The Pagan Roots of Allah: The Mythology of Islam


The Pagan Roots of Allah

by Fesenjoon2

In spite of the prevalent mainstream description of Allah, there continues to exist a somewhat controversial of Islam, put forth by some scholars and a number of Christian groups [1][2][3], in which it is claimed that the Islamic deity Allah has pre-Islamic pagan roots stemming from local mythology. According to this “popular”[4] view, the chief deity of pre-Islamic Mecca “was the moon-god called al-ilah (meaning the god or the idol), which was shortened to Allah in pre-Islamic times”.[5]

One line of this argument has been publicized in recent times by the author/pastor Robert Morey in his book ”The moon-god Allah in the archeology of the Middle East”. Morey, who cites among other references a 1950s era archeological excavation in Hazor, Israel, argues that the same name of God of Islam, Arabic ”Allah”, was an epithet of Hubal in pre-Islamic Mecca.

As such, the lunar calendar is also claimed to be a result of this origination.[6-7] Islamic scholars have of course rejected these claims,[8] some even calling them “insulting”.[9] And there certainly have been valid points to be made in this regard. For example, while the crecent symbol seen in flags and other Islamic emblems have claimed to be a result of the Moon-God origin of Islam’s deity by some sources[10-13], muslim scholars contend that The Crescent and Star did not become symbols to the Muslims until the 12th century when “it was adopted by the Turks”, 700 years after the birth of Islam.[14]

Nevertheless, “Allah” was known to pre-Islamic Arabia as it was one of the Meccan deities.[15-16] Mohammed’s father (Abd-allah), for example, had Allah as part of his name.[17] Arthur Jeffrey for example states[18]:

“The name Allah, as the Quran 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 Arabia”.

Wellhausen also viewed “Allah (al-ilah, the god)” to be “a form of abstraction” originating from Mecca’s local gods[19], and other scholars such as Frederick Victor Winnett also mention Allah and Allat to have roots in Moon and Sun deities.[20]

The Moon-God deity of pre-Islam is also not without precedence[21], as has been documented by scholars such as Green et al.[22] Indeed, lunar deities have been well documented in pre-Islamic urban centers such as Harran, Sumer, Babylon, and Ur, which served as “the chief seat of the lunar deity known as Nannar or Sin.”[23] As such, it is argued that “Allah” has it’s origins in the Sumerian God ”Ilah”:

“Allah [al-ilah] himself was ancient – a thousand years before Mohammed the Persians wrote ‘Allah is exalted’ – but he was only one of many deities.”[24]

Still, some authors have contended that the Islamic deity “is derived from Semitic El, and originally applied to the moon; [which] seems to have been preceded by Ilmaqah, the moon god.”[25] Others have made the direct connection between the two:

“The god Il or Ilah was originally a phase of the Moon God, but early in Arabian history the name became a general term for god, and it was this name that the Hebrews used prominently in their personal names, such as Emanuel, Israel, etc., rather than the Bapal of the northern semites proper, which was the Sun. Similarly, under Mohammed’s tutelage, the relatively anonymous Ilah became Al-Ilah, The God, or Allâh, the Supreme Being.”[26]

and Alfred Guillaume has noted that Ilah was a name applied to the moon-god among some Pre-Islamic Arabian tribes, and that certain scholars believe that Ilah in pre-Islamic Arabia was a title of the moon god:

“The oldest name for God used in the Semitic world consists of but two letters, the consonant ‘l’ preceded by a smooth breathing, which was pronounced ‘Il’ in ancient Babylonia, ‘El’ in ancient Israel. The relation of this name, which in Babylonia and Assyria became a generic term simply meaning ‘god’, to the Arabian Ilah familiar to us in the form Allah, which is compounded of al, the definite article, and Ilah by eliding the vowel ‘i’, is not clear. Some scholars trace the name to the South Arabian Ilah, a title of the Moon god, but this is a matter of antiquarian interest…it is clear from Nabataean and other inscriptions that Allah meant ‘the god’.”[27]

and John Gray, the Semitic linguist of the University of Aberdeen[28], likewise notes that Il was a South Arabian moon god.[29]

Then, as mentioned above, there comes the connection of Allah and Hubal the Moon God, which before Islam, was the high god of the Kaaba, and the supreme lunar deity.[30-31] This connection was made in recent times by a Christian pastor by the name Robert Morey, who claims that the God in Islam is in origin the moon god Hubal[32]. However, Ringgren and Strom had earlier hypothesized that Allah and Hubal may in fact have been identical gods[33], and Julius Wellhausen considered Hubal to be an ancient name for Allah[34-36]. Sergio Noja also has stated Hubal to be the ancient correspondent of Allah, based solely on linguistic arguments.[37]

Wellhausen et al’s suggestion are thought to be arising because of the prominence of Hubal in the “House of Allah”, as is evidenced in an excerpt from historian Ibn Ishaq, which cites Muhammad’s grandfather “standing by Hubal praying to Allah”.[38] In this regard, W.M. Watts who names Allah as one of many pagan God’s of Mecca[39] writes:

“The use of the phrase “the Lord of this House” makes it likely that those Meccans who believed in Allah as a high god – and they may have been numerous – regarded the Ka’ba as his shrine, even though there were images of other gods in it. There are stories in the Sira of pagan Meccans praying to Allah while standing beside the image of Hubal.”

David Samuel Margoliouth, while terming Wellhausen’s ideas as merely “hypothetical”, explains[40]:

“Between Hubal, the god whose image was inside the Ka‘bah, and Allah (“the God”), of whom much will be heard, there was perhaps some connection.”

Some authors such as Occhigrosso have even gone so far as to maintain that the Black Stone of the Kaaba was connected to the worship of Hubal.[41] And Patricia Crone, professor of Islamic history at Princeton University, while discussing aspects of Arabian litholatry, also notes the connection between Allah and the other pagan gods, and the black stone housed in the Kaabah[42]:

“If we assume that bayt and ka’ba alike originally referred to the Meccan stone rather than the building around it, then the lord of the Meccan house was a pagan Allah worshipped in conjunction with a female consort such as al-’Uzza and/or other “daughters of God.” This would give us a genuinely pagan deity for Quraysh and at the same time explain their devotion to goddesses.”

And this is where things get interesting, as we are led to The Satanic Verses connection. Many scholars such as Hofner[43], F.E.Peters[44] and others have written of “the daughters of Allah” as pre-Islamic deities venerated by Arabia.[45-47] These daughters are the goddesses named al-lat, al-manat, and al-uzza.[48] These are the same three goddesses that were later mentioned in the infamous Satanic Verses of the Koran (verses 19 and 20 of al-Surat al-Najm).[49][50] David Bukay and some other writers have stated that these three are indeed the daughters of Allah the Moon-God with the Sun-God.[51]

In conclusion, it must be re-emphasized that Islamic groups have called the Moon-God view a “lie”[52], citing the the 37th verse of the Surah al-Fusillat as proof against the Moon-God claim[53]:

“And of His signs are the night and day and the sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostate to Allah , who created them, if it should be Him that you worship”.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), for example, even describes the Moon-God theory of Allah, as evangelical “fantasies” that are “perpetuated in their comic books”.[54]

However, the multiple connections stated by various authors, historians, and scholars during the past 100 years or so (some of which have been mentioned in this article), if nothing else, call for a more thorough examination of the pagan sources of Islamic belief. Perhaps, not unsimilar to the all too familiar account of the pagan roots of Noah’s flood found in Gilgamesh, or the curious parallels between Jesus and Horus.[55]

With all the ruckus and violence going around in the muslim world merely because of an obscure home-made video, it is only fair to say that if muslims wish their “freedom of speech” in questioning historical events such as the holocaust to be respected, then they must also give up immunity to the same exact line of scrunity. In the 21st century, everything and anything can be questioned, from the pagan roots of Allah, to even the existence of Muhammad himself. And this is something that the Islamic world must become accustomed to, if it is willing to progress out of the dark shadows of the 7th century and into the third millenium. This is the era of reason and rationality, and in this day and age, as Descartes put it so succinctly, the only thing that cannot be doubted is the ability to doubt itself.[56]    [1]


[4]: “One popular notion is that Allah originally was the name of a moon god originally worshiped in Arabia at the time of Muhammad.” See: Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. Timothy C. Tennent. Zondervan, 2009. ISBN 0310298482

[6]: A history of pagan Europe. Prudence Jones, Nigel Pennick. Psychology Press, 1995. ISBN 0-415-09136-5 p.77

[7]: Moon-o-theism, Volume II: Religion of a War and Moon God Prophet. Yoel Natan, 2006. ISBN 1439297177 pp.312

[10]: A history of pagan Europe. Prudence Jones, Nigel Pennick. Psychology Press, 1995. ISBN 0-415-09136-5 p.77

[11]: Islam Revealed. Montell Jackson. Xulon Press, 2003. ISBN 1591608694 pp.15

[12]: Islam: a raging storm. Shelton L. Smith. Sword of the Lord Publishers, 2002. ISBN 087398417X pp.25

[13]: The Cult of the Moon God: Exploding the Myths of Islam and Discovering the Truths of God. Brian Wilson. WinePress Publishing, 2011. ISBN 1414119976 pp.82

[15]: L. Gardet, Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. B. Lewis, C. Pellat and J. Schacht, Vol. 1, pp. 406

[16]: Studies on Islam. Merlin L. Swartz. University Press, 1981. ISBN 0195027167 pp.12

[18]: A. Jeffrey, Islam: Mohammed and His Religion, Liberal Arts Press. 1958. ASIN: B000IXMTE4 pp. 85

[19]: Studies on Islam. Merlin L. Swartz. University Press, 1981. ISBN 0195027167 pp.12

[20]: Zwemmer, (Editor). The Daughters of Allah, by Frederick Victor Winnett, MWJ, Vol. XXX, 1940, pg. 120-125

[21]: Time at Emar: the cultic calendar and the rituals from the diviner’s archive. Volume 11 of Mesopotamian civilizations. Daniel E. Fleming. Eisenbrauns. 2000. ISBN 1575060442 pp.157

[22]: The city of the Moon god: religious traditions of Harran. Volume 114 of Religions in the Graeco-Roman world. Tamara M. Green. BRILL, 1992. ISBN 9004095136

[23]: Myths of Babylonia and Assyria. Donald A. Mackenzie. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1162734272. 2010. pp.50-51

[24]: The Loom of History”. Herbert J. Muller. Oxford University Press. 1966. ISBN 0195004329. pp.264

[25]: E. Sykes, Everyman’s Dictionary of Non-Classical Mythology, E P Dutton Publishers. January 2000. ISBN 052509217X pp. 7

[26]: Southern Arabia, Carleton S. Coon, Washington, D.C. Smithsonian, 1944, p.399

[27]: Alfred Guillaume. ”Islam”. Penguin 1990 ISBN 0140135553 pp.7

[29]: J. Gray, The Legacy of Canaan: The Ras Shamra Texts and their Relevance to the Old Testament, Supplement to Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 5 (1957), p. 123

[30]: F. Hommel, First Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. M.T. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, and R. Hartmann, Vol. 1, pp. 379-380

[31]: C. Glassé, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 185

[32]: The moon-god Allah in the archeology of the Middle East. Newport, PA : Research and Education Foundation, 1994

[33]: Religions of mankind today & yesterday. Helmer Ringgren, Åke V. Ström. Oliver & Boyd, 1967 pp.178.

[34]: J. Wellhausen, Reste Arabischen Heidenthums. pp.75

[35]: 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 pp.112

[36]: Meccan trade and the rise of Islam, Patricia Crone, Gorgias Press LLC, 2004, ISBN 1593331029 pp.185-195

[37]: S. Noja, ”Hubal = Allah”, Rendiconti: Instituto Lombardo Accademia Di Scienze E Lettere, 1994, Volume 128, pp. 283-295.

[38]: The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, trans. A. Guillaume, pp. 66-68

[39]: W.M. Watt, Muhammad’s Mecca. Edinburgh University Press. 1988. ISBN 0852245653 pp.39

[40]: D. S. Margoliouth, Mohammed And The Rise Of Islam, 1905, p. 19

[41]: P. Occhigrosso, The Joy of Sects, ISBN 0385425651 p. 398

[42]: Patricia Crone, Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam. Gorgias Press LLC. 2004. ISBN-10: 1593331029 pp.192-193

[43]: Maria Höfner, Kurt Rudolph et al. Die Religionen Altsyriens, Altarabiens und der Mandäer. Berlin. 1970. pp.361-367

[44]: Jesus and Muhammad: Parallel Tracks, Parallel Lives. F. E. Peters. Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN 0199747466 pp.113

[45]: Struggles of gods: papers of the Groningen Work Group for the Study of the History of Religions. Religion and reason. Volume 31 of Trends in Linguistic. Hans Gerhard Kippenberg, H. J. W. Drijvers, Y. Kuiper. Walter de Gruyter, 1984. ISBN 9027934606 pp.262

[46]: R.R. Landau, Islam and the Arabs. London. G. Allen and Unwin, 1958 pp. 13

[47]: A.G. Lundin, Die Arabischen Göttinnen Ruda und al-Uzza”, Al-Hudhud: Festschrift Maria Höfner zum 80. Geburtstag, Ed. R.G. Stiegner, pp. 211-218

[48]: Meet the Arab. John Van Ess. The John Day Company, 1943 pp.29

[49]: A history of pagan Europe. Prudence Jones, Nigel Pennick. Psychology Press, 1995. ISBN 0-415-09136-5 p.77

[51]: From Muhammad to Bin Laden. David Bukay. Transaction Publishers, 2008. ISBN 0765803909 pp.38

[56]: Roger Scruton. Modern Philosophy: An Introduction and Survey. London: Penguin Books, 1994.

[57]: Myths of Babylonia and Assyria. Donald A. Mackenzie. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1162734272. 2010. pp.50-51

[58]: Cylinder of Hash-Hamer, The British Museum. (Link)
[59]: See linked discussion

The myth of “three Abrahamic faiths”


[1] The Pagan Roots of Allah:

[2] The Myth of Abrahamic Faiths:

[3] Islamic Supremacism:

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