Allah as a lunar deity

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Allah as a Lunar deity refers to a widely rejected pseudohistorical postulation, that "Allah" (the name of God in Islam) originated as a moon god. The claim first arose in 1901 in the scholarship of archeologist Hugo Winckler, who identified the name Allah with a pre-Islamic Arabian deity known as Lah or Hubal, which he called a lunar deity.

The general idea was widely propagated in the United States in the 1990s by Christian apologists, first via the publication of Robert Morey's pamphlet The Moon-god Allah: In Archeology of the Middle East (1994), eventually followed by his book The Islamic Invasion: Confronting the World's Fastest-Growing Religion (2001). Morey argued, slightly differently, that "Allah" was the name of a moon goddess in pre-Islamic Arabic mythology. Islam's use of a lunar calendar and the prevalence of crescent moon imagery in Islam have also been used to support the notion.[1]

Both iterations of the theory have been dismissed by modern scholars as entirely unevidenced. The ongoing propagation of the theory is regarded as an insult both to Muslims and to Arab Christians, who likewise refer to God as "Allah".[2]

Scholarly views[edit]

Hugo Winckler

Before Islam, the Kaaba contained a statue representing the god Hubal.[3][4] On the basis that the Kaaba was also Allah's house, Julius Wellhausen considered Hubal to be an ancient name for Allah.[5][6][7] The 20th-century scholar Hugo Winckler in turn claimed that Hubal was a moon god,[8] though others have suggested otherwise. David Leeming describes him as a warrior and rain god,[9] as does Mircea Eliade.[10]

More recent scholars have rejected this view, partly because it is speculation but also because of the Nabataean origins of Hubal,[11] a non-native deity imported into the Southern Arabian shrine – one which may have already been associated with Allah.[9] Patricia Crone argues that "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."[12] Joseph Lumbard, a professor of classical Islam, has stated that the idea is "not only an insult to Muslims but also an insult to Arab Christians who use the name 'Allah' for God."[2]

Christian proponents[edit]

Pat Robertson promoted the idea

Robert Morey's book The Moon-god Allah in the Archeology of the Middle East claims that Al-‘Uzzá is identical in origin to Hubal, whom he asserts to be a lunar deity.[13] This teaching is repeated in the Chick tracts "Allah Had No Son" and "The Little Bride". In 1996 Janet Parshall, in syndicated radio broadcasts, asserted that Muslims worship a moon god.[14] Pat Robertson said in 2003, "The struggle is whether Hubal, the Moon God of Mecca, known as Allah, is supreme, or whether the Judeo-Christian Jehovah God of the Bible is Supreme."[15]

However, recent research from various sources have proven that the "evidence" used by Morey was of the statue retrieved from an excavation site at Hazor, of which there is no connection to "Allah" at all.[16] In fact, Bible scholar and mission strategist Rick Brown openly disagrees with this approach and said:

Those who claim that Allah is a pagan deity, most notably the moon god, often base their claims on the fact that a symbol of the crescent moon adorns the tops of many mosques and is widely used as a symbol of Islam. It is in fact true that before the coming of Islam many "gods" and idols were worshipped in the Middle East, but the name of the moon god was Sîn, not Allah, and he was not particularly popular in Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. The most prominent idol in Mecca was a god called Hubal, and there is no proof that he was a moon god. It is sometimes claimed that there is a temple to the moon god at Hazor in Palestine. This is based on a representation there of a supplicant wearing a crescent-like pendant. It is not clear, however, that the pendant symbolizes a moon god, and in any case this is not an Arab religious site but an ancient Canaanite site, which was destroyed by Joshua in about 1250 BC. ... If the ancient Arabs worshipped hundreds of idols, then no doubt the moon god Sîn was included, for even the Hebrews were prone to worship the sun and the moon and the stars, but there is no clear evidence that moon-worship was prominent among the Arabs in any way or that the crescent was used as the symbol of a moon god, and Allah was certainly not the moon god's name.[17]

In 2009, anthropologist Gregory Starrett wrote, "a recent survey by the Council for American Islamic Relations reports that as many as 10% of Americans believe Muslims are pagans who worship a moon god or goddess, a belief energetically disseminated by some Christian activists."[18] Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) calls the Moon-God theories of Allah evangelical "fantasies" that are "perpetuated in their comic books".[19]

Farzana Hassan sees these views as an extension of long-standing Christian claims that Muhammad was an impostor and deceiver, and has stated: "Literature circulated by the Christian Coalition perpetuates the popular Christian belief about Islam being a pagan religion, borrowing aspects of Judeo-Christian monotheism by elevating the moon god Hubal to the rank of Supreme God, or Allah. Muhammad, for fundamentalist Christians, remains an impostor who commissioned his companions to copy words of the Bible as they sat in dark inaccessible places, far removed from public gaze."[20]

Muslim views[edit]

In 8th-century Arab historian Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi's Book of Idols, the idol Hubal is described as a human figure with a gold hand (replacing the original hand that had broken off the statue). He had seven arrows that were used for divination.[21]

Whether or not Hubal was even associated with the moon, both Muhammad and his enemies clearly identified Hubal and Allah as different gods, their supporters fighting on opposing sides in the Battle of Uhud. Ibn Hisham notes that Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, leader of the anti-Islamic army, glorified Hubal after their perceived victory at Uhud:

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, Allah is most high and most glorious. We are not equal. Our dead are in paradise; your dead are in hell.[22]

The Quran itself forbids moon worship in verse 37 of Surah Fussilat:

"Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostrate to Allah, who created them."[23][24][25]

Islam teaches that Allah is the name of God (as iterated in the Quran),[26] and is the same god worshipped by the members of other Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Judaism (29:46).[27]

Pre-Islamic traditions[edit]

Before Muhammad, Allah was not considered the sole divinity by Meccans; however, Allah was considered the creator of the world and the giver of rain. The notion of the term may have been vague in the Meccan religion.[28] Allah was associated with companions, whom pre-Islamic Arabs considered as subordinate deities. Meccans held that a kind of kinship existed between Allah and the jinn.[29] Allah was thought to have had sons and daughters.[30] The Meccans possibly associated angels with Allah.[31][32] Allah was invoked in times of distress.[32][33] Muhammad's father's name was ʿAbd-Allāh meaning "the slave of Allāh".[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A History of Pagan Europe. Prudence Jones, Nigel Pennick. Psychology Press, 1995. ISBN 0415091365 p. 77
  2. ^ a b "Scholarly Pursuits: Joseph Lumbard, classical Islam professor". BrandeisNOW. Brandeis University. December 11, 2007.
  3. ^ F. Hommel, First Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. M.T. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, and R. Hartmann, Vol. 1, pp. 379–380
  4. ^ C. Glassé, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 185
  5. ^ J. Wellhausen, Reste Arabischen Heidenthums. pp.75
  6. ^ The idea of idolatry and the emergence of Islam: from polemic to history. Cambridge studies in Islamic civilization. Gerald R. Hawting. Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN 0521651654 p. 112
  7. ^ also mentioned in Meccan trade and the rise of Islam, Patricia Crone, Gorgias Press LLC, 2004, ISBN 1593331029 pp. 185–195
  8. ^ Hugo Winckler: "Arabisch, Semitisch, Orientalisch: Kulturgeschichtlich-Mythologische Untersuchung", 1901, W. Peiser: Berlin, p. 83.
  9. ^ a b David Adams Leeming, Jealous gods and chosen people: the mythology of the Middle East, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 121.
  10. ^ Eliade, Adams, The Encyclopedia of religion, Volume 1, Macmillan, 1987, p. 365.
  11. ^ T. Fahd, Le Panthéon De L'Arabie Centrale A La Veille De L'Hégire, 1968, op. cit., pp. 102–103; T. Fahd, "Une Pratique Cléromantique A La Kaʿba Preislamique", Semitica, 1958, op. cit., pp. 75–76.
  12. ^ Patricia Crone, "Meccan Trade And The Rise Of Islam", 1987, pp. 193–194."
  13. ^ The Moon-god Allah in the Archeology of the Middle East. Newport, PA : Research and Education Foundation, 1994
  14. ^ Jack G. Shaheen, Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture, Centre For Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University Occasional Papers, p. 8.
  15. ^ Donald E. Schmidt, The folly of war: American foreign policy, 1898-2005, Algora, 2005, p. 347.
  16. ^ Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, "The Mysterious Statue at Hazor: The 'Allah' of the Muslims?", in Bismika Allahuma, October 15, 2005
  17. ^ R. Brown, "Who Is "Allah"?" Archived 2016-07-31 at the Wayback Machine, International Journal of Frontier Missions, 2006, Volume 23, No. 2, p. 79.
  18. ^ Gregory Starrett, "Islam and the Politics of Enchantment", Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, May 2009, vol. 15. S222–S240.
  19. ^ Shaheen, Jack G (1997). "Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture" (PDF). p. 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-24.
  20. ^ Farzana Hassan Shahid, Farzana Hassan, Prophecy and the fundamentalist quest: an integrative study of Christian and Muslim apocalyptic religion, McFarland, 2008, p. 17
  21. ^ Francis E. Peters, Muhammad and the origins of Islam, SUNY Press, 1994, p. 109.
  22. ^ A. Guillaume, The Life Of Muhammad: A Translation Of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, 2004 (18th Impression), op. cit., p. 386.
  23. ^ Juan Eduardo Campo (ed.). "moon". Encyclopedia of Islam. p. 479.
  24. ^ "Tafsir Ibn Kathir – 53:19 – English". Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  25. ^ Shakir, M. H. "Ha Mim". The Koran. University of Michigan. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  26. ^ Under the "Allah" entry, Ontology of Quranic Concepts in The Quranic Arabic Corpus, retrieved July 16, 2017
  27. ^ F.E. Peters, Islam, p. 4, Princeton University Press, 2003
  28. ^ L. Gardet, Allah, Encyclopaedia of Islam
  29. ^ See Qur'an 37:158
  30. ^ See Qur'an (6:100)
  31. ^ See Qur'an (53:26–27)
  32. ^ a b c Gerhard Böwering, God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an
  33. ^ See Qur'an 6:109; 10:22; 16:38; 29:65

External links[edit]