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Idolatry in the Arabian Peninsula

Tuesday 28/04/2009

Though Allah The Almighty distinguished man, favored him over all other creatures, bestowed known and unknown graces on him and created him with a sound innate disposition, many people have deviated from the sound innate disposition to worship Allah solely, welcomed misguidance, followed their old enemy, Satan, and worshipped all the different types of idols.

 A group of the Arabs worshipped idols which were transmitted to them from ancient nations. Those idols were Wadd, Suwaa‘, Yaghooth, Ya‘ooq and Nasr, which had been worshipped by the people to whom Prophet Nooh (Noah), may Allah exalt his mention, was sent. The worship of these idols spread among the Arab tribes, as stated in the narration by Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him. He said that the idols which had been worshipped by the people of Nooh were later worshipped by the Arabs of the Peninsula. 
 
As for the idol Wadd, it was worshipped by the tribe of Kalb at Dawmatul-Jandal; Suwaa‘ was the idol of Huthayl; Yaghooth was the idol of Muraad and then of Banu Ghutayf at Al-Juruf near Saba' (Sheba); Ya‘ooq was the idol of Hamdaan, and Nasr was the idol of Himyar for Aal Thil-Kalaa‘. The names of the idols were the names of some pious men of the people of Nooh. When they died, Satan inspired their people to sculpture statues of them and place them where they used to sit. Those statues were not worshipped by the generation who erected them, but by subsequent generations to whom the origin of the statues was obscure. [Al-Bukhari]
 
In addition to these five idols, the Arabs would worship the idols of Quraysh, such as Al-Laat, Al-‘Uzzah, Manaah and Hubal. Manaah – the oldest idol – was erected on the coast of the Red Sea near Al-Mushallal at Qudayd between Makkah and Madeenah. The Arabs would venerate it, particularly the tribes of Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj. The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), sent ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, to knock it down in the year of the Conquest of Makkah.
 
Al-Laat, was located in At-Taa'if. It was a square stone and its custodians were the people of Thaqeef who built a temple around it. All the Arabs venerated it and would add its name to their names, such as Zayd Al-Laat and Taym Al-Laat, and so on. It was erect in the place where the minaret of At-Taa'if mosque currently stands. When Thaqeef embraced Islam, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), sent Al-Mugheerah ibn Shu‘bah to demolish it and set it on fire.
 
As for the idol of Al-‘Uzza, it was newer than Al-Laat and was located in the valley of Nakhlah above Thaat ‘Irq, and a temple was built over it. A voice would emanate from it and Quraysh would venerate it. When the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), conquered Makkah, he sent Khaalid ibn Al-Waleed to destroy it. There were three trees at that location, and when Khaalid had destroyed the third one, he saw a black woman with untidy hair whose hand was over and behind her shoulder. She was biting with her eyeteeth and her servant was behind her. Khaalid said, "I disbelieve in you, you are devoid of glory. Allah Has Disgraced you." He hit her and split her head apart and she turned into dust. Then, he killed her servant.
 
Hubal was one of the greatest idols of Quraysh. It was set up inside and around the Ka‘bah. It was the statue of a man, and it was made of red carnelian. Whenever they had a dispute, quarrel or intended to travel, the Quraysh would attend to it and a seek decision through raffling with arrows before it. On the day of Uhud, Abu Sufyaan glorified Hubal, so the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), ordered his Companions to say:“Allah is more exalted and glorified.” [Al-Bukhari]
 
Finally, there were two other idols called Isaaf and Naa'ilah. Isaaf was said to be a man from Jurhum and Naa'ilah was a woman from the same tribe. It was said that they entered the Ka’bah and committed fornication, so Allah turned them into stone. The two stones were placed outside the Ka’bah to remind people of the punishment that would befall sinners. However, with the passage of time, people turned the two stones into idols to be worshipped.
 
Although idolatry was dominant, there were some persons whom Allah, The Almighty, guarded against worshipping any being other than Him, as an answer to the supplication of Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, that was mentioned in the verse (what means): {And [mention, O Muhammad], when Ibraaheem [Abraham] said: ‘My Lord, make this city [Makkah] secure and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.’} [Quran 14:35] Idolatry remained practiced in the Arabian Peninsula until Allah The Almighty sealed His Messages with Muhammad,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), with whom He purified the lands and directed people to worship the True Creator that none is worthy of worship except Him and no partner may be associated with. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.}[Quran 61:8].

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