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The Pagan Arab Pantheon
By Sanjeev Nayyar, November 2002 [[email protected]]

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Before & after the Taliban destroyed the Buddha statues in Afghanistan there were a number of articles on whether Islam permitted destruction of idols. India’s leading current affairs magazine India Today had carried an article on the destruction. Amidst conflicting interpretations of Islam and the Koran I remember an interesting letter in the magazine from an Indian Muslim. While I do not remember his name the gist of what he said was, ‘I wonder why everyone is making such a hue & cry of the destruction of Buddha statues. When Prophet Mohammed entered the Kaba he destroyed 360 idols’. I read the same thing in the book, History & Culture of Indian People published by the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan. It read “after the military conquest of Mecca by the Prophet, he entered the sanctuary and smashed its many idols said to have numbered three hundred and sixty exclaiming “ Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished.”

Idols, Gods & Goddesses in Arabia! I was foxed till I read volume 2 of a book by Sitaram Goelji titled ‘Hindu Temples What Happened to Them’. Chapter eleven is titled Religion of Pagan Arabia. The Chambers 20th Century Dictionary defines a pagan as “a heathen, who is not a Christian, Jew or a Muslim”.

I have reproduced parts of chapter eleven verbatim. (Courtesy & copyright Voice of India). The piece has three chapters, one gives you names of Gods and function in a table form, two gives complete details and three is conclusion.

Name of God Sex Function
1. Al-lah Man Creator Supreme Provider
2. Al – Malik Man The King. In the days of Islam he became one of the epithets of Allah.
3. Ba’l or Ba’al Man Lord of Cultivated Land.
4. El Man God.
5. Al – lat Women Sun God. In Quran one of the three daughters of Allah.
6. Manat Women Goddess of Time. Also known as Goddess of Death.
7. Al – Uzza. Women Means ‘the Most Mighty’. She was a Goddess of the Saebeans, embodied the cult of planet Venus. In Quran she is one of the three great goddess of Mecca, who were supposed to be daughters of Allah.
8. Shams Women Is Sun. The name Abd Shams is ‘servant of the Sun’. The word ‘shams’ survives in Muslim names also.
9. Dhu’sh-Shara Man Possibly God of Fertility.
10.At – Thuraiya Not sure Supposed to bestow Rain. The name Thuraiya means ‘existing in plenty’ and survives in the name Suraiya.
11.Quzah Man Ancient Arabian thunder god who shot hail from his bow then hung the latter on the clouds. Other meanings too go to chapter two.
12.Wadd Man i.e. Friendship, according to Quran a god worshipped by the contemporaries of Noah. The name of this God survives in Al-Wadud, one of the 92 names of Allah meaning ‘the Loving One’.
13.Ruda Women Symbolized ‘goodwill or favor’.
14.Jadd Not sure Name of a deity venerated by various Semitic people. Name used in the Quran in the sense of greatness majesty.
15. Sa’d Man In Arab astronomy it is the common name for small groups of stars in the constellations of Pegasus, Aquarius Capricon that augur good fortune.
16. Manaf Man Means height or high place.
17. Nasr Man It was worshipped under the form of an eagle.
18. Auf Means ‘the great bird of prey’.
19. Yaguth Man Means ‘helper’ had the shape of a lion.
20.Ya’uq Suwa Man Ya’uq was in the form of a horse, Suwa in the form of a women, was said to be from antidiluvian times.
21. Hubal Man God the sanctuary worshipped in the Ka’ba at


22. Isaf Na’ila Tradition says ‘they were a man women of Jurhum’.
23. Al-Qais Man Ancient God of the pagan Arabs.
24. Al-Uqaisir Man Unknown.
25. Shai al –Qaum Man Companion of People.
26. Duwar Women Was the virgins idol young women used to go around it in procession, hence its name.

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