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Hubal (هبل) was the head moon-god of the polytheistic Arab pantheon at the Ka'ba. Hubal's idol was one of many located in the Kaaba, which Muhammad ultimately removed and destroyed upon his conquest of Mecca. Despite Hubal's importance to the pagan Arabs, the Quran does not mention the moon-god by name, even as it mentions the names of other pagan Arab deities, such as al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat. Some have suggested that Muhammad's idea of Allah was simply a transformation of preexisting ideas of Hubal and perhaps, another pagan Arab god, Baal, however these claims appear untenable.
Description in hadith
Francis E. Peters
Hubal is the idol to which Abu Safyan6 said on the day of (the battle of) Uhud, "Tower up, O Hubal," that is, manifest you religious power," while the Prophet said, "Tower up, O Unique One." The name of the well inside the Ka'ba was al-Akhsaf; the Arabs used to call it al-Akhshaf...(al-Azraqi 1858, 73)Muhammad ibn Ishaq said that Hubal was (made of) cornelian peal in the shape of a human. His right hand was broken off and the Quraysh made a gold hand for it. It had a vault for the sacrifice, and there were seven arrows cast (on issues relating to) a dead person, virginity and marriage. Its offering was a hundred camels. It had a custodian (hajib)...7 (Ibid., p.74)
One would thus have to fall back on the view that Allah was not a god like any other. On the one hand, Allah might simply be another name for Hubal, as Wellhausen suggested: just as the Israelites knew Yahwe as Elohim, so the Arabs knew Hubal as Allah, meaning simply "God." It would follow that the guardians of Hubal and Allah were identical; and since Quraysh were not guardians of Hubal, they would not be guardians of Allah, either. But as Wellhausen himself noted, Allah had long ceased to be a label that could be applied to any deity. Allah was the personal name of a specific deity, on a par with Allat, not merely a noun meaning "god"; and in the second century this deity had guardians of his own. When Abd al-Muttalib is described as having prayed to Allah while consulting Hubal's arrows, it is simply that the sources baulk at depicting the Prophet's grandfather as a genuine pagan, not that Allah and Hubal were alternative names for the same god. If Hubal and Allah had been one and the same deity, Hubal ought to have survived as an epithet of Allah, which he did not. And moreover, there would not have been traditions in which people are asked to renounce the one for the other.
On the other hand, Allah might have been a high God over and above all other deities. This is, in fact, how Wellhausen saw him, and he has been similarly represented by Watt. It is not how he appears in the inscriptional material, in which he is very much the god of a particular people [footnote: He was the god of Rubat, the tribe to which the guardian belonged, cf. Milik, "Inscriptions," p. 58, adducing an inscription in which Ilaha is asked to regard the tribe of Rubat with benevolence.]; and the fact that he was known as Allah, "the god," is no indication of supremacy: Allat, "the goddess," was not a deity over and above al-Uzza or Manat. But he could, of course, have developed into such a god, as the Qur'anic evidence adduced by Wellhausen and Watt suggests. If we accept this view, however, we are up against the problem that he is unlikely to have had guardians of his own in this capacity. Viewed as a high god, Allah was too universal, too neutral, and too impartial to be the object of a particularist cult, as Wellhausen noted; no sanctuary was devoted to him except insofar as he had come to be identified with ordinary deities. A high god in Arabia was apparently one who neither needed nor benefitted from cultic links with a specific group of devotees. (Wellhausen may of course be wrong: maybe a high god in Arabia did benefit from such links. But if so, we are back at the problem of why Allah was made to share these links with Hubal.)If Quraysh were guardians on behalf of an Allah above all other deities, they must thus have started as guardians of someone else. But as has been seen, they do not appear to have been guardians of Hubal, and Hubal was not identified with Allah, nor did his cult assist that of Allah in any way. And if we postulate that they started as guardians of an ordinary Allah who subsequently developed into a supreme deity, we reinstate the problem of Hubal's presence in his shrine. The fact is that the Hubal-Allah sanctuary of Mecca is an oddity; can such a shrine have existed in historical fact? There would seem to be at least two sanctuaries behind the one depicted in the tradition, and Quraysh do not come across as guardians of either.
Translated and annotated by William Montgomery Watt and Michael V. McDonald
Published by State University of New York Press, Albany (1988)
See pages 3-4
By John F. Healey
Published by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands (2001)
See pages 127-132
- Ba’al, Hubal, and Allah A Rebuttal to the Islamic Awareness Article Entitled “Is Hubal the Same as Allah?”, by MSM Saifullah and ‘Abdallah David - Timothy W. Dunkin
- Yahweh or Hubal - Dan Zaremba, Prophetic News, April 6, 2008
- Hubal, the moon god of the Kaba & Hubal and Allah the Moon God? - Brother Andrew, Bible.ca
- Did the Meccans Worship Yahweh God? Revisiting the Issue of the Ishmaelites and the worship of the true God & Hubal and Allah Revisited - Sam Shamoun, Answering Islam
- Is Allah the Name of God? - Let Us Reason Ministries
- Karen Armstrong (2000,2002). Islam: A Short History. pp. 11. ISBN 0-8129-6618-x.