1. Introduction Those have argued over many years that "Allah" of the Qur'an was in fact a pagan Arab "Moon god" of pre-Islamic times. The primary proponent of this view was Robert Morey, and, along with his missionary brethren, he has propagated these views extensively. We have made a devastating refutation of this claim by utilising the archaeological evidence and showed how Morey's claims were nothing but a grand fraud.
Interesting is the name HUBAL (in Arabic and Hebrew script the vowels were not noted). This shows a very suspicious connection to the Hebrew HABAAL (= the Baal). As we all know this was an idol mentioned in the Bible (Num. 25:3, Hosea 9:10, Deut. 4:3, Josh. 22:17 and Ps. 106:28-29). Where was Baal worshipped? In Moab! It was the "god of fertility". Amr ibn Luhaiy brought Hubal from Moab to Arabia.Just like the "Moon god" allegation of Morey, those have also claimed that Hubal was a Moon god, and by identity Allah also was a Moon god. Are these claims of the Christian missionaries true? In this article we would like to examine the nature of Allah and Hubal from the historical, lexical and archaeological point of view. We will show the claim that Allah and Hubal are identical, is untenable not only from the point of view of history but also from archaeology. A lexical and epigraphic study will confirm that Hubal and "Ha-Baal" are different deities.
2. Hubal = Allah? A Detailed Investigation
The Quraysh had several idols in and around the Ka'bah. The greatest of them was Hubal. Its cornelian or agate statue stood inside the Ka'bah. The statue of Hubal was of a male figure with a golden arm - a replacement of a broken-off stone arm when Hubal came into possession of the Quraysh. 'Amr ibn-Luhayy imported Hubal and it was first set up by Khuzaymah ibn Mudrikah ibn al-Ya's ibn Mudar. Consequently, it used to be called Khuzaymah's Hubal. In front of Hubal there were seven divination arrows. A custodian guarded the statue, received the offerings and sacrifices and conducted future-forecasting to pilgrims. The cult associated with him involved divination and forecasting of future events such as marriage, death, apology, lineage, etc. 'Abd al-Muttalib, grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad, shuffled the divination arrows in order to find out which of his ten children he should sacrifice in fulfilment of a vow. The arrow pointed to his son 'Abdullah, father of Muhammad. The Quraysh deterred the Prophet's grandfather, arguing that his act would establish an example that other Arabs might follow
ORIGINS OF HUBAL AT MAKKAH It was mentioned that 'Amr ibn-Luhayy imported Hubal to Makkah. What were the origins of Hubal?
According to Nehls, in an attempt to connect Hubal with "Ha-Baal" (i.e., the Baal), the Hubal idol at Makkah originated from Moab. He says:
Where was Baal worshipped? In Moab! It was the "god of fertility". Amr ibn Luhaiy brought Hubal from Moab to Arabia.Not surprisingly, he did not mention any supporting evidence to prove that the Islamic traditions say that 'Amr ibn Luhayy brought the Hubal idol from Moab to Arabia. Those lifting each others work without proper verification is not entirely surprising. Yet another one lifted Nehls' claim about the origins of the Hubal idol at Makkah from Moab, only to present a quote from Hitti's History Of The Arabs that says 'Amr ibn-Luhayy imported the Hubal idol "from Moab or Mesopotamia"; thus clearly throwing uncertainty over the Moabite origins of Hubal. From the Islamic traditions, it is unclear where the Hubal idol in Makkah originated from. Al-Azraqi says 'Amr ibn Luhayy brought Hubal from Hit in Mesopotamia, a town situated on the Euphratus, while Ibn al-Kalbi implied that it came from al-Balqa' in Bilād al-Shām. Ibn Hisham and Ibn Kathir, on the other hand, say that it came from Moab in the land of Balqa' in Transjordan. There is no clear-cut position that can be adduced from the Islamic traditions on the issue of the place of origin of the Hubal idol at Makkah, although all of them are united on its foreign origin. There was an awareness among the pre-Islamic Arabs that Hubal was an imported deity and this partly explains why he was not integrated into the "divine family" of Allah unlike the three "daughters of Allah", Allat, Manat and al-'Uzza. This brings us directly to the issue of whether or not Hubal was nothing but Allah
THE IDENTITY OF ALLAH AND HUBAL ACCORDING TO ISLAMIC TRADITION Perhaps the earliest scholar to suggest that Hubal was originally the proper name of Allah in Makkah was the German orientalist Julius Wellhausen. His hypothesis was based on circumstantial evidence and argumentum e silentio. Wellhausen noted that Allah was always a proper name in the Arabic sources and not a common noun. According to him, Allah was the title used within each tribe to address its tribal deity instead of its proper name and that Allah became the Islamic substitute for the name of any idol. Wellhausen suggested that apart from Hubal's known presence in the Ka'bah, there is no polemic in the Qur'an against him. In other words, while the Qur'an railed against Allat, Manat, and al-'Uzza, whom the pagan Arabs referred to as the "daughters of Allah", it stopped short of attacking the cult of Hubal. Although such an argument can be applied to any of the pagan idols not mentioned in the Qur'an, such as Dhul-Khalasa and Dhul-Shara, the argumentum e silentio of Wellhausen became a rallying cry for those and apologists to claim that Hubal was none other than Allah. This is clearly a logical fallacy. Fahd had critiqued Wellhausen's position by pointing out that the lack of Qur'anic reference is due to the fact that there was nothing to distinguish Hubal from the other Arab divinities such as Dhul-Khalasa and Dhul-Shara whereas other divinities mentioned in the Qur'an, i.e., Allat, Manat and al-'Uzza, were distinguished by being regarded as the "daughters of Allah". Similarly, the Qur'an also criticizes the position of the "sons of Allah" attributed to Jesus and Uzayr.
Moreover, the hypothesis that Hubal was originally the proper name of Allah suffers from serious difficulties. In the battle of Uhud, the distinction between the followers of Allah and the followers of Hubal is made clear by the statements of Prophet Muhammad and Abu Sufyan. Ibn Hisham narrates in the biography of the Prophet:
When Abu Sufyan wanted to leave he went to the top of the mountain and shouted loudly saying, 'You have done a fine work; victory in war goes by turns. Today in exchange for the day (of Badr). Show your superiority, Hubal,' i.e. vindicate your religion. The apostle told 'Umar to get up and answer him and say, God [Allah] is most high and most glorious. We are not equal. Our dead are in paradise; your dead are in hell.The same incident is narrated in Sahih of al-Bukhari with a slightly different wording (also see here).
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." One can see clear facts emerging. Firstly, the Quraysh worshipped Hubal and al-'Uzza (among other deities not stated here); the Muslims, on the other hand, worshipped Allah. Secondly, to the statement of Abu Sufyan ascribing superiority to Hubal, Prophet Muhammad replied that Allah was more Majestic and more Glorious. Thirdly, the dead of the pagan Quraysh in the Battle of Uhud who worshipped Hubal, al-'Uzza among other gods are in the hell, whereas the dead who worshipped Allah are in heaven. Fourthly, the worshippers of Allah are not equal to the worshippers of Hubal. Since the Christian missionaries have a habit of using a syllogism even though there are clear statements refuting their position, let us note the following syllogism.
Hubal was worshipped by the Quraysh; Allah was worshipped by the Muslims.
The worshippers of Hubal are in hell; the worshippers of Allah are in heaven.
Therefore, Hubal was not Allah.
Commenting on the above tradition, the Christian missionaries say:
Unlike the verse in the Quran, this one does mention Hubal by name and suggests that he was distinct from Allah. Again, Muhammad transforming Allah from a pagan deity into the sole universal God, a transformation which was different from any similarly named deity, can account for why Sufyan viewed Hubal as a different god altogether.It is hard to see how this tradition poses "problems" for Muslims. In fact, this tradition clearly refutes those' claim that Allah and Hubal were identical. Furthermore, Abu Sufyan, the chieftain of the Quraysh, became a Muslim in 8 AH just a few days before the liberation of Makkah, after a personal council with the Prophet. He swallowed his pride and admitted that:
Furthermore, this tradition actually poses problems for the Muslims since it implies that the pagans such as Abu Sufyan did not view Allah as the supreme god, but one of many rival gods. Sufyan attributes his victory over Muhammad and his god to Hubal and Uzza, suggesting that at least in his mind these gods were equal, if not superior, to Allah. Sufyan obviously felt that Allah could be challenged and defeated, which means that these pagans didn't see Allah as the unrivaled and supreme Deity as both the Quran and Islamic traditions claim.
By God, I thought that had there been any God with God, he would have continued to help me.In other words, Hubal and al-'Uzza which Abu Sufyan had proclaimed as gods neither assisted nor helped him to defeat the Muslims. He then accepted Allah as the one, supreme God beside whom there exists no other god. Furthermore, he was also personally involved in the smashing of the idol of Allat, one of the so called daughters of Allah. It must also be added that if the idol of Hubal which occupied the Ka'bah in Makkah represented the image of Allah, then why did Muhammad order it to be destroyed? He could easily have left the statue as it was and justified it as the image of Allah, thus making it far easier for those transitioning from polytheism to monotheism. History records this never happened, rather Muhammad ordered all the idols destroyed. It is not difficult to see why this is the case if one pays attention to the Islamic sources, especially those which inform us directly about the life and times of Muhammad. Consider the following. The most supreme delight in the afterlife is the ability to see Allah. Anticipating this humbling and blissful moment is a source of immense joy and happiness for all the believers. We find narrated in the Sahih of al-Bukhari the following report:
On the authority of Abu Huraira: The people said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?" The Prophet said, "Do you have any difficulty in seeing the moon on a full moon night?" They said, "No, O Allah's Apostle." He said, "Do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun when there are no clouds?" They said, "No, O Allah's Apostle." He said, "So you will see Him, like that. Allah will gather all the people on the Day of Resurrection, and say, 'Whoever worshipped something (in the world) should follow (that thing),' so, whoever worshipped the sun will follow the sun, and whoever worshiped the moon will follow the moon, and whoever used to worship certain (other false) deities, he will follow those deities...The importance of Prophet Muhammad's exposition cannot be underestimated. He is describing the single most pleasurable moment of the people of Paradise. Equally though we are reminded of the fate of those who worshipped other than God alone. It is amply clear the idol Hubal and those who worshipped him along with other false deities and their followers, are clearly distinguished from Allah and the worshippers of Allah – on this juncture Islamic tradition is very clear.
In fact, a number of scholars have already noted that Hubal and Allah can't be one and the same entity. For example, Patricia Crone made an argument concerning Wellhausen's suggestion that Allah might simply be another name for Hubal. Commenting on the Islamic tradition she says:
One would have to fall back on the view that Allah might simply be another name for Hubal, as Wellhausen suggested; just as the Israelites knew Yahwe as Elohim, so the Arabs knew Hubal as Allah, meaning "God". It would follow that the guardians of Hubal and Allah were identical; and since Quraysh were not guardians of Hubal, they would not be guardians of Allah, either... When 'Abd al-Mutallib is described as having prayed to Allah while consulting Hubal's arrow, it is simply that the sources baulk at depicting the Prophet's grandfather as a genuine pagan, not that Allah and Hubal were alternative names of the same god. If Hubal and Allah had been one and the same deity, Hubal ought to have survived as an epithet of Allah, which he did not. And moreover there would not have been traditions in which people are asked to renounce the one for the other. Similarly, while discussing Hubal and Allah in the context of the Battle of Uhud, Hayward R. Alker points out that they both can't be one and the same.
This seems, however, unlikely, especially as, at the battle of Uhud, in the course of the warfare between Quraysh of Mecca and Muslims of Medina, the clash between the Meccans' god Hubal and the Muslims' Allah is stressed. F. E. Peters makes a clear distinction between Hubal and Allah on the basis that the former was a newcomer and the Quraysh adopted Hubal to further their political alliance with the surrounding tribe of Kinana.
Or, to put the question more directly, was Hubal rather than Allah, "Lord of the Ka'ba"? Probably not, else the Qur'an, which makes no mention of Hubal, would certainly have mentioned the contention. Hubal was, by the Arabs' own tradition, a newcomer to both Mecca and Ka'ba, an outsider introduced by the ambitious 'Amr ibn Luhayy, and the tribal token around which the Quraysh later attempted to construct a federation with the surrounding Kinana, whose chief deity Hubal was. Hubal was introduced into the Ka'ba but he never supplanted the god Allah, whose House it continued to be. Similar conclusions have been reached by von Grunebaum.
It seems quite a defensible suggestion that even before Muhammad the Ka'ba was first and foremost the holy place of Allah and not that of the Hubal deriving from the Nabataeans and 359 other members of the astrological syncretic pantheon assembled there. What now becomes the clutching of straws for those is the tenuous claim that 'Abd al-Muttalib's praying to Allah whilst standing next to the statue of Hubal shows that "Allah to whom Muhammad's grandfather vowed and worshiped was none other than Hubal". As to how standing next to the statue of Hubal and praying to Allah is equivalent to Hubal actually being Allah is a great mystery. By this "logic", a Christian standing next to the cross and praying to the Trinitarian deity makes him a cross-worshipper. Moreover, the text in English and Arabic clearly distinguishes and differentiates between Hubal and Allah. The Qur'an acknowledges that the Makkans were aware of Allah as one true God; yet they worshipped deities other than Him who will act as intercessors.
They serve, besides Allah, things that hurt them not nor profit them, and they say: "These are our intercessors with Allah." [Qur'an 10:18]