Friday, 13 December 2013

Watani Religion: Major Pagan God

Assalamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

Mecca: Pagan Chief Deity


This pagan god was placed within the vicinity of the Holy Shrine in Mecca since before Muhammad s.a.w was born. The idol was a human figure, believed to control acts of divination, which was in the form of tossing arrows before the statue. The direction in which the arrows pointed answered questions asked of the idol. The origins of the cult of Hubal are uncertain but the name is found from Nabatea inscriptions in Northern Arabia (across the territory of modern Syria and Iraq). The specific powers and identity attributed to this pagan Arab god are equally unclear.   

Access to the idol was controlled by the Quraish tribe after they become obsessed with superstitions and leaving behind the religion of forefathers. The god's devotees fought against followers of the noble prophet Muhammad s.a.w during the Battle of Badr in 624 CE.

Hubāl in Mecca

Hubal most prominently appears at Mecca, where an image of him was worshiped at the Cubicle Shrine in Holy Sanctuary. Karen Armstrong in Islam: The Short History said that the sanctuary was dedicated to god Hubal, who was worshiped as the greatest of the 360 idols the Cubicle contained, which probably represented the days of the year (Armstrong, 2002). I have not seen the book yet so I could not judge on how this lady had got her sources about our Cubicle Shrine or the Ka'aba. I am accustomed to Research Methodology and I do not simply write anything without references. I am also collecting the references for this particular topic so if there is reference for the statement then it is also included for viewers to check.

Hisham Ibn al-Kalbi in his Kitab al-Asnam describes the image of the god as shaped like a human, with the right hand broken off and replaced with a golden hand. The image was made of red agate, whereas al-Azrawi, an early Islamic commentator, described it as of "cornelian pearl". Al-Azraqi also related that it "had a vault for the sacrifice" and that the offering consisted of a hundred camels. Both authors speak of seven arrows placed before the image, which were cast for divination in cases of death, virginity and marriage.

Ibn Kalbi mentioned that, the image was first set up by Khuzaymah bin Mudrikah bin al-Ya's bin Mudar. However, another tradition recorded by Ibn Ishaq, holds that Amr bin Luhay, a leader of Khuza'a tribe of the larger Azdite Arab group, installed the image of Hubal in the Cubicle where it was worshiped as one of the chief deities of the particular tribe.

The date for Amr is disputed, with dates as late as the end of the 4th century CE suggested, but what is quite sure is that the Quraish later became the protectors of the ancient Holy Shrine, supplanting the Khuza'a. A tale recorded by Ibn al-Kalbi that Muhammad s.a.w grandfather Abd al-Motallib vowed to sacrifice one of his 10 children. He consulted the arrows of Hubal to find out which child he should chose. The arrows pointed to his son Abdullah, the future father of Muhammad s.a.w. Hoever, he was saved when 100 camels were sacrificed in his place. According to al-Tabari in the History of the Prophets and Kings, Abd al-Motallib later also brought the infant Muhammad himself before the image and circumambulating the Ka'aba (1:157).  


830 BC

There may be some foundation of truth in the story that Amr bin Luhay traveled in Syria and had brought back from there the cults of the goddesses al-'Uzza and Manat. He later combined them with that of Hubal, the god of Khuza'a tribe (Rodinson, 1961).

Al-Azraqi stated, the image was brought to Mecca "from the land of Hīt in Mesopotamia" and Hīt is in modern Iraq. Philip K. Hitti (1937), who relates the word Hubal to an Aramaic word for spirit, suggests that the worship of Hubal was imported to Mecca from the North of Arabia, possibly from Moab or Mesopotamia. Hubal may have been the combination of Hu meaning spirit or a deity, and the Moab god, Bāl meaning master or lord.

Outside South Arabia, Hubal's name appeas just once, in Nabatean inscription, there Hubal is mentioned with the gods such as Dhu al-Sharāh and Manawati, the latter, as Manāt later became popular in Mecca. On the basis of such slender evidence, it has been suggested that Hubal "may actually have been a Nabatean" (Rodinson, 1971). There are also inscriptions in which the word Hubal appears to be part of personal names, translatable as "Son of Hubal" or "made of Hubal" (Healey, 2001).

The idol of this pagan deity was destroyed during the opening of Mecca in 630 AD. Noble prophet Muhammad s.a.w ordered the idols being removed and the statue of this particular deity was also destroyed. The Ka'aba Shrine was sanctified from paganism and re-dedicated again to the God the Highest as according to the order of previous prophets which happened after the Battle of Badr. Abu Sufyan bin Harb, the leader of Quraish army at the side of the pagans, is said to have called the god Hubal for support to gain victory in their next battle, saying "Show your superiority, Hubal!"

Role in Mythology

The paucity of evidence concerning Hubal makes it difficult to characterize its role or identity in pagan Arabian mythologies. The 19th century scholar, Julius Wellhausen suggested that Hubal was regarded as the son of al-Lāt and the brother of Wadd.

Hugo Winckler in the early 20th century speculated that Hubal was a lunar deity, a view that was repeated by other scholars. This was derived from Ditlef Nielsen's theory that South Arabian mythology was based on a trinity of Moon father, and Sun mother and the evening star, planet Venus envisaged as their son. More recent scholars have rejected this view partly because it is a speculation but also because a Nabatean origin would make the context of South Arabian beliefs irrelevant (Fahd, 1958).

Mircea Eliade and Charles J. Adams assert that he was "a god of rain and a warrior god. Towards the end of the pre-Islamic era he emerged as an inter-tribal warrior god, worshiped by the Quraish and the allied tribes of the Kinanah and Tihamah". The view that he was a warrior rain god is repeated by David Adams Leeming.

John F. Healey in The Religion of the Nabateans (2001) accepts the Nabatean origins of the god, but says there is little evidence of Hubal's mythological role, but that it is possible that he was closely linked to Dhu Sharāh in some way. The one surviving inscription concerns a religious injunction to placate Hubal and others for violating a tomb.   

In Modern Culture

Both Islamists and Christian evangelists have invoked the figure of this god in their ideological struggles of the post Cold War era. 

A. Islamists

In Islamism, Hubal has been used as a symbol of modern forms of "idol worship". According to Adnan A. Musallam, this can be traced to one of the founders of radical Islamism, Sayyid Qutb, who used the label to attack secular rulers such as Nasser, seen as creating "idols" based on un-Islamic Western and Marxist ideologies.  

In 2001, Osama Laden called the US as the modern Hubal. He referred to allies of the US as "hypocrites" who all stood behind the head of global unbelief, the Hubal of the modern age, the US and its supporters. AL-Qaeda's then number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, repeated the phrase "Hubal al-'Asr" in describing the US, during his November 2008 message following Barack Obama's election to presidency. The analogy may have been passed on to Bin Laden by one of his teachers, Abdullah Azzam (Musallam, 2005).   

B. American Evangelists

Conversely, American Evangelists have invoked Hubal by claiming that the worship of Allah (the God the Highest) as proclaimed by Muhammad s.a.w was not a restroration of Abrahamic monotheism, but an adaptation of the worship of Hubal.  

Robert Morey's (1994) Moon-god Allah in the Archeology of the Middle East revives Hugo Winckler's identification of Hubal as a moon god, and claims that worship of Allah evolved from that of HUbal, thus making Allah a "moon god" too. This view is repeated in the Chick tracts, "Allah had no Son" and "the Little Bride".  

This "perception" has been widely circulated in Evangelical and anti-Islamic literature in the United States. In 1996, Janet Parshall asserted that Muslims worship a moon god in syndicated radio broadcasts. In 2003, Pat Robertson stated, "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.

These views however have been dismissed by both Muslim and secular religious scholars. Farzana Hassan sees these claims as an extension of longstanding Christian Evangelical beliefs that Islam is "pagan" and that Muhammad s.a.w was an impostor and deceiver... 
"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 s.a.w for some of those extremist Christians, remains an impostor commissioned his companions to copy words of the Bible as they sat in dark inaccessible places, far removed from public gaze".
This perception is made up and I personally think that those involved in this kind of work as silly and they are no different to those "fanatic new-born Muslims" who had just started to grow beard down to their feet after they live their ungodly young life drinking beer, singing secular songs and socializing and womanizing before using the verses from the Scripture to legalize their own "lust" to marry four young pretty ladies... In this matter we could see the "lust" is used to irresponsibly legalize whatever view that they wanted to support them with the usage of the Scripture. Just a view of a Muslim educated within traditional circle but also trained in "other" traditions of the East.   

Sealed with prayer for mercy, peace and love, amin!

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