Qad kunna lā naʿbudu ʾllāha wa-lā naʿrifuhu.
ON THE PROBLEM OF THE PRE-ISLAMIC
LORD OF THE KAʿBA
This article deals with the problem of the pre-Islamic Lord of the Kaʿba. An attempt is made to critically review the accepted theory that Allah had been the main deity of this shrine long before Islam was revealed to the Prophet Muḥammad. The evidence of scripture and our other sources suggests that the heathen Arabs may have been not particularly familiar with the notion of Allah as the greatest deity reigning over a swarm of lesser idols. Deities other than Allah were apparently greatly revered in the Kaʿba, and their role as lords of the sanctuary cannot be easily discarded. As for the concept of Allah as the main deity in the Kaʿba, the evidence seems to stem from the early Islamic period, when the monotheistic notion of God prevailed and brought with it a new understanding of history as a sequence of monotheistic prophecies beginning with the very creation of the world. This concept appears to be mainly responsible for the emergence of the belief that Allah was present in people’s faith from the days of Adam until the final reincarnation of His religion in Muḥammad’s daʿwa.
I. The Koran includes two remarkable verses, which refer to the deity of the Kaʿba before Islam. Neither mentions the sanctuary’s god by name. In Koran 27:91 he is named “the Lord of this territory”: I have only been commanded to serve the Lord of this territory, which has He made sacred; to Him belongs everything. And I have been commanded to be of those that surrender. In Koran 106:3 he is referred to as the “Lord of this House (or abode)”: So let them serve the Lord of this House who has fed them against hunger. And secured them from fear. In both cases there arises the question to what extent Allah might be assumed to have been the Lord of the Kaʿba before Muḥammad.
II. We possess a profuse body of accounts which trace the history of the Kaʿba back to the time of Creation or even prior to it. This chronological  back projection introduces an inextricable link between the very existence of the sanctuary and the veneration of Allah. One of the legendary accounts reported by al-Azraqī on the authority of Wahb b. Munabbih asserts that Allah told Adam shortly after his banishment to Earth that the sanctuary had been present in His intention prior to the act of creation. Then He chose the place of it on the day the Moon and the Earth were created. Further Allah stresses that the Kaʿba will be favored over all other sanctuaries on Earth for it will be named after God and made to elicit His mightiness. According to Mujāhid, Allah had created the Kaʿba two thousand years before anything came into existence on Earth. In another story, with an isnād going back to ʿAlī b. Ḥusayn, Allah entrusted angels with building for the people on Earth a sanctuary to Him akin to the heavenly abode that He created to be circumambulated by the angels. In a further report it is stated that angels built only the basement of the Kaʿba, and that every angel descending for some matter to Earth goes to ask Allah for permission to circumambulate the Kaʿba.
In other instances, Adam is represented
as the one who erected the sanctuary at the command of Allah. Adam was ordered
to circumambulate it as the angels did the
Lord’s throne. The circumambulation rites present another
important hint regarding the possibility of Allah being the “Lord of the Kaʿba.” According to some reports, during
his pilgrimage to Mecca,  Adam cried the
following formula of ritual invocation:
Labbayka, allāhumma, labbayk,
labbayka ʿabdan khalaqtahu bi-yadayk, karumta fa-ātayt, qarrabta
fa-adnayt, tabārakta wa-taʿālayt, anta rabbu ʾl-bayt: “Here
I am, O God, here I am, Here I am, Your servant, whom You created by Your hand,
You are generous and benevolent, You make us
near to You, You are most blessed and exalted, You are the Lord of the
Thus Adam is assumed to have been the first believer in Allah, while
Later on, when Abraham resolved to build
a sanctuary to Allah on Earth, Allah lifted him to heaven from whence he could
better determine a new location for the sanctuary. Despite the fact that the Kaʿba
had been lain waste by the deluge, Abraham was swift to choose its previous
place and the angels acclaimed him for this wise decision: “O, friend of Allah,
you have chosen the sacred place of Allah on Earth.”
The Muslims believe that the Kaʿba has
continued to serve as Allah’s abode during the ensuing ages. Muslim
authors say that Gabriel appeared in front of Hagar, after she had been left
alone in the arid
The most important thing for us is that the mythological strata, which underlie the extant Muslim accounts about the history of the Meccan sanctuary, formed the necessary background for the origin of the theory which makes the Kaʿba the earthly abode of Allah. Traces of this belief can be found in a considerable number of accounts concerning the Jāhilīya. In many cases, the references to the relation between the Kaʿba and the cult of Allah remain rather oblique—a detail which suggests that they are of an early origin,  and something which made it easier for Islamic sources to accept them as convention. As a result, efforts to prove the relation between the Kaʿba and the cult of Allah were not widespread among medieval Muslim authors, who preferred to fill their reports with hints about its existence.
In a verse attributed to Qays b. al-Ḥudādīya
al-Khuzāʿī, the poet swears by the House of Allah (bayt Allāh), where his tribesmen
used to cut their hair during the annual pilgrimage.
In a story related by al-Masʿūdī one Shahna b. Khalaf
al-Jurhumī is reported to have said in a verse reply to ʿAmr b. Luḥayy
(baṣīṭ): Yā ʿamru, innaka qad aḥdathta
ālihatan / shattā bi-makkata ḥawla ʾl-bayti anṣābā
// wa-kāna li-l-bayti rabbun wāḥidun abadan, / faqad jaʿalta
lahū fī ʾn-nāsi arbābā // la-taʿrifanna
bi-anna ʾllāha fī mahlin / sa-yaṣṭafī
dūnakum li-l-bayti ḥujjābā. (“O ʿAmr, you have
introduced numerous gods in
The later commentator Ibn Kathīr, in his glosses on Koran 27:91 and Koran 106:3, mentions in a clear reference to Allah that rabbu hādhihi ʾl-baldati is “the Lord of all and its possessor, except Whom there is no god.”
Medieval Islamic authors asserted the
notion of Allah as the Lord of the Meccan shrine in numerous accounts. The
review of this data suggests that Allah was the main deity worshipped in
In many of these studies the assumption that Allah was already before Islam the Lord of the Kaʿba is closely connected with the divine-hierarchy theory which proclaims Him to be the highest deity of all Arabs. Watt is prone to believe that the Koran, by speaking of God as the ‘Lord of this House,’ accepts the Meccan sanctuary as a sanctuary of God. According to him “the identification of the Lord of the Kaʿbah with God is taken for granted.” Similarly, according to Rubin, “the Ka‘ba was actually considered as ‘the sacred House of Allah.’”
analysis of Izutsu proceeds in the same vain. He is inclined to accept that Allah “was considered the ‘Lord of Kaʿbah’
the highest sanctuary of
Seeking evidence, Kister adduces the talbiya of Adam, quoted above, in order
to emphasize the fact that Allah had been the Lord of the Kaʿba before the
rise of Islam. In a
subsequent comment he points out that “[the ancient Arabic tribes] believed however in a supreme God, who
had His House in
In general, a neat line of tradition when it comes to the Lord of the Kaʿba before Islam may be observed. The Islamic monotheistic vision of history as a phenomenon of divine influence in the affairs of the earthly realm definitively posited that the Kaʿba had always potentially existed in Allah’s creative intention. The period of latency ended when Allah initiated creation. One of the first acts of creation was to bring the Kaʿba into actual existence as an earthly place for worshipping Allah, akin to the one already existing in the heavens. This concept was enhanced by the medieval Islamic authors to such an extent that any doubt about the identity of the pre-Islamic Lord of the Kaʿba was ruled out. Closely related is the notion of the High God—another attribute of the Jāhilī Allah.
Finally, these two overlapping concepts
were reinforced by the efforts of modern students of the Jāhilīya and
early Islam. Study of the late pre-Islamic period  showed that
the Arabs believed in a deity named Allah who occupied a high position in their minds. Further, comparative study of adjacent
regions, where ancient cultures had flourished, suggested that the
Jāhilī belief in Allah may well have been affected by the religion of
III. In a remarkable conversation between the prophet Muḥammad and Saʿd b. Muʿādh, the latter is reported by Ibn Isḥāq to have said: Qad kunna . . . ʿalā sh-shirki bi-llāhi wa-ʿibādati ʾl-awthāni, lā naʿbudu ʾllāha wa-lā naʿrifuhu. (“Our practice towards Allah was shirk and idolatry. We did not worship Allah, nor had we knowledge of him.”) Another less explicit version of the conversation, this time between ʿUyayna b. Ḥasan and ʿAbbād b. Bishr is introduced by al-Wāqidī on the authority of Saʿīd b. al-Musayyab. Here ʿAbbād only points out that “we did not worship anything,” but the general setting of the story clearly implies that not worshipping “anything” includes not worshipping Allah.
In another report, related by al-Wāqidī on the authority of ʿAbd Allāh b. Zubayr on the events involving ʿĀʾisha in year six of the Hijra, Abū Bakr aṣ-Ṣiddīq himself is reported to have told the Prophet concerning the Jāhilīya: wa-mā qīla lanā hādhā fī ʾl-jāhilīyati, ḥaythu lā naʿbudu ʾllāha wa-lā nadʿū lahu shayʾan, (“We have not heard such things [about us] even during the Jāhilīya, when we did not believe in Allah, nor did we call  upon him at all.”)
The direct statements of Saʿd b. Muʿādh and Abū Bakr aṣ-Ṣiddīq, and the oblique one by ʿAbbād b. Bishr, all suggest that the pre-Islamic spiritual milieu can hardly be assumed to have incorporated any concept of Allah. Hence a significant question arises. If the reports related by al-Wāqidī and Ibn Isḥāq are to be lent credibility, do they indeed call in question the attested theory of the existence of Jāhilī belief in Allah? And if so, to what extent may one doubt that which tradition has long since made to seem an ultimate truth?
There are many accounts in the sources that can shed additional light on this important question.
We can easily trace references to the Lord of the Kaʿba back to the Jāhilī period, when the genitive constructs rabbu ʾl-kaʿbati and rabbu makkata were frequently employed in oath formulae. In a verse by ʿAdī b. Zayd we find an interesting relation between the Christian symbol of the Cross and the Lord of the Kaʿba: Saʿā ʾl-aʿdāʾu lā yaʾlūna sharran / ʿalayya, wa-rabbi makkata wa-ṣ-ṣalībī. (“The enemies came upon me without sparing their evil, by the Lord of Mecca and [by] the Cross.”) In his analysis of this verse Izutsu identifies the Lord of the Kaʿba as Allah and concludes that pre-Islamic Christians tended towards “identifying their Christian concept of Allah with the purely pagan Arabian concept of Allah as Lord of the Meccan shrine.” The poet has indeed juxtaposed these two so different religious concepts in an extraordinary way, but the verse does not present any tangible clue that could lead to the conclusion that rabbu makkata here is no one else but Allah. The Lord of the Kaʿba is also present in the oath of Jalīla bint Murra addressed to her father at the end of ḥarb al-Basūs, but here again we discern only a strong veneration of that deity without any clue as to its possible identity.
The Muslim accounts about early Islam can yield additional details about the Lord of the Kaʿba. Notions concerning this deity are clarified in the stories about the dogmatic altercations between Muḥammad and his heathen foes. When Muḥammad embarked on his early preaching, the polytheists apparently tried to mitigate the dissension he was causing by encouraging a convergence between their old religion and the new one. According to Ibn  Isḥāq, al-Aswad b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, al-Walīd b. Mughīra, Umayya b. Khalaf, and al-ʿĀṣ b. Wāʾil went to Muḥammad and informed him that they and their people were ready to accept his belief, provided that he embraced their belief as well. It did not take the Prophet long to reject this proposition, as can be seen in the text of the Koran: “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, neither are you serving what I serve. To you your religion, and to me my religion.’”
The story of the proposition to exchange
beliefs and the reception it received
contains a number of interesting peculiarities. In all the relevant
reports the polytheists seem not to have had any positive knowledge of Muḥammad’s
deity. They called it ilāhuka
or maʿbūduka and viewed it as something in obvious
opposition to their own objects of worship. Such lack of awareness of Muḥammad’s
concept of divinity is quite perplexing, if we take for granted that the
pre-Islamic Arabs knew of Allah and deemed him their highest deity and the Lord
of the Kaʿba. The answer might be that Muḥammad’s understanding of
Allah was such a great deviation from the Jāhilī tradition that the heathen Arabs were unable to
discern in it any notions familiar to their way of thinking. But the
question still stands how the polytheists in
In this respect attention has to be drawn to the relative pronoun mā used in the Koranic verse which rejects the polytheists' proposal. The generic mā signifies something highly unspecified, which prompts the conjecture that perhaps at this early stage of his daʿwa the Prophet did not have a clear notion of the supreme divine authority and that his proclamations stemmed from a somewhat erratic set of beliefs, “what I serve” (mā aʿbudu). The main feature of this early state of devotion was its conscious rejection of certain pre-Islamic values—“what I serve” (mā aʿbudu) vs. “what you serve” (mā taʿbudūna)—and some time was to elapse before this partial disparity could evolve into its final form as the total opposition of monotheism (with its single and absolute divine authority) to polytheism. The rough state of Muḥammad’s conception of God during his early ministry is reflected in the Koran itself, the first Meccan suras being devoid of the name Allah.
After his initial rejection of the proposal to converge the two religions, Muḥammad’s intransigence softened somewhat. The Prophet was worried by the animosity of the majority of Quraysh towards him, and at a certain stage he agreed to some concessions. It is true that they did not amount to recognition of the Jāhilī religion on equal terms, but still they conferred some authority on the pre-Islamic idols. The main condition seems to have been that those idols should be consigned to a position subservient to that of Muḥammad’s deity. The ultimate purpose of the gharānīq or “Satanic” verses was to mitigate the conceptual rupture between the Jāhilīya and Islam. They can hardly be deemed an attempt to reinvigorate an already existing religious belief in shafāʿa, or intercession. When the heathens heard  the gharānīq verses for the first time, they only acknowledged a limited sovereignty to Allah, and told Muḥammad that if he would make a place in his system for their idols, they would share his belief.
In short order—according to aṭ-Ṭabarī’s second version of the events on the very same evening—the gharānīq innovation was abrogated. Perhaps Muḥammad sensed that it would obliterate the difference between his message—his attempt to change the religious habits of Quraysh—and the tribe's own ancient religion. If he were to accept the idols, both Muslims and heathens could conclude that Islam had failed to achieve its main objectives.
After the apparent failure of the convergence attempt, the heathens tried another tactic: to sever the two religions completely. Ibn Saʿd relates an interesting story about a conversation between Muḥammad and the polytheists of Quraysh, who tried to persuade the Prophet to arrange a deal satisfying both sides: Qālū: tadaʿunā wa-ālihatanā wa-nadaʿuka wa-ilāhaka. (“You leave us with our gods, and we will leave you with yours.”)
Muḥammad vehemently rejected this proposition and, in his turn, tried to persuade Quraysh to convert to belief in his deity. They felt obvious aversion (ishmiʾzāz) towards this proposition, and, as Ibn Isḥāq adds on the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās, the heathens cried: A-turīdu, yā muḥammadu, an tajʿala ʾl-ālihata ilāhan wāḥidan? Inna amraka la-ʿujbun. (“Do you, Muḥammad, want to make of the gods one god? Indeed yours is a presumptuous affair.”) Ibn Kathīr relates the same story, also on the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās, who reckons it to the period of Abū Ṭālib’s illness. Actually, the story is situated in the Sīra around the same period, yet without any temporal hints.
On the other hand, sura 38:1–7 to which this gloss is attached is of later  origin than sura 109. Most noteworthy in this case is that when addressing Muḥammad, the polytheists already speak about “your god,” a feature that indicates an important development within the early Islamic notion of the divine. The vague devotional concept conveyed by the relative pronoun mā has now turned into a rigorous assertion of a tangible divine authority, which in another gloss is referred to already by the definite relative pronoun alladhī. This development corresponds to the view of Welch that at the beginning the Arabs were not summoned to believe in Allah and that only later the divine name ar-Raḥmān was introduced.
The conceptual development of early Islam continued alongside the encounters between Muḥammad and his foes, and a more stringent formulation of the Muslim doctrine of the divine soon became indispensable. In a gloss at Koran 4:108, Ibn Isḥāq attributes to Abū Jahl the threat to revile Muḥammad’s god (ilāhaka), if he did not cease to abuse the gods of the polytheists (ālihatanā). The opposition here is clear and indicates that a conceptual rupture now unquestionably existed between nascent Islam and the Jāhilī notions of the divine. Particularly striking is the threat to abuse Muḥammad’s God. It is perplexing to think of the Meccans as willing to vilify their own High God: an unavoidable conclusion if one accepts that to a degree he shared identity with the deity of Islam.
The opposition between Muḥammad’s god and the Jāhilī objects of devotion is not confined to the vituperation account. The heathens regularly spoke of “your god” and “our gods,” thus affirming verbally the difference between them. For instance, some heathens decided to plead with Abū Ṭālib to ask his nephew to desist from abusing their gods, upon which they would “leave him with his own god.”
 Despite his prolonged preaching, Muḥammad failed to attract his tribesmen to Islam, apparently because there was so little in common between their religion and his. The animosity of the heathens towards the Muslims and their religion increased in the course of time and probably reached its peak sometime around the end of the second decade of the seventh century A.D. 
The conceptual rupture between the sides
persisted until the ultimate triumph of the Islamic cause. That the break
continued to prevail in the minds of the majority of the Prophet’s
contemporaries, even after they formally embraced Islam, was spelled out by
Abū Sufyān. According to al-Wāqidī, when Muḥammad
Another remarkable peculiarity is the
Prophet’s constant call for submission to
Allah. While at the outset of his preaching, supposedly, Muḥammad
had confined himself to speaking only of his Lord, and not of Allah, on many
subsequent occasions, when his doctrine had taken on a clearer shape, he began
calling the heathens to Allah. We cite again the vituperation story, which goes
on to say that Muḥammad, after the encounter with Abū Jahl, went to
an assembly of Qurayshites in order to yadʿūhum
ilā ʾllāh, to call them to Allah.
Hence the vituperation report may be considered from another angle. The
position of Muḥammad’s foes seems strange if  they were
capable of abusing their own deity. However, the issue becomes further blurred
with the Prophet’s call to them to believe in Allah. How could he demand from
them faith in an already long accepted deity? Perhaps the Islamic concept of Allah was so different from the
Jāhilī one that Muḥammad’s
god had become unrecognizable in the eyes of the heathens. However, is it
possible to conclude as well that the very name Allah itself had become
unrecognizable? If Allah had existed in the Jāhilī sacred realm, His name at least should have been deeply rooted in
the mentality of the people of
The results Muḥammad achieved in
his endeavor to propagate the belief in Allah
among the Arab tribes were not unlike those he achieved with Quraysh.
Ibn Isḥāq furnishes an ample account of Muḥammad’s attempt to
persuade some Arab tribal groups to adhere to his religion during the
pilgrimage season at
As for the Koranic evidence, there are indeed verses which imply that the Jāhilī Arabs believed in Allah. However, this faith is depicted in general terms and there is a lack of positive clues as to the possible relation of this belief to the deity which was venerated in the Kaʿba. The structure of the verses in question is quite uniform: the polytheists are usually asked who is the creator of the Universe, and they answer “Allah” without a trace of hesitation: Wa-laʾin saʾaltahum man khalaqa ʾs-samāwāti wa-l-arḍa, wa-sakhkhara ʾsh-shamsa wa-l-qamara, la-yaqūlunna ʾllāhu, fa-annā yuʾfakūn? (“If thou askest them, ‘Who created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon?’ they will say, ‘God.’ How then are they perverted?”)
According to the Koranic evidence, then, the pre-Islamic Arabs not only knew of a god named Allah, but also associated with him such important world-view concepts as the creation of the Universe, of the heavenly bodies, and of mankind itself. The conclusion that concepts of creation (khalq) broadly circulated in the Jāhilī milieu has indeed a firm scriptural foundation. Nonetheless, one ought not to overlook two important points.
The first of them is the rhetorical
question “How then are they perverted?” (fa-annā
yuʾfakūn) or other locutions implying doubt or unbelief on the
part of the respondents which recur in the majority of the creation verses.
Why were heathens prone to accept Allah’s
highest authority on the one hand,  while the
Koran reproaches them on the other? One of the possible answers may be related to the intercession (shafāʿa) phenomenon. The polytheists are said to have
believed in the high deity Allah, with whom they associated a number of lesser deities. According to the
Islamic tradition, this was a recent
innovation, which represented a deviation from the original monotheism of
Abraham and Ishmael. Nonetheless, it is hard to determine in this particular study the extent to which the
divine hierarchy concept was rooted in the Jāhilī mentality
and whether the concomitant notion of the consecutive reappearance of
monotheism and heathenism should be lent credibility.
Though Koren and Nevo show that such religious alternations might have taken place in central
the creation verses indubitably assert Allah’s preeminent role during the
Jāhilīya, they do not imply the existence of a link to the sanctuary
Apart from the creation verses, the Koran contains a number of other revelations which are often adduced by scholars concerned with the question of Allah before Islam. Izutsu points out Koran 46:27–28 as a clear vindication of “the existence of a god called Allah and even his highest position among the divinities.” But the use of the divine name Allah in this verse is not so much historical evidence of its existence during the Jāhilīya as it is a reproach of the polytheists who oppose the bold teaching of Islam. The  Koran does provide examples of how ancient peoples were requited for their deviation from the monotheistic faith, and this may be deemed evidence of the already mentioned archaic Abrahamic monotheism, subsequently forsaken by the Arabs. However, the relation between this ancient stratum and the belief in Allah is a problem which requires additional study.
Another piece of evidence is the verse: Mā taʿbudūna min dūnihi illā asmāʾan sammaytumūhā antum wa-ābāʾukum. Mā anzala ʾllāhu bihā min sulṭānin. (“That which you worship apart from Him, is nothing but names you have named, yourselves and your fathers. God has sent down no authority touching them.”) This part of the Koran is also related to the general course of the dispute between Muḥammad and the heathens about the nature of the divine. Even more conspicuous is the second part of the verse omitted by Izutsu: In(i) ʾl-ḥukmu illā li-llāhi, amara allā taʿbudū illā iyyāhu, dhālika ʾd-dīnu ʾl-qayyimu, wa-lākinna akthara ʾn-nāsi lā yaʿlamūn. (“Judgment—or authority—belongs only to Allah. He has commanded you to worship only Him. That is the true religion, but most people do not know.”) Here the Islamic concept of ḥukm Allāh, the authority of Allah, is imposed over the Jāhilī substratum. It hardly refers to any pre-Islamic notion. The end of the verse, moreover, “but most people do not know,” is reminiscent of the rhetorical questions found in the creation verses. Finally, even if these Koranic passages imply a positive reference to a belief in Allah during the Jāhilīya, they are still void of evidence of a relation between such a belief and the Meccan sanctuary.
The foregoing review of the early stages of the development of Muḥammad’s concepts of the divine entitles us to formulate a number of important conclusions.
When Muḥammad began to preach for the very first time, he does not seem to have recognized his call as a revelation sent to him from a specific well-known and conceptually defined divine authority. The Prophet only made admonitions in the name of his Lord and reproached Quraysh for their “presumption” and “pride in wealth.” At that time his teaching had an ethical nature, while the theological elaboration was yet to come.
With the escalation of the conceptual standoff between the Prophet and his heathen foes, the concept of the High God germinated and developed, and finally acquired its ultimate nominal shape, Allāh. Muḥammad may have borrowed it from the Jāhilī milieu in order to help the heathen public accept it. There must have been some kind of nominal correspondence between  the Lord of Muḥammad and a divine name familiar in the Jāhilīya. Otherwise, the quarrel between him and his foes would have been baseless, and “there could have been neither debate nor discussion at all.” This being the case, one still can ask whether the vituperation story at least points to some degree of interaction and discussion. If so, the Prophet and the heathens behaved as if their deities were completely different and unknown to the other party. The proposal to exchange deities evokes a similar conclusion. Finally, most of the Arab tribes were more or less completely unable to recognize Muḥammad’s deity.
While Muḥammad may indeed have
built his concept of the divine upon an already established name, there still
remains the question whether this name was borrowed from the existing sanctuary
Finally, the concept of the High God may
have come from another region, such as the
IV. It is quite difficult to propose a reliable theory about the Jāhilī Lord of the Kaʿba. The days of the Jāhilīya are shrouded with great uncertainty, and even the accounts we have, which go back to the second or third century after the Hijra, may well have been forged or tampered with. Despite this, we can consider certain stories which contain some useful cues that may shed light on the main question of this study.
One of these accounts is the story about ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib’s oath to sacrifice one of his children. According to Ibn Isḥāq, ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib swore in  the Jāhilīya that if he should be granted ten sons capable of defending him, one of them would be sacrificed to Allah. The continuation of the story is even more striking. After it was decided that ʿAbd Allah—the future father of the Prophet—should be slain, ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib took him to Hubal inside the Kaʿba and began seeking an oracle (yastaqsimu bi-l-azlām) in order to save his son. With every cast of the lots, ten camels were granted to the deity. When this action was repeated ten times and Hubal had received one hundred camels, the idol was appeased and agreed to release ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib from his oath. The remarkable feature here is that the oath had been given to Allah, while redemption was sought from Hubal. Although Ibn Isḥāq points out that ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib called upon Allah every time he cast the lots, a feature which evokes the intercession notion, it is hard to say whether Hubal was among the interceding deities, or whether the name of Allah was just embedded in the story to conform to the formal introduction.
It is possible to discern within the sacrifice story a variety of mythological and chronological strata. The first which comes to mind is the striking resemblance with the Biblical/Koranic story of Abraham and his son Isaac. Possibly this scriptural passage prompted some Islamic authors to invent the account. It may explain as well how the concept of Allah could have been incorporated into the otherwise heathen strata which constitute the inner structure of the whole story. Another problem with the authenticity of the story is the extraneous tenfold ritual invocation of the divine name Allah while an oracle was being sought from Hubal, not to mention the fact that one hundred camels had been the customary amount of blood money for manslaughter during the Jāhilīya.
 Yet if the first monotheistic layer enshrouding the story may be considered forged, the heathen strata are more convincing. The first attests to the significance of Hubal, who represented one of the greatest divine objects in the Kaʿba during the pre-Islamic age. The ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib story is clear evidence of his elevated status, and even if it should not be considered authentic, there is an abundance of other accounts which unquestionably bear witness to Hubal’s authority.
There are many reports attesting Hubal’s
being the most important or one of the most important idols of
Yet another proof of the dominant position of Hubal may be the rite of  cutting hair. Although the poet Qays b. Ḥudādīya al-Khuzāʿī swears by the House of Allah (bayt Allāh), where his fellow tribesmen used to cut their hair during the pilgrimage, many reports associate this custom with Hubal. Al-Azraqī reports that after ʿAmr b. Luḥayy erected Hubal inside the Kaʿba, people began to cut their hair near him. Abū Sufyān is reported by al-Wāqidī to have cut his hair in front of Hubal after the victorious battle of Uḥud.
It is clear from the sources that Hubal played an important role in the martial rites of Jāhilī Meccan society. Thus before the battle of Badr some Meccans went to query Hubal as to whether they should go to war against Muḥammad. One of the battle cries of Quraysh during their wars against the Muslims was “Exalted be Hubal!” (aʿli hubal).
Newborns were also brought to Hubal by their parents, who apparently wanted to invoke his blessing on their offspring. Even Muḥammad, after his birth, was brought before him by his grandfather ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, who went to thank God for what he had bestowed on him. According to al-Azraqī, Hubal dominated such important customs as the circumcision of boys, marriages, and the burial of the dead.
As for the relation between Hubal and
the Lord of the Kaʿba, it is important to note that the term rabb al-bayt (the Lord of the House) is generic.
It could be used to denote any divinity worshipped at any sanctuary, as, for example, Dhū ʾsh-Sharā in his sanctuary at
A quick review of the etymology of the name Hubal is appropriate at this point. If the reading by Jawād ʿAlī of the first part of the name as the definite article “ha,” can be accepted, then the whole name Hubal may be rendered “the Lord.”
While any reading of Hubal as “ha-baal” would emphasize his dominant
position before Islam, the term ilāh,
which was also obviously associated with the deity, leaves more room for doubt.
Ancient Arabs used to call their idols ilāh.
Hubal surely was one of these ilāhs too,
and the story of the pledge of ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib is probable
evidence for this Jāhilī belief. As for the causes of the confusion
of Allah with ilāh in early
reports, two reasons can be pointed out. The first is that a certain deity—perhaps
Hubal—was elevated with the advent of Islam from the status of ilāh (one of many gods) to al-ilāh—the god. Subsequently, the natural course of linguistic
transformation led to the reduction of hamzat
al-qaṭʿ, along with the initial vowel, and gradually “al-ʾilāh” was replaced with Allāh. Soon the term ilāh dropped out of circulation and
people felt little need to use it even with respect to the heathen era.
Nevertheless it can be found in a number of instances, one of them clearly
related to the shrine of
None the less, it is conceivable that the Jāhilī Arabs may have applied the name Allah to Hubal. On the other hand, the name Allah occurs predominantly in monotheistic passages attributed to Jāhilī poets. These cannot be  totally discarded, but there is considerable doubt concerning their authenticity. Yet even if Hubal were called Allah, the question about the possible subservience of the other deities to him still remains.
Perhaps the reading of Hubal as Allah (al-ilāh) helped A. G. Lundin draw the conclusion that “as the chief deity in Mecca
Hubal was seemingly considered
identical with Allah.” But this inference visibly derives its
authority from the later Islamic notion of the transcendent Allah. Finally,
Winnett’s assumption that the origin of the divine name Allah may have been
foreign to the Arab milieu
could suggest another point of resemblance with Hubal, who is said to have been
The story about ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib’s
pledge to sacrifice his son to Allah may contain another, if more hypothetical,
reference to the religion of the pre-Islamic Arabs. As some external sources
point out, the ancient Arabs used to sacrifice human beings, and in certain
cases young children, to the “mighty goddess” al-ʿUzzā.
If these reports are accepted as plausible, could
the story of the sacrifice of ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib
be reminiscent of such rites? While it is not possible to answer this question
with certainty, reports about the significance of al-ʿUzzā at
Ibn al-Kalbī reports that “Quraysh
and the Arabs dwelling in
That al-ʿUzzā indeed enjoyed great respect among the people of Quraysh is further indicated by the narratives about the concern of her custodian (sādin) Aflaḥ b. Naḍr ash-Shaybānī about her future. According to the Islamic sources, he foresaw her imminent downfall. Al-Wāqidī recounts that Abū Lahab, the paternal uncle of Muḥammad, was swift to assert that he would be the one to take care of al-ʿUzzā after Aflaḥ’s death, and he boasted that he would gain great favor with her. The significance of al-ʿUzzā during the late Jāhilīya and early Islam is perhaps the best explanation for Abū Lahab’s offer to look after the goddess and his eagerness to incur her favor towards himself. Probably the same cause lay behind Muḥammad’s determination to destroy the shrine of al-ʿUzzā. Al-Wāqidī reports that Khālid b. al-Walīd was sent to demolish the sanctuary on two consecutive  occasions, while another version of the report with another isnād recounts that he had to return to Nakhla not less than three times.
As one of the greatest pre-Islamic
deities, al-ʿUzzā may have influenced the emergence of the belief in
Allah. In a commentary on Koran 7:180 aṭ-Ṭabarī derives al-ʿUzzā from al-ʿAzīz, one of the beautiful names of Allah.
However, assuming the natural sequence of events which led to the transition
from heathenism to monotheism, we may hypothesize that the derivation presented
by aṭ-Ṭabarī should be reversed. The theory saying that the polytheists derived their idols’ names from
those of Allah is itself strongly influenced by the Islamic concept of
history. Perhaps on the contrary, the resemblance of some of the names of Allah
to the heathen numina may be a sign of the incorporation of many heathen
traditions into nascent Arabian Islam. It is quite interesting to observe the
wide-ranging similarity of the reports of the Islamic authors concerning al-ʿUzzā
and Hubal. Both deities are depicted as the most significant divine objects of
Quraysh, and important devotional rites are
likewise attributed to each of them. Yet whether al-ʿUzzā was
the second great deity in
The Islamic understanding of history has
greatly influenced the concept of Allah as
the pre-Islamic Lord of the Kaʿba. The message revealed to  Muḥammad
presupposes that the belief in Allah has been
an ever existing phenomenon. The ancient Arab and then Islamic shrine in
Compared with the notion of Allah’s everlasting presence at the Kaʿba, the purely historical data may suggest a somewhat different picture of the sanctuary during the pre-Islamic era. Credible reports to the effect that Allah actually was the Jāhilī lord of the sanctuary are lacking, while the accounts of the Islamic authors concerning the early Islamic period show that the Islamic concept of divinity unfolded gradually and rather slowly. Muḥammad could not instantaneously disassociate himself from his ancestors’ customs; in the beginning he wanted only to admonish Quraysh. In the face of their ardent resistance to his message, he became inclined to a kind of compromise. Only later, after prolonged ideological clashes with his heathen opponents, did he articulate the concept of the solitary transcendent deity without any partners or equals (shurakāʾ). Allah became the Lord of the Meccan shrine and the only deity of Islam.
As for the pre-Islamic Lord of the Kaʿba,
only tentative conjectures can be made. Our sources definitely show the
importance of Hubal and al-ʿUzzā before Islam. Yet to what extent
these reports can be trusted remains to be studied. Both Hubal and al-ʿUzzā,
as well as other deities, were highly venerated at
 Trans. A. J. Arberry. I would like to express my gratitude to Professor J. N. Bell for his assistance with the last drafts of this article.
 Trans. A. J. Arberry.
 Wa-qabla dhālika qad
kāna fī bughyatī (al-Azraqī, Akhbār Makka [
 Fa-innī ʾkhtartu makānahu yawma khalaqtu ʾs-samāwāti wa-l-arḍ (al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:46). It seems that al-Azraqī wanted to confirm the authenticity of this report by adducing isnāds to the effect that there were inscriptions discovered on the Maqām Ibrāhīm or one of the basement stones of the sanctuary, which proved that the Kaʿba was created on the day of the creation of the Sun, Moon, Earth, and Heavens (al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:78–79).
 Wa-ūthiruhu ʿalā buyūti ʾl-arḍi kullihā bi-smī fa-usammīhi baytī wa-unṭiquhu bi-ʿaẓamatī (al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:46).
 Al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:32; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān ʿan taʾwīl āy al-Qurʾān (Cairo, 1954), no. 1688 on Koran 2:127, no. 5866 on Koran 3:95, no. 28125 on Koran 79:29. During that period angels were performing the ḥajj rites (Akhbār, 1:44, 45).
 Al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:34; Jalāl ad-Dīn as-Suyūṭī, ad-Durr al-manthūr fī ʾt-tafsīr bi-l-maʾthūr (Cairo: Dār al-Fikr, 1983), on Koran 2:127.
 Al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:40.
 Ibid., 1:35.
 Ibid., 1:36; as-Suyūṭī, ad-Durr al-manthūr, on Koran 2:36.
 M. J. Kister, "Labbayka,
Allāhumma, Labbayka: On a monotheistic aspect of a Jāhiliyya
 Fa-qālat lahu ʾl-malāʾikatu: yā khalīla ʾllāhi, ʾkhtarta ḥarama ʾllāhi taʿālā fī ʾl-arḍ (al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:53).
 Wa-ashāra lahā ilā mawḍiʿi ʾl-bayti [wa-qāl]: hādhā awwalu baytin wuḍiʿa li-n-nās, wa-huwa baytu ʾllāhi ʾl-ʿatīq (al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:56). Aṭ-Ṭabarī points out that an angel appeared before Hagar and told her that she was standing in front of the ancient abode of Allah, which would be [re]erected by Abraham and Ishmael (Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 1687 on Koran 2:127).
 Al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:60; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 1695 on Koran 2:127.
 Ibn al-Kalbī, Kitāb al-aṣnām
 Al-Masʿūdī, Murūj
adh-dhahab wa-maʿādin al-jawhar (
 Al-Azraqī, Akhbār,
1:143; Ibn Isḥāq, Sīrat
 Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:46–47; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:132; al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:141. In another report al-Azraqī consigns the events to an even earlier period when, as he states, one of the Yemeni kings (the tubbaʿs) wanted to lay waste the Kaʿba and was counseled by his priests not to do so because it was “the sacred abode of Allah” (Akhbār, 1:133).
 Wa-daʿā . . . ilā ḥarbi abraha wa-jihādihi ʿan bayti ʾllāhi ʾl-ḥarām (Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:47; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:132, and Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 29405 on Koran, sura 105).
 Thumma qāma ʿabdu ʾl-muṭṭalibi wa-qāma maʿahu nafarun min al-quraysh yadʿūna ʾllāha wa-yastanṣirūnahu ʿalā abraha wa-jundihi (Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:51; also aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:134).
 Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān al-ʿaẓīm (Beirut: Dār wa-Maktabat al-Hilāl, 1986), 4:369. Cf. the verse attributed to ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib by al-Masʿūdī: yurīdu kaʿbatakum wa-llāhu māniʿuhū ("He desires your Kaʿba, but Allah shall prevent him"). Murūj, 1:382.
 Ibid., 25–26.
 U. Rubin, “The Ka‘ba.
Aspects of its Ritual Functions and Position in Pre-Islamic and Early Islamic Times,”
 T. Izutsu, God and Man in the Koran (Tokyo: Keio University, 1964), 103.
 This kind of argumentation is reflected in the position of G. E. von Grunebaum, who states that the assumption of Allah being the Lord of the Kaʿba “seems quite defensible” (Classical Islam, trans. Katherine Watson [Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co., 1970], 25), as well as in that of the Russian author L. I. Klimovich, who posits that “the ancient god of Quraysh Allah assumed a dominant position within the gods of the dependent tribes” and that “Allah was the Lord of the Quraysh sanctuary Kaʿba” (Islam [Moscow: Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, 1962], 15).
 Kister, “Labbayka,” 45.
 Ibid., 47.
 See, for instance, Carl Brockelmann, “Allah und die Götzen, der Ursprung des islamischen Monotheismus,” Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 21 (1922): 99–121.
 Izutsu, God and Man, 101. Brockelmann’s “Allah und die Götzen” attributes to the pre-Islamic Allah so many world-view notions that this deity appears completely identical with the Allah of Islam. However any presentation of this kind raises major questions. What are the differences between the concepts of the divine in the Jāhilīya and Islam? What were the causes of the transformation from the former to the latter, and why did it take place at all?
 Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 3:239.
 Wa-naḥnu lā naʿbudu shayʾan (Kitāb al-Maghāzī, ed. Marsden Jones [London: Oxford University Press, 1966], 2:479).
 The verb found in Marsden Jones’s edition is nadaʿu, but it seems that nadʿū would be a more reliable reading.
 Maghāzī, 2:433.
 Al-Iṣfahānī, Kitāb
 Izutsu, God and Man, 105.
 Al-Iṣfahānī, Aghānī, 5:67.
 Wa-ʿtaraḍa rasūla ʾllāhi wa-huwa yaṭūfu bi-l-kaʿbati fīmā balaghanī ʾl-aswadu bnu ʾl-muṭṭalibi bni asadi bni ʿabdi ʾl-ʿuzzā wa-l-walīdu bnu ʾl-mughīrati wa-umayyatu bnu khalafin wa-ʿāṣu bnu wāʾil, wa-kānū dhawī asnānin fī qawmihim, fa-qālū: yā muḥammadu, halumma fa-l-naʿbud mā taʿbud, wa-taʿbud mā naʿbud, fa-nashtarika naḥnu wa-anta fī ʾl-amr, fa-in kāna ʾlladhī taʿbudu khayran mimmā naʿbud, kunnā qad akhadhnā bi-ḥaẓẓinā minhu, wa-in kāna mā naʿbudu khayran mimmā taʿbud, kunta qad akhadhta bi-ḥaẓẓika minhu (Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:386). In a report by aṭ-Ṭabarī on the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās the proposal was that Muḥammad and the heathens should exchange their respective gods every year (aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:337, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, on Koran 109; also Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, 6:496; al-Wāḥidī, Asbāb al-nuzūl [Beirut, 1983], 342).
 Koran 109:1–6; trans. A. J. Arberry.
 Aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:337; al-Wāḥidī, Asbāb, 342.
 Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, 6:496.
 An even earlier instance of lack of recognition of Allah might be suggested by the Prophet’s conversation with Abū Ṭālib, which apparently took place shortly after the first revelations came to Muḥammad. Here the Prophet expounded the principles of his religion to his uncle and invited him to embrace it with the words: Ayyu ʿammī, hādhā dīnu ʾllāhi wa-dīnu malāʾikatihi wa-dīnu rusulihi wa-dīnu abīnā ibrāhīm (“O my uncle, this is the religion of Allah and his angels and his prophets, and it is the religion of our father Abraham”). Abū Ṭālib opposes himself to this bold description of the new religion, saying: yā ʾbna akhī, innī lā astaṭīʿu an ufāriqa dīnī wa-dīna ābāʾī (“O son of my brother, I can not leave aside my religion and that of my ancestors”). Aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:313; Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:265.
 A-fa-raʾaytumu ʾl-lāta wa-l-ʿuzzā, wa-manāta ʾth-thālithata ʾl-ukhrā. Tilka ʾl-gharānīqu ʾl-ʿulā. Inna shafāʿatahunna la-turtajā. (“Have you considered al-Lāt and al-ʿUzzā. And Manāt, the third, the other. Those are the high flying cranes. Surely their intercession may be hoped for.”) Aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:338, 340.
 Wa-qālū: qad ʿarafnā anna ʾllāha yuḥyī wa-yumīt, wa-huwa ʾlladhī yakhluqu wa-yarzuq, wa-lākin ālihatuna hādhihi tashfaʿu lanā ʿindahu, fa-idhā jaʿalta lahā naṣīban, fa-naḥnu maʿaka (aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:340; Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 19155 on Koran 22:52).
 Taʾrīkh, 2:340.
 Ibn Saʿd, Kitāb aṭ-ṭabaqāt al-kubrā (Beirut, 1960), 1:202; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 10693 on Koran 6:108; as-Suyūṭī, ad-Durr al-manthūr, on Koran 6:108.
 Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 2:27; cf. Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 33; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, on Koran 38:5.
 A. T. Welch, “Allah and Other Supernatural Beings: The Emergence of
the Qur’anic Doctrine of Tawḥid,” Journal of the
 Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:280–81; We find a similar account in Ibn Kathīr: La-nashtumannaka wa-ilāhaka ʾlladhī amaraka bi-hādhā (Tafsīr, 5:123). Aṭ-Ṭabarī reports: la-nashtumannaka wa-la-nashtumanna man yaʾmuruka (Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 10693 and no. 22843 on Koran 4:108 and 38:6).
 Intaliqū binā ilā abī ṭālibin fa-nukallimahu fīhi, fa-l-yunṣifnā minhu, fa-yaʾmurahu, fa-l-yakuffa ʿan shatmi ālihatinā, wa-nadaʿuhu wa-ilāhahu ʾlladhī yaʾbud (aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:324). Cf. Fa-lammā dakhalū ʿalayhi qālū: yā abā ṭālib, anta sayyidunā wa-kabīrunā, fa-nṣifnā mini ʾbni akhīka, fa-murhu, fa-l-yakuffa ʿan shatmi ālihatinā, wa-nadaʿuhu wa-ilāhahu (aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:324). See also Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 10693 on Koran 4:108. There are numerous other instances where Muḥammad’s deity is named “your god” or “your lord.” Thus in the conversation between the heathens and Muḥammad, mentioned by Ibn Isḥāq (Sīra, 1:316–17), when asking Muḥammad to call upon his God to produce miracles, they always resort to the compound sal rabbaka (“Ask your Lord”). The same phrase was used by Abū Ṭālib. Sīra, 1:399.
 Ibn Isḥāq gives the following gloomy picture of the
 Faqad arā law kāna maʿa ilāhi muḥammadin ghayruhu la-kāna ghayru mā kāna. Al-Wāqidī, Maghāzī, 2:832; al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:122. Cf. Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 4:22.
 Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:381. In a later development, just before the battle of Badr, Muḥammad is reported to have passed by an assembly of heathens and begun calling them to Allah. Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, 1:617.
 Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 2:32–34; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:348–52; Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 5992 on Koran 3:103.
 Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 2:32; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:348.
 Fa-daʿāhum ilā ʾllāhi, fa-ʿaraḍa ʿalayhim nafsahu, ḥattā innahu la-yaqūlu lahum: yā banī ʿabdi ʾllāhi, inna ʾllāha ʿazza wa-jalla qad aḥsana ʾsma abīkum, fa-lam yaqbalū minhu mā ʿaraḍa ʿalayhim. Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 2:33; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:349.
 The conversation is between Muḥammad and Suwayd b. Ṣāmit
who came to
 Fa-lammā kallama rasūlu ʾllāhi ulāʾika ʾn-nafar wa-daʿāhum ilā ʾllāhi, qāla baʿḍuhum li-baʿḍ: yā qawmu, taʿallamū wa-llāhi innahu la-n-nabīyu ʾlladhī tūʿidukum bihi ʾl-yahūd, fa-lā tasbiqannakum ilayhi, Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 2:38; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:354; Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 5992 on Koran 3:103.
 29:61; trans. A. J. Arberry. Cf. 31:25, 39:38, 23:84–89, 10:31.
 Fa-annā tusḥarūn (23:89); bal aktharuhum lā yaʿqilūn (29:63).
 Thumma salakha dhālika bihim ilā an ʿabadū mā ʾstaḥabbū wa-nasū mā kānū ʿalayhi wa-stabdalū bi-dīni ibrāhīma wa-ismāʿīla ghayrahu fa-ʿabadū ʾl-awthāna wa-ṣārū ilā mā kānat ʿalayhi ʾl-umamu min qablihim. Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 6; Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:82.
 Y. Nevo and J. Koren, “The Origins of the Muslim Descriptions of the Jāhilī Meccan Sanctuary,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 49 (1990): 23–44.
 Y. Nevo and J. Koren, “Methodological Approaches to Islamic Studies,” Der Islam 68 (1991): 87–106.
 Wa-laqad ahlaknā mā ḥawlakum min al-qurā wa-ṣarrafnā ʾl-āyāti laʿallahum yarjiʿūn. Fa-law lā naṣarahumu ʾlladhīna ʾttakhadū min dūni ʾllāhi qurbānan ālihatan; trans. Arberry: “And We destroyed the cities about you, and We turned about the signs, that haply they would return. Then why did those not help them that they had taken to themselves as mediators, gods apart from God?”
 Izutsu, God and Man, 14.
 12:40, cited in Izutsu, God and Man, 15.
 Watt, Muhammad Prophet and Statesman, 28–29.
 Izutsu, God and Man, 96.
 Ibid., 97.
 A. F. L. Beeston, The Religions of Pre-Islamic Yemen, L’Arabie du Sud, Histoire et Civilisation, vol. 1 (Paris, 1981), 267.
 Wa-kāna ʿabdu ʾl-muṭṭalibi fīmā yazʿamūn, wa-llāhu aʿlam, qad nadhara la-in wulida lahu ʿasharatu nafarin thumma balaghū maʿahu ḥattā yamnaʿūhu la-yanḥaranna aḥadahum li-llāhi ʿinda ʾl-kaʿbati. Fa-lammā tawāfā banūhu ʿasharatan wa-ʿarafa annahum sa-yamnaʿūnahu, jamaʿahum thumma akhbarahum bi-nadhrihi wa-daʿāhum ilā ʾl-wafāʾi li-llāhi bi-dhālik. Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:164.
 Ibid., 164–68.
 Cf. also: Qāma ʿabdu ʾl-muṭṭalibi ʿinda hubalin yadʿū ʾllāha. Ibid., 1:166.
 Ibn Saʿd (Ṭabaqāt, 1:88–89) relates the same story on the authority of al-Wāqidī, but does not mention Hubal or Allah. But al-Wāqidī is known as a weak authority on Jāhilīya matters.
 Ibn Saʿd says that before the event the amount was ten camels, and only afterwards it became one hundred camels (Ṭabaqāt, 1:89). Nevertheless al-Iṣfahānī reports that Harim b. Sinān paid one hundred camels for the slaughter of a man from Banū ʿAbs at the end of the Dāḥis and al-Ghabrāʾ war (Aghānī, 10:342).
 It is remarkable that when Ibn Saʿd retells the story on the authority of al-Wāqidī the casting of lots is mentioned, yet not Hubal himself.
 Wa-kāna hubalun min aʿẓami aṣnāmi qurayshin (al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:117); Wa-kāna aʿẓamahā ʿindahum hubalun (Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 27); Wa-ḥawla ʾl-kaʿbati thalāthumiʾati ṣanamin wa-sittūna ṣanaman muraṣṣaṣatan bi-r-raṣāṣ wa-kāna hubalun aʿẓamahā (al-Wāqidī, Maghāzī, 2:832); Kāna hubalun aʿẓama aṣnāmi qurayshin bi-makkata (aṭ-Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 8701 on Koran 5:3); Aʿẓamu aṣnāmi qurayshin ṣanamun kāna yuqālu lahu hubalun (Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, 2:237); Wa-hubalun aʿẓamu ʾl-aṣnāmi ʿindahum (ash-Shahrastānī, al-Milal wa-n-niḥal [Beirut, 1993], 2:585).
 fī jawfi ʾl-kaʿba (Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 28; Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:86, 164; al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:65, 100, 117).
 Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 28.
 Al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:117–19; Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:164–65; Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 28.
 Al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:117.
 Al-Wāqidī, Maghāzī, 1:299.
 Ibid., 1:33–34.
 Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 3:45; al-Wāqidī, Maghāzī, 1:296–97; al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:117; Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 28; Dīwān Ḥassān b. Thābit, ed. Sayyid Ḥanafī Ḥusayn (Cairo, 1983), 95; aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:526, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 6413 on Koran 3:153; al-Iṣfahānī, Aghānī, 15:193.
 Fa-yazʿamūna anna ʿabda ʾl-muṭṭalibi akhadhahu fa-dakhala bihi ʿalā hubalin fī jawfi ʾl-kaʿbati fa-qāma ʿindahu yadʿū ʾllāha wa-yashkuru lahu mā aʿṭāhu (aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 1:157). In the report of Ibn Isḥāq, the name of Hubal is omitted: Fa-yazʿamūna anna ʿabda ʾl-muṭṭalibi akhadhahu fa-dakhala bihi ʾl-kaʿbata fa-qāma yadʿū ʾllāha wa-yashkuru lahu mā aʿṭāhu (Sīra, 1:172).
 Al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:118; Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:165.
 Jawād ʿAlī, al-Mufaṣṣal fī taʾrīkh al-ʿarab qabla ʾl-islām, Dār al-ʿIlm li-l-Malāyīn (Beirut: Maktabat an-Nahḍa; Baghdad, 1970), 6:415.
 Beeston, The Religions of
 Wa-lā hubalan azūru wa-kāna rabban / lanā fī ʾd-dahri idh ḥilmī saghīrū (Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 22).
 Jawād ʿAlī, Mufaṣṣal, 6:232.
 Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 1:53. In his imprecation (duʿāʾ) against Abraha, ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib referred to the definite form [al]lāhumma (ibid., 1:51).
 Mify narodov mira (
 F. V. Winnett, “Allah before Islam,” The Moslem World 28 (1938): 246–47.
 According to Ibn Isḥāq, Hubal was brought to
 Jawād ʿAlī, Mufaṣṣal, 6:238–39.
 Wa-lam takun qurayshun bi-makkata wa-man aqāma bihā min al-ʿarabi yuʿẓimūna shayʾan min al-aṣnāmi iʿẓāmahumu ʾl-ʿuzzā, thumma ʾl-lāt, thumma manāh. Fa-ammā ʾl-ʿuzzā, fa-kānat qurayshun takhuṣṣuhā dūna ghayrihā bi-z-ziyārati wa-l-hadīya. Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 27.
 Fa-kānū idhā faraghū min ḥajjihim wa-ṭawāfihim bi-l-kaʿbati lam yaḥillū ḥattā yaʾtū ʾl-ʿuzzā fa-yaṭūfūna bihā wa-yaḥillūna ʿindahā wa-yaʿkifūna ʿindahā yawman (Akhbār, 1:126).
 Yā li-hubal, yā li-l-ʿuzzā (Ibn Saʿd, Ṭabaqāt, 2:42). In other reports Abū Sufyān says: lanā ʾl-ʿuzzā wa-lā ʿuzzā lakum (aṭ-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2:526).
 Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 19.
 Al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:128. Al-Wāqidī adds on the authority of Saʿīd b. ʿAmr al-Hudhalī that the father of Khālid b. al-Walīd used to sacrifice one hundred camels and sheep to al-ʿUzzā, and then to remain in her presence for three days (Maghāzī, 3:874).
 Wa-kāna sādinuhā aflaḥu b. naḍrini ʾsh-shaybānīyu min banī sulaym, fa-lammā ḥaḍarathu ʾl-wafātu dukhila ʿalayhi wa-huwa ḥazīn, fa-qāla lahu abū lahab: mā lī arāka ḥazīnan? Qāl: akhāfu an taḍīʿa ʾl-ʿuzzā min baʿdī, qāla lahu abū lahab: fa-lā taḥzan, fa-anā aqūmu ʿalayhā min baʿdika, fa-jaʿala kullan man laqiya qāl: in taẓhuri ʾl-ʿuzzā kuntu qadi ʾttakhadhtu yadan ʿindahā bi-qiyāmī ʿalayhā, wa-in yaẓhur muḥammadun, wa-lā arāhu yaẓhur, fa-ʾbnu akhī. Maghāzī, 3:874. See also Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 23, and the bold article of U. Rubin “Abū Lahab and Sūra CXI,” BSOAS 42 (1979): 13–28.
 On the authority of Saʿīd b. ʿAmr al-Hudhalī (Maghāzī, 3:873–74; al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:127–28). The story is related by aṭ-Ṭabarī with an isnād going back to al-Wāqidī, Taʾrīkh, 3:65.
 On the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās (Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 25).
 Wa-sammaw baʿdahā ʾl-ʿuzzā ʾshtiqāqan lahā mini ʾsmi ʾllāhi ʾlladhī huwa ʾl-ʿazīz (Jāmiʿ al-bayān, no. 11988 [cf. no. 11990]). Al-Lāt is likewise said to have been derived from the very name Allāh (ibid.).
 Ibn al-Kalbī, Aṣnām, 18; al-Azraqī, Akhbār, 1:126.
 R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early
 Yet another hint at the possibility of the existence of such a divine pair at Mecca are some glosses on Koran 53:19–20 stating that the Jāhilī Arabs deemed al-Lāt to be the feminine form of Allah (Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, 6:26).