the form of seasonal bazaars In the same way that today in each season a fair is held in a city or locality in relation to local conditions, the Arabs, too, followed the same practice at different times and in particular places. A few examples of the extensive and famous exhibitions which were held in Hejaz and Najd were as follows:
1. The 'Dumatul-Jandal Fair', held in the month of Rabial-Awwal under the auspices of two local tribes of Ghassan and Kalb near Shaam.
2. The Mashqar Fair' held in the month of Jamadi-al-'Ula in a place of the same name, under the auspices of Banu-Tim tribe.
3. The 'Sahar Fair', held on the first of the month of Rajab.
4. The 'Ria Fair' following their Sahar Fair' in the same month of Rajab, under the patronage of the Jalandi tribc and its ruler.
5. The 'Aden Fair', held at the beginning of the month of Ramadhan, According to historians since this fair dealt exclusively with perfumes and scents, it was the great market of perfumers.
6. The 'San'a Fair', held in the middle of Ramadhan
7. The 'Rabia Fair', held in the present Hadamut.
8. The 'Ukaz Fair', held in the month of Dhil-Qa'dah near Ta'if
9. The 'Dhil Majaz Fair', held when all other fairs had concluded and the merchants who had been busy making a round of these fairs during those months, finally headed to Mecca, making a pilgrimage to the Ka'aba in the month of Dhil Hajjah, and dispersed after performing the Hajj ceremonies.
These fairs and seasonal bazaars were the most valuable and cherished commercial events in Arabia of those days. The merchant class who profited from those fairs did their best not to let them become mere exhibitions. They organised colourful ceremonies and musical shows and other celebrations as well as exhibits of literary works, poetry and arts. Thus these exhibitions were show places worth a visit both for those who intended to buy new and fineries and goods, or listen to the latest and the finest pieces of verse, or fine music. Thus the poets, too, were drawn to these exhibitions to recite their poems before judges who judged their poems. In this manner the fairs served both as commercial shows and literary societies.
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