Was Allah ever represented by an idol?

Allah – the name means simply “The God” – was the supreme creator-god of the polytheistic pantheon of pre-Islamic Arabia. Mohammed’s revelation was that Allah is identical with Yahweh and the true God, but all the other gods of the Arabs were false – their worship must be discontinued, their idols smashed. And so it was done. But what about Allah? If the other gods had idols, why not Allah?

According to Jack Chick, Allah was originally a pagan moon god http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0042/0042_01.asp (:rolleyes:) but otherwise there is little evidence. Were there any idols by Hebrews of YHWH?

What I was able to understand is that any attempt to depict something that is primarily defined as spirit will inevitably lead to reduction of it as 99% of it would not be represented. And thus, any depiction, if created, is interpreted as unnecessary amplification of miniscule 1%, it can never be formed to be a true representation, and if insisted on that depictions as true, leads to idolatry. So you either go 0% which is no idol at all or 100% which is impossible, ergo, no idols.

I guess one could ask that a difference between a concept and its representation is made but then it becomes a question of whose representative image is the right one – what makes your image better than mine, is it more inclusive, is it better drawing, is it in color etc. Which means you would have various ideas on what the depiction would be so, again, you are in the idolatry field.

Also, the previous gods had idols because people at that time did not know any better. Until, the Prophet came along. I would add that smashing previous gods and idols seems like a reasonable action once you are on top.

According to several sources, the chief god of the Quraysh who ruled Mecca before Islam (and of the Khuza’a who held it before them) was Hubal, a moon god who was represented by an idol atop the Ka’aba, a human figure of red stone with its right hand broken off and replaced with gold. Arabic paganism is not that well characterized, but Hubal may or may not have been Allah – there are those who hold that Hubal was the son of Al’lat, and Allah her father. Do you have a cite for the identity of pre-Islamic Allah and, y’know, Allah?

The scholar of early Islamic theology Pavel Pavlovitch argued in the Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies that the notion of a henotheistic Allah (i.e., a predominant but not necessarily unique deity) might have been projected backwards onto pre-Islamic Arabic polytheism (jahiliyya or “ignorance”) by later Muslims:

Whew. Short answer (as far as I can articulate it): There are no reliably attested iconographic representations (idols) of Allah. This is partly because the very idea of Allah in Muslim theology as a supreme and unique deity developed somewhat gradually, simultaneously with the development of the principle of monotheistic aniconism in Islam.

Shorter answer: By the time the mature Muslim concept of Allah was fully formulated, the ban on iconic representation had become an integral part of that concept.

It seems equally certain that Allah was not merely a god in Mecca but was widely regarded as the “high god,” the chief and head of the entire Mecca pantheon, whether this was the result, as has been argued, of a natural progression towards henotheism, or the growing influence of Jews and Christians in the peninsula. The most convincing piece of evidence that it was the latter at work is the fact that of all the gods of Mecca, Allah alone was not represented by an idol.

From Muhammad and the Origins of Islam by F. E. Peters ( 1994, State University of New York ). Additional emphasis added.

So nope, no pre-Islamic idol we know of, at least in Mecca.

ETA: Arggh! Curse you Kimstu! :slight_smile:

That was an entertaining read, but I found too many inaccuracies to believe in anything it says. This dude is seriously saying that Jesus created the universe? :rolleyes:

That is an entirely appropriate reaction to a Jack Chick tract. They’re appreciated around here for their entertainment value, but I don’t think you’ll ever see one cited as reliable evidence for anything except perhaps the lunacy of their creator.

To be fair to old Jack, though, that is AFAIK a fairly standard tenet of Christian theology. Jesus is of the same being as God according to the doctrine of the Trinity, so if God created the universe, that means Jesus created the universe.

I’m not arguing in favor of that belief personally, just pointing out that it’s a routine consequence of mainstream Christian doctrine.

:slight_smile: Heh heh, sorry about the TLDR. Seriously though, does that mean that Peters’ position is reflecting the phenomenon that Pavlovich describes, where the notion of a pre-Islamic “high god” specifically called Allah is actually derived from assertions by later Muslims rather than directly from the pre-Islamic evidence?

Or is Pavlovich overstating the case somewhat?

'Cause I could see how such a notion would follow from the Muslim position that the supreme veneration of Allah was eternal and innate among humans but got clogged up with belief in subsidiary gods during the Ignorance. On the other hand, I really don’t know what direct evidence about the concept of Allah is available from the pre-Islamic period independent of later Muslim testimony.