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Islam And A “Moon god”?

Questioner

Abdulraheem

Reply Date

Jan 23, 2017

Question

A non-Muslim asked me this question on YouTube, and I would like a specific and detailed response to the topic at hand, jazakumullah. Moon worship has been practiced in Arabia since 2000 BC. The crescent moon is the most common symbol of pagan moon worship. In Mecca, there was a god named Hubal who was Lord of the Kabah. Hubal was a moon god. Muslims confess that the idol of moon god Hubal was placed upon the roof of the Kabah about 400 years before Muhammad. This in fact is the origin of why the crescent moon is on top of every minaret today and the central symbol of Islam atop of every mosque throughout the world.

Consultant

Answer


Asalamu Alaikum brother,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Some non-Muslims have been bending over backwards to denigrate Islam in whatever way possible. Their attempt to attribute a pagan origin to Islam is a part of their whole scheme of maligning Islam by any means.

To this end, they have claimed that the idol Hubal worshipped by the ancient pagans of Arabia was the same as ‘the Allah of Muslims’.

As a matter of fact, we have very little record of the pre-Islamic religion in Arabia. Whatever we know comes to us through isolated statements of Greek writers, poetic compilations, and the few anecdotes embedded in later Islamic literature.

Some information may also be gathered from polemical allusions in the Quran.

But whatever the true nature of the pre-Islamic paganism was, the one thing we know for certain is that it was Islam that dealt a death blow to it. Islam wiped out all traces of idolatry and pagan practices from Arabia.

It must be clear to any sensible person that no religion has conducted such a relentless campaign against idolatry and paganism as Islam. And yet, some missionaries wants to depict Hubal as “the Lord of the Kabah”.

They allege that the crescent moon became a Muslim symbol because of its connection to “Hubal the Moon God”.

According to Philip Hitti, the author of the well-known History of the Arabs, Hubal was a Moabite god known as Baal brought into Arabia:

The tradition in Ibn Hisham, which makes ‘Amr ibn-Luhayy the importer of this idol from Moab or Mesopotamia, may have a kernel of truth in so far as it retains a memory of the Aramaic origin of the deity. At the conquest of Makkah by Muhammad, Hubal shared the lot of the other idols and was destroyed. (Quoted by Mohamad Elfie Nieshaem Juferi in his article on “Hubal in the Worship of Pre-Islamic Arab Consciousness” from Philip Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 100, last accessed Sept. 1, 2008)

This means that a tribal god like Hubal could never have been elevated to the status of the One and Only Creator of the whole universe, Allah; but a god worshiped by the Moabites and later by the pagan Quraish in Makkah.

One may also note Hitti’s statement that Hubal was destroyed once and for all with the other idols at the conquest of Makkah.

It is noteworthy that the name “Allah” can be understood to be the same as Elah or Alah of the Hebrew Bible. The word for God in Genesis 1:1 is “elohim”, which is essentially a plural form of a more basic root-Hebrew word for God, “eloh”.

Furthermore, the Arabic translation of the Jewish Bible uses the name “Allah” to refer to God. Here is the transliteration of Genesis 1:1:

Fee al-badi’ khalaqa Allahu as-Samaawat wa al-Ard […]” : In the beginning God (Allahu) created the heavens and the earth. (Abu Iman Abd ar-Rahmn Robert Squires, The word “Allah in the Arabic Bible, last accessed Sept. 1, 2008)

The foregoing means that Allah is the One and Only God worshipped by the followers of Abraham, Moses, and other Old Testament prophets.

It is true that a few Muslim countries — mostly non-Arab — have the crescent moon on their flags. But this has nothing to do with Islam.

Indeed, the star and crescent symbol are very ancient, dating back to early Sumerian civilization.

And long after the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the Ottomans adopted the crescent and the star into their battle standard; though it had nothing to do with Islam.

It should be noted that the twin sources of Islam—the Quran and the Sunnah—do not mention such a symbol; and the flag of the Prophet was a black and white, inscribed with “Nasrun min Allah“, meaning with the help of Allah.

Since Ottoman times, there has been the public perception that the star and crescent is a symbol of Islam and Muslims, and so it came to be used in decorative arts and Saracen architecture, jewelry, and so on.

Hence, they can be seen on the top of mosques in countries like India and Pakistan.

It should be emphasized that Islamic scholars do not approve of the use of the crescent moon and star or any such figure as a “symbol” of Islam. Islam has never adopted any symbol, and so there is no sense in Muslims adopting any such icon.

It was possible that the crescent was on top of the Kabah some 400 years before the Prophet (PBUH), though there is no record except some people’s dubious claim; but the question is whether the Prophet allowed its use; and the answer is emphatically, no.

Remember that the first thing the Prophet did on re-entering Makkah after the Hijrah (the Prophet’s migration to Madinah), was to break all the idols in the Kabah, including that of Hubal.

We have indeed no evidence to say that Hubal was a moon god either.

Islam as taught by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has been consistently and strongly opposed to the use of all sorts of idols, icons, and symbols that may lead the believers away from the worship of the One and Only God.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

The Crescent: A Symbol Not An Icon? 

What Are The True Teachings of Islam?

Do Muslims Worship Their Moon God in Ramadan?

What Is The Value of Tawheed (Monotheism)




About Professor Shahul Hameed

Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.


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