The worship of Allaah before Islam
Fatwa No: 84115

Question

My question is about the Arab people before the coming of Islam in the days of Jahiliyya. Did the Arabs worship Allaah along with other idols? Many Western people who write books on Islam (thinking that they know everything) say that the Arabs before Islam came up with the idea that their god "al-lah" was the same god that the Christian and Jewish people around them worshipped, and according to them this is how Islam started. I know that this is not true, al-Hamdu Lillah, but could you please explain further?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

 

Arabs in the pre-Islamic period had knowledge of Allaah The Almighty, revered Him and believed that He is the Creator and Sustainer, The One who possesses the power of giving death and life. However, they used to ascribe partners to Him, such as idols, stones and trees and had various opinions with regard to this practice. Some of them made the idols (statues) of pious people and worshipped them believing that they would bring them closer to Allaah The Almighty. Some of them made the idols symbols for angels or stars believing that they would intercede with Him. The evidence for the above is the Saying of Allaah The Almighty (which means):

  • {And if you ask them who created them, they will surely say: "Allaah" …} [Quran 43:87]
  • {And indeed if you ask them, "Who has created the heavens and the earth?" They will surely say: "The All-Mighty, the All-Knower created them."} [Quran 43:9]
  • {Say (O Muhammad): "Who provides for you from the sky and from the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?" They will say: "Allaah." …} [Quran 10:31]
  • {And they worship besides Allaah things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: "These are our intercessors with Allaah." …} [Quran 10:18]
  • {…And those who take Awliyaa' (protectors and helpers) besides Him (say): "We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allaah." …} [Quran 39:3]

Allaah The Almighty has affirmed about them that they used to forget their various gods at the time of suffering and seek refuge with Allaah Alone. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {And when they embark on a ship, they invoke Allaah, making their Faith pure for Him only, but when He brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share of their worship to others.} [Quran 29:65]

As for the claim of Western writers that the god worshipped by Arabs is the same as the one worshipped by Jews and Christians, then this is not correct. Christians worship Jesus  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention and believe that he is Divine by nature. The Arabs generally were very far from all such philosophies and their minds were free from such falsehood except those who believed that angels were 'daughters of God'.

Islam called all Arabs – indeed, all of humanity – to the worship of only one God, i.e. Allaah The Almighty, since the One Who is the Creator, the Sustainer and Who has the control of giving life and death is the one who deserves to be worshipped only. Therefore, Allaah The Almighty has condemned their beliefs about polytheistic intercession and mediation.

As for the Jews, some of them believe that 'Uzayr  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention is the son of Allaah The Almighty along with other beliefs, such as ascribing to Allaah The Almighty poverty and tiredness, and they harbor enmity to Jibreel (Gabriel)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention. Finally, we inform you that some Christians were on the correct religion and were waiting for the last Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) such as Waraqah ibn Nawfal and others, but they were very few. It is mentioned in a Hadeeth (narration) that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Verily, Allaah looked towards the people of the world and He showed hatred for the Arabs and the non-Arabs with the exception of some remnants from the People of the Book." [Muslim]

Allaah Knows best.

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