So let’s recap Muslims worship a deity called Allah and claim that the Allah in pre-Islamic times was the biblical God, Yahweh, of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles.
Ahmed Deedat, well-known Muslim apologist, argues that Allah is a biblical name for God on the basis of “Allelujah” which he convolutes into “Allah-lujah” (What is His Name?, Durban, SA: IPCI, 1990, p.37). This only reveals that he does not understand Hebrew, for haleluyah is the contracted form of Yahweh, YAH, preceeded by the verb “to praise” (literally, Praise Yah(weh)!).
His other “biblical” arguments are equally absurd. he also claims that the word “Allah” was never corrupted by paganism. “Allah is a unique word for the only God … you cannot make a feminine of Allah”, says Deedat. But what he does not tell his readers is that one of Allah’s daughters was named “Al-Lat”, which is the feminine form of “Allah”!
The issue here is therefore seen to be one of CONTINUITY for the Muslim’s claim of continuity (from Judaism to Christianity to Islam) is essential in their attempt to convert Jews and Christians. If “Allah” is part of the flow of divine revelation in Scripture, then it is the next step in biblical religion. Thus we should all become Muslims. But, on the other hand, if Allah was a pre-Islamic pagan deity, then its core claim is refuted.
Religious claims often come to grief as a result of solid scientific, archaeological evidence. Sp, instead of endlessly speculating about the past, we can look to science to see what the evidence reveals. As we shall see, the hard evidence demonstrates that the god Allah was a pagan deity. In fact, he was the moon-god who was married to the sun-goddess and the stars were his daughters.
Archaeologists have uncovered temples to the moon-god throughout the Middle East. From the mountains of Turkey to the banks of the Nile, the most widespread religion of the ancient world was the worship of the moon-god. It was even the religion of the patriarch Abraham before Yahweh revealed Himself and commanded him to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldees and migrate to Canaan.
Archaeologists have uncovered temples to the moon-god throughout the Middle East. From the mountains of Turkey to the banks of the Nile, the most widespread religion of the ancient world was the worship of the moon-god.
The Sumerians, in the first literate civilization, left thousands of clay tablets describing their religious beliefs. As demonstrated by Sjöberg and Hall, the ancient Sumerians worshipped a moon-god who was called by many different names. The most popular names were Nanna, Suen, and Asimbabbar (Mark Hall, A Study of the Sumerian Moon-god, Sin, PhD., 1985, University of Pennsylvania).
His symbol was the crescent moon. Given the amount of artifacts concerning the worship of this moon-god, it is clear that this was the dominant religion in Sumeria. The cult of the moon-god was the most popular religion throughout ancient Mesopotamia. The Assyrians, Babylonians, and Arkkadians took the word Suen and transformed it into the word Sîn as their favourite name for this deity (Austin Potts, The Hymns and Prayers to the Moon-god, Sin, PhD., 1971, Dropsie College, p.2). As Professor Potts pointed out, “Sîn is a name essentially Sumerian in origin which had been borrowed by the Semites” (op.cit., p.4).
Anatolian mural from Karum – notice the boxed pre-Islamic Crescent-and-Star glyph
Another pre-Islamic crescent moon and star from the same location
In ancient Syria and Canna, the moon-god Sîn was usually represented by the moon in its crescent phase. At times, the full moon was placed inside the crescent moon to emphasize all the phases of the moon. Tne sun-goddess was the wife of Sîn and the stars were their daughters. For example, Ishtar was the daughter of Sîn (Ibid., p.7).
Sacrifices to the moon-god are described in the Ras Shamra texts. In the Ugaritic texts, the moon-god was sometimes called Kusuh. In Persia, as well as in Egypt, the moon-god is depicted on wall murals and on the heads of statutes. He was the judge of men and gods.
As a matter of fact, everywhere in the ancient world the symbol of the crescent moon can be found on seal impressions, stiles, pottery, amulets, clay tablets, cylinders, weights, earrings, necklaces, wall murals, and so on. In Tell-el-Obeid, a copper calf was found with crescent moon on its forehead, the same idol the children of Israel worshiped in the Desert of Sîn (Sînai) during the apostasy whilst Moses was on top of the mountain getting the Ten Commandments from Yahweh. While God’s prophet (Moses) was conversing with the true God, Yahweh, the Israelites were descending into idolatry worshiping the moon-god, Sîn! An idol with the body of a bull and the head of a man has a crescent inlaid on its forehead with shells. In Ur, the Stela of Ur-Nammu has the crescent symbol placed at the top of the register of gods because the moon god was the head of the gods. Even bread was baked in the form of a crescent as an act of devotion to the moon-god (Ibid, pp.14-21).
Ur of the Chaldees was so devoted to the moon-god that it was sometimes called Nannar in tablets from that time period. A temple of the moon-god was excavated in Ur by Sir Leonard Woolley. He dug up many examples of moon-worship that are now displayed in the British Museum. Harran was likewise noted for its devotion to the moon-god. An example of the Babylonian moon-god is shown to the right. Note the presence of the crescent.
In the 1950’s a major temple to the moon-god was excavated at Hazor in Palestine. Two idols of the moon-god were found. Each was a statue of a man sitting upon a throne with a crescent moon carved into his chest. The accompanying inscriptions make it clear that these were idols of the moon-god. The worship tablet found at the same sight shows arms outstretched towards the Moon-god here represented by the full moon within the crescent moon. Several smaller statues were also found which were identified by their inscriptions as the daughters of the moon-god.
What about Arabia? As pointed out by Professor Coon, “Muslims are notoriously loathe to preserve traditions of earlier paganism and like to garble what pre-Islamic history they permit to survive in anachronistic terms” (Carleton S. Coon, Southern Arabia, Washington DC, Smithsonian, 1944, p.398).
During the 19th century, Arnaud, Halevy, and Glaser went to southern Arabia and dug up thousands of Sabean, Minaean, and Qarabanian inscriptions which were subsequently translated.
In the 1940’s, archaeologists G. Caton Thompson and Carleton S. Coon made some amazing discoveries in Arabia. During the 1950’s, Wendell Phillips, W.F.Albright, Richard Bower, and others excavated sites Qataban, Timna, and Marib (the ancient capital of Sheba).
Thousands of inscriptions from walls and rocks in northern Arabia have also been collected. Reliefs and votive bowls used in worship of the “daughters of Allah” have also been discovered. The three daughters, Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat are sometimes depicted together with Allah the moon-god represented by a crescent moon above them (North Arabian archaeological finds concerning Al-Lat are discussed in: Isaac Rabinowitz, Aramaic Inscriptions of the Fifth Century, JNES, XV, 1956, pp.1-9; Another Aramaic Record of the North Arabian goddess Han’Llat, JNES, XVIII, 1959, pp.154-55; Edward Linski, The Goddess Atirat in Ancient Arabia, in Babylon and in Ugarit: Her Relation to the Moon-god and the Sun-goddess, Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica, 3:101-9; H.J.Drivers, Iconography and Character of the Arab Goddess Allat, found in Études Preliminaries Aux Religions Orientales Dans L’Empire Roman, ed. Maarten J. Verseren, Leiden, Brill, 1978, pp.331-51).
The archaeological evidence demonstrates that the dominant religion in Arabia was the cult of the moon-god. The Old Testament consistently rebuked the worship of the moon-god (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kings.21:3,5; 23:5; Jeremiah 8:2; 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5). When Israel fell into idolatry, it was usually to the cult of the moon-god. In Old Testament times, Nabonidus (555-539 BC), the last King of Babylon, built Tayma, Arabia, as a centre od moon-god worship. Segall stated: “South Arabia’s stellar religion has always been dominated by the Moon-god in various variations” (Berta Segall, The Iconography of Cosmic Kingship, the Art Bulletin, vol.xxxviii, 1956, p.77). Many scholars have also noticed that the moon-god’s name, Sín, is a part of such Arabic words as “Sinai”, the “wilderness of Sîn”, and so forth.
When the popularity of the moon-god waned elsewhere, the Arabs remained true to their conviction that the moon-god was the greatest of all gods. While they worshiped 360 gods at the Kabah in Mecca, the moon-god was the chief deity. Mecca was in fact built as a shrine for the moon-god. This is what made it the most sacred site of Arabian paganism.
In 1944, G. Caton Thompson revealed in her book, The Tombs and Moon Temple of Hureidah, that she had uncovered a temple of the moon-god in southern Arabia. The symbols of the crescent moon and no less than 21 inscriptions with the name Sîn were found in this temple. An idol which is probably the moon-god himself was also discovered. This was later confirmed by other well-known archaeologists (See Richard Le Baron Bower Jr. and Frank P. Albright, Archaeological Discoveries in South Arabia, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 1958, p.78ff; Ray Cleveland, An Ancient South Arabian Necropolis, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 1965; Nelson Gleuck, Deities and Dolphins, New York, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1965).
The temple reveals that the temple of the moon-god was active even in the Christian era. Evidence gathered from both North and South Arabia demonstrate that moon-god worship was clearly active even in Muhammad’s day and was still the dominant cult.
According to numerous inscriptions, while the name of the moon-god was Sîn, his title was al-ilah, “the deity”, meaning that he was the chief of high god among the gods. As Coon pointed out, “The God Il or Ilah was originally a phase of the Moon-God” (Coon, Southern Arabia, p.399).
We will continue this discussion in the next post. I’ve rambled on long enough.