Allah's Existence in Pre-Islamic Arabia
Allah was not an invention or revelation brought to Muhammed during his visits to the caves outside of Mecca because Allah existed long before Muhammed showed up on the scene. According to W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammed's original message was not a criticism of paganism. It was directed at people who already believed in a god named Allah, or Al-ILAH "the god." Muhammed encouraged the people of Mecca to retain this generic god in the Kaaba as he directed their attention to Allah, then he pitched all of the other 360 gods into the trash bin.
The evolving monotheism of Mecca was vague as to Allah's role, so Muhammed had very little trouble tailoring his new hybrid religion to their tastes. (FOOTNOTE : 168 / 25-26 / 72-736) The Satanic Verses allowed the Meccans to keep Allat, Al-Uzza, and Manat, which we discussed previously. This helped to wean the Meccans off of their pantheon slowly, leaving them their three favorite goddesses until Allah's monotheism could be enforced later by the sword. (FOOTNOTE 7: 111 / 499 / 307) At that point Muhammed revised Sura 53 to exclude the three goddesses, and Allah was left standing alone, the monotheistic heir to the estate. Please understand that when I speak of Allah as a real being, it is not because I believe he is one. It simply makes the story more interesting. Santa Claus is also spoken of as though he were real.
James Hastings, in his Encyclopedia of Religion, says that Muhammed at one point wanted to abandon the rather generic name of Allah for a more colorful one, but he later realized that Allah was holding the folks' attention just fine. (FOOTNOTE 8: 60 / 248 / 484) When Muhammed came to Mecca to clean up the Kaaba, and was pitching all of the 360 gods out, except for Allah, the paintings of Jesus and Mary on the inside walls of the Kaaba persuaded him to leave Mary and Jesus in the new cult.
How Muhammed decided to keep Allah is simply a matter of which god he thought would be universally least offensive to any particular tribe of Arabs around Mecca. (FOOTNOTE 9: 107 / 264-265 / 79) After all, it was the Kaaba, the building, which was most sacred, rather than the contents. Even today the mosque (which originally was the pre-Islamic name in Arabic and Aramaic for a building holding an idol) is void of images and symbols.
It is the building itself which is sacred. (FOOTNOTE 10: 51 / 16 / 345; 60 / 666 / 465) Since, "Allah verily sendeth whom he will astray" (Sura 35:8), it is easy to see how insecure Muhammed was while he was trying to salvage the right god from the Kaaba to be promoted to the rank of the new monotheistic deity. (FOOTNOTE 11: 121 / 148 / 1732; 156 / 14 / 55)
The least offensive name of the god in Mecca was Allah according to Muhammed's biographer, Ibn Hisham. He admits that the pagan Kinanah and Kouraish tribes called the supervising god of the Kaaba, IHLAL. They called the Kaaba, "Beit-Allah," "house of the god," not Beit-el-Alihet, or house of idols. This is henotheism where a chief executive god presides over many junior or flunky gods on behalf of the ruling tribe living around the god-house.
It was very good politics, and Muhammed knew who the ruling god had to be if he was going to convert the Kouraish to his new cult. (FOOTNOTE 12: 29 / 25-26 / 119-120) Herodotus, the Greek historian from about 450 BC, tells us that the North Arabians had a god and goddess named Orotal and Alilat. (FOOTNOTE 13: 62 / 200 / 176) Orotal is simply a corruption of Allah, or Allah Ta'al, God Most High. (FOOTNOTE 14: 229 / 24 / 119) Allah had been around in pagan Arabia long before Muhammed was moved to zeal on his behalf.
Islamic Sheikh, Ibrahim Al-Qattan, in a lecture given to the International Progress Association in Vienna, said that the religion of Arabia can be traced by the epigraphic and inscription evidence back to 500 BC, or 1000 years before Muhammed. He said that they had gods named Baal Shamin, Dhu-Samawi, Rahman (which they got from Syria, Persia, and the pagan Cabalist Jews), and Allah.
According to Sheikh Ibrahim, Allah was the highest deity, and his name was inscribed in stone by Jewish traders along the Arabian trade routes. These paganized Jews also called him Rahman, while the Arabs called him Allah. (FOOTNOTE 15: 3 / 26-29 / 311-312) It is very clear that these sacred concepts, such as Allah, the Kaaba with its black stone, running around the Kaaba seven times, climbing mount Arafat, as well as the god-name Rahman, and stoning Satan, (which Muhammed got "by revelation") were salvaged from the dung heaps of ancient paganism in Arabia. (FOOTNOTE 16: 50 / 41 / 18h )
So, we have learned that Allah is not Elohim of the Bible, and we now see that he DID come from the era before Islam. But, what is this primal origin of Allah's name? How far back can we trace Allah's steps?
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