Robert Morey’s primary “proof” that Allah refers to the pagan moon-god is that “Allah” was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs. Argues Morey on p.47 of The Islamic Invasion:
By this time it should not come as a surprise that the word “Allah” was not something invented by Muhammad or revealed for the first time in the Quran…
For those people who find it hard to believe that Allah was a pagan name for a peculiar pagan Arabian deity in pre-Islamic times, the following citations may be helpful:
Allah is found…in Arabic inscriptions prior to Islam (Encyclopedia Britannica).
The Arabs, before the time of Mohammed, accepted and worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called allah (Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Houtsma).
Allah was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs: he was one of the Meccan deities (Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Gibb).
He goes on to quote several more such quotes to buttress his argument. He summarizes his three main arguments, and two of these involve the above point:
1. In Pre-Islamic times, “Allah” was used by pagan Arabs in reference to one of 360 gods worshipped at the Kabah.
2. This “Allah” may have been a high god or even the top deity among the gods but he was not viewed in the monotheistic sense as the only true deity.
Morey bellows on p.45:
A Serious Threat
We are aware that these kinds of questions and the historical research that they generate pose a serious threat to the religion of Islam…
We understand the agony of Muslims over this issue. They are in a tight spot…
Robert Morey’s self-congratulatory chest-thumping is ill-founded: Muslims are not in “agony” over what Morey considers “a serious threat to the religion of Islam.” In fact, Muslims have always known that the pre-Islamic Arabs worshiped Allah. Muslim jurists, Quranic commentators, and Islamic scholars from time immemorial have discussed this in-depth. Indeed, it is even a central part of Islamic theology, which is openly embraced. It is stated explicitly in the Quran itself. Morey’s belief that this would “pose a serious threat to the religion of Islam” is only a reflection of his ignorance of Islam, Islamic theology, and the Quran.
Theologically, Muslims don’t believe that Muhammad brought the Arabs something “new.” The Quran itself repeatedly asserts this, saying that the Prophet Muhammad was “not told anything that the previous messengers were not told” (Quran, 41:43); in fact, the Quran commands Muhammad: “Say, ‘I am nothing new among God’s messengers’” (Quran, 46:9). Instead, the Prophet Muhammad came to simply remind the Arabs and all of humankind what they had been earlier taught by God’s prophets but which they had forgotten, perverted, and discarded. Indeed, the Quran is called “the Reminder” for this very reason:
We have sent down to you this Reminder to make clear to the people what was sent to them aforetime, that perhaps they may reflect. (Quran, 16:44)
The Quran teaches that Adam, the first human being and prophet of God, built the Kaaba in Mecca. Eventually, Abraham and his first-born son Ishmael rebuilt the Kaaba on its original foundations. Ishmael is said to have settled in the Arabian peninsula, and he thus became the forefather of the Arabs. Muslims thus believe that the early Arabs were monotheists who worshiped the one true God, and who followed the same religious tradition as Abraham and his son Ishmael. Later, however, the Arabs fell into a state of jahiliyyah (ignorance), and forgot, perverted, and discarded the religion of Abraham. They associated other gods with God (Allah) and thus became polytheists.
Muslims have always believed that the pagan Arabs were “fallen monotheists.” Having thus understood Islamic theology, it is no surprise at all that the pre-Islamic Arabs knew of (and worshiped) Allah. The Quran didn’t condemn the pagan Arabs for rejecting Allah; rather, it condemned them for associating other gods in the worship of Him. Robert Morey’s “discovery” is thus only 1,400 years old and inconsequential.
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Where Robert Morey and other anti-Muslim Evangelicals are completely mistaken, however, is their claim that Allah represented “one of the many idols in the Kabah.” There is no proof at all for this. As Prof. Jonathan P. Berkey notes on p.42 of The Formation of Islam, Allah “represented a remote creator god” who “apparently played little role in religious cult;” instead, the pre-Islamic pagans of Arabia worshiped lesser gods that took the form of various idols. Professor Robert F. Shedinger writes on p.76 of Was Jesus a Muslim?:
Pre-Islamic Arab society was also polytheistic. While there was a belief in a supreme creator deity called Allah (an Arabic phrase that simply means “the God”), most members of the society believed that Allah was a remote, detached deity who had little concern for human affairs. So pre-Islamic Arabs worshiped a host of lesser deities, mostly in the form of idols carved from wood and stone.
Prof. Roger W. Stump writes on p.60 of The Geography of Religion (emphasis added):
Allah appears to have been identified within this context as a remote, creator god but was not the object of tribal worship.
The pagans of Arabia neglected the worship of Allah and directed their prayer to their more tangible idols. In this regard, the Quran chastises them in verses 23:84-94 for focusing their worship on other gods even while they acknowledged Allah as the supreme creator God. Similarly, in verse 29:65 the Quran chastises the pagans for calling on their idols on a day-to-day basis and only calling on Allah when in extreme distress. “The object of tribal worship” thus became focused on the practical idols in the Kaaba as opposed to the nominal belief in Allah. In other words, -doxy may have rested with Allah, but -praxy was directed towards the lesser gods.
It is true that the Kaaba was associated with Allah, but Allah was not an idol within the Kaaba. When the early Muslims conquered Mecca, the Prophet Muhammad destroyed all the idols within the Kaaba. There was no idol called Allah, evidenced by the fact that no discussion can be found about whether or not such an idol would be spared and the others destroyed. Professor William E. Phipps writes on p.21 of Muhammad and Jesus (emphasis added):
The Ka’ba contained hundreds of sacred rocks and statues from many Arabian tribes, but no images of Allah. No special cult was associated with Allah. In the pre-Islamic era, Allah was recognized as the creator of the world and as the giver of rain. He was revered but was considered to be aloof, so popular piety was usually directed elsewhere.
Compare this to Robert Morey’s claim:
An Allah idol was set up at the Kabah along with all the other idols…Since the idol of their moon god, Allah, was at Mecca, they prayed toward Mecca. (p.52)
This, the basic premise of Morey’s moon-god theory, is nothing but fabrication. Allah was not one of the idols in the Kaaba. Yes, the pagans recognized Allah as the supreme creator god, but they believed him to be a remote god who retired from and was aloof from his creation. The pre-Islamic pagans of Arabia therefore focused their cultic worship on lesser gods represented by over three-hundred idols in the Kaaba. Muhammad “cleansed” the Kaaba by destroying all of these idols, rejecting all lesser deities, and calling the Arabs to the worship of Allah alone.