additional version of Allah came from Hadramawt in south
. There, Allah was known as Sin,
the moon god. A famous south Arabian ancient city was Saba, where the
or queen Bilqis ruled. The Sabaeans also worshipped Allah. People there
called Allah as Almaqah (Hitti, 2002, p. 60). In the Qur’an we find the
reference of queen of Saba in sura
27 (sura an-Naml), where this ancient biblical city is called
and the queen Bilqis is referred simply as queen
. Sabaean religion was based on planetary astral system in which the cult
of the moon was prevalent. Invariably, the Sabaeans worshipped Allah as a
moon God. However, unlike the Pagan Arabs, they had no clear picture of
their Allah and thought Him to be a shapeless, male deity of supreme
power. On this deity, Benjamin walker writes:
A shadowy ineffable
deity, Allah was not represented by any image, nor did he enjoy popular
cult adoration, as did the lesser gods and goddesses. To distinguish him
from the other gods, he was given the title of Allah Taala, ‘God Most
High’ (Walker, 2004, p. 42).
Besides Allah and other Gods, the Nabateans also
worshipped two other gods (probably lesser to Allah), namely; ar-Rahman
and ar-Rahim. Both ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim were devoutly worshipped
together in conjunction with honor and prestige. The Qur’an,
surprisingly, retains the names of these two Pagan deities, though
claiming that these two names belong to Allah. The very first sura of the
Fatiha) mentions these two names, just during the beginning.
Furthermore, sura 19 (sura
Maryam) is dominated by the names of these two deities.
According to Professor Hitti, the Pagan Nabateans of north Arabia first
introduced ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim probably from southern
. Later these two names of Pagan gods found their place in the pantheons
of South Arabian temples (Hitti, 2002, p. 105). Muhammad’s competitor,
Maslama (or Musaylima) preached in the name of ar-Rahman, the south
Arabian Allah (Rodinson, 2002, p. 67, 119). This could probably be the
reason why Muhammad, later abandoned ar-Rahman and adopted the Allah of
the Meccan Pagans as his only God.
According to Arab historians,
(north Arabia, close to
, the home of the Nabateans), had a kind of Ka’ba with Dushara (Dusares),
worshipped under the form of a black rectangular stone, at the head of the
pantheon (Hitti, 2002, p. 72).
This very short history of Allah is not complete
without Jehovah (Yahwa), the Allah of Moses (read the description
depicted in a German coin). Islam claims Moses worshipped the same Allah
as the Muslims. If the Qur’an is true then simple logic says: Jehovah = Allah.
As per historical records, Jehovah was a desert Allah, simple and
austere. His abode was a tent (Hitti, 2002, p. 40). Although the Jews
admit that Jehovah is their Lord, the Hebrew Allah, they avoid
every mention of it. Jehovah also means: “The great and
terrible”, and that is the reason why the Jews refrain from mentioning
the name Jehovah (Hughes, 1994, p. 226). Instead, Rabb—Lord,
stands in the relative position of the Jehovah (Ibid, p. 141). So, as far
as the Qur’an goes, if Jehovah is Allah then He must be the
terrible Allah of the Jews.
As for the Jewish Rabb, Muhammad had his version
too: his Allah is also known as ar-Rab—the
Lord, the Sustainer, the Supreme: ‘Allah is my Lord and your Lord (3:51)’;
‘Our Lord (Rabb) is the Lord (Rabb) of the heavens and the earth (18:14);
occupies the place of Hebrew Jehovah (Hughes, 1994, p. 531).
The Bedouin Arabs’ primary concern was with the moon Allah, their
supreme deity and His daughters, Allat, Uzza and Manat. As explicated
before, the moon is the central religious theme in a pastoral society. The
illiterate, half–starved and ill-informed Bedouin Arabs associated the
moon with strength, vitality, force, power and everything to do with
masculinity. As such, the moon (and Allah) was really a male God; there
should be very little doubt on this (you will read more on this later).
So, how about the sun? Had the sun any position as god in the Pagan
society? The answer is yes. The Bedouins also worshipped a sun god. Its
name was Baal. Curiously, the
Syrians and the Phoenicians also worshipped Baal—Lord, an idol. It is
believed that Baal was worshipped in the days of Prophet Elisha (Hughes,
1004, p. 35). The Egyptians adopted Baal as their Lord (or sun Allah).
Baal (see Baal here)
was represented as a man with pointed beard and with horned
helmet. He was a god of war, sky, storm, fertility and good harvest. In
Qur’an we find the mention of Baal when Prophet Elias admonished his people for worshipping Baal (the
sun Allah), instead of the moon Allah, the best of creators (37:125).
A contradictory version of the sun god is that the sun was a goddess,
called Shams (Rodinson, 2002, p. 23). Oddly, there is a sura in the
Qur’an (sura 91,
a Meccan sura) whose title is Shams
or the Sun. Muhammad clearly preferred Shams to Baal, the Egyptian sun god. Not surprisingly though, there
is also a sura in the Qur’an titled Qamar
or the moon (sura
54, a Meccan sura).
Why Muhammad had a profound dislike for the sun Allah,
Baal? The answer is quite simple. The sun is the principal source of an
agricultural society. Therefore, it is natural that an agricultural
society will adopt the sun Allah, Baal as its principal deity. That was
, an agrarian society adopted Baal. Muhammad, who belonged to a pastoral
society, was not interested in agriculture (more on this later)—so, why
should he bother about Baal? Thus, Baal, the sun Allah was not that
popular in Muhammad’s
Clearly, the Meccan Pagans were very familiar with
their moon Allah (read more on this below). They were so used to their
moon Allah that they practiced to divide their
offerings of crops to Allah and other idols, like: Ammanas in the Khaulan
(ibn Ishaq, 2001, p. 37). It was a customary religious system for the
Pagan Arabs that they had practiced for generations. Then Muhammad started preaching, exhorting the Meccan
Quraysh to worship Allah only (kind of only Allah’s monotheism).
Muhammad had now his own version of Allah, which the Pagan Arabs found
very confusing and distressing. He started admonishing them for sharing
their crop with other deities besides Allah, Muhammad’s variety of
Allah, to be specific. But the Meccan Quraysh were tolerant. They let
Muhammad preach whatever he wished. The trouble came when Muhammad wanted
to hit the Quraysh’s principal source of revenue, the pilgrimage and the
tourism which were closely connected with the visit of their pantheon of
many gods and goddesses. The Meccan Pagans even had the images of Abraham,
Jesus and Mary—just to attract Christian and Jewish tourists. During
Muhammad’s time, according to Phillip Hitti, the eminent Arab historian,
had a colony of Abyssinian Christians (Hitti, 2002, p.
pilgrimage-tourism was a great source of income (Ibid,
p. 64). In the beginning, the
Meccan Pagans did not want to disrupt severely their flourishing
tourism’s attractiveness by creating anarchy with Muhammad’s
followers. Despite Muhammad’s harangues and tirades they left him alone.
Even the eminent historian al-Tabari admits that Muhammad had very little
sufferings from the Meccan Pagans. According to Tabari, Muhammad’s
followers were largely young men, some of whom were sons and younger
brothers of the leading merchants. Muhammad had very little suffering in
the hands of the Quraysh, apart from little annoyance. Abu Talib’s
(Muhammad’s uncle) protection had saved Muhammad from personal
harassment (Tabari, 1988, p. 6.43).
The main reason for the opposition of Muhammad was the requirement of
generosity which would diminish the profit of the greedy Meccan merchants.
These merchants also felt that Muhammad was probably threatening their
political control of the Meccan affairs. The Quraysh were not particularly
hostile to Muhammad until he mentioned their idols. In particular, the
rejection of Allat, one of the daughters of Allah, affected the business
of Taif merchants (Ibid, pp. 6.42, 43).