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Goddess of war, combat and fertility
Allat Palmyra RGZM 3369.jpg
Allāt with a palm branch and lion from the Ba‘alshamîn temple in Palmyra, first century AD. Damascus, Syria
Major cult center Mecca
Symbol Kneeling lion with a gazelle between its legs
Region Arabia
Personal information
Consort Lion of Al-Lāt [1]
Siblings Al-‘Uzzá, Manāt
Greek equivalent Athena
Roman equivalent Minerva
Carthaginian equivalent Allatu

Allat, also spelled Allatu, Alilat, Allāt, and al-Lāt (Arabic: اللات‎  pronounced [al(i)ˈlaːt(u)]) was the name and title of multiple goddesses worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia, including the one in Mecca who was a chief goddess along with siblings Manāt and al-‘Uzzá.


There are two possible etymologies of the name al-Lat.[2] The etymology best reflecting the Arab lexicographical tradition derives the name from the verb latta (to mix or knead barley-meal). It has also been associated with the "idol of jealousy" erected in the temple of Jerusalem according to the Book of Ezekiel, which was offered an oblation of barley-meal by the husband who suspected his wife of infidelity. It can be inferred from al-Kalbi's Book of Idols that a similar ritual was practiced in the vicinity of the idol of al-Lat.[2] The second etymology, which is more in line with Semitic traditions in general, takes al-Lat to be the feminine form of Allah.[2]


Allāt-Minerva. Statue of the 2nd century AD from As-Suwayda, Syria. National Museum of Damascus

The word al-Lat was used as a name and title for multiple pre-Islamic goddesses of Arabia and was used for either a wife of Allah or a daughter depending on the region.[3] It has been hypothesized that Allat is the consort of Allah based on the fact that it is typical of deities in that area of the world to have consorts.[4] It was used as a title for the goddesses Asherah and Athirat.[4] The word is akin to Elat, which was the name of the wife of the Semitic deity El.[5]

Allāt's cult was spread in Syria and northern Arabia. From Safaitic and Hismaic inscriptions, it is probable that she was worshiped as Lat (lt). F. V. Winnet saw Allat as a lunar deity due to association of a crescent with her in 'Ayn esh-Shallāleh and a Lihyanite inscription mentioning the name of Wadd over the title of 'fkl lt. René Dussaud and Gonzague Ryckmans linked her with Venus while others have thought her to be a solar deity. John F. Healey considers al-Uzza actually might have been an epithet of Allāt before becoming a separate deity in Meccan pantheon.[6]

Especially in older sources, Allat is an alternative name of the Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld,[7][8] now usually known as Ereshkigal. She was reportedly also venerated in Carthage under the name Allatu.[9]

The Nabataeans of Petra and the people of Hatra also worshipped her, equating her with the Greek Athena and Tyche and the Roman Minerva. She is frequently called "the Great Goddess" in Greek in multi-lingual inscriptions.[10] According to Wellhausen, the Nabataeans believed al-Lāt was the mother of Hubal (and hence the mother-in-law of Manāt).

The Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BC, considered her the equivalent of Aphrodite:

The Assyrians call Aphrodite Mylitta, the Arabians Alilat [Greek spelling: Ἀλιλάτ], and the Persians Mithra.[11]

Herodotus went on to identify Allat as mother of the gods.[12]

In addition that deity is associated with the Indian deity Mitra. This passage is linguistically significant as the first clear attestation of an Arabic word, with the diagnostically Arabic article al-.[citation needed] The Persian and Indian deities were developed from the Proto-Indo-Iranian deity known as Mitra. According to Herodotus, the ancient Arabians believed in only two gods:

They believe in no other gods except Dionysus and the Heavenly Aphrodite; and they say that they wear their hair as Dionysus does his, cutting it round the head and shaving the temples. They call Dionysus, Orotalt; and Aphrodite, Alilat.[13]

Bas-relief: Nemesis, Allāt and the dedicator. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon

In the Qur'an, she is mentioned along with al-‘Uzzá and Manāt in Sura 53:19–23. The tribe of ʿād of Iram of the Pillars is also mentioned in Sura 89:5–8, and archaeological evidence from Iram shows copious inscriptions devoted to her for the protection of a tribe by that name.[14]

Roman temple of Allāt, Palmyra, Syria

Al-lāt is also explicitly attested from early Islamic records discussing the pre-Islamic period. According to the Book of Idols (Kitāb al-ʾAṣnām) by Hishām ibn al-Kalbi, the pre-Islamic Arabs believed Al-lāt resided in the Kaʿbah and also had an idol inside the sanctuary:

Her custody was in the hands of the Banū Attāb ibn Mālik of the Thaqīf, who had built an edifice over her. The Quraysh, as well as all the Arabs, venerated al-Lāt. They also used to name their children after her, calling them Zayd al-Lāt and Taym al-Lāt. [...] Al-Lāt continued to be venerated until the Thaqīf embraced Islam, when Muhammad dispatched al-Mughīrah ibn-Shu‘bah, who destroyed her and burnt her temple to the ground.[15][16][17]

She was also called as daughter of Allah along with the other two chief goddesses.[18][19][20][21] According to Islamic tradition, the shrine dedicated to al-Lat in Taif was demolished on the orders of Muhammad, during the Expedition of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, in the same year as the Battle of Tabuk[22] (which occurred in October 630 AD).[23][24] The destruction of the idol was a demand by Muhammad before he would allow any reconciliation to take place with the tribes of Taif, who were under his siege.[25]

Appearances in modern literature[edit]

In Frank Herbert's Dune series, Al-Lat is the name given to the earth's sun.

Multiple allusions, references and parallels are in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.


  • Strong's Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary of Bible Words
  • Georgii Wilhelmi Freytagii : Lexicon Arabico-Latinum. Librairie du Liban, Beirut, 1975.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kevin Butcher (2003). Roman Syria and the Near East. Getty Publications. p. 309. ISBN 0892367156. 
  2. ^ a b c T. Fahd (1986). "al-Lat". In P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam. 5 (2nd ed.). Brill. p. 692. 
  3. ^ Aaron W. Hughes. The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam: From Polemic to History. Columbia University Press. p. 25. 
  4. ^ a b Patricia Monaghan (2014). Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. New World Library. pp. 30, 31. ISBN 978-1-608-68218-8. 
  5. ^ Egerton Sykes; Patricia Turner (4 February 2014). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. p. 7, 8, 63. 
  6. ^ John F. Healey (2014). The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus. BRILL. pp. 112, 114. ISBN 978-9-004-10754-0. 
  7. ^ The Dawn of Civilisation, by: Gaston Maspero
  8. ^ «A History Of Art In Chaldæa & Assyria» Georges Perrot, Professor in The Faculty of Letters, Paris; Member of The Institute, and Charles Chipiez. New York, 1884.
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of Gods, Michael Jordan, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2002
  10. ^ Healey, John F. (2001). "4". The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus. Religions in the Graeco-Roman World. 136. Boston: Brill. pp. 107–119. ISBN 90-04-10754-1. 
  11. ^ Histories I:131
  12. ^ Anthony Bonanno. Archaeology and Fertility Cult in the Ancient Mediterranean: First International Conference on Archaeology of the Ancient Mediterranean. University of Malta, 2 5 September 1985. p. 176. 
  13. ^ Histories III:8
  14. ^ Healey, John F. "4". The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus. Religions in the Graeco-Roman World. 136. Boston: Brill. p. 111. ISBN 90-04-10754-1. 
  15. ^ Faris 1952, pp. 14–15.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Mify narodov mira 1984. Article: Allat
  18. ^ Jonathan Porter Berkey (2003). The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, 600-1800. Cambridge University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-521-58813-3. 
  19. ^ Neal Robinson (5 November 2013). Islam: A Concise Introduction. Routledge. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-136-81773-1. 
  20. ^ Francis E. Peters (1994). Muhammad and the Origins of Islam. SUNY Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-7914-1875-8. 
  21. ^ Daniel C. Peterson (2007). Muhammad, Prophet of God. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8028-0754-0. 
  22. ^ Tabari, Al (25 Sep 1990), The last years of the Prophet (translated by Isma'il Qurban Husayn), State University of New York Press, p. 46, ISBN 978-0887066917 
  23. ^ Hawarey, Dr. Mosab (2010). The Journey of Prophecy; Days of Peace and War (Arabic). Islamic Book Trust. Archived from the original on 2012-03-22. Note: Book contains a list of battles of Muhammad in Arabic, English translation available here, and archive of page here
  24. ^ Muir, William (August 1878), The life of Mahomet (Full free digitized version), Kessinger Publishing Co, p. 207 
  25. ^ Muir, William (August 1878), The life of Mahomet (Full free digitized version), Kessinger Publishing Co, p. 205 

External links[edit]