The Ancient origins of Allah and Allat
Nabatean inscriptions in Sinai and other places display widespread references to names including Allah, El and Allat (god and goddess) , with regional references to al-Uzza, Baal and Manutu (Manat) (Negev 11). Allat is also found in Sinai in South Arabian language. Allah occurs particularly as Garm-'allahi - god dedided (Greek Garamelos) and Aush-allahi - 'gods covenant' (Greek Ausallos). We find both Shalm-lahi 'Allah is peace' and Shalm-allat, 'the peace of the goddess'. We also find Amat-allahi 'she-servant of god' and Halaf-llahi 'the successor of Allah'.
A stele is dedicated to Qos-allah 'Qos is Allah' or 'Qos the god', by Qosmilk (melech - king) is found at Petra (Glueck 516). Qos is identifiable with Kaush (Qaush) the God of the older Edomites. The stele is horned and the a seal from Edomite Tawilan near Petra identified with Kaush displays a star and crescent (Browning 28), both consistent with a moon diety. It is conceivable the latter could have resulted from trade with Harran (Bartlett 194). There is continuing debate about the nature of Qos (qaus - bow) who has been identified both with a hunting bow (hunting god) and a rainbow (weather god) although the crescent above is alsao a bow. There is no reference to Qos in the Old Testament, but Seir is one of the domains of Yahweh, suggesting a close relationship. His attributes in inscriptions include knowing, striking down, giving and light (Bartlett203). Attempts have been made to also explain the existence of this scarab in the light of trade with Harran for which evidence has been found in cuneiform tablets (Bartlett 194).
The Nabateans had two principal gods
in their pantheon, and a whole range of djinns, personal gods
and spirits similar to angels. These deities were Dhu Shara, or
Duchares and al-Uzza. Duchares means Lord of Shera (Seir), a local
mountain and thunder god who was worshipped at a rock high place
as a block of stone frequently squared, just as Hermes was the
four-square god. Suidas in the tenth century AD described it as
a 'cubic' black stone of dimension 4x2x1 (Browning 44). All the
deities male and female were represented as stones or god-blocks.
The Satanic Verses and the Daughters of Allah
The historians Ibn Sa'd and Tabari (who quotes two versions) mention the satanic verses. In one the prophet is approached by Qur'ash to make a deal and persuaded to utter the verses in return for promise of admission to Mecca's inner circles. In the other, the prophet genuinely tries to find a place for the goddesses without compromising his monothesim. "When the apostle saw that his people had tumed their backs on him and he was pained by their estrangement from what he brought them from God, he longed that there should come to him from God a message that would reconcile his people to him. One day, Tabari says, while he was meditating in the Ka'aba, the answer seemed to come in a revelation that gave a place to the three 'goddesses' without compromising his monotheistic vision.
According to this version of the story,
the Quraysh were delighted with the new revelation, which in al-Kalbi's
words was the traditional invocation made by the Qura'sh to the
goddesses as they circumambulated the Ka'aba (Faris 17). The gharaniq
were probably Numidian cranes which were thought to fly higher
than any other bird. Muhammad, may have believed in the existence
of the banat - al-Llah as he believed in the existence of angels
and jinn, was giving the 'goddesses' a delicate compliment, without
compromising his message. ... The Quraysh spread the good news
throughout the city: 'Muhammad has spoken of our gods in splendid
fashion. He alleged in what he recited that they are the exalted
gharaniq whose intercession is approved" (Armstrong 1993
Muhammad later removed these verses because he was later told by Gabriel they were "Satan inspired".
The rejection of the Manat led to the historic conflict with the Qur'ash which resulted in the flight to Medina.
This statement comes the very line after the Prophet's report of his night journey down the axis Mundi
This is a historical account of genocide committed by Muhammad and Sarah's murder. In this discussion we need to honestly address the relation between Islam and violence, for despite its protestations to being a peaceful religion, Islam contains unresolved dissonances between the peace of sakina and unrestrained genocidal holy war 'jihad', sometimes given the belatedly civilized gloss of struggle or striving. Until this dissonance is resolved at the source, Islam will always be a religion resorting to coercion by death and the threats of death both terrorism and fatwas exert.
We need to understand this in a context. Jericho and Hazor were declarations of holy war of genocide in the old testament. Islam has merely taken a leaf out of the Hebrew Bible. Christianity is also divided between following the example of the prince of peace and the Christian religious violence of Crusade we see appearing again now. It should be noted that Jesus (Isa) is the archetype of martyrdom in Islam so that Islamic maartyrdom sources from Christian martyrdom.
To resolve religious violence across the board means forsaking Jericho's victory and the warrior prince of the end of days riding on a white horse in the clouds with words of war. Only in the mutual embracing of peace in all three religions and among all peoples and traditions will world peace come.
While many people would like to say the war against terrorism is not a war against Islam, this is not actually the case, because the jihadi Islamicists and their practitioners of terror consider this a legitimate religious position of Islam.
What follows are two excerpts from "Muhammad" by Karen Armstrong [with comments in brackets]. along with other passages relevant to the issues of peace in Islam.
These show that (1) Muhammad committed 700 Jewish men to genocide for parleying with the 'enemy' although they did not actually let the enemy in, but merely were a 'risk' factor. (2) that this genocide, numerically comparable to that of Srebrenica, proved completely unjustified in later history, as victory did not come from war and (3) that in coming to terms with the peace of sakina in the apparent humiliation of Hudaybiyah, Muhammad met the feminine wisdom of Shekhinah.
Islam's response, rather than to learn that jihad was an unholy error of genocide has been to say that both jihad and sakina are legitimate strategies in the conversion of whole societies to the brotherhood (umma actually comes from 'mother-unit' of the Benjaminite tribes around Mari c 2200 BC). History declares jihad to be a crime against humanity and sakina the breath of the spirit of compassion on violent male prophets.
Jihad from "Holy War"
[In Medina there was a siege by the Qurash from Mecca with a large army. Muhammad had been thrown out of Mecca after the episode of disclaiming the Goddesses al-Uzza, Manat and al-Llah's ancient consort al-Lat (whose common inscriptions with al-Llah from 1800 BC litter Sinai). This was the episode of the so-called satanic verses in which al-Tabari says Muhammad reversed his earlier acceptance claiming the angel Gabriel's words were in this case devil inspired. The Qurayzah Jews of Medina parleyed with the enemy and contemplated siding with them but had not actually let them into the Oasis.]
This is a grim and horrible story and has hideous overtones for most of us today. Huyay had joined Qurayzah in their quarters after the Quraysh and the confederates had left Medina, as he had promised. When they heard that Muhammad was advancing on their territory, the Qurayzah duly barricaded themselves into their fortress and managed to hold out against the Muslims for twenty-five days. They knew that as unfaithful allies they could expect no mercy, and Huyay and Ka'b seem to have urged them to accept the inevitable. They put three possibilities before their people: they could either submit to Muhammad unconditionally (his extraordinary success argued that he might be a true prophet); or they could kill their women and children and attack the Muslim army: if they died they would not have to worry about their dependants and if they won they could easily find new wives; or they could take Muhammad unawares by attacking him on their Sabbath, when he would not be expecting them to act. The jews rejected all these options and asked Muhammad to let them leave the oasis on the same terms as the Bani Nadir. Muhammad refused: Nadir had proved to be even more dangerous to the umma after it had left Medina, so this time he was determined to exact total surrender. He allowed Qurayzah to consult one of their former allies: Abu Lubabah ibn Abd al-Mundhir, the chief of Auf. This part of the story is obscure. The Jews are said to have asked Abu Lubabah what Muhammad intended to do and he touched his throat, tacitly telling them that they had been sentenced to death. He was then so overcome by remorse that he bound himself to a pillar of the mosque for fifteen days until Muhammad released him. If he had told the Jews of their fate in this way, it does not seem to have affected their decision, so it has been suggested that he had perhaps indicated that he would honour his old allegiance to Qurayzah. The next day, the Qurayzah agreed to accept Muhammad's judgement and opened their gates to the Muslim army, presumably trusting in the support of their former confederates in the tribe of Aws. Indeed, the Aws begged Muhammad to be merciful; had he not granted the Bani Qaynuqa their lives at the request of Ibn Ubbay, a Khasrajite? Muhammad asked them if they would accept the decision of one of their own leading men and they agreed. During the siege, Sa'd ibn Muadh had received a fatal wound, but he was carried to the territory of Qurayzah on a donkey. His fellow chiefs urged him to spare their former allies, but Sa'd would have realised that this could be the thin end of the wedge that would bring chaos back to Medina. Should an old loyalty take precedence over commitment to the umma? Sa'd judged that all the 700 men should be killed, their wives and children sold into slavery and their property divided among the Muslims. Muhammad cried aloud: 'You have judged according to the very sentence of ai-Llah above the seven skies! 162 The next day Muhammad ordered another trench to be dug, this time in the souk of Medina. Some individuals were spared at the request of the Muslims, but the rest were tied together in groups and beheaded; their bodies were thrown into the trench. Only one woman was executed, for throwing a millstone on one of the Muslims during the siege of the tribe. Aisha remembered her vividly:
She was actually with me and was talking with me and laughing immoderately as the apostle was killing her men in the market when suddenly an unseen voice called her name. 'Good heavens,' I cried, 'what is the matter?"I am to be killed,' she replied. 'What for?' I asked. 'Because of something I did,' she answered. She was taken away and beheaded. Aisha used to say, I shall never forget my wonder at her good spirits and her loud laughter when all the time she knew that she would be killed.
It is probably impossible for us to dissociate this story from Nazi atrocities and it will inevitably alienate many people irrevocably from Muhammad. But Western scholars like Maxime Rodinson and W. Montgomery Watt argue that it is not correct to judge the incident by twentieth-century standards. This was a very primitive society - far more primitive than the Jewish society in which Jesus had lived and promulgated his gospel of mercy and love some 600 years earlier.
[But this Genocide of the Jews of Medina proved unnecessary because the road to Mecca did not lie in future war. Firstly we have compromise and truce.]
Sakina from Holy Peace
At Badr God had revealed His presence in the midst of a battle, which had been a sign and a salvation, but God had also been present in the apparent humiliation of Hudaybiyah, when He had sent down His sakina, the spirit of peace and tranquillity:
God had sent down His sakina once before, when Abu Bake and Muhammad had hidden for three days in the Cave outside Mecca, despised and rejected by their kinsmen and facing the possibility of imminent, pointless death. The sakina, it will also be recalled, seems to have been related to the Hebrew Shekinah, the term for God's presence in the world.
Badr and Hudaybiyah, therefore, were both 'signs' of salvation that revealed that God was mysteriously present in current historical events. He was just as active in peace as in war and could make what looked like a defeat into a manifest victory. The sura goes on to say that when the pilgrims had undertaken the perilous enterprise of the unarmed pilgrimage to Mecca, they had made an act of faith which the Bedouin who had refused to accompany Muhammad had not been ready for. They had made another act of faith and trust when they had pledged fealty to Muhammad under the acacia tree. The Quraysh could have wiped them out, but they had promised to obey Muhammad even though he had led them into the darkness of the shadow of humiliation; the consequent treaty was also a 'sign' which the Muslims had to interpret, looking beyond the externals to the inner meaning. At Badr the victory had been afurqan which had separated the just from the unjust in battle; the victory (fath) of Hudaybiyah had distinguished believer from unbeliever by the spirit of peace:
Muhammad had been gripped by an imperative which was a politically creative act. He had intuitively penetrated to a deeper understanding of the dynamics of change in Arabia, and events would vindicate his insight. From this point, now that he had saved the umma from the threat of extinction, the jihad would become an effort of peace that demanded all his patience and ingenuity. Badr and Hudaybiyah are, therefore, two sides of a single coin and both were essential to the Qu'ranic vision. Sometimes it would be necessary to fight in order to preserve decent values, and while the war lasted the Muslims must fight with absolute dedication and show no sign of weakness, lest hostilities drag on interminably, causing more bloodshed and more pointless fighting. But there was also a time for peace, even if this meant an immediate loss of face, because this could also be best in the long term. It is not true that Islam preaches a total intransigence and inspires a mindless fanaticism. Instead the Qu'ran evolves a complementary theology of war and peace, which most Christians would not find difficult to accept.
[The truth of this is debatable. Islam accepts the faking of peace takiya so that one can grow stronger later and overwhelm the opponent. This is precisely the political creativity Karen Armstrong referes to in its eventual success. But this means that Islam cannot live in honest peace with a democratic world for this peace is inevitably faked in the division of the world into the domains of Islam and war - Dar al-Harb. There is thus no real peace for the outsiders, be they 'idolaters' or other peoples of the book because Islam will always strive for religious and political dominace.]
Sarah and the Singers Tongues Cut from their Mouths
"Sarah was a famous slave singer who aimed her barbed words against the Moslems. She was among those whom Mahomet ordered to be executed on the day of his victorious entry into Mecca. In the region of El Nagir, it was recounted that some women had rejoiced when the Prophet died and Abu Bake, the first of the Caliphs, ordered their hands and feet to be cut off. Thus women who dared to give voice to their protest or opposition could be exposed to cruel punishment. Their hands might be cut off, or their teeth pulled out, or their tongues torn from their mouths. This last form of punishment was usually reserved for those who were singers. It was said of these women that they used to dye their hands with henna, brazenly display the seductions of their beauty, and beat time with their fingers on tambourines and drums in defiance of God, and in derision towards the rights of God and his Prophet. It was therefore necessary to cut off their hands and tear out their tongues". - Nawal el Sadaawi - The Naked Face of Eve
The Crucifying of al-Hallaj
The 'drunken Sufis' exemplified by Bistami (Armstrong 93 261) desired to become one with the beloved in anihilation ('fana): "I gazed upon al-Llah with the eye of truth and said to Him: 'Who is this?" He said "This is neither I nor other than I There is no God but I" Then he changed my out of my identity into his Selfhood. Then I communed with him with the tongue of his face, saying "How fares it with me with Thee? He said "I am through Thee, there is no God but Thou".
This was taken to its visionary conclusion by al-Hallaj, the 'wool carder'
I am He whom I love, and He whom I love
We are two spirits dwelling in one body.
If thou seest me thou seest Him,
And if thou seest Him thou seest us both"
(Armstrong 1993 263).
However when he preached overthrow of the Caliphate and cried "ana al-Haqq - I am the truth" as Jesus did, he was crucified.
"When he saw the cross of nails he turned and uttered a prayer: 'And these Thy servants who are gathered to slay me, in zeal for Thy rleigion and in desire to win Thy favours, forgive them O Lord, and have mercy upon them; for verily if Thou hadst revealed to them what thou hast revealed to me, they would not have done what they have done,; and if Thou hadst hidden from me what you have hidden from them, I should not have suffered this tribulation. Glory unto Thee in whatsoever thou doest, and glory unto Thee in whatsoever Thou willest' " (Armstrong 1993 264).
Mansur el-Hallaj was dismembered while still alive, and is the greatest Sufi martyr. But can you name the person who cut him up? Suhrawardi was murdered by the law, but what was the name of his executioner? Ghazali's books were thrown into the flames, but by the hand of whom? - Itibari (Shah 296)
The Smashing of the Feminine and the Prophecy of Daws
Each temple was demolished or burned to the ground, and the priests and priestesses put to the sword. When the banu-Umahmah were slaughtered for defending dhu-al-Khalasah which stood half way to Sana, a certain woman cried (Faris 31):
It is said by al-Bukhari that the Prophet himself said: "This world shall not pass away until the buttocks of the women of Daws wiggle [again] around the dhu-al-Khalasah and they worship it as they were want to do [before Islam]" (Faris 32).