Moon God

Q. Can you fully explain who was the ‘moon god’? People are saying that the moon god’s name was ‘AL ILAH’ and the pagan Arabs used to worship that and that is how muslims get the name Allah and that the prophet Muhammad wanted only one god so he said to worship AL ILAH which became Allah. Please explain fully.

A. It is really absurd to know that some people use this remark when it is far from the truth. I have read some of the articles which have been written on this issue by non Muslims, and have found their arguments to be baseless and unfounded, with nothing to support their statements. Even if they did a proper research on ‘the History of the Arabs’, they would not be able to arrive at such a concocted statement.

The Holy Quran clearly rejects the concept of worshipping the moon or having a moon god, and establishes the doctrine that only One God, Allah should be worshipped. In this regard, the Holy Quran states:-

‘And from among His signs are the night and the day, and the Sun and Moon. Prostrate not yourselves to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate yourselves to Allah who created them, if you really worship Allah’. (Sura Fussilat (41) verse 37)

It is mentioned in Sahih Al Bukhari that there were 360 idols in the Kaaba and around it. When the Prophet Muhammad (SA) conquered Makka, he entered the Kaaba and destroyed all the idols, and purified the Kaaba from idol worship. It is to be noted that not a single one of these idols had the name ‘Allah’ or ‘Al ilah’.

Further to this, historians and lexicographers have traced many of the names of idols which were worshipped in the pre-Islamic era. These idols were used in the different Arab Cities and were worshipped by many different tribes. However, no idol bore the name of Al ilah or Allah. For example,

The idol ‘Laat’ was worshipped by the tribe of Thaqeef.
The idol ‘Uzza’ was worshipped by the tribe of Quraish.
The idol ‘Manat’ was worshipped by the tribe of Aws, Khazraj and the Arabs in general.
The idol ‘Yaghooth’ was worshipped by the tribe of Bunu Mazhij.
The idol ‘Ya’ooq’ was worshipped by the tribe of Banu Hamdan.
The idol ‘Nasr’ was worshipped by the tribe of Himyar.
The idol ‘Wudd’ was worshipped by the tribe of Banu Kalb.
The idol ‘Suwa’a’ was worshipped by the tribe of Banu Lihyan.
The idol ‘Na’liah’ was worshipped during the pilgrimage.
The idol ‘Asaaf’ was worshipped during the pilgrimage.

In this way, many names were given to other idols, but none had the name of Allah.

Historical evidence of the life of Prophet Muhammad (SA) shows clearly that in the beginning of his mission, the Arabs disliked him and became his open enemies because he condemned everyone of their idols. The Holy Quran, from its beginning to the end, refuted and rejected every type of idol worship and called man towards the worship of One God, who is the creator of the heavens and the earth, and was the same God of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and all the others. Not only did Islam uproot Idol worship, but it also condemned every type of shirk (polytheism) which existed among the Arabs (and other people). For example, the Holy Quran condemned Angel worship, Jinn worship, Human worship, worship of the Stars and the Sun. It also denounced soothsaying, fortune telling, sorcery, magic and all forms of superstition.

Islam called upon mankind to worship one God, Allah who is the creator of every living thing in the heavens and the earth.

The Arabs were aware of who Allah was, because of the fact that their great forefather Abraham came to the land of Makkah where he and his son Ishmael laid the foundation of the Kaaba. The descendants of Ishmael (who were the Arabs) thus, came to know of the teachings of One God, Allah, however, during the passage of time, they invented d idol worship and started to worship others besides Allah.

It is also worth mentioning that many non Muslim writers have not accepted the notion that ‘Allah’ is a moon god which was worshipped by the Arabs.

In his book ‘Islam’, Alfred Guillame wrote ‘In Arabia, Allah was known from Christian and Jewish sources as the One God, and there can be no doubt whatever, that he was known to the pagan Arabs of Mecca as the Supreme Being. (Islam by Alfred Guillaume).

Similarly, another reputed non-Muslim writer, William Montgomery Watt, states in his book, ‘the Arabic word ‘Allah’ is similar to the Greek term hotheos which we know is the way God is referred to in the New Testament. (Muhammad: Prophet and statesman by William Montgomery Watt Oxford University Press, 1964)

It is clear form the above statement that great non Muslim writers/researchers have not considered Allah to be a moon god.

Another non Muslim writer Kenneth Cragg, writes, ‘Since both Christian and Muslim faiths believe in One Supreme Sovereign creator – God, they are obviously referring, when they speak of Him, under whatever terms, to the Same Being’. (The call of Minaret by Kenneth Cragg, Oxford University Press 1964).

There are many more quotation that can be given to prove that ‘Allah’ was never known as, or referred to, as a moon god. This is far from the truth, and nothing but sheer falsehood.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan