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Pre-Islamic Sources of the Name Allah

Muslims claim that the name Allah is God’s name not used in other pre-existing Islamic text, despite claims and evidence that it existed in pre-islamic times as the name of an ancient “pagan” deities.

It should be noted that our stance is that Allah is NOT a name but a title meaning god, like Baal, and Yahweh. The title Allah is used by some Christians for God as well:

Pre-Islamic use of the name Allah:

” The name Allah, as the Qu’ran itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Africa” – Arthur Jeffery, Islam:Muhammad

“Islam also owes the term “Allah” to the heathen Arabs. We have evidence that it entered into numerous personal names in Northern Arabia and among the Nabatians. It occurred among the Arabs of later times, in theophorous names and on its own.” – Why I Am Not A Muslim, Ibn Warraq, 1995, p. 42

“Allah is found . . . in Arabic inscriptions prior to Islam” – Encyclopedia Britannica, I:643

“In any case it is extremely important fact that Muhammad did not find it necessary to introduce an altogether novel deity, but contented himself with ridding the heathen Allah of his companions subjecting him to a kind of dogmatic purification.” – Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, I:664.

“Allah was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs; he was one of the Meccan deities” – Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Gibb, I:406

“Ilah . . . appears in pre-Islamic poetry . . . By frequency of usage, al-ilah was contracted to allah, frequently attested to in pre-Islamic poetry” – Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. Lewis, Menage, Pellat, Schacht; Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1971, III:1093

“Allah was already known by name to the Arabs” – Scholar Henry Preserved Smith of Harvard University, The Bible and Islam: or, the Influence of the Old and New Testament on the Religion of Mohammed, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1897, p.102

The name Allah is also evident in archaeological and literary remains of pre-Islamic Arabia” – The Call of the Minaret, New York: OUP, 1956, p. 31.

“The Arabs, before the time of Mohammed, accepted and worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called allah” –  Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. Houtsma, Arnold, Basset, Hartman; Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1913, I:302

The Daughters of Allah:

There is archaeological and inscription evidence that the pagan deity Allah had three daughters in pre-Islamic times known as Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and Manat. These same names are found in Surah 53:19-22 in the Quran. Muslims claim this is one of the satanic verses where Muhammad mistook the words of Satan as divine revelation. The significance of this is that as already mentioned these three female deities were worshiped in Pre-Islamic Arabia along with Allah who was their father. If Allah is the name of God, and Surah 53 is one of the satanic verses, why is Allah’s name tied to these pagan deities BEFORE Muhammad’s time. It seems that this evidence proves that Muhammad simple adopted the name Allah as either the name of God or a title for Him, as it was already in use in Mecca and it is not a divine name that was revealed to him:

The other gods mentioned in the Quran are all female deities: Al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat, which represented the Sun, the planet Venus, and Fortune, respectively; at Mecca they were regarded as the daughters of Allah… As Allah meant ‘the god’, so Al-Lat means ‘the goddess’.” – Islam, Alfred Guilaume, 1956 p 6-7

“In pre-Islamic days, called the Days of Ignorance, the religious background of the Arabs was pagan, and basically animistic. Through wells, trees, stones, caves, springs, and other natural objects man could make contact with the deity… At Mekka, Allah was the chief of the gods and the special deity of the Quraish, the prophet’s tribe. Allah had three daughters: Al Uzzah (Venus) most revered of all and pleased with human sacrifice; Manah, the goddess of destiny, and Al Lat, the goddess of vegetable life.” – Meet the Arab, John Van Ess, 1943, p. 29

The Pagan deities best known in the Ka`ba and round about Mecca were Lât, `Uzzâ, and Manât. (Manât was also known round Yathrib, which afterwards became Medina.) See liii. 19-20. They were all female goddesses. Lât almost certainly represents another wave of sun-worship: the sun being feminine in Arabic and in Semitic languages generally. “Lât” may be the original of the Greek “Leto”, the mother of Apollo the sun-god (Encyclopædia of Islam, I., p. 380). If so, the name was brought in prehistoric times from South Arabia by the great Incense Route (n. 3816 to xxxiv. 18) to the Mediterranean. `Uzzâ probably represents the planet Venus. The origin of Manât is not quite clear, but it would not be surprising if it also turned out to be astral. The 360 idols established by the Pagans in the Ka`ba probably represented the 360 days of an inaccurate solar year. This was the actual “modern” Pagan worship as known to the Quraish contemporary with our Prophet. In sharp contrast to this is mentioned the ancient antediluvian worship under five heads, of which fragments persisted in outlying places, as they still persist in different forms and under different names in all parts of the world where the pure worship of God in unity and truth is not firmly established in the minds and hearts of men. – Ancient Forms of {Pre-Islamic} Pagan Worship pp. 1612-1623 of The Holy Qur’an, Text, Translation and Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, [1946]

AI-Lat, AI-‘Uzza, and Manat. Among the Qur’an’s references to its 7 th-century pagan milieu are three goddesses, called daughters of Allah: AI-Lat, AI-‘Uzza, and Manat; these are also known from earlier inscriptions in northern Arabia. Al-Lat (“the Goddess”) may have had a role subordinate to that of El (Ilah), as “daughter” rather than consort – Britannica, Arabian Religions, p1057, 1979

“Allah, the Supreme Being of the Mussulmans: Before Islam. That the Arabs, before the time of Muhammed, accepted and worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called Allah,–“the Ilah, or the god, if the form is of genuine Arabic source; if of Aramaic, from Alaha, “the god”-seems absolutely certain. Whether he was an abstraction or a development from some individual god, such as Hubal, need not here be considered…But they also recognized and tended to worship more fervently and directly other strictly subordinate gods…It is certain that they regarded particular deities (mentioned in 1iii. 19-20 are al-‘Uzza, Manat or Manah, al-Lat’; some have interpreted vii, 179 as a reference to a perversion of Allah to Allat as daughters of Allah (vi. 100; xvi, 59; xxxvii, 149; 1iii, 21); they also asserted that he had sons (vi. 100)…”There was no god save Allah”. This meant, for Muhammed and the Meccans, that of all the gods whom they worshiped, Allah was the only real deity. It took no account of the nature of God in the abstract, only of the personal position of Allah. …ilah, the common noun from which Allah is probably derived...” – First Encyclopedia of Islam, E.J. Brill, 1987, Islam, p. 302

“The Quraysh tribe into which Mohammad was born was particularly devoted to Allah, the Moon god, and especially to Allah’s three daughters who were viewed as intercessors between the people and Allah. The literal Arabic name of Muhammad’s father was Abd-Allah. His uncle’s name was Obied-Allah. These names reveal the personal devotion that Muhammad’s pagan family had to the worship of Allah, the Moon god” – Dr. Robert Morey, Islamic Invasion

Allat, according to recent study of the complicated inspirational evidence, is believed to have been introduced into Arabia from Syria, and to have been the moon goddess of North Arabia. If this is the correct interpretation of her character, she corresponded to the moon deity of South Arabia, Almaqah, `Vadd, `Amm or Sin as he was called, the difference being only the oppositeness of gender. Mount Sinai (the name being an Arabic feminine form of Sin) would then have been one of the centers of the worship of this northern moon goddess. Similarly, al-`Uzza is supposed to have come from Sinai, and to have been the goddess of the planet Venus. As the moon and the evening star are associated in the heavens, so too were Allat and al-`Uzza together in religious belief, and so too are the crescent and star conjoined on the flags of Arab countries today. – The Archeology Of World Religions, Jack Finegan, 1952, p482-485, 492

““As well as worshiping idols and spirits, found in animals, plants, rocks, and water, the ancient Arabs believed in several major gods and goddesses whom they considered to hold supreme power over all things. The most famous of these were Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, Manat and Hubal. The first three were thought to be the daughters of Allah (God) and their intercessions on behalf of their worshipers were therefore of great significance. Hubal was associated with the Semitic god Ba’al and with Adonis or Tammuz, the gods of spring, fertility, agriculture and plenty… Hubal’s idol used to stand by the holy well inside the Sacred House. It was made of red sapphire but had a broken arm until the tribe of Quraysh, who considered him one of their major gods, made him a replacement in solid gold. In addition to the sun, moon, and the star Al-Zuhara, the Arabs worshipped the planets Saturn, Mercury, and Jupiter, the stars Sirius and Canopus and the constellations of Orion, Ursa Major and Minor, and the seven Pleiades. Some stars and planets were given human characters, According to legend, Al-Dabaran, one of the stars in the Hyades group, fell deeply in love with Al-Thurayya, the fairest of the Pleiades stars. With the approval of the Moon, he asked for her hand in marriage.” – Fabled Cities, Princes & Jin from Arab Myths and Legends, Khairt al-Saeh, 1985, p. 28-30

Conclusion

Evidence exist pre-dating the Quran using the name or title Allah for a variety of ancient pagan deities. This fact is undeniable along with evidence from the Quran itself listing the names of three female deities that ironically were tied to Allah before Muhammad even existed. Some claim that Allah is the name of ancient Moon gods while others, such as Eastern Christians claim it is simply a title meaning God. It seems that Allah may be a title for God that was used for pagan deities as well, but it is not a name much like Yahweh is not a name as well but a title.  Therefore, it is undeniable that Allah is not actually God’s name and that is did in fact pre-exist Islam and is not based on divine revelation.

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