esamskriti
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History

The Pagan Arab Pantheon
By Sanjeev Nayyar, November 2002 [esamskriti@suryaconsulting.net]

Chapter :

Arab Gods        

“Now we can take up, in greater detail, individual Arab Gods and Goddesses, starting with the one who presided over the pantheon.

Al – Lah
The name Allah has become so much identified with Islam as to rule out any suspicion that he was the Great God of the pagan Arabs. “Allah, in the Safa inscriptions. Hallah, ‘the god’, enters into the composition of numerous personal names among the Nabataeans and other Northern Arabs of an early period e.g. Zaid Allahi, ‘increase of God’ (that is increase of the family through the son given by God), ‘Abd Allahi, and so forth. Among the heathen Arabs Allah is extremely common, both by itself and in theophorous names. Wellhausen cites a large number of passages in which pre-Islamic Arabs mention Allah as a great deity; and even if we strike out certain passages (for instance on the ground that the text has been altered by Muhammadan scribes) so many still remain over, and so many more which are above suspicion can without difficulty be found, that the fact is clearly established. Moreover, Allah forms an integral part of various idiomatic phrases, which were in constant use among the heathen Arabs. Of special importance is the terminology of the Qur’an, which proves beyond all doubt that the heathen Arabs themselves regarded Allah as the Supreme Being. The Nabataen inscriptions mention repeatedly the names of a deity accompanied by a title ‘Alaha, ‘the god’.

The Qur’an (13.17;29.61, 63;41.24;39.39;43.87) itself provides ample evidence that the pre-Islamic Arabs regarded Allah as “the creator and supreme provider” and “assigned to him a separate position distinct from that of all other deities (6.137).” Here it becomes difficult “to distinguish between their views and the interpretation of their views adopted by Muhammad, especially their vocabulary and that of Muhammad. It will be seen then, that whatever may have been the origin of the names applied, the religion of Mecca in Muhammad’s time was far from simple idolatry.” Both sides seem to say the same things about Allah. “But though the names was the same for the Meccans and for Muhammad, their conception of the bearer of the names must have differed widely. The Meccans evidently had in general no fear of him; the fear of Allah was an element in Muhammad’s creed…. The Meccans did not hesitate to disregard him and to cultivate the minor gods; Muhammad knew him as a jealous and vindictive sovereign who would assuredly judge and condemn in the end….

It is significant that while the sources, Islamic as well as others, mention idols of many Gods and Goddesses in the Ka’ba and else where, they nowhere mention an idol of Allah. The only explanation is that every God and Goddesses was seen by the pagan Arabs as representing Allah who could be prayed to through any one of them. In fact, the Meccans pointed out to Muhammad (Qur’an 6.149; 37.68) that “Allah had never forbidden them to worship other gods with him.” Ibn Ishaq reports that ‘Abdu’ I-Muttalib “stood by Hubal praying to Allah.” The Qur’an is never tired of saying that those whom the idolaters associate with Allah will not intercede for them on the last day. For the pagan Arabs, however, Allah is no other than his associates; he is them and they are he. Of course, the pagans have no notion of the last day when alone Allah will visit them; instead, they are aware of him every moment of their lives. He is present not in some high heaven but in and around them, in many names and forms. The character which the Qur’an assigns to Allah must have looked like a prison-house to the pagan Arabs; their Allah could not be contained in concepts created by the external and shallow mind of man, nor was he helplessly dependent upon the services of a prophet.

The pagan poets “had already developed in Arabic a vivid power of wielding descriptive epithets vis-à-vis Allah.” Many of the ninety-nine names (Asma’ al-husna) which Muslim theologians mention, can be found in pagan poetry. Most probably, Allah had many more names, may be a thousand, in the pagan parlance. It has been characteristic of pagan spirituality everywhere that it adorns with numerous names and forms whatever it adores. Muhammad retained only those names, which did not offend his monotheism, and dropped the rest. He also added names which did not square with the pagan perception of Allah but which went very well with the Allah of his conception. Al-Mutakabbir, the Haughty, looks like one such name. Al-Muntaqim, the Avenger, is another. The most typical of Muhammad’s contributions, however, is al-Mughni, the Enricher, that is, by means of body, which includes, we may remember, the women and children of those who become victims of Jihad. Small wonder that one of the names of Muhammad’s Allah is al-Zarr, the Distresser. We find that the Qur’an (58.11) uses the same name for Satan. As we shall see, that is exactly what Allah came to mean in the doctrine as well as the history of Islam.

The two names, ar-Rahman, the Compassionate, and al-Rahim, the Meriful, are the most frequent in Muhammad’s usage. They stand at the head of every Sura of the Qur’an except one. There is nothing intrinsically offensive in these names when applied to Allah. In fact, they are more appropriate for the Allah of the Pagan Arabs than for the Allah of Islam. Yet the Meccans found them the most objectionable. Muhammad had tacked them to Allah while dictating to ‘Ali the draft of the treaty at Hudaybiya. The Meccan representative protested and had them dropped. “Then the apostle,” narrates Ibn Ishaq, “summoned ‘Ali and told him to write ‘In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful.’ Suhayl said ‘I do not recognize this; but write ‘In thy name, O Allah.’ The apostle told him to write the latter and he did so.” This was not the only occasion when the Meccans showed their repugnance for these names. They had all along accused Muhammad of importing alien names and imposing them upon Allah. To them these names were Jewish and the Jews had been in league with Muhammad so far as Arabia’s ancient religion and culture were concerned. They saw these names as symbols of the new-fangled creed, which Muhammad was trying to foist on them. On the other hand, Muhammad insisted on using these names because, in his mind, they embodied all that he stood for.

Incidentally, “Traditions assign two hundred names to Muhammad.” It seems that the Prophet grew in size at the expense of Allah who was made to look smaller and smaller. That was quite in keeping with the Prophet’s own image of himself. He was out to block everyone else’s access to Allah while proclaiming himself as Habib Allah, an Nabi, ar-Rasul and Khatim al-Anbiya. So it was no more sufficient that one believed in Allah; one had also to believe in Muhammad as the only channel through which Allah’s will could be known. It was inevitable that, in due course, the Prophet became more important than the contrived god in whose name he spoke.

Al-Malik
There were other deities “whose titles themselves seem to designate them as occupying a position of supreme importance in the eyes of the worshippers.” Al-Malik, ‘the King,’ was the name of such a deity. “In the days of Islam, al-Malik became one of the epithets of Allah, and hence the name “Abd al-Malik survives among Muhammadans.

Ba’l or Ba’al
“The divine title Ba’l or Ba’al, ‘the lord’ which was very common among the Northen Semites survived among the Arabs of the Sinai Peninsula in the form al-Ba’lu which occurs in their inscriptions together with the proper names ‘Abd al-Ba’li, Aus al-Ba’li, ‘gift of the Lord,’ and Garm al-Ba’li, probably ‘act of the Lord.’ A trace of the worship of this god may be found in Sharaf-al-Ba‘I, the name of a place between Medina and Syria. The Arabs of later times were not aware that any such deity had existed, but certain phrases in their language clearly prove that he had once been known. Thus the term ‘soil of Ba ‘I’ or simply ‘Ba ‘l’ is applied to land, which does not require irrigation, but has an underground water supply, and therefore yields fruit of the best quality. In this case the god seems to be regarded as the lord of the cultivated land… Again, the verb ba’la and other derivatives of Ba’l mean’ to be bewildered,’ properly ‘to be seized by the god Ba ‘l’.

El
“Among the Northern Arabs of early times, particularly in the region of Safa, the word El, ‘God’ was still very commonly used as a separate name of the Deity. It is true that it does not actually occur except in compound proper names of persons, Wahb El, and many others. Some of these such as Wahbil, ‘gift of El,’ Abdil, ‘Servant of El,’appear among the Arabs of a later age but at least in certain cases they must have been borrowed from the Sabaean language, while in other cases they are restricted to the extreme north of Arabia. It may be added that the divine name Iayal, which occurs once in an ancient verse, is possibly a plural of majesty formed from El; Uwal is a variation of the same name.

“The names commonly used in dynasties, or distinguished families, who originally came from districts where Sabaean or some other peculiar dialect of southern Arabia was spoken, had naturally a tendency to spread among the Arabs in general.”

Al-Lat
“The Sun-god, who according to Strabo (784) was held especial honor by the Nabataeans, is very probably to be identified with Allat… We have already seen that the sun is properly feminine in Arabic and in most other Semitic languages; hence the name Allat which so far as we can judge means simply ‘the Goddess,’ is particularly suited in this case.” The Greek historian, Herodotus, mentions an Arabian Goddess named Aliat. “That Alilat is identical with Allat, a goddess frequently mentioned, has long been an acknowledge fact. References to Allat were found in several Nabataean inscriptions; in one of them she is called the ‘Mother of Gods.’ Moreover, proper names compounded with Allat appear both among the Nabataeans and the Palmyrenes… Among the later Arabs this goddess was no less venerated. In the Qur’an (liii 50) she is one of the three daughters of Allah. She is also mentioned occasionally in poetry. Thus one poet says: I swear to him, in the presence of the throng, by the salt, by the fire, and by Allat who is the greatest of all.’ Of the names compounded with Allat, which were widely diffused, some at least must be of considerable antiquity …. The cult of the goddess flourished, in particular, at the sanctuary of Ta’if, a town to the east of Mecca; the tribe of Thaquif, who dwelt in that district spoke of her as the ‘mistress’, That is, al-Rabba. Among the Lihyan, a branch of the Hudhail, settled in the country northeast of Mecca, Allat was worshipped “alongside typically Arab” deities. Allat reminds us of Aditi, the Mother of Gods in the Vedic pantheon.

Manat
“Some Arabian deities were originally personifications of abstract ideas… Time in the abstract was popularly imagined to be the cause of all earthly happiness and especially of all earthly misery. Muhammad in the Qur’an (Sura xlv. 23) blames the unbelievers for saying, 'It is‘ Time that destroys us.’ Her main sanctuary was a black stone among the Hudailis in Qudaid, not far from Mecca on the road to Medina near a hill called Mushallal. She was however worshipped by many Arab tribes, primarily the Aws and Khazradj in Yathrib. In Mecca she was very popular along with the goddesses al-Lat and al-‘Uzza; the three (according to the Qur’an) were regarded as Allah’s daughters, and in a weak moment Muhammad declared their worship permitted (cf. Sura liii. 19 sqq.)… According to Ibn al-Kalbi, she was the oldest deity whose worship gave rise to that of the others, because names compounded with Manat occur earlier than other theophoric names. Another view is found in Ibn Hisham, p.145, where ‘the two daughters of ‘Uzza are Manat and al-Lat,’ As an independent deity we find her in the Nabataen inscriptions of a al-Hidjr-Manat is connected in a peculiar way by some writers with the great hadjdj, for we are told that several tribes including the Aws and Khazradj assumed the ihram at the sanctuary of Manat and on conclusion of the rites cut their hair and dropped the ihram…

The character of the Goddess can be inferred from her name. In Arabic maniya (plural, manaya) means “the alloted, fate, doom of death, destruction”. Manat, therefore, was primarily the Goddess of Time. “The poets are continually alluding to the action of Time (dahr, zaman) for which they often substitute ‘the days,’ or night.’ Time is represented as bringing misfortune, causing perpetual change, as biting, wearing down, shooting arrows that never miss the mark, hurling stones, and so forth… Occasionally we come across such passages as the following: ‘Time has brought woe upon him, for the days and the (allotted) measure (qadar) have caused him to perish.’ Various expressions are used by the poets in speaking of the ‘portion’ allotted to them or the goal that is set before them… Once we meet with the phrase ‘till it be seen what the Apportioner shall apportion to thee’ (ma yamni laka ‘amani), which apparently refers to a god… The word here translated ‘apportion’ originally means ‘to count’, hence to ‘reckon’ a thing to someone….”

She is also the Goddess of Death. “Maniya appears in poetry as driving a man into the grave, piercing him with an arrow, handing to him the cup of death, lying in ambush for him, receiving him as a guest (when he is about to die), and so forth. Not infrequently the possessive suffix is added, ‘when my Maniya overtakes me,’ ‘his Maniya has come upon him,’ and the like….”

Al- ‘Uzza
Her name means ‘the Most Mighty.’ She was a Goddess of the Sabaeans who, in due course, become popular all over Arabia. She embodied the cult of the planet Venus. “The Syrian poet Issac of Antioch, who lived in the first half of the 5th cent., bears witness to the worship of ‘Uzza by the Arabs of that period; in another passage he identifies ‘Uzza with the planet Venus… The Arabian cult of the Venus is mentioned like-wise by Ephrahim Syrus (who died in AD 373), by Jerome, Theodret, and later still by Evagrius.. As early as the 2nd century Or thereabout, references to a priest of this goddess occur in two Sinaitic inscriptions… Another Sinaitic inscription mentions the name ‘Abd al-‘Uzza which at a later time, just before the rise of Islam, was extremely common among the Arabs. “Uzza figures in the Qur’an (Sura liii. 19) as one of the three great goddesses of Mecca. who were supposed to be daughters of Allah. That Muhammad himself offered sacrifices to her in his younger days is expressly stated by tradition…

“Kuthra which probably means “the Most Rich,’ the name of an idol destroyed by order of Muhammad, is perhaps only another title of ‘Uzza. We also read of a man call “Abd Kuthra, belonging to the tribe of Tai, in the very center of Arabia. Here the absence of the definite article proves that the name Kuthra is ancient.”

Another poet is known to have sworn by the Sa’ida (Blessed) ‘Uzza. As as-Sa’ida is known to be name of a Goddess worshipped at Medina, it is inferred that she was “Uzza. “She was especially associated with the Ghatafan but her principal sanctuary was in the valley of the Nakhla on the road from Ta’if to Mecca… It consisted of three samura (acacia) trees in one of which the goddess revealed herself… From these centers her cult spread among a number of Beduin tribes, the Khuza’a, Ghanm, Kinana, Bali, Thakif and especially the Quraish, among whom she gradually acquired a predominant position… Here she formed with al-Lat and Manat a trinity in which she was the youngest but came in time to overshadow the others… When in the year 3, Abu Sufyan set out to attack Muhammad he took the symbols of al-‘Uzza and al-Lat with him. That of the two al-‘Uzza was the more important as the patron deity of Mecca is shown from Abu Sufyan’s war cry: al-‘Uzza is for us and not for you….

“Her cult disappeared after this [destruction of her sanctuary], as did the numerous proper names, combinations of al-‘Uzza, while the masculine counterpart ‘Abd al-‘Aziz remained because ‘Aziz was one of the names of Allah…”

Shams
“The Sun (Shams, construed as feminine) was honored by several Arabian tribes with a sanctuary and an idol. The names ‘Abd Shams, ‘servant of the Sun,’ is founded in many parts of the country. In the North we meet with the name Amrishams, ‘man of the Sun’…

“For the worship of the rising Sun we have the evidence of the name ‘Abd ash-Shariq, ‘servant of the Rising One’… In the extreme South there was a God called Dharih or Dhirrih, which appears like wise to denote the rising Sun… Once we meet the name ‘Abd Muharriq; here Muharriq, ‘the Burner,’ may perhaps be another title of the Sun god. The Muharriq who is mentioned as the ancestor of certain royal houses admits of a similar explanation.”

Sura 91 of the Qur’an is named Ash-Shams. The word “shams” survives in Muslim names also.

Dhu’sh-Shara
He was an ancient Arab deity. “According to the Arab tradition he was a god who owned a reserved grazing ground (hima) among the Dawsites with a hollow in which the water trickled down from the rocks, which is in agreement with the fact that the name ‘Abd Dhu ‘l- Shara is found in this tribe. According to al-Kalbi also, this deity was worshipped among the related Banu ‘l-Harith… we meet with Dhu ‘l-Shara (dusares) on more historical ground as a the chief god of the Nabataeans in whose inscriptions from Petra, the land east of Jordan and as far as al-Hidjr, he is often mentioned. His chief sanctuary was in Petra where a large black, quadrangular stone was dedicated to him in a splendid temple. He had another important sanctuary in Soada which was called Dionysias after hi. His festival was celebrated here in August, which is certainly connected with the fact that he was identified with Dionysos as the god of fertility, particularly of the vintage. In Petra and Elusa, on the other hand, his festival, according to Epiphanius, fell on the 25th day of December on which day ‘the virgin called Kkhbou in Arabic and Dusares born of her were worshipped with Arabic hymns’… It naturally reminds one of the Arabic ka’ab ‘a young maiden with breasts developed’; but it is also possible to connect it with ka’b ‘cube’ 9cf, the Ka’ba at Mecca) according to which interpretation the god was thought to have been born from the stone.”

“…. But there were several places called ash-Shara, and the difficulty of determining with which of them the god was originally connected is increased by the fact that his cult goes back to very early times. The localities which bear this name appear to have been moist and rich in vegetation; such a spot, in the midst of a sterile country like Arabia, easily became a center of worship.” The fact that underneath his idol “stood a golden pedestal, and whole sanctuary blazed with gold and votive offerings”, as also the fact that his festival fell “about the time of the winter solstice”, establish his “connection with Sun worship”, He was the “patron of luxuriant vegetation”, which further emphasizes his “character as a Sun-god.”

“Another god who appears to have been named after a place is Dhu’l-Halasa or Dhu ‘l-Hulasa. He was greatly venerated at a place in the north of Yemen, apparently the district now called ‘Asir. Between his sanctuary and the sanctuary at Mecca there existed a certain amount of rivalry.

“From a grammatical point of view, the gods Dhu ‘l-Kaffain, ‘He who has two hands,’ and Dhu’r-rijl, ‘He who has a foot,’ must be classed with the two forgoing ones. Perhaps these names may have been originally applied to sacred stones, which by means of rude carving were made to bear a partial resemblance to the human form.”

Another God with a similar name was Dhu ‘l-Khabsa who was worshipped all al-Azd, “a widely ramified family of tribes” among which “the al-Aws and al-Khazradji of Medina and the Khuza’a in and around Mecca were counted.” They were worshippers of Manat. The same tribe living in the mountains of Sarat worshipped an idol named ‘A’im.

At-Thuraiya
“The constellation of the Pleiades (ah-Thuraiya) which was supposed to bestow rain, appears as a deity in the name ‘Abd ath-Thuraiya; the name ‘Abd Najm refers also to the Pleiades, for the latter are often called simply an-Najm, ‘constellation.”

“The word “thuraiya” is a diminutive of “tharwa” which means ‘existing in plenty’… The constellation is so called because rain at its rising at the dawn brings tharwa i.e. great plenty. in any case, from early times the Pleiades have been credited with great influence on weather and the processes of nature dependent upon it… The constellation is also regarded as a diadem with jewels and it is mentioned in countless passages in the poets…”

The word “thuraiya” survives in the name Suraiya that is still common among Muslims everywhere; Sura liii of the Qur’an is named An-Najm. Najm and Najm are also components of Muslim names.

Quzah
He was an “ancient Arabian thunder god who shot hail from his bow and then hung the latter on the clouds.” We meet him in the “combination Qaus Quzah”, the bow of Quzah, meaning the rainbow. Quzah was also “the name of a certain spot, within the sacred territory of Mecca, where pilgrims were accustomed to kindle fire.” The Islamic lore is not quite logical about this God. He is described as a shaitan (devil) and also as an angel who looks after the clouds. The rainbow becomes Allah’s bow, bow of the prophet of Allah, bow of the heavens, bow of the clouds, signs of heaven. Etc., and the word loses its association with a God.

Wadd

“… also pronounced Wudd or Udd i.e. ‘friendship,’ ‘affection,’ was according to the Qur’an (Sura lxxi 22) a god worshipped by the con-tempories of Noah. But it would be a mistake to conclude that his worship was obsolete in Muhammad’s time, for we have sufficient evidence to the contrary. The poet Nabigha says once, ‘Wadd greet thee!’ There was a statue of this god at Duma, a great oasis in the extreme North of Arabia. The name ‘Abd Wadd occurs in a number of wholly distinct tribes… As were told that his statue had a bow and arrows attached to it we might be tempted to imagine that he was a kind of Eross, and this would imply a foreign origin. But though the root WDD means ‘to love,’ ‘to feel affection’ for an object, it is never used in a sexual sense. Moreover the statue in question bore not only a bow and arrows, but like wise a sword and lance from which hung a flag; the god was also fully clad and therefore does not look like a copy of the Greek Eros.”

Ch. Muhammad Ismail mentions an inscription, which he saw in the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, Bombay, in 1921. It was on one of the stones “brought from Aden by Colonel H.F. Jacob of the Indian Army, who was for a long time at Aden… The language of the inscription was “what may be called Himyaritic though Sabaean and South Arabic are also names given to it”. Ch. Ismail read the inscription as saying, “The House No. 2 of Father Wadd”, and commented: “Wadd was a god worshipped by the Arabs who often wore talismans being the name Wadd. The word itself is derived from wudd, which means love. It was opposed to Nakruh, the god of hatred.”

The name of this God survives in Al-Wadud, one of the ninety-nine names of Allah meaning “the Loving One” ( Qur’an, xi. 92; lxxv. 14).

Ruda
She was a Goddess who symbolized ‘goodwill’ or ‘favor’. The commentary on a term in which the names is mentioned informs us that Ruda was worshipped in the shape of an idol by the great tribe of Tamim. The proper name ‘Abd Ruda is found among several Arab tribes. To the nature of the deity in question the name supplies no clue… The remarkable fact that in the abovementioned verse Ruda is construed as feminine (whereas this grammatic form would normally be masculine), naturally suggests that at that period, about the time of Muhammad, people still realized that Ruda was merely an epithet applied to a goddess who properly bore some other name. But against this hypothesis, it may be urged that the name is of considerable antiquity, as is proved by the Palmyrene inscriptions, where it occurs separately in the form ‘RSU, and in theophorous proper names as RSU… The RDU of the Safa inscriptions seems to denote the same deity.”

Jadd
It was the name of a deity venerated by various Semitic people. The word occurs in Nabataean inscriptions in the form Gadda. But since we meet the proper name ‘Abd al-Jadd in a few cases…. and since the noun judd, ‘luck’, remained in current use among the Arabs, it is more natural to regard the Nabataean Gadda as an Aramaized form of the native Arabic al-Gadd (al-Jadd).” The name is used in the Qur’an (lxxii. 3) in the sense of ‘greatness’ and ‘majesty’.

Sa’d
In Arab astronomy it is the common name for small groups of stars in the constellations Pegasus, Aquarius and Capricorn, which augur good fortune. That is what the God Sa’d stood for. “According to a certain verse and statements of the commentator, Sa’d was the name given to a rock not far from Jidda, to which divine honors were paid. Moreover, we meet the name ‘Abd Sa’d in quite a different part of Arabia, to the north-east. At an earlier period a man’s name, which seems to be compounded with Sa’d occurs in the inscriptions of Safa. Three of Muhammad’s leading companions were named Sa’d – Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Sa’d ibn Mu’az and Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah. The name seems to have survived, though in an abbreviated form, in the title of the thirty-eighth Sura of the Qur’an.

Manaf
The name means ‘height’, or ‘high place’. “That Manaf was worshipped as a God is proved by the testimony of a verse, and is confirmed by the occurrence of a name ‘Abd Manaf which was especially common at Mecca and among the neighboring tribe of Hudhail.” The word Manaphis is found in an ancient inscription from the Hauran and seems to be derived from Manaphios, the name of this God.

“…It is said that one of Muhammad’s ancestors-the pedigree being Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim b. ‘Abd Manaf-received this name because his mother consecrated him to Manaf, who was then the chief deity of Makka.

“.. Ibn Kalbi knows nothing of its whereabouts except that menstruating women were bound to keep themselves at a distance from it. “The name does not occur either in the Qur’an or in classical hadith. It derives from a root n-w-f, which in several Semitic languages conveys the meaning of ‘being elevated’.”

Nasr
It was “One of the idols of ancient Arabs, mentioned in the Qur’an, Surah lxxi. 23. It was an idol which, as its name implies, was worshipped under the form of an eagle.” Muhammad made this God a contemporary of Noah. “But it is to be noticed that the Sabaeans like wise had a god called Nasr….

‘Auf
The name ‘Abd “Auf was quite common among the Arabs. ‘Auf  means “the great bird of prey”. The word is not found in this form in the Arab language at present. But “the verb ‘afa, which is derived from it, means ‘to wheel in the air,’ as birds of prey are wont to do.” The word “has, in particular, the sense of augurium, and it may be that the name of the god did not refer to the bird but to the omen drawn from it; in this case ‘Auf would be a synonymous of Sa’d.”

Yaguth
“The god Yaguth, whose name evidently means ‘helper,’ was according to the Qur’an (Sura Lxxi. 23), another of the deities worshipped in the days of Noah… We find no trace of this god in early times…But at a later period we hear of a god Yaguth, whose idol was an object of contention among the tribes of Yemen, and the name ‘Abd Yaguth occurs in various part of Arabia, even in the tribe of Taghilib on the north-eastern frontier.”
“Yaguth had the shape of a lion.”

Ya’uq and Suwa’

The idol of Ya’uq “was in the form of a horse, and was worshipped in Yemen. (Bronze images of this idol are found in ancient tombs and are still used as amulets)…

“Suwa’, in the form of a woman, was said to be from antidiluvian times….”

“The name of the god Ya’uq, who is mentioned in the Qur’an together with Yaguth, probably means ‘the Preserver’; his cult seems to have been confined to Yemen. Suwa’, who is also included among gods worshipped by Noah’s contemporaries (Sura lxxi. 20), was apparently of no great importance. He had a sanctuary at a place in the territory of the Hudhail, but none, so far as we know, elsewhere. The meaning of his name is altogether obscure. Neither Suwa’ nor Ya’uq seems to occur in the theophorous proper names. It is hardly necessary to remark that the transferring of all these Arabian deities to the age of Noah was a fantastic anachronism due to Muhammad himself.”

Hubal
“Hubal was worshipped at Mecca; his idol stood in the Ka’ba, and appears to have been in reality, the god of that sanctuary.. It would be unsafe to trust the descriptions of the idol in question which are given by writers of a later period; there is reason, however, to believe that the god had a human form. We may like wise accept as historical the statement that near him were kept divining arrows, used for the purpose of ascertaining his will or forecasting future events. It is related that the idol was brought by ‘Amr b. Luhai from Ma’ab (Moab), a tradition which may contain some elements of truth, for we have independent evidence indicating that the god was known in the North. He seems to be mentioned in a Nabataean inscription at Hejr; and the tribe of Kalb, who dwelt in the Syrian Desert, used the name of Hubal as the name of a person or clan; the same tribe…used in like manner the names of Isaf and Na’ila, two other deities peculiar to Mecca. Moreover, ‘Amr b. Luhai is the representative of the Huza’a, a tribe who, according to tradition, occupied the sacred territory of Mecca before it passed into the hands of the Quraish. The assertion that’ Amr introduced the worship of idols into Mecca for the first time is, of course, utterly incredible. But the hypothesis that Hubal was a late importation from a foreign country is further supported by the fact that we hear nothing of him in other parts of Arabia, and even at Mecca personal names compounded with Hubal were unknown. When the Meccans gained a victory over the Prophet in the immediate neighborhood of Medina, their leader shouted, ‘Hurrah for Hubal!’ Thus they regarded him as the natural enemy of the God preached by Muhammad.

“Another tradition indeed relates that Hubal was an idol of Banu Kinana, worshipped also by the Quraish and had been placed in the Ka’ba Khuzaima b. Mudrika wherefore it used to be called Hubal Khuzaima. It is further related that the idol was of red carnelian, in the form of a man; Quraish replaced the right hand which was broken, by a golden one…”
“Hubal was in the form of a man and came from Syria; he was the god of rain and a high place of honor.”

“An idol, the God of the Moon…”

“It is remarkable that there is no distinct allusion to the idol in the whole of the Qur’an.”

“The learned Dr. Pocock.. derives the name from the Hebrew habba’l or habbe’l and suggests… the appropriateness of havel, ‘vanity!’ Among the Arabs, Hubal seems to have had a double character, in which respect he resembled the Syrian idol Ball (properly, Ba’al), who was regarded both as the founder of the Babylonian empire, and as the sun personified as a deity. The opinion that Hubal was the same as the Babylonian or Syrian idol Ba’al or Bel, or synonymous with it, is in fact supported by the testimony of the Arabian authorities, who relate that it was originally brought from Syria or Mesopotamia. Of course, the Arabian writes do not maintain that Hubal was identical with Ba’al: they admit however that it was an astronomical deity, which Ba’al also is believed to have been –whose designation by the way, like that of ‘the sun’ among ourselves, always appears with the article-‘Habba’al’. Further, Herodotus ( and after him, Rawlison) held the opinion that Hubbal was ‘the Jupiter of the Arabians’-presumably because he was believed to have the power of sending rain….”

Isaf and Na’ila
Muslim tradition says that “They were a man and woman of Jurhum-Isaf b. Baghy and Na’ila d. Dil-who were guilty of sexual relations in the Ka’ba and so God transformed them into two stones.”

Obviously the tradition is a fabrication. As pointed out above, the tribe of Kalb in the Syrian Desert worshipped both of them as deities along with Hubal. the idols “stood near Mecca on the hills of Safa and Mirwa; the visitation of these popular shrines is now a part of the Muslim pilgrimage…” They were no doubt “two sacred stones, but the origin of their names is so far unexplained.”

Al-Qais
He was an ancient God of the pagan Arabs. “He must have early disappeared as a deity, for al-Kalbi does not mention him in his Kitab al-Asnam and he is not given in the various passages in Arab literature that give lists of the gods of the Djahiliya. But that he was at one time worshipped as a god may be deduced with considerable certainly from the tribal name “abd al-Qais and from the well-known personal and tribal name Imru’ al-Qais.” The name of a God mentioned in the Nabataean inscription from al-Hijr “can hardly be other than an Aramaic adaptation of al-Qais” who “had a sanctuary in al-Hijr in which copies of documents used to be deposited.” The word “qais” carries several meanings in the dictionaries. De Goeje “has deduced the meaning ‘Lord’ from al-Hamdani, Djazirat al-‘Arab.”

Al-Uqaisir
“….The name of a divinity of pre-Muhammadan Arabia, or better an epithet, the meaning of which (diminutive of aqsar, ‘he who has a stiff neck’ orperhaps simply ‘the short’) seems to indicate an idol in a human shape. All that we know of the god (whose real name is unknown) goes back to the references to him by Ibn al-Kalbi, Kitab al-Asnam followed by Yaqut, Nu’djam… Al-Uqaisir was worshipped by the tribes of Quda’a, Lakhm, Djudham, ‘Amila and Ghatafan living on the plateau of the Syrian Desert. Verses in old poets quoted by Ibn al-Kalbi mention stones (ansab) put up around the sacred place, the ‘garments’ (athwab), the ditch (djafr) into which were thrown the offerings, the cries and chants of the pilgrims…

“As Wellhausen notes, the expressions used in the verses which Ibn al-Kalbi qutoes in connection with al-Uqaisir must refer to a sanctuary as well as to an idol. We might then suppose that the epithet reflects the squat from of the building. It is worthwhile recalling that the name Uqaisir is also applied to a tribe, to individuals and even to a sword.”

Shai al-Qaum
We learn about this God from a Palmyrene and a Nabataean inscription. He is “the Companion of the people”, “the kind god who rewards (or who is grateful), and who drinks no wine”, that is “to whom no libations of wine are offered.”

Duwar
“… was the virgins’ idol and young women used to go around it in procession, hence its name.”

Chapter :

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[4] Comment(s) Posted
  1. Comment By - Bijoy Bharat Das Date - 15 Dec 2014 Time - 1:27AM
  2. The ignorant Muslim does not know that Buddha is not God.He is the enlightened one to be meditated upon only. And the rock images are chaityas or stupas where the Buddhist monks lived. It is of great archaeological interest because pre-Islamic religion was Buddhism.

  3. Comment By - Bijoy Bharat Das Date - 15 Dec 2014 Time - 1:23AM
  4. The Muslim who uttered these words does not know that Buddha is not God. He is the enlightened one whose moorti is meant only for dhyana purpose.

  5. Comment By - Manasi A Satwaskar Date - 22 Oct 2010 Time - 10:51AM
  6. thanks

  7. Comment By - Manasi A Satwaskar Date - 22 Oct 2010 Time - 10:22AM
  8. Good


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