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Allah as Moon-god

Allah as Moon-God is a claim put forth by some critics

of Islam that the Islamic name for God, Allah, derives
from a pagan Moon god in local Arabic mythology. The
implication is that Allah is a dierent God from the
Judeo-Christian deity and that Muslims are worshipping
a false god. The claim is most associated with the
Christian apologist author Robert Morey, whose book
The moon-god Allah in the archeology of the Middle East
is a widely cited source of the idea that Allah is a moongod. It has also been promoted in the cartoon tracts of
Jack Chick.[1] The use of a lunar calendar and the prevalence of crescent moon imagery in Islam is said to be the
result of this origination.[2]

The name Allah, as the Quran itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia.
Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are
found not infrequently among the theophorous
names in inscriptions from North Arabia.[7]
The 19th-century scholar Julius Wellhausen also viewed
the concept of Allah (al-ilah, the god)" to be a form of
abstraction originating from Meccas local gods.[8]
Alfred Guillaume notes that the term al-ilah (the God)
ultimately derives from the Semitic root used as a generic
term for divinity.

Islamic scholars have rejected these claims, one even calling them insulting.[3] It is argued that Allah is just the
word for God in Arabic, which ultimately derives from
the same root as the Hebrew words "El" and "Elohim",
both used in the Book of Genesis. Sociologist Lori Peek
writes that, Allah is simply the Arabic word meaning
God. In fact people who speak Arabic, be they Christians,
Jews or Muslims, often say 'Allah' to describe God, just
as God is called 'Gott' in German and 'Dieu' in French.[1]
While other gods were certainly referred to using this epithet, this is equally true of the Hebrew words. The Biblical commandment You shall have no other gods before
me uses the same word, Elohim, to refer to the other
gods that is used for the creator god.[4] It is also true of the
English, French and other European-language words for
God. Indeed, the English word "God" evolved from pagan Germanic terms for invocation; the Latin word Deus,
from which Dieu derives, can be traced to the same
root as Dyeus, which gives the names of the ancient IndoEuropean divinities Zeus, Jove and Dyaus Pitar.

The oldest name for God used in the

Semitic world consists of but two letters, the
consonant 'l' preceded by a smooth breathing,
which was pronounced 'Il' in ancient Babylonia, 'El' (Eloh,Elohim) in ancient Israel. The
relation of this name, which in Babylonia and
Assyria (Alaha,Eloah) in Aramaic syriac became a generic term simply meaning god, to
the Arabian Ilah familiar to us in the form Allah, which is compounded of al, the denite
article, and Ilah by eliding the vowel i, is not

Guillaume notes that some scholars have argued that the

epithet the god was rst used as a title of a moon god,
but this is purely antiquarian in the same sense as the
origins of the English word god. Some scholars trace
the name to the South Arabian Ilah, a title of the Moon
god, but this is a matter of antiquarian interest...it is clear
from Nabataean and other inscriptions that Allah meant
In 2009 anthropologist Gregory Starrett wrote, a re- 'the god'.
cent survey by the Council for American Islamic Re- The word Allah was used by Arabic-speaking Chrislations reports that as many as 10% of Americans be- tians and Arab Jews before the lifetime of Muhammad as
lieve Muslims are pagans who worship a moon god or the word for God. It was also used by pre-Muslim Arab
goddess, a belief energetically disseminated by some monotheists known as hanifs.[10]
Christian activists.[5] Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) calls the Moon-God
theories of Allah evangelical fantasies that are perpet2 Crescent moon imagery
uated in their comic books.[6]
Main article: Star and crescent
The moon plays a signicant role in Islam because of
the use of a lunar Islamic calendar to determine the date
1 Etymology
of Ramadan. The crescent moon, known as Hilal, denes the start and end of Islamic months. The need to
The word Allah certainly predates Islam. As Arthur Jef- determine the precise time of the appearance of the hifrey states,
lal was one of the inducements for Muslim scholars to


Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who is known to have inlaid
the Crescent and Star symbol upon his personal shield, his
son Aurangzeb is also known to have used similar shields
and ags containing an upward Crescent and Star symbol.
Various Nawabs also preferred to utilize the Crescent and
Star symbols such as the Nawab of the Carnatic.[13]

3 Hubal and Allah

study astronomy.[11] The Quran clearly emphasises that

the moon is a sign of God, not itself a god. Muslim scholars cite the 37th verse of the Sura Fussilat as proof against
the Moon-God claim:[12]

And of His signs are the night and day and the
sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to
the moon, but prostrate to Allah, who created
them, if it should be Him that you worship
The crescent moon symbol used as form of blazon is not
a feature of early Islam, as would be expected if it were
linked to Pre-Islamic pagan roots. The use of the crescent
symbol on Muslim ags originates during the later Middle Ages.[13] 14th-century Muslim ags with an upwardpointing crescent in a monocolour eld included the ags
of Gabes, Tlemcen (Tilimsi), Damas and Lucania, Cairo,
Mahdia, Tunis and Buda.[14]
It has been suggested that the star-and-crescent had been
adopted from the Byzantines. Franz Babinger suggests
this possibility, noting that the crescent alone has a much
older tradition also with Turkic tribes in the interior of
Asia.[15] Parsons considers this unlikely, as the star and
crescent was not a widespread motif in Byzantium at the
time of the Ottoman conquest.[16]

A 1315 illustration from the Persian Jami al-Tawarikh, inspired

by the story of Muhammad and the Meccan clan elders lifting the
Black Stone into place when the Kaaba was rebuilt in the early

3.1 In Christian fundamentalism

Before Islam, the Kaaba contained a statue representing the god Hubal, which was thought to have powers of
divination.[20][21] Robert Morey's book The Moon-god Allah in the Archeology of the Middle East claims that Allah
is identical in origin to Hubal, who he asserts to be a lunar
deity.[22] This teaching is repeated in the Chick tracts Allah Had No Son and The Little Bride. It has been
widely circulated in Evangelical and anti-Islamic literature in the United States. In 1996 Janet Parshall, in syndicated radio broadcasts, asserted that Muslims worship
a moon god.[23] In 2003 Pat Robertson stated, The struggle is whether Hubal, the Moon God of Mecca, known as
Allah, is supreme, or whether the Judeo-Christian Jehovah God of the Bible is Supreme.[24]

Turkish historians tend to stress the antiquity of the crescent (not star-and-crescent) symbol among the early Turkic states in Asia.[17] In Turkish tradition, there is an Ottoman legend of a dream of the eponymous founder of
the Ottoman house, Osman I, in which he is reported to Farzana Hassan sees these views as an extension of longhave seen a moon rising from the breast of a Muslim standing Christian Evangelical claims that Islam is pajudge whose daughter he sought to marry. When full, gan and that Muhamamad was an impostor and deceiver,
it descended into his own breast. Then from his loins
there sprang a tree, which as it grew came to cover the
Literature circulated by the Christian
whole world with the shadow of its green and beautiful
Coalition perpetuates the popular Christian bebranches. Beneath it Osman saw the world spread out
lief about Islam being a pagan religion, borbefore him, surmounted by the crescent.[18]
rowing aspects of Judeo-Christian monotheism
Islamic ags containing the calligraphy of the Quran were
by elevating the moon god Hubal to the rank
commonly used by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, it was the
of Supreme God, or Allah. Muhammad, for


Hubal versus Allah

fundamentalist Christians, remains an impostor who commissioned his companions to copy
words of the Bible as they sat in dark inaccessible places, far removed from public gaze.[25]


Scholarly views

These claims draw to some extent on historical secular

scholarship about the origins of the Islamic view of Allah and the polytheism of pre-Islamic Arabia, which date
back to the nineteenth century. These concern the evolution and etymology of Allah and the mythological
identity of Hubal. On the basis that the Kaaba was Allahs house, but the most important idol within it was that
of Hubal, Julius Wellhausen considered Hubal to be an
ancient name for Allah.[26][27][28] in 1905 David Samuel
Margoliouth wrote that Between Hubal, the god whose
image was inside the Ka'bah, and Allah (the God), of
whom much will be heard, there was perhaps some connection, but argued that Wellhausens equation of the
two was merely hypothetical.[29]

had sons[37] and that the local deities of al-Uzz, Mant
and al-Lt were His daughters.[38] The Meccans possibly
associated angels with Allah.[39][40] Allah was invoked in
times of distress.[40][41] Muhammads father's name was
Abd-Allh meaning the slave of Allh.[40]

4.1 Hubal versus Allah

Islamic scholars argue that Muhammads role was to restore the puried Abrahamic worship of Allah by emphasising his uniqueness and separation from his own creation, including phenomena such as the moon. The alleged miracle of the splitting of the moon shows that God
is not the moon, but has power over it. Whether or not
Hubal was even associated with the moon, both Muhammad and his enemies clearly identied Hubal and Allah as
dierent gods, their supporters ghting on opposing sides
in the Battle of Badr. Ibn Hisham notes that Abu Sufyan
ibn Harb, leader of the defeated anti-Islamic army, called
to Hubal for support to gain victory in their next battle;

When Abu Sufyan wanted to leave he went

The claim that Hubal is a moon god derives from the
to the top of the mountain and shouted loudly
speculation of the German scholar Hugo Winckler in the
saying, 'You have done a ne work; victory in
early twentieth century.[30] Recent authors do not idenwar goes by turns. Today in exchange for the
tify Hubal as a god of the moon. David Leeming deday (of Badr). Show your superiority, Hubal,'
scribes him as a warrior and rain god, as does Mircea Elii.e. vindicate your religion. The apostle told
ade.[31][32] Islamic sources make no mention of the moon
Umar to get up and answer him and say, God
in connection with Hubal. Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi's Book
[Allah] is most high and most glorious. We are
of Idols describes the idol as a human gure with a gold
not equal. Our dead are in paradise; your dead
hand (replacing the original hand that had broken o the
are in hell.[42]
statue). He had seven arrows that were used for divination.[33]
Likewise, Sahih al-Bukhari clearly dierentiates between
More recent authors emphasise the Nabataean origins the worshippers of Allah, and the worshippers of Hubal,
of Hubal as a gure imported into the shrine, which referring to the same event.
may have already been associated with Allah.[31] Patricia
Abu Sufyan ascended a high place and said,
Crone argues that If Hubal and Allah had been one and
present amongst the people?"
the same deity, Hubal ought to have survived as an epThe
Do not answer him. Abu
ithet of Allah, which he did not. And moreover there
son of Abu Quhafa present
would not have been traditions in which people are asked
The Prophet said, Do
to renounce the one for the other.
not answer him. Abu Sufyan said, Is the son
of Al-Khattab amongst the people?" He then
added, All these people have been killed, for,
4 Islamic views
were they alive, they would have replied. On
that, 'Umar could not help saying, You are a
Many of these theories are consistent with mainstream
liar, O enemy of Allah! Allah has kept what
Islamic thought, which holds that worship of Allah was
will make you unhappy. Abu Sufyan said, Supassed down through Abraham and other prophets, but
perior may be Hubal!" On that the Prophet
that it became corrupted by pagan traditions in presaid (to his companions), Reply to him. They
Islamic Arabia. Before Muhammad, Allah was not conasked, What may we say?" He said, Say:
sidered the sole divinity by Meccans; however, Allah
Allah is More Elevated and More Majestic!"
was considered the creator of the world and the giver of
Abu Sufyan said, We have (the idol) al-Uzza,
rain. The notion of the term may have been vague in the
whereas you have no Uzza!" The Prophet said
Meccan religion.[35] Allah was associated with compan(to his companions), Reply to him. They
ions, whom pre-Islamic Arabs considered as subordinate
said, What may we say?" The Prophet said,
deities. Meccans held that a kind of kinship existed beSay: Allah is our Helper and you have no
tween Allah and the jinn.[36] Allah was thought to have
helper. [43]


In Islamic fundamentalism

In 2001, Osama bin Laden called America the modern Hubal. He referred to allies of America as hypocrites who all stood behind the head of global unbelief, the Hubal of the modern age, America and its
supporters[44][45] Al-Qaeda's then-number two, Ayman
al-Zawahiri, repeated the phrase (hubal al-'asr) in describing America, during his November 2008 message
following Barack Obama's election to the presidency.[46]


[10] Timothy C. Tennent, Theology in the Context of World

Christianity, Zondervan, 2009.
[11] Hilal - Oxford Islamic Studies Online
[12] Reply To Dr. Robert Moreys Moon-God Myth & Other
Deceptive Attacks On Islam by Shabbir Ally
[13] Star and crescent
[14] Znamierowski Flags through the ages: A guide to the world
of ags, banners, standards and ensigns, (2000) section
'the Muslim crescent', cited by Ivan Sache, FOTW, 11
March 2001

According to Adnan A. Musallam, this use of Hubal as

a symbol of the modern worship of idols as un-Islamic
gods can be traced to one of the founders of radical Is- [15] It seems possible, though not certain, that after the conquest Mehmed took over the crescent and star as an emlamism, Sayyid Qutb, who used the label to attack secular
blem of sovereignty from the Byzantines. The half-moon
rulers such as Nasser. It may have been passed on to bin
alone on a blood red ag, allegedly conferred on the Janis[47]
Laden by one of his teachers, Abdullah Azzam.
saries by Emir Orhan, was much older, as is demonstrated

See also
God in Islam
Ancient Semitic religion
Arabian mythology
Sin (mythology)


[1] Lori Peek, Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans After

9/11, Temple University Press, 2010. p.46.
[2] A history of pagan Europe. Prudence Jones, Nigel Pennick. Psychology Press, 1995. ISBN 0-415-09136-5 p.77
[3] Scholarly Pursuits: Joseph Lumbard, classical Islam professor. BrandeisNOW. December 11, 2007.
[4] Donald E Gowan, The Westminster theological wordbook
of the Bible, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, p.168.
[5] Gregory Starrett, Islam and the Politics of Enchantment,
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, May 2009,
vol. 15. S222-S240.
[6] Jack G Shaheen Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture (1997) page=9
[7] A. Jerey, Islam: Mohammed and His Religion, Liberal
Arts Press. 1958. ASIN: B000IXMTE4 pp. 85
[8] Studies on Islam. Merlin L. Swartz. University Press,
1981. ISBN 0-19-502716-7 pp.12
[9] Alfred Guillaume. Islam. Penguin 1990 ISBN 0-14013555-3 pp.7

by numerous references to it dating from before 1453. But

since these ags lack the star, which along with the halfmoon is to be found on Sassanid and Byzantine municipal
coins, it may be regarded as an innovation of Mehmed. It
seems certain that in the interior of Asia tribes of Turkish
nomads had been using the half-moon alone as an emblem for some time past, but it is equally certain that crescent and star together are attested only for a much later period. There is good reason to believe that old Turkish and
Byzantine traditions were combined in the emblem of Ottoman and, much later, present-day Republican Turkish
sovereignty. Franz Babinger (William C. Hickman Ed.,
Ralph Manheim Trans.), Mehmed the Conqueror and His
Time, Princeton University Press, 1992, p 108
[16] John Denham Parsons, The Non-Christian Cross, BiblioBazaar, 2007, p 69:
Moreover, the question is what the symbol of Constantinople was at the time it was
captured by the Turks. And an inspection
of the coins issued by the Christian rulers
of that city during the thousand years and
more it was in their hands, will reveal to
the enquirer that though the crescent with a
cross within its horns appears occasionally
upon the coins of the Emperors of the East,
and in one or two instances we see a cross of
four equal arms with each extremity piercing
a crescent, it is doubtful if a single example
of the so-called star and crescent symbol
can be found upon them.
John Denham Parsons, The NonChristian Cross
[17] It is clear, however, that, whatever the origin, the crescent
was used by Turkish states in various regions of Asia, and
there is absolutely no reason to claim that it passed to the
Ottomans from Byzantium Mehmet Fuat Kprl, Gary
Leiser (Trans.), Some Observations On The Inuence Of
Byzantine Institutions On Ottoman institutions, Trk Tarih
Kurumu, 1999, p 118
[18] Lord Kinross, The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall
of the Turkish Empire, Morrow Quill Paperbacks, 1977,
pp 23-24

[19] University of Southern California. The Prophet of Islam

His Biography. Retrieved August 12, 2006.
[20] F. Hommel, First Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. M.T.
Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, and R. Hartmann, Vol.
1, pp. 379-380
[21] C. Glass, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 185
[22] The Moon-god Allah in the Archeology of the Middle East.
Newport, PA : Research and Education Foundation, 1994
[23] Jack G. Shaheen, Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture, Centre For Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University Occasional Papers, p. 8.
[24] Donald E. Schmidt, The folly of war: American foreign
policy, 1898-2005, Algora, 2005, p.347.
[25] Farzana Hassan, Prophecy and the fundamentalist quest:
an integrative study of Christian and Muslim apocalyptic
religion, McFarland, 2008, P.17
[26] J. Wellhausen, Reste Arabischen Heidenthums. pp.75
[27] The idea of idolatry and the emergence of Islam: from
polemic to history. Cambridge studies in Islamic civilization. Gerald R. Hawting. Cambridge University Press,
1999. ISBN 0-521-65165-4 pp.112
[28] also mentioned in Meccan trade and the rise of Islam, Patricia Crone, Gorgias Press LLC, 2004, ISBN 1-59333102-9 pp.185-195
[29] D. S. Margoliouth, Mohammed And The Rise Of Islam,
1905, p. 19
[30] Hugo Winckler, Arabisch, Semitisch, Orientalisch:
Kulturgeschichtlich-Mythologische Untersuchung, 1901,
W. Peiser: Berlin, p. 83.
[31] David Adams Leeming, Jealous gods and chosen people:
the mythology of the Middle East, Oxford University Press,
2004, p.121.
[32] Eliade, Adams, The Encyclopedia of religion, Volume 1,
Macmillan, 1987, p.365.
[33] Francis E. Peters, Muhammad and the origins of Islam,
SUNY Press, 1994, p.109.
[34] Patricia Crone. P. Crone, Meccan Trade And The Rise
Of Islam, 1987, op. cit., pp. 193-194.
[35] L. Gardet, Allah, Encyclopaedia of Islam
[36] See Qur'an 37:158)
[37] See Qur'an (6:100)
[38] See Qur'an (53:19-22 ; 16:57 ; 37:149)
[39] See Qur'an (53:26-27)
[40] Gerhard Bwering, God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia
of the Qur'an
[41] See Qur'an 6:109; 10:22; 16:38; 29:65)

[42] A. Guillaume, The Life Of Muhammad: A Translation

Of Ibn Ishaqs Sirat Rasul Allah, 2004 (18th Impression),
op. cit., p. 386.
[43] Islamic-Awareness, Reply To Robert Moreys Moon-God
Allah Myth: A Look At The Archaeological Evidence
[44] Bruce Lawrence (ed), Messages to the world: the statements of Osama Bin Laden, Verso, 2005, p.105.
[45] Michael Burleigh (November 7, 2005). A murderous
message. Evening Standard (London).
[46] Transcript: English translation of Zawahiri message.
Fox News. November 19, 2008.
[47] Adnan A. Musallam, From Secularism to Jihad: Sayyid
Qutb and the Foundations of Radical Islamism, Praeger.
2005. Pp. xiii, 261. Reviewed by Bruce B. Lawrence in
American Historical Review, Vol 3, no 3, June 2006.


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