• Allah and his three Daughters of Destiny

 

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First of all, let us go back in history and learn more about  gods of many nations at that time :

'Ilumquh of the Sabeans

Sheba is the Hebrew spelling of Saba, the name of an ancient southwest Arabian kingdom roughly corresponding to the modern territory of Yemen, originally settled by Semites from western or central Arabia during the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. Excavations at Ma'rib, its capital, during the 20th century have revealed an imposing temple to the moon god.

 

Temple of 'Ilumquh at Marib Yemen, Sabean Moon Bull,

Incense Holder Aksum, Moon and Orb of Venus Sabean wall frieze (Doe).

"The South Arabians before Islam were polytheists and revered a large number of deities. Most of these were astral in concept but the significance of only a few is known. It was essentially a planetary system in which the moon as a masculine deity prevailed. This, combined with the use of a star calendar by the agriculturists of certain parts, particularly in the Hadramaut, indicates that there was an early reverence for the night sky. Amongst the South Arabians the worship of the moon continued, and it is almost certain that their religious calendar was also lunar and that their years were calculated by the position of the moon. The national god of each of the kingdoms or states was the Moon-god known by various names: 'Ilumquh by the Sabaeans, 'Amm and 'Anbay by the Qatabanians, Wadd (love) by the Minaeans, and Sin by the Hadramis". The term 'God is Love' is characteristic of Wadd (Briffault 3/85). 'the Merciful' ascribed to Allah is also South Arabian (Pritchard).

The sun-goddess was the moon's consort; she was perhaps best known in South Arabia as Dhat Hamym, 'she who sends forth strong rays of benevolence'. Another dominant deity was the male god known as Athtar corresponding to Phoenician Astarte (Doe 25). Pritchard (61) claims their pantheon included the the moon god Sin etc., Shams (Shamash) and Athtar or Astarte as in the Semitic trinity, however it would appear that the sun was female as the Canaanite Shapash who figures in Ugarit myth alongside Athtar (Driver 110).

The earliest temple known is the Mahram Bilquis or Harem of the Queen of Sheba, previously called the Awwam the temple of the Moon God 'Ilumquh which dates from around 700 BC, although its lower levels may be substantially older. Sabean moon worship extended through a long period of time to around 400 AD when it was overtaken be rescendent Judaism and Christianity around a century before Muhammad.

From the 4th century AD, Christian bishops made notable conversions of the Kings of Himyar , Aksum and of Ethiopia generally. Narjan, an ancient pagan pilgrimage spot in a fertile valley on the trade route became a Christian stronghold. Medina became a centre of Jewish influence. Christianity and Judaism entered into competition in Arabia, encouraged by the Persians. In 522, King Dhu Nawas Yusaf "Lord of Curls" became the last elected Himyar king, descendent of a Jewish hero, who made war on the Christians. He offered the citizens of Naryan the choice of Jewry or death. When they refused he burned them all in a great trench. Afterwards Narjan as named "the trench". In response the Ethiopians overcame them and Abraha made San'a a Christian pilgrimage point which rivalled Mecca. This led to an expeditionary force of Christians to try to destroy the Ka'aba. In turn Persia invaded and for a short time the country became a Persian satrapy. This confused situation laid the seeds for the emergence of Islam.

Bilqis the Sun-worshipper of Islam

Bilquis was the Queen of the Sabeans in Solomons time. Pre-Islamic poetry describes Solomon as a king of universal kingdom of men, djinn and winds etc. nine angels stand before him. He built the castle al-Ablaq near Taima.

"The great civilization of South Arabia was little known to the Arabs of Muhammad's time [although] any of the Arab tribes of Muhammad's day still had a tradition that they had lived in South Arabia before taking to the desert when the old civilization declined." Some tribes retained a memory of being settled there before conditions worsened, apparently connected with the Marib dam bursting and a return to nomadic life. Restorations were know to have been carried out in 450 and 542 which puts a final date on the demise (Pritchard 1974 88).

Sura 34:15 states: "Certainly there was a sign for Saba in their abode; two gardens on the right and the left; eat of the sustenance of your Lord and give thanks to Him: a good land and a Forgiving Lord! But they turned aside, so We sent upon them a torrent of which the rush could not be withstood, and in place of their two gardens We gave to them two gardens yielding bitter fruit and (growing) tamarisk and a few lote-trees."

Sura 27:15-44 relates many of the episodes already found for example in the Targum Sheni, a further indication of the familiarity Muhammad had with details of Jewish literature outside the Pentateuch. Rather than Bilqis being portrayed as a demon, Solomon is portrayed as a great man of God and master of the Djinn to whom Bilquis submits in acknowledgement of al-Llah. The story of the Hoopoe is told. The people of Sheba are said to be sun-worshippers. Her throne is disguised and placed before her as a test. She says "It is like it' evasively. As she walks on to the palace: 44 "She though it a pool and uncovered her legs. Solomon said 'It is a place paved with glass.' She sadi 'I have wronged myself to God, Lord of the worlds, with Solomon I make submission.' "

Moon and Sun deities surmounted by the Eagle. Al-Uzza as Moon Goddess commands the Zodiac surmounted by the moon and carrying a moon staff. The temple of Manatu at Petra.

Dionysian tragic mask with dolphins. Grape freeze (centre). Aretas IV and Shaqilat II (Glueck).

Al-Lat, al-Uzza and Duchares: the Deities of Nabatea

A second prominent Arab culture had sprung up from Southern Sinai around 600 BC and from around 400 BC in the land of the Edomites in Jordan. The Nabateans had a close relationship with the Edomites as they each claim a female line of descent from Ishmael, through Bashemath one of the three wives of Esau and her sister Nabaioth respectively (Browning 32), conditions favourable to integration. This also gave the Edomites descent from Isaac through Esau. The son of Esau and Bashemath was Ruel the Midianite father in Law of Moses.

The Nabateans migrated from Arabia as shepherds and caravan traders who benefited from horse breeding and settled adaptably to form rich irrigated productive land with a prominent trade, centred on the previously unpopulated area round Petra - 'a rose red city half as old as time'. During the time of Jesus, Nabatea was an independent Kingdom with influence spreading to Damascus. Herod was involved in hostilities with Aretas IV the King of Nabatea because Herodias displaced Aretas's daughter as Herod's wife. Although they were annexed by the Romans they continued to be a significant Arab power to the time of Muhammad.

Herodotus says of the Arabs: "They deem no other to be gods save Dionysus and Heavenly Aphrodite ... they call Dionysus Orotalt and Aphrodite Alilat" (Negev 101). In Sumeria Allatu or 'goddess' is an epithet of Ereshkigal the chthonic goddess of the underworld. Like El and al-Llah which simply means god, al-Lat 'goddess' could be identified with many female deities, and indeed Allat is identified with Aphrodite-Venus (Negev 112). It is said that when Allat became the goddess of the Nabateans, she bacame al-Uzza the 'mighty one' as she evolved from a local deity into a patron of an expanding culture (Browning 47). We have seen that al-Uzza is also referred to in connection with the Bedouins at Harran (Green T 62).

Horned stele with Qos-allah, Seal attributed to Edomite Qaush, Djin block (Glueck, Browning).

Nabatean inscriptions in Sinai and other places display widespread references to names including Allah, El and Allat (god and goddess) , with regional references to al-Uzza, Baal and Manutu (Manat) (Negev 11). Allat is also found in Sinai in South Arabian language. Allah occurs particularly as Garm-'allahi - god dedided (Greek Garamelos) and Aush-allahi - 'gods covenant' (Greek Ausallos). We find both Shalm-lahi 'Allah is peace' and Shalm-allat, 'the peace of the goddess'. We also find Amat-allahi 'she-servant of god' and Halaf-llahi 'the successor of Allah'.

A stele is dedicated to Qos-allah 'Qos is Allah' or 'Qos the god', by Qosmilk (melech - king) is found at Petra (Glueck 516). Qos is identifiable with Kaush (Qaush) the God of the older Edomites. The stele is horned and the a seal from Edomite Tawilan near Petra identified with Kaush displays a star and crescent (Browning 28), both consistent with a moon diety. It is conceivable the latter could have resulted from trade with Harran (Bartlett 194). There is continuing debate about the nature of Qos (qaus - bow) who has been identified both with a hunting bow (hunting god) and a rainbow (weather god) although the crescent above is alsao a bow. There is no reference to Qos in the Old Testament, but Seir is one of the domains of Yahweh, suggesting a close relationship. His attributes in inscriptions include knowing, striking down, giving and light (Bartlett203). Attempts have been made to also explain the existence of this scarab in the light of trade with Harran for which evidence has been found in cuneiform tablets (Bartlett 194).

The Nabateans had two principal gods in their pantheon, and a whole range of djinns, personal gods and spirits similar to angels. These deities were Dhu Shara, or Duchares and al-Uzza. Duchares means Lord of Shera (Seir), a local mountain and thunder god who was worshipped at a rock high place as a block of stone frequently squared, just as Hermes was the four-square god. Suidas in the tenth century AD described it as a 'cubic' black stone of dimension 4x2x1 (Browning 44). All the deities male and female were represented as stones or god-blocks.

The treasury at Petra. Al-Uzza as grain goddess and as Mari the sea goddess crowned by dolphins.

(Glueck, Browning)

Duchares was a Zeus-like mountain deity of Jebel Shara, with associations with sacred kingship whose rites took a prominent place in the scheme of worship. Notably King Obodas became Zeus Oboda (Negev 111). He is described on a dam inscription as 'Dushara the god of Gaia' (Negev 107). He was celebrated as a god of immortality celebrated by a Dionysian tragic mask of death, in which its wearer became united with him, thus escaping the limitations of the mortal span (Glueck 242). He is surrounded by dolphins as was Dionysus.

Al-Uzza was a deity of springs and water, as befits a fertility goddess, and as such she would have been reverenced in Petra with particular devotion" (Browning 47). Manathu (the Manat of Islam) was the patron goddess of Petra, being Fortuna having a similar role to Semitic Gad (Browning 48). As Moon Goddess Tyche she was also Fortune holding a cornucopia of overflowing fruit.

The Nabateans originally were tent-dwelling shepherds renowned, like their fellow tribe the Recchabites, for eschewing houses, planted crops or wine, in their case on penalty of death (Negev 101), a sentiment shared by Muhammad, who looked with contempt upon the Kuryshites and Ansari "for they employ themselves with sowing seeds" ... "The divine glory is among the shepherds, vanity and impudence among the agricultural peoples" (Briffault 3/111).

However agricultural settlement brought changes and the Greek period produced a hybrid culture. Al-Uzza became identified with Atargatis-Aphrodite and Duchares with Dionysus. Freezes including grape vines are prominent, consistent with Dionysian rites, which Browning (47) concedes may have become the "pornographic pop concerts which came to debase the once-glorious cult of Dionysos." Glueck (166) is even more forthright: "Rich food in plenty and strong wine without stint helped bring the deities and ther worshippers into fervid relationship. Bar-Hebraeus quoted Psalm 12:8 of Nabatean women "the wicked walk on every side while vileness is exhalted among the sons of men". The scope and nature of the temples supports both males and females being worshippers of the cults.

The Nabateans, like the Harranians, followed a complex system of astral worship, involving the sun and moon and seven major planets, in which in her varying forms, the Goddess represented Venus and the Moon (Glueck 453). As Moon Goddess she is identifiable with Tyche, Selene and Atargatis-Artemis of Hierapolis. Selene was worshipped in the new and full moon. She stands prima inter pares at the centre of the main dieties of the Nabatean pantheon the seven planets and the zodiac, although sometimes displaced by Zeus. The snake twined eagle is shown in at least one relief standing above both the sun and moon at Jebel Druze. However the fertility goddess, who was also in her aspects the dolphin-crowned Sea Goddess (Aphrodite-Mari) of seafarers and the Moon Goddess clearly dominates the sculptures at Khirbet Tannur, the outstanding Nabataean high sanctuary, archetypal of the biblical high places (Glueck).

Women played a significant role in Nabatean society. Aretas IV was on coinage with Shaqilat I, while Malichus II was alongside Shaqilat II. "Married women could bequeath and hold property and genealogy was sometimes traced through the maternal line. Pagan temples, whether inside or outside the Nabataean kingdom were dedicated to both Dushara and Allat or to localized equivalents of Zues Hadad and Atargatis. Indeed in general, Atargatis seems to have outranked her consort by far" (Glueck 166).

National Star and Crescent Symbols of the Islamic World

Allah and his three Daughters of Destiny

The Nabatean findings are consistent with the idea that Sin is also the progenitor of the ancient Arabian high God al-Llah, which like El simply means God, who is still represented by the crescent moon. It has already been noted that the star and crescent of Islam is prefigured both in the coinage of Harran and the symbolic relationship between the crescent moon of Sin and the evening star of Ishtar, seen also among the Sabeans.

Muhammad's very purpose was to return to the God of Abraham, recognising the tension between the Christians and the Jews indicated things had gone awry with both Moses and Jesus. Had the monotheistic heritage not become so dominant in Arabia in the century before Muhammad, he might well have remained true to the ancient Moon deity which had been the God of the Arabs since time immemorial and was the true source of al-Lah.

Just as it was diminished by Yahweh, the moon was made subservient by Muhammad. "The moon had descended from heaven and had bowed down doing homage to Muhammad. He was transfigured in its rays, which penetrated his garment and filled his body with light" (Briffault v3 78).

Sura 29.61 "And if you ask them,

Who created the heavens and the earth

and made the sun and the moon subservient,

they will certainly say, Allah."

Muhammad is concerned to deny that Abraham would worship the sun, moon or Ishtar. Sura 6.75 And thus did We show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and that he might be of those who are sure. So when the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star; said he: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: I do not love the setting ones. Then when he saw the moon rising, he said: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: If my Lord had not guided me I should certainly be of the erring people. Then when he saw the sun rising, he said: Is this my Lord? Is this the greatest? So when it set, he said: O my people! surely I am clear of what you set up (with Allah). Surely I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am not of the polytheists."

However polytheists did not make such a literal identification. The image or astronomical form a deity was symbolic - a realization of their nature. As we have seen, the followers of the high moon god perceived the deity in very much the same terms Muhammad describes al-Llah., even questioning whether a mere human prophet can act as an intermediary with the cosmic godhead. The ancients all knew the sun and moon rose and set. Some were very great astronomers.

Nevertheless, Muhammad does read considerable significance into the Moon. He swears three times by the Moon in the Koran. They reasons are serious - hell and the disbvelievers:

Sura 74.32 "I swear by the moon,

And the night when it departs,

And the daybreak when it shines;

Surely it (hell) is one of the gravest (misfortunes)"

Sura 84.16 But nay! I swear by the sunset redness,

And the night and that which it drives on,

And the moon when it grows full,

That you shall most certainly enter one state after another.

But what is the matter with them that they do not believe,

And when the Qur'an is recited to them they do not make obeisance?

The prophet cites the moon rending asunder:

Sura 54: The Moon

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful.

The hour drew nigh and the moon did rend asunder.

And if they see a miracle they turn aside and say:

Transient magic. And they call (it) a lie,

and follow their low desires;

and every affair has its appointed term.

"Many of the Arab tribes of Muhammad's day still had a tradition that they had lived in South Arabia before taking to the desert when the old civilization declined." The term ascribed above to Allah - "the Merciful" ar-Rahman originates from South Arabia, (Pritchard 89) suggesting that Allah, the ancient male deity worshipped at the Ka'aba long before the lifetime of Muhammad, has a direct link with 'Ilumquh, the Arabic Moon God of the Sabeans.

The moon aligning with the sun in a solar eclipse signifies the day of ressurection:

Sura 75.6 He asks: When is the day of resurrection?

So when the sight becomes dazed,

And the moon becomes dark,

And the sun and the moon are brought together,

Man shall say on that day: Whither to fly to?

By no means! there shall be no place of refuge!

With your Lord alone shall on that.day be the place of rest.

In Sura 2.189 the prophet sets off the new crescent moon as a sacred period: "They ask you concerning the new moon. Say: They are times appointed for (the benefit of) men, and (for) the pilgrimage." The month-long fast of Ramadan begins and ends with the new moon. The Arabic calendar is exclusively lunar, ignoring the solar cycle completely. There are 12 lunar months of alternate 30 and 29 days, closely averaging the 29 d 12.7 h lunar cycle, making the year only 354 days long, so the months move backward through all the seasons and complete a cycle every 32 1/2 years, emphasizing the pivotal position of the moon in the Arabic consciousness.

Sura 25.61 "Blessed is He Who made the constellations in the heavens

and made therein a lamp and a shining moon.

And He it is Who made the night and the day to follow each other

for him who desires to be mindful or desires to be thankful."

"The moon was the 'protector of women', and was associated with a feminine counterpart". Allah was originally paired with his daughters - the banat al-Lah.. "This Arabian goddess was triune, being also known as the three Holy Virgins". The Manat consisted of al-Lat "the goddess", Q're (possibly Kore) the Virgin, and al-Uzza the 'powerful one' (Briffault). Al-Uzza was the moon. Manat was bringer of good and bad luck, just as the Greek Moria the three fates and the Arabic term mana.

Occhigrosso (1996) affirms the moon God association and the astronomical basis of the black stone: "Before Muhammad appeared, the Kaaba was surrounded by 360 idols, and every Arab house had its god. Arabs also believed in jinn (subtle beings), and some vague divinity with many offspring. Among the major deities of the pre-Islamic era were al-Lat ("the Goddess"), worshiped in the shape of a square stone; al-Uzzah ("the Mighty"), a goddess identified with the morning star and worshiped as a thigh-bone-shaped slab of granite between al Talf and Mecca; Manat, the goddess of destiny, worshiped as a black stone on the road between Mecca and Medina; and the moon god, Hubal, whose worship was connected with the Black Stone of the Kaaba. The stones were said to have fallen from the sun, moon, stars, and planets and to represent cosmic forces. The so-called Black Stone (actually the color of burnt umber) that Muslims revere today is the same one that their forebears had worshiped well before Muhammad and that they believed had come from the moon. (No scientific investigation has ever been performed on the stone. In 930, the stone was removed and shattered by an Iraqi sect of Qarmatians, but the pieces were later returned. The pieces, sealed in pitch and held in place by silver wire, measure about 10 inches in diameter altogether and several feet high; they are venerated today in patched-together form.)"

"The Quraysh had settled in Mecca towards the end of the fifth century. Their ancestor Qusayy, had settled in the Meccan valley beside the Sanctuary. Legend has it that Qusayy had travelled in Syria and brought the three goddesses al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat to the Hijaz and enthroned the Nabatean god Hubal in the Ka'aba. In a campaign that combined trickery and force, the Quraysh managed to take control of Mecca and expel the Khuza'ah, its guardian tribe who were considered to have failed their sacred trust" (Armstrong 1991). There are several difficulties with this legend. We have seen that al-Uzza and before her al-Lat have a considerable history as Arab deities, stretching all the way back to Sumeria."

Hubal, in al-Kalbi's 'Book of Idols (Faris 23), is described as a red-agate statue of a male figure. One passage of al-Kalbi suggests however more of an identification with forms of arrow oracle known throughout the Near East, which are more consistent with Persian influence: "In front of [the idol] were seven divination arrows ". To make a decison or resolve a conflict "they would proceed to the idol and shuffle the divination arrows before it." In Exekiel 21:21 it is noted "For the King of Babylon stands at the parting of the ways he shakes the arrows, he consults the teraphim, he looks at the liver". Such oracles, the urim and tummim were also a vehicle of the Torah (Snaith 146).

Nevertheless, the Ka'aba was a sacred sanctuary which displayed tolerance to many paths, containing no less than 360 images and many pictures including those of Jesus and Mary. It was the sacred rule that the faithful should have access to the sanctuary without discrimination and there should be no conflict within 10 miles. The seven circumambulations and the 360 images appear to be related to worship of the seven planets of the Babylonian system and the 360 days of the Sumerian calendar, which was also shared by the Hebrew jubilees calendar. Each Arab tribe had their protecting star from among the Houses of the Moon (Briffault 3/81). The Ka'aba appears to be aligned for lunar and stellar observation. Another noted Ka'aba was sited at Najran, the previously mentioned site of the trench massacre, which was probably in pre-Christian times of similar fame to Mecca. The remains of this Ka'aba contain an inscription to Wadd 'Ab the Moon God of the Mineans.

The hajj itself was originally an Autumn rite apparently persecuting the dying sun to bring on the winter rains. Pilgrims would rush in a body to the hollow of Muzdalifa, the abode of the Thunder God, make an all-night vigil on the plain by Mt. Arafat, hurl pebbles at the three sacred pillars of Mina and offer an animal sacrifice" (Armstrong 1991 62).

One should pause to consider the following fact: The Ka'aba was holy ground and a great measure of the holiness was its religious tolerance. The Ka'aba was a place where all the faithful could assemble to honour a time-immemorial tradition. All forms of violence between any parties were forbidden in Mecca for four months during the hajj. The worshippers of al-Llah, al-Lat and even the Christian Arabs could all come together at the Ka'aba. If the hands of Allah and Allat could again be united across the Ka'aba, as are the hands of particle and wave in the physical universe, the world could know eternal peace.

Al-Lat had a shrine at Taif, which was in a cooler and more fertile part of the Hijaz, and al-Uzza had one Naklah to the south east of Mecca and that Manat, the fateful one had her shrine at Qudayd on the Red Sea coast (Armstrong 1991). As Mecca had the Ka'aba, so these places were also centres of pilgrimage, as described in detail by al-Kalbi (Faris).

"The banat al-Llah may well simply have been 'divine beings'. They were represented in their shrines not by a personalised statue or portrait but by large standing stones, rather like the fertility symbols used by the Canaanites which are so often described in the Bible. When the Arabs venerated these stones they were not worshipping them in any crude, simplistic way but were seeing them as a focus of divinity. It has also been suggested that these three goddesses were related to the Semitic fertility goddesses Anat and Ishtar, so their cultus may have begun before the Arabs adopted the nomadic life, while they were still farmers and living on the land. The Arabs may not have worshipped al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat in a personalised way, but ... they felt very passionate about the shrines of the banat al-Lah " (Armstrong 1991).

The banat al-Lah were overthrown by Muhammad, along with other pagan deities. Tabari quotes an early tradition of about seventy years after the prophet's death. ... "As long as he preached the cult of al-Llah, with its concern for the poor and needy, everybody in Mecca had been ready to accommodate this reformed cult of the old High God. But once he affirmed that the worship of al-Llah must preclude the worship of all the other ancestral gods, the Quraysh 'rebutted him with vehemence, not approving what he said, and aroused against him those who had followed him, except those whom God kept safe and they were few in number'. Overnight, Islam became a despised minority sect."

The historians Ibn Sa'd and Tabari (who quotes two versions) mention the satanic verses. In one the prophet is approached by Qur'ash to make a deal and persuaded to utter the verses in return for promise of admission to Mecca's inner circles. In the other, the prophet genuinely tries to find a place for the goddesses without compromising his monothesim. "When the apostle saw that his people had tumed their backs on him and he was pained by their estrangement from what he brought them from God, he longed that there should come to him from God a message that would reconcile his people to him. One day, Tabari says, while he was meditating in the Ka'aba, the answer seemed to come in a revelation that gave a place to the three 'goddesses' without compromising his monotheistic vision.

Sura 53.19 "Have you then considered the Lat and the Uzza,

And Manat, the third, the last?

these are the exhalted birds [gharaniq]

whose intercession is approved"

According to this version of the story, the Quraysh were delighted with the new revelation, which in al-Kalbi's words was the traditional invocation made by the Qura'sh to the goddesses as they circumambulated the Ka'aba (Faris 17). The gharaniq were probably Numidian cranes which were thought to fly higher than any other bird. Muhammad, may have believed in the existence of the banat - al-Llah as he believed in the existence of angels and jinn, was giving the 'goddesses' a delicate compliment, without compromising his message. ... The Quraysh spread the good news throughout the city: 'Muhammad has spoken of our gods in splendid fashion. He alleged in what he recited that they are the exalted gharaniq whose intercession is approved" (Armstrong 1993 112).

Muhammad later removed these verses because he was later told by Gabriel they were "Satan inspired". The rejection of the Manat led to the historic conflict with the Qur'ash which resulted in the flight to Medina.

Sura 53.19 "Have you then considered the Lat and the Uzza,

And Manat, the third, the last?

What! for you the males and for Him the females!

This indeed is an unjust division!

They are naught but names which you have named,

you and your fathers;

Allah has not sent for them any authority.

They follow naught but conjecture and their low desires."

This statement comes the very line after the Prophet's sole report of his night journey down the axis Mundi, very possibly under the inspiration of isfand. It would thus appear that the Prophet has a vision on the sacred plant which directly led him, by contrast, to perceive the idols as mere wood and stone.

He continues in this vein specifically disclaiming female angels:

"53.26 And how many an angel is there in the heavens

whose intercession does not avail at all

except after Allah has given permission to whom He pleases and chooses.

Most surely they who do not believe in the hereafter

name the angels with female names."

A hint of the reversal of the satanic verses can be gleaned in the following passage:

"We sent not ever any Messenger

or Prophet before thee, but that Satan

cast into his fancy, when he was fancying:

but God annuls what Satan casts, then

God confirms his signs."

When he abolished the idols of the old religion, Muhammad, whose dominating ideal was to unite all Arabian tribes into a single political body bound by a common cult, felt it to be undesirable or impracticable to do away with the most sacrosanct object or symbol of the old religion". Briffault (3/79) notes "Al-Kindy says that Al-Uzza was the moon, her chief shrine being the Ka'aba at Mecca, where she was worshipped in the form of a sacred stone, ... the very stone which the pilgrims to this day visit Mecca to kiss". In doing so the pilgrims recite Caliph Omar's warning declaration : "I know well that you are a stone that can neither do good nor evil, and unless I had seen the prophet , on whom be prayer and the blessings of god kiss you, I would not kiss you".

The identity of the Black Stone with the Great Goddess and with the moon is recognised bythe Hulama - the rationalist school of Islam (Briffault 3/80). "As in most other shrines in Semitic and also in Greek lands, the aniconic stone of the deity stood by a sacred spring, or well, the Zemzem, whose sacred waters are drunk by all good Muslims. It is noted above the al-Uzza was the goddess of springs. She was also represented in-the form of three samura palms, which stood, and still stand, by her stone" (Briffault). Legend says the sacred stone fell as a meteorite (Armstrong 1991), although it has also been suggested to be of volcanic origin (Browning).

The guardians are still called the Beni Shaybah, or sons of the old woman (Briffault 3/80). Popular tradition relates how Abraham, when he founded the Ka'aba brought the ground from an old woman to which it belonged. She however consented to part with it only on the condition that she and her descendents should have the key of the place in their keeping" (Briffault). The Hajira or 'sudden departure' although applied to the events following 622 bears the same name as Hajira (Hagar) , who discovered the spring of Zam Zam flowing by Ishmael's foot when searching for water for him after the 'sudden departure' of Ibrahim (Shad 48).

 

Al-Quba Medina, the first Mosque crowned by the crescent moon.

The sacred stone of the Ka'aba - the "Navel of the World".

A Minaret at the Ka'aba crowned by the crescent moon(Stewart).

Muhammad then mounted a singular rejection of the daughters of al-Lah. Muhammad was offered a pact of mutual religious toleration between Allah and Allat which was entirely in keeping with the holy place it was: "the Muslims could go on worshipping al-Lllah in their religion, and the others could go on worshipping al-Lat al-Uzza and Manat. In response Muhammad recited the Sura of Rejection:

Sura 109 "Say O unbelievers, I serve not what you serve

and you are not serving what I serve,

Nor am I serving what you have served.

To you your religion and to me my religion!"

The attitude of the other side is frankly portrayed by Muhammad: 23.24 "And the chiefs of those who disbelieved from among his people said: 'He is nothing but a mortal like yourselves who desires that he may have superiority over you, and if Allah had pleased, He could certainly have sent down angels. We have not heard of this among our fathers of yore: He is naught but a man bedevilled.' "

Circumstances became steadily worse. A ban was imposed which led to much hardship. Khadja died. Muhammad was asked a difficult question by Abu Lahab: "Would Muhammad's father have gone to hell because he was a pagan?" (Armstrong 1991 136). Muhammad ended up having to retreat to Medina. It is significant that of the pilgrims to Mecca from Medina in 622, 73 of the men, but only 3 of the women were followers of the Prophet (Armstrong 1991 149).

The subsequent rise of jihad after the Pledge of War at the hajj of 622 resulted later in the notorious souk of Medina in which 700 Jews were needlessly beheaded, only to end in a historic compromise - the Haj, the ancient pilgrimage to the sacred stone, would continue if Mecca accepted Islam. Thus the beheading of 700 Jews was unnecessary and jihad was not fulfilled.

"When Muhammad overthrew the old religion of Arabia, he was not strong enough to defy and offend the immemorial sentiment of the Arab people. The divine mission of the prophet was reconciled with the old religion by Islam receiving the sanction of the immemorial deity" (Briffault v3 78).

His first attempt to return to Mecca was met with stiff opposition for which he displayed prophetic forebearance. He agreed to reconciliation, not war at Hudaybiyah. He displays his considerable knowledge of Jewish tradition when he invokes the Sakina or Spirit of Tranquillity - Armstrong says: "The sakina it will also be recalled, seems to be related to the Hebrew Shekhinah, the term for God's presence in the world""

"It is He who sent down the sakina

into the hearts of the believers,

that they might add faith to their faith."

(Armstrong 1991 224)

Muhammad's second return to the Ka'aba was the Lesser Pilgrimage negotiated through the treaty at Hudaybiyah. "The huge crowd of pilgrims in their white garments filed slowly into their holy city, led by Muhammad riding on Qaswa, and the valley resounded with their cry: 'Here I am at your service, 0 God!' When he reached the Ka'aba, Muhammad dismounted and kissed the Black Stone, embracing and stroking it, and then began to make the circumambulations followed by the whole pilgrim body."

On his next return to Mecca, he came in triumph. "He rose, performed the ritual ablutions and offered the prayer. Then, mounted on Qaswa, he rode round the Ka'aba seven times, touching the Black Stone each time and crying 'al-Llahu Akbar!' The shout was taken up by his 10,000 soldiers and soon the whole city resounded with the words that symbolised the final victory of Islam. Next Muhammad turned his attention to the 360 idols around the shrine: crowded on to their roofs and balconies, the Quraysh watched him smash each idol while he recited the verse: 'the truth has come, and falsehood has vanished'. Inside the Ka'aba the walls had been decorated with pictures of the pagan deities and Muhammad ordered them all to be obliterated, though it is said that he allowed frescoes of Jesus and Mary to remain. Eventually Islam would forbid the use of all imagery in its worship because it distracts the mind from God by allowing it to dwell on purely human symbols of the divine (Armstrong 1991).

The notion that idols are powerless by comparison with the true divine source is a very materialistic perspective. Christianity has continued to be steeped in every form of idol worship in the understanding that images of Jesus and Mary are merely metaphors for the transcendent deity. It is precisely in this sense that the idols of Sin and Ishtar and the other astral and chthonic deities were worshipped. Moreover, monotheistic religion is itself spiritually idolatrous because it thrusts compulsively one fixed image of the transcendent, particularly as a male creator with a jealous reactive ego who punishes the unbeliever and upholds a strict unchanging rule of order. Although 'the Tao that can be told is not the countless Tao', extending this truth to a tabu against forming an image of the transcendent on pain of death is idolatory of the most tryanical sort, contrasting sadly with the tradition of spiritual tolerance for which the ancient Ka'aba stands.

Of course it was easy for the Prophet with the conscious vision of isfand to portray the stone and wooden idols as inert, but to say that force of political revolution made these deities powerless is a worldly and profane argument.

The facts are that each temple was demolished or burned to the ground, and the priests and priestesses put to the sword. Indeed when the banu-Umahmah were slaughtered for defending dhu-al-Khalasah which stood half way to Sana, a certain woman cried (Faris 31):

"The banu-Umamah, each wielding his spear,

Were slaughtered at al-Waliyah, their abode;

They came to defend their shrine only to find

Lions with brandished swords clamouring for blood.

The women of Khath'am were then humiliated

by the men of Ahmas and debased".

It is said by al-Bukhari that the Prophet himself said: "This world shall not pass away until the buttocks of the women of Daws wiggle [again] around the dhu-al-Khalasah and they worship it as they were want to do [before Islam]" (Faris 32).

A measure of Muhammad's limited knowledge of the ancient traditions of the Arab deities is gained from the fact that the Qur'an states that the Queen of Sheba was converted to the true god from the sun-worship of her people (Pritchard 1974 14), while all the evidence at Marib suggests that the Moon God, the very source of the crescent of Islam, was always the predominant deity.

Sura 27.22 "I have brought to you a sure information from Sheba. Surely I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given abundance and she has a mighty throne: I found her and her people adoring the sun instead of Allah, and the Shaitan has made their deeds fair-seeming to them and thus turned them from the way, so they do not go aright. That they do not make obeisance to Allah, Who brings forth what is hidden in the heavens and the earth and knows what you hide and what you make manifest: Allah, there is no god but He: He is the Lord of mighty power."

Had Hilkiah not entered into his "discovery" of the Deuteronomic revision, and Arabia not been subjected to two paternal montheistic religions Judaism and Christianity, vying for ascendancy, Islam might well have become a religion of peace and harmony between man and woman and included the missing principle of fertility upon which the future of the world now depends.