Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Revisiting the Identity of the pre-Islamic Allah at Mecca Pt. 3

Sam Shamoun

We now come to the final part of our analysis.

Is Muhammad’s Allah the God of the Holy Bible?

If the Arabic word Allah initially started out as a generic noun, instead of as a proper name, then this would allow for Jews and Christians to use the term in reference to Yahweh, the God of the Bible, while also allowing the Meccans to call Hubal by that name, without this implying that these groups were worshiping one and the same God.

Now as far as the Islamic Allah is concerned, Muhammad obviously tried to pass him off as the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was convinced that the Jews and Christians would recognize his particular deity as being the same as Yahweh.

Muhammad failed to realize, however, that his depiction of the deity was(is) at odds with the Biblical description of God’s essential nature.

For instance, the Quran denies that Allah is a father to anyone, whether in a spiritual or a procreative sense, and rejects the Christian claim that Jesus is his Son (cf. Q. 5:18; 6:101; 9:30; 19:88-93; 39:4).

On the other hand, the God of the Holy Bible is depicted not simply as a spiritual Father to his people, but also as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the inspired Scriptures view God’s role as Father as an essential and defining aspect of his very Being:

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family (all fatherhood) in heaven and on earth is named,” Ephesians 3:14-15

The Holy Scriptures are just as equally clear that Jesus’ relationship as the beloved Son is a necessary component of that divine paternity, so much so that to deny it is to deny that God is the Father and implies that God is a liar.

The Holy Bible goes so far as to claim that anyone who does deny that God is the Father and that Christ is the Son is basically an antichrist:

“Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:22-23

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:9-12

It is therefore clear that Muhammad’s deity is not the majestic God revealed in the Holy Bible, and more specifically in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The God whom the glorious Lord Jesus came to perfectly reveal loved mankind so much that he sent his unique, beloved Son to die for us, and then raised him back to immortal life as proof that he graciously forgives and eagerly desires to reconcile us to himself for his Son’s sake:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:8-11

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.” Romans 8:3-4, 31-39

The following Christian writer explains it well:

“Most orthodox Muslims would have no problem with much of Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill: God is the Creator and sovereign Lord of history; God is both transcendent and immanent; there will be a final judgment. But the point about God raising Jesus from the dead introduces a deep divergence that cannot be explained away as a mere historical dispute about what happened on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This difference has important implications for how we understand the reality of God himself. Christianity and Islam cannot simply embrace one another as ‘sister religions’ on the basis of a shared monotheism without regard to questions about Jesus and his cross and resurrection–issues in turn that presuppose further questions about Jesus and his relationship to God.

“We might frame the issue another way: Is monotheism enough? If we assume that the God of the Bible and Allah in Islam are not two separate gods but the same God differently understood (as many Muslims who have become Christians explain their own conversion to Christ), WE MUST STILL SAY NO TO THE QUESTION, ‘Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?’

“Kenneth Cragg helps sort out this difficulty. He notes that Muslims and Christians speak of the same subject when they speak of God, but they differ widely in the predicates they say about him. Of course, as we have seen, Christians and Muslims do share in common a number of predicates about God– the ninety-name beautiful names, for example. But Christians predicate something essential and irreducible about God that no Muslim can accept: We call him our heavenly Father. Bilquis Sheikh was a Pakistani woman of noble birth who had been a Muslim all her life. Through a series of dreams and strange encounters, she came to know and believe in Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and Lord. Quite appropriately, she titled the story of her conversion I Dared to Call Him Father…” (Timothy George, Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?, p. 75; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Concluding Remarks

Here is a summary of the facts which we presented throughout this series.

The pagan Arabs at Mecca, and around Arabia, worshiped the planets, including the sun and the moon.

They viewed the moon as the greatest of the gods, since it symbolized for them the highest-ranking deity in their pantheon.

Hubal was considered the chief god at Mecca, being the patron deity of the Quraysh.

The Meccans took the kabah as the shrine of Hubal, and associated him with the black stone.

Hubal was also considered to be the moon god.

This means that the kabah was the house of the moon god.

However, the Meccans viewed (at least this is what the Islamic literature would have us believe) Allah as the greatest of all the gods.

They also believed that the kabah was the sanctuary of Allah, and even associated him with the black stone.

If this is correct then it is hard to escape the conclusion that the pre-Islamic Allah of Mecca was none other than the moon god Hubal, being the name by which Hubal was called!

Since Muhammad came from this polytheistic environment, it is not surprising that he retained much of the pagan customs and rituals associated with the worship of the moon god as part of his newfound religion. What Muhammad did was reinterpret these practices so as to disassociate them from the pagan Allah whom the Meccans would have worshiped as the moon god Hubal.

As the late Muslim commentary Abdullah Yusuf Ali explained:

"After the Pilgrimage, in Pagan times, the pilgrims used to gather in assemblies in which the praises of ancestors were sung. As the whole of the pilgrimage rites were spiritualised in Islam, so this aftermath of the pilgrimage was also spiritualised. It was recommended for pilgrims to stay on two or three days after the pilgrimage, but they must use them in prayer and praise to Allah." (Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Translation and Commentary, p. 80, fn. 223; bold emphasis ours)

This means that all of the major Islamic practices, i.e. praying several times a day toward Mecca (salat), gathering together on Friday for congregational prayers (jumuah), giving alms (zakat), the greater and lesser pilgrimages (hajj, umra), the fast of Ramadan (saum), running around the kabah seven times (tawaf), kissing the black stone, shaving the head, animal sacrifices, running up and down the two hills of Safa and Marwa, throwing stones at the devil etc., were initially rites performed in connection with the worship of the moon god.

In fact, what makes this rather disconcerting is that Muhammad performed, and also commanded his followers to participate, in these pagan ceremonies while the polytheists were in control of Mecca and still had their 360 idols located around the kabah! It wasn’t until a few years later when Muhammad conquered Mecca that these idols were duly smashed:

Narrated Abdullah: When the Prophet entered Mecca on the day of the Conquest, there were 360 idols around the Ka'ba. The Prophet started striking them with a stick he had in his hand and was saying, “Truth has come and Falsehood will neither start nor will it reappear.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 583; *)

Yusuf Ali, in his explanation of the following text,

And complete the Hajj or 'umra in the service of God. But if ye are prevented (From completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (Necessitating shaving), (He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the 'umra on to the hajj, He must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, He should fast three days during the hajj and seven days on his return, Making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. And fear God, and know that God is strict in punishment. S. 2:196 Y. Ali

Stated that,

“… When this was revealed, the city of Makkah was in the hands of the enemies of Islam, and the regulations about the fighting and the pilgrimage came together and were interconnected. But the revelation provides, as always, for the particular occasion, and also for normal conditions.

Makkah soon passed out of the hands of the enemies of Islam. People sometimes came long distances to Makkah before the pilgrimage season began. Having performed the Umrah, they stayed on for the formal Hajj.

“In case the pilgrim had spent his money, he is shown what he can do, rich or poor, and yet hold his head high among his fellows, as having performed all rites as prescribed. (Ali, The Holy Qur’an, p. 78, fn, 214: bold emphasis ours)

Hence, Muhammad and his followers were worshiping at a pagan shrine littered with the idols of false gods/goddesses!

Muhammad also adapted and modified the use of the lunar calendar from the Meccans, who obviously employed it as a result of their love for the moon deity.

They ask thee about the new moons. Say, `They are means for measuring time, for the general convenience of people and for the Pilgrimage.' And it is not righteousness that you come into houses by the backs thereof, but truly righteous is he who fears God. And you should come into houses by the doors thereof; and fear ALLAH that you may prosper. S. 2:189 Hilali-Khan

He it is Who appointed the sun a splendour and the moon a light, and measured for her stages, that ye might know the number of the years, and the reckoning. Allah created not (all) that save in truth. He detaileth the revelations for people who have knowledge. S. 10:5 Pickthall

Some Muslims get rather ingenious and claim that the Jews also follow a lunar calendar, as if this is somehow relevant to the identity of the pre-Islamic Allah worshiped by the pagans at Mecca.

Adopting a lunar calendar is not the issue, since following it doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is worshiping the moon as the astral rock representing the chief god.

Rather, the real issue centers on the reason why the pre-Islamic pagans chose to go with this calendar as opposed to the solar one, and the answer is obvious. Muhammad’s pagan tribe adopted the lunar cycle because they were so steeped in moon worship.

To, then, raise the issue of the Jews going by the lunar calendar is nothing more than a red herring and a straw man argument.

(Sidenote: The Jews actually go by a luni-solar calendar, not a purely lunar one. The Jews use intercalary months – exactly the thing that Allah/Muhammad objects to in Q. 9:36-37: *, *).

We also know from the historical and archaeological records that the crescent moon was an ancient pagan symbol of the moon god. Stars were also symbols of pagan deities.

It is therefore somewhat disconcerting to find Muslims placing the symbol of the crescent moon and five stars on top of their mosques and flags.

Muslims are quick to retort that this was a practice introduced centuries later since neither Muhammad nor his followers ever used the crescent moon and five pointed star as a symbol for the Islamic faith. The problem with this response is that it fails to explain why later generation of Muslims decided to employ this as their symbol, as opposed to something else, when such an emblem is clearly pagan in origin. As one online Muslim source admits:

The crescent moon and star is an internationally-recognized symbol of the faith of Islam. The symbol is featured on the flags of several Muslim countries, and is even part of the official emblem for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Christians have the cross, the Jews have the star of David, and the Muslims have the crescent moon, right?…

“What is the history behind the crescent moon symbol? What does it symbolize or mean? How and when did it become associated with the faith of Islam? Is it a valid symbol for the faith?

The crescent moon and star symbol actually pre-dates Islam by several thousand years. Information on the origins of the symbol are difficult to ascertain, but most sources agree that these ancient celestial symbols were in use by the peoples of Central Asia and Siberia in their worship of sun, moon, and sky gods. There are also reports that the crescent moon and star were used to represent the Carthaginian goddess Tanit or the Greek goddess Diana.

“The city of Byzantium (later known as Constantinople and Istanbul) adopted the crescent moon as its symbol. According to some reports, they chose it in honor of the goddess Diana. Others indicate that it dates back to a battle in which the Romans defeated the Goths on the first day of a lunar month. In any event, the crescent moon was featured on the city's flag even before the birth of Christ. (Huda, The Crescent Moon Is it a symbol of Islam?; bold emphasis ours)

So the question remains, why did Muslims adopt a pagan symbol to represent their faith? We’ll leave that for Muslim taqiyyists like Zaatari to figure out.

In conclusion, our study has shown that the pre-Islamic Allah worshiped by the Meccan polytheists was by all accounts a pagan deity associated with the moon. The data that we looked at further suggest (quite strongly we might add) that the Meccans would have identified Allah as Hubal, the moon god.

Hence, even though Muslims do not worship the moon god, their religion is nothing more than a hodge-podge of the pagan moon worship of Arabia mixed in with specific Judeo-Christian beliefs. Muhammad (and his spirit) hoped that this syncretism of diverse and opposing religious traditions, which were prevalent at his time, would entice both the pagans and the monotheists to join his religion.

Yet in creating such a religious system, Muhammad and his spirit guide only managed to pervert the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, thereby misleading countless numbers from their only hope of salvation.

The fact is that, according to the Holy Bible, Allah is not only a false god but Muhammad was also one of the antichrists prophesied to come into the world.

With that said, we recommend that our readers also consult the addendum to this series since it answers some of the common Muslim objections against the notion of Allah being a name for the moon god in pre-Islamic Arabia.

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