Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Revisiting the Identity of the pre-Islamic Allah at Mecca

Addendum – Refuting Some Muslim Objections

Sam Shamoun

In this particular section, we will be addressing some of the objections which Muslims typically raise to counter the theory that Allah was a name of Hubal the moon god. Yet we do advise reading the entire series before looking at this part.

We start off by addressing Sami Zaatari’s appeal to Q. 41:37 to prove that Muslims do not worship a moon god. Here is what that text says:

Among His Signs are the Night and the Day, and the Sun and the Moon. Do not prostrate to the sun and the moon, but prostrate to Allah, Who created them, if it is Him ye wish to serve. Cf. Q. 2:189; 22:18

Muslims like Zaatari use this passage to show that the moon is a creation of Allah, thereby proving that Allah cannot be a moon god.

There are a few problems with this argument. First, as we have already noted throughout our analysis, this seriously misrepresents the argument since the issue is not whether Muslims are worshiping a moon god. The issue centers on the identity of the pre-Islamic Allah that was worshiped by the polytheists at Mecca. The question that Zaatari and his fellow taqiyyists need to address is whether the Meccans associated Allah with the moon or not. It’s really that simple.

Second, arguing that Allah cannot be a moon god since the Quran emphatically says that he created the moon also grossly misunderstands (if not outright misrepresents) the point. This “response” fails to realize, and/or chooses to ignore the fact, that the pagans made a differentiation between the deity and the planet which they associated with that specific god/goddess. The pagans weren’t so naive as to think that the moon was identical to, or the same as, the deity which it symbolized. Rather, they viewed the stars and the planets such as the moon as objects representing their gods.

In other words, the polytheists would have venerated the moon only because of its association with the particular deity whom they believed had taken it to be his own peculiar planet.

Hence, the polytheists could agree that the moon was created without this affecting their belief that this was the astral rock symbolizing their god.

Third, the very fact that the Quran speaks out against venerating the sun and the moon presupposes that the pagans at Mecca were worshiping these objects. As such, this verse provides additional corroboration that the Meccans associated the moon with one of their gods, specifically the one they would have considered to be the highest or the greatest.

This leads me to my final point. Amazingly, even though Allah forbids the worship of the sun and moon, he has no problems swearing or making an oath by them!

The Quran, on several occasions, records Allah swearing by the moon and other objects, which the pagans took as gods:

Nay, by the Moon. S. 74:32 Pickthall

And by the moon when it is at the full, S. 84:18 Hilali-Khan

And by the sun and its brightness; And by the moon as it follows it (the sun); S. 91:1-2 Hilali-Khan

If this wasn’t bad enough, Allah swears by absolutely everything that exists!

I swear by that which you see, and that which you do not see. S. 69:38-39

To say that Allah swears by what’s seen and unseen means that he swears by absolutely everything!

In order to help taqiyyists like Zaatari understand the gravity of the situation, Q. 69:38-39 implies that Allah doesn’t only swear by the sun or the moon, but also by the idols people worship, animals such as pigs, women, pornography, drugs such as crack cocaine, alcohol, toilets and what’s in them etc. It even implies that he swore by Satan himself, as well as all the other demons!

The problem that this creates for Allah is that, according to Muhammad, to swear by something other than Allah is to commit the unforgivable sin of shirk, or associating partners with Allah:

Narrated 'Umar:
The Prophet said, "If anybody has to take an oath, he should swear ONLY by Allah." The people of Quraish used to swear by their fathers, but the Prophet said, "Do not swear by your fathers." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 177; *)

Chapter 9. What Has Been Related About ‘Whoever Swears By Other Than Allah, He Has Committed Shirk

1535. Sa‘d Ibn ‘Ubaidah narrated that ‘Umar heard a man saying: “No, by the Ka‘bah” so Ibn ‘Umar said: “Nothing is sworn by other than Allah, for I heard the Messenger of Allah say: ‘WHOEVER swears by other than Allah, he has committed disbelief or Shirk.’” (Sahih) (English Translation of Jami‘ At-Tirmidhi, Compiled by Imam Hafiz Abu ‘Eisa Mohammad Ibn ‘Eisa At-Tirmidhi, translated by Abu Khaliyl (USA), ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: November 2007], Volume 3, 18. The Chapters On Vows And Oaths From The Messenger Of Allah, p. 309; capital and underline emphasis ours)

To make matters worse, Allah swore on these things from all eternity since, according to Islam, the Qur’an is eternal, which means that Allah’s swearing took place before creation. This basically implies that Allah made every created thing his partners in eternity, thereby committing the worst possible shirk imaginable!

This not only proves that Allah is an evildoer for setting up objects such as the moon or Satan as his partners, it also proves that he is not the God of the Holy Bible.

The true God of the Holy Bible only swears by himself since, as the Scriptures emphatically teach, there is nothing comparable or greater than him to swear by:

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.” Hebrews 6:13

For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.” Hebrews 6:16

Thus, for Allah to swear by everything in existence is not only a clear indication that he is not the same as Yahweh God, it also indicates (at least from the biblical perspective) that every created thing is just as great, if not greater than, the Muslim deity!

Perhaps Muslims such as Zaatari can explain the contradiction (as well as the irony) in Allah forbidding the worship of the sun and the moon with his swearing by these same objects, thereby making them (along with everything that exists) his partners or even his superiors!

For more on this topic please consult the following articles and video:

Some Muslims like to refer to the hadith literature to prove that the pagans considered Hubal and Allah as two separate deities. For example, at the battle of Uhud the pagan Abu Sufyan attributed the Mecan victory over the Muslims to the gods Hubal and al-Uzza:

Narrated Al-Bara:

We faced the pagans on that day (of the battle of Uhud) and the Prophet placed a batch of archers (at a special place) and appointed 'Abdullah (bin Jubair) as their commander and said, "Do not leave this place; and if you should see us conquering the enemy, do not leave this place, and if you should see them conquering us, do not (come to) help us," So, when we faced the enemy, they took to their heel till I saw their women running towards the mountain, lifting up their clothes from their legs, revealing their leg-bangles. The Muslims started saying, "The booty, the booty!" 'Abdullah bin Jubair said, "The Prophet had taken a firm promise from me not to leave this place." But his companions refused (to stay). So when they refused (to stay there), (Allah) confused them so that they could not know where to go, and they suffered seventy casualties. Abu Sufyan ascended a high place and said, "Is Muhammad present amongst the people?" The Prophet said, "Do not answer him." Abu Sufyan said, "Is the son of Abu Quhafa present among the people?" The Prophet said, "Do not answer him." Abu Sufyan said, "Is the son of Al-Khattab amongst the people?" He then added, "All these people have been killed, for, were they alive, they would have replied." On that, 'Umar could not help saying, "You are a liar, O enemy of Allah! Allah has kept what will make you unhappy." Abu Sufyan said, "Superior may be Hubal!" On that the Prophet said (to his companions), "Reply to him." They asked, "What may we say?" He said, "Say: Allah is More Elevated and More Majestic!" Abu Sufyan said, "We have (the idol) Al-'Uzza, whereas you have no 'Uzza!" The Prophet said (to his companions), "Reply to him." They said, "What may we say?" The Prophet said, "Say: Allah is our Helper and you have no helper." Abu Sufyan said, "(This) day compensates for our loss at Badr and (in) the battle (the victory) is always undecided and shared in turns by the belligerents. You will see some of your dead men mutilated, but neither did I urge this action, nor am I sorry for it." Narrated Jabir: Some people took wine in the morning of the day of Uhud and were then killed as martyrs. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 375; *)

Muslims conclude from this that neither Abu Sufyan nor Muhammad thought for a moment that Hubal was Allah, since they claimed the aide of one deity over against the other one.

In reality, these hadiths fall short of disproving the fact of the Meccans believing that Allah was another name for their god Hubal. The most that these narratives prove is that Muhammad was trying to transform the Allah that he grew up believing in from a pagan high god into the sole universal God, a transformation which made his god different from any other deity with this same name.

This is similar to the traditions which claim that Muhammad actually smashed the idol of Hubal. By smashing it, Muhammad was disassociating his Allah from Hubal, since he wanted to associate his peculiar deity with the Judeo-Christian God revealed in the Holy Bible.

This would, therefore, explain Abu Sufyan’s statements. Seeing that Muhammad had disassociated Allah from Hubal, it is not surprising that Abu Sufyan responded the way he did. His statements could be taken as a taunt against Muhammad, as a way of reprimanding him for severing Hubal and Allah from each other. Abu Sufyan’s shout would be his way of proclaiming that Hubal was the true Allah, the chief of all the gods, not the one whom Muhammad and his followers were touting around.

This leads me to my next point. These traditions actually create problems for the Muslims since they suggest that the pagans such as Abu Sufyan did not view Muhammad’s Allah as the supreme god, but one of many rival deities. Abu Sufyan attributes his victory over Muhammad and his god to Hubal and al-Uzza, suggesting that at least in his mind these deities were equal, if not superior, to Allah. He obviously felt that Allah could be confronted and even defeated by the other gods, which means that these pagans didn’t see him as the unsurpassed, unrivaled deity which the Quran and Islamic traditions try to make him out to be.

If this is so, then the Muslim assertion that Allah was not just one of many pagan gods worshiped by the Meccans is doubtful. If the Meccans didn’t believe that Allah was Hubal, then they must have viewed him as simply one of many deities. They certainly did not think that he was the greatest of the gods.

Thus, Muslims cannot have their cake and eat it too. If they accept the veracity of these reports then thy must also accept the fact that these same narrations disprove the notion that the pre-Islamic Meccans viewed Allah as the supreme god of all.

For more on this issue we recommend the following articles and rebuttals:

Another objection says that Hubal was the greatest idol of the Arabs according to Hisham ibn al-Kalbi’s Kitab al-Asnam (“The Book of Idols”), which we cited in the first part of our discussion. However, this doesn’t imply that he was the greatest god. After all, saying that Hubal was the greatest of the idols and saying that he was the greatest of all the gods are not necessarily the same thing. According to this view, one must prove that Allah was just another one of these idols as well.(1)

There are at least two main problems with this response. First, to say that Hubal is the greatest idol without this making him the greatest of all gods makes absolutely no sense since the pagans believed that the idols were representations of their gods. The polytheists weren’t so naïve as to think that the idol was in reality the deity whom they were worshiping since they believed that the gods had a separate and independent existence from the images which represented them.

In fact, Muhammad himself believed this since there are certain Islamic traditions which state that he sent Khalid al-Walid to slay the goddess al-Uzza:

In this year, five nights before the end of Ramadan, Khalid al-Walid destroyed al-‘Uzza in the lowland of Nakhlah. Al-‘Uzza was an idol of the Banu Shayban, a subdivision of Sulaym, allies of the Banu Hashim. The Banu Asad b. ‘Abd al-‘Uzza used to say it was their idol. Khalid set out for it, and then he said, "I have destroyed it." [The Messenger of God] said, "Did you see anything?" "No," said Khalid. "Then," he said, "go back and destroy it." So Khalid returned to the idol, destroyed its temple, and broke the idol. The keeper began saying, "Rage, O ‘Uzza, with one of thy fits of rage!"–whereupon a naked, wailing Ethiopian woman came out before him. Khalid killed her and took her jewels that were on her. Then he went to the Messenger of God and gave him a report of what happened. "That was al-‘Uzza," he said, "and al-‘Uzza will never be worshiped [again]."

According to Ibn Humayd – Salamah – Ibn Ishaq, who said: The Messenger of God sent Khalid b. al-Walid to [deal with] al-‘Uzza, who was at Nakhlah. She was a temple venerated by the tribes of Quraysh, Kinanah, and all Mudar. Her keepers were of the Banu Shayban, a division of the Banu Sulaym, allies of the Banu Hashim. When the master of the temple heard that Khalid was coming to deal with al-‘Uzza, he hung his sword on her and climbed the mountain near which al-‘Uzza was located. As he went up he said:

O ‘Uzza, attack with an attack that hits no vital place,
against Khalid! Throw down thy veil, and gird up thy train!
O ‘Uzza, if today thou wilt not slay Khalid,
bear a swift punishment, or become a Christian!

Having reached al-‘Uzza, Khalid destroyed her and returned to the Messenger of God. (The History of al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1997], Volume 8, pp. 187-188; bold emphasis ours)

Eve though Walid destroyed the idol of al-Uzza he still didn’t complete job since he hadn’t actually killed her. This tradition shows that Muhammad, much like the pagans of his day, distinguished the idol from the god/goddess which the image represented. Neither he nor they confused the two, as if they were of the opinion that the god/goddess represented by the idol had no independent existence apart from his/her image.

Hence, to therefore say that a specific idol was the greatest simply meant that the particular deity, which was represented by that image, was the greatest of all the gods.

Secondly, this objection is nothing more than a red herring as well as a straw man argument, since it distorts the actual point being made. To say that one must show that Allah was just another idol erroneously assumes that we are claiming that the pagans initially believed that Hubal was different from and greater than Allah. On the contrary, the point we are making is that Allah was simply the name which the pagans gave to Hubal in recognition of the fact that he was the chief of all the gods. This means that the idol of Hubal was actually a statue of Allah, and therefore Allah was in fact one of the idols worshiped there!

In fact, the Islamic sources themselves provide indirect evidence which supports this view. For instance, Ibn Kathir shows that the god of Muhammad’s family was Hubal, and that his grandfather even prayed to Allah by facing Hubal’s idol!

“Ibn Ishaq stated, ‘It is claimed that when ‘Abd al-Muttalib received such opposition from Quraysh over the digging of zamzam, he vowed that if ten sons were born to him who grew up and protected him, he would sacrifice one of them for God at the ka‘ba.’

“Eventually he had ten sons grown up whom he knew would give him protection. Their names were al-Harith, al-Zubayr, Hajl, Dirar, al-Muqawwim, Abu Lahab, al-‘Abbas, Hamza, Abu Talib, and ‘Abd Allah. He assembled them and told them of his vow and asked them to honour his pledge to God, Almighty and All-glorious is He. They obeyed, and asked him what he wanted them to do. He asked each of them to take an arrow, write his name on it and return to him.

“They did so and went with them inside the ka‘ba to the site of their god Hubal, where there was the well in which offerings to the ka‘ba would be placed. There, near Hubal, were seven arrows which they would use for divining a judgement over some matter of consequence, a question of blood-money, kinship, or the like. They would come to Hubal to seek a resolution, accepting whatever they were ordered to do or to refrain from.” (The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), Volume I, translated by professor Trevor Le Gassick, reviewed by Dr. Ahmed Fareed [Garnet Publishing Limited, 8 Southern Court, south Street Reading RG1 4QS, UK; The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization, 1998], pp. 125-126; *; bold emphasis ours)

The tradition goes on to say that the lot fell on ‘Abd Allah, Muhammad’s future father, meaning that he would have to be sacrificed. The Quraish convinced ‘Abd al-Muttalib to find a way of sparing his son, and convinced him to consult a woman diviner. The text continues:

“So they left for Medina, where they found the diviner whose name was Sajah, as Yunus b. Bukayr reported from Ibn Ishaq, was at Khaybar. They rode off again and went to her and sought her advice, ‘Abd al-Muttalib telling her of the whole problem regarding him and his son. She told him: ‘Leave me today, until my attendant spirit comes and I can ask him.’”

“They left her and ‘Abd al-Muttalib prayed to God. Next day they went back to her and she informed them that she had had a message. "How much is the blood-money you prescribe?’ she asked. ‘Ten camels,’ they told her, that being then the case. ‘Then go back to your land and present your man as an offering and do the same with the ten camels. Then cast arrows to decide between him and them. If the divining arrow points to him then add to the number of camels until your god is satisfied; if it points to the camels, then sacrifice them in his place. That way you will please your god and save your man.’

“So they went back to Mecca and, when they had agreed to do as she had said, ‘Abd al-Muttalib said prayers to God. Then they offered up ‘Abd Allah and the ten camels as sacrifice and cast the arrow. At that point the men of Quraysh told ‘Abd al-Muttalib, who was standing near Hubal praying to God, "It’s all over! Your God is pleased, O ‘Abd al-Muttalib’…” (Ibid., p. 126-127; bold emphasis ours)

It makes absolutely no sense for Muhammad’s grandfather to stand before the statue of Hubal while praying to Allah if they were not one and the same. Nor does it make sense for the grandfather to make a vow to Allah and then go before the idol of Hubal in order to fulfill it!

This basically proves that the pre-Islamic pagans like Muhammad’s grandfather took Allah as the name of the god Hubal, which is why they would pray to Allah by going before the idol of Hubal. In their minds, the statue representing Hubal was none other than an idol depicting Allah.


(1) This rather desperate objection was raised by none other than Bassam Zawadi, one of Islam’s leading taqiyyists, on a particular Muslim board which he often frequents. What makes this rather comical is that one of the posters, a “former” Pentecostal Christian, was so elated by this response that he encouraged Zawadi to use this against me so he can see how I, whom he calls satan incarnate, would respond to it:

10-07-2011, 01:08 AM

AND THE CHRISTIAN ARGUMENT HAS BEEN DESTROYED! Jazakallah Bassam, there is NO WAY of proving Allah was an idol coz if He was, Nabi(saw) would have(please excuse me for saying this) destroyed Allah on his return to Mecca. You might want to edit your rebuttal to sam shamoun on "did the pagans see Allah as the supreme God or 1 of many rival gods" and put Al Kalbi's quote in(you could even refer to my case and say that this was enough to solve the doubt of a brother who sets super-high standards of evidence regarding any religious truth, and that Shamoun's arguments had left me in doubt for a while). Let's see how the shaitan incarnate responds to that... Alhamdulilah may Allah reward you.

Since I do not want to disappoint JamalTruth, his wish is therefore my command! I hope he is just as elated with my reply as he was with Zawadi’s.