Hubal in the Worship of Pre-Islamic Arab Consciousness
It has always been the missionary tradition to jump from one nefarious claim to another in trying to ascertain the nature of “Allah”. We have previously shown some of the more common theories that they propagate, ranging from Allah(T) being the “moon god” to Ar-Rahman being a term for “pomegranate”. A recent missionary allegation has also been hurled against a beatific salutation of the Prophet Muhammad sallallah `alayhi wa sallam. Now a new postulation of the missionary has been made in their article, namely that “Allah” is synonymous with the god Hubal of the pagan Makkans!
It would perhaps be a good idea to introduce the reader to first explain how idolatry in pre-Islamic Arab was practiced:
Every tribe had a different idol which it worshiped. Generally, objects of worship belonged to three genres: metal and wooden statues, stone statues, and shapeless masses of stone which one tribe or another consecrated because its origin was thought to be heavenly, whereas in reality it was only a piece of volcanic or meteoric rock.1
Hence it is acknowledged that each Arab tribe had its own “chief idol” to which they would worship. With regard to the position of Hubal, it is noted that:
Regarding the nature of Hubal, it has been ascertained traditionally that the idol is Moabite in origin. Martin Lings states as follows:
So ‘Abd al-Muttalib continued to dig without any actual move being made to stop him; and some of the people were already leaving the sanctuary when suddenly he struck the well’s stone covering and uttered a cry of thanksgiving to God. The crowd reassembled and increased; and when he began to dig out the treasure which Jurhum had buried there, everyone claimed the right to share in it. ‘Abd al-Muttalib agreed that lots should be cast for each object, as to whether it should be kept in the sanctuary or go to him personally or be divided amongst the tribe. This had become the recognised way of deciding an issue of doubt, and it was done by means of divining arrows inside the Ka’bah, in front of the Moabite idol Hubal…3
Hence it has always been known that the idol Hubal is a Moabite import (i.e. Baal), hence demolishing another of the missionary’s accusations. Hitti seems to concur with the Moabite origins of Hubal by stating that:
Hubal (from Aram. for vapour, spirit), evidently the chief deity of al-Ka’bah, was represented in human form. Beside him stood ritual arrows used for divination by the soothsayer (kahin, from Aramaic) who drew lots by means of them. The tradition in ibn-Hisham, which makes ‘Amr ibn-Luhayy the importer of this idol from Moab or Mesopotamia, may have a kernel of truth in so far as it retains a memory of the Aramaic origin of the deity. At the conquest of Makkah by Muhammad Hubal shared the lot of the other idols and was destroyed.4
How was this postulated to be the one and the same with Allah is no doubt a mystery that only the missionaries are capable of understanding. Further, it is also admitted by Hitti that Hubal shared the fate of the other idols which were destroyed at the conquest of Makkah.
Hence it is clear that there is nothing in the missionary diatribe that “seriously damages the Muslim claim regarding Allah in pre-Islamic times being the same God of Abraham” nor does the missionary reliance on Psalms and circular reasoning is “evidence linking Allah with Hubal”. As we have already noted before, Hubal was the principal idol of the Quraysh, as was Al-Lat the principle idol of the Ta’ifans. Despite their declination into idolatry, it is amazing, as one scholar remarks5, that the Quraysh have never lost sight of Allah as the Supreme Lord of the Universe. What is obviously clear from the evidence we have presented is that it is the worship of Hubal that was later imported into the present beliefs of the Makkans who had earlier already acknowledged the existence of Allah as the Only God. Indeed, Islam has identified itself with the other Semitic religions (Judaism and Christianity) and called upon them in these words:
“Say [O Prophet]: ‘O People of the Book! Let us come together on a fair and noble principle common to both of us, never to worship or serve aught but God, never to associate any other being with Him, and never to take one another as Lords besides God.” (Qur’an, 3:64)
This is indeed the religio naturalis of which Islam asserts as first principle that all mankind are endowned with this innate religiousity.
As for the rest of the inconsequential polemic of the missionary which deals with the ephitet Ar-Rahman and digressed from the nature of Hubal in pre-Islamic Arab consciousness, an exposition of this term may be seen here.
It is interesting to note that despite the propagation of this ridiculous theory that Allah = Hubal, the missionary still feel it fit to put up the following “disclaimer” in his Addendum section:
Hence, even if the Quranic mention of Baal turns out to be a reference to Hubal, this would only show that Muhammad disassociated Allah from Hubal by turning the former into the true universal God.
It is an obvious escape tactic for someone who was never sure about the “position” of Hubal in the worship of pre-Islamic consciousness and wanted to leave the back door open if anything “disastrous” happens to the theory he propagates. Well, the disaster has certainly arrived!
And only Allah (T) knows best, for only He alone is worthy of worship.
- M.H. Haykal, The Life of Muhammad (transl. Isma’il R. al Faruqi), p. 20 [back]
- Haykal, ibid. [back]
- Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, p. 11 [back]
- Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 100 [back]
- Refer to M. Mohar Ali, Sirat al-Nabi and the Orientalists, Vol. 1A, p. 74 for the full discussion. [back]