Diversity in browsing environments utilized by the web community presents a unique challenge to audiences that are looking for legible and accurate web information. With web proliferation, there has been an increasing trend towards the web as source of information and researches. Wikipedia popularity has reach to tantalizing heights such that as of April 2008, it attracts 684 million visitors annually reading over 10 million articles in 253 languages. Who would not be attracted by the easily accessible, open content encyclopedia?
Although Wikipedia may contain general information on the topic, the site itself is not tantamount to legible information since it is an ‘open-to-editing’ web site and any viewer can actually access it and change or add misinformation and bias to it. There are other websites more recommended for citation which are not openly edited and governed by certain organizations that control the influx of information and troubleshoots or rejects. We review the case of ‘Jahilliyah’ content compared to the uploaded electronic copy of Karen Armstrong’s work, Muhammad.
Jahilliyah is the presumed concept of ‘ignorance of Divine Guidance,’ a literal pre-Muhammad state of the Islamic nations (Wikipedia 2008). Arguably, this is merely a simplification of an Islamic concept; here Wikipedia (and whoever created the page source) was guilty of the principle of reductionalism. This is equivalent to blaspheming the Arabian culture and is tantamount into misleading the [Wikipedia] popular readers into believing that Jahiliyyah is indeed a Godless-state.
Jahiliyyah, al-Jahiliyah or jahalia is an Islamic concept of “ignorance of divine guidance” or “the state of ignorance of the guidance from God”[ or “Days of Ignorance”referring to the condition Arabs found themselves in pre-Islamic Arabia, i. e. prior to the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad. (Wikipedia, 2008) Armstrong (1991) reiterated that Jahiliyah is the practiced by the Bedouin Arabs of Arabia Deserta, a somewhat earth-centeredd religion that centralizes more on qawm’s (people)—small and large tribes¬¬—muruwah and dahr.
So the perception that Jahiliyah is a ‘God-less state’ is erroneous. The Bedouins do practice religion and it is somewhat a derivative of the Sumerian religion as demonstrated by the Bedouins’ practice of circumambulations (dictated by tawwaf ) during their Ka’aba veneration. The Bedouins erected a shrine at Ka’aba at Zamzam in Mecca (Armstrong 1969) and they worshipped their god Habal and other effigies of gods (e. g. 360 idols). Other goddesses alluded to Jahiliyah were al-Lat (Goddess), al-Uzzah (The Mighty One), and Manat (Fate). Pre-Islamic Arabia then is not ‘God-less’.
“But the Arabs did have spiritual life…various places were felt to be holy and were the site of shrines, which had their own ancient ritual surrounding around a deit…. ” (p. 61) Furthermore, Jahiliyah is geographically marginalized within Arabia Desserta whereas Southern Arabia embraced Nestorianism (Duality of Jesus) (Armstrong 1991). Wikipedia did not clarify the localization and instead generalized it to the whole Muslim and Islam regions. References for ‘Jahiliya’ are questionable. Take for instance, under the general references, cross-references indicated (“Milestones” and “Dr. Hina Azam.
Terrorism: A Return to Jahiliyya. alt. muslim”) cannot be accessed or simply put, the pages or the cross-references does not exist. Wikipedia’s ‘Arabian poetry’ is similarly doubtful. One notes that ‘poets’ were never soothsayers in the Jihillayah; soothsayers were generally shunned and were refered to as kahun (Armstrong 1991) and not sha’ir (Wikipedia 2008). Web sites are written at a wide range of language levels, for a variety of purposes, and for diverse audiences. A great many web pages contain information that is not appropriate for student needs because the pages contain misinformation or bias.
Just as viewers should be taught to critically evaluate print and broadcast information, they also need to learn to judge web information (Spearman, 1999). Cavanaugh (2004) specified that on judging page authenticity, three factors should be considered: (1) authority and currency of the source (2) publisher and purpose and (3) objectivity and accuracy. On searching for documents on Jihillayah, one should be more retrospective / evaluative on documents so as not to create more misconceptions. References Cavanaugh,T. (2007, August 24) Curriculum Web Page Evaluation For Education.
Retrieved October 22, 2007 from [email protected] edu. Spearman, R. (1999). How Elementary Educators Incorporate Information Literacy Skills into Their Use of the World Wide Web with Students. Published in the proceedings of WebNet 99, Honolulu Hawaii. Jahilliyah. (2008). Wikimedia. Retrived last May 5, 2008 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Jahiliyya. Armstrong, Karen. (1991). Muhammad: A Western Attempt to Understand Islam. London: Victor Gollancz Retrieved October 22, 2007 from http://voyager. uws. edu. au/cgi-bin/Pscandoc. cgi? app=33&folder=12695&doc=.
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