Hubal

From Academic Kids

"Hubal" was also pseudonym of Henryk Dobrzanski, legendary Polish partisan from World War II

In pagan Arabia, before the Islam, the god Hubal (هبل) was worshipped, notably at the Kaaba at Mecca, where his was the grandest of the idols. When he conquered Mecca, Muhammad ended his tribe Quraysh's tradition of idol-worship by smashing Hubal together with all the 360 idols at the Kaaba. Some sources claim that Hubal was a moon god. Attempts to identify Hubal with Allah have been notably popular among evangelical Christians, but even they acknowledge that this hypothesis is speculative[1] (http://answering-islam.org.uk/Index/M/moongod.html), and it is contradicted by the Islamic-period texts from which most knowledge of pre-Islamic Arab religion derives.

Tracing the origins of ancient gods is often tenuous. If the name "Hubal" is related to an Aramaic word for spirit, as suggested by Philip K. Hitti in History Of The Arabs (1937, pages 96-101), then Hubal may have come from the north of Arabia. In Sumer, in southernmost Mesopotamia, just to the north of Arabia, the moon-god figures in the Creation epic, the Enuma Elish; in a variant of it, the Moon-God is chief among the elder gods. According to Hitti, a tradition recorded by Muhammad's early biographer ibn Ishaq, which makes Amr ibn-Luhayy the importer of this idol from Moab or Mesopotamia, may have a kernel of truth insofar as it retains a memory of such an Aramaic origin of the deity. Outside South Arabia, Hubal's name appears just once, in a Nabataean inscription (Corpus Inscriptiones Semit., vol. II: (189 or 198?); Jaussen and Savignac, Mission Archéologique en Arabie, vol. I (1907) pp.169f); there Hubal is mentioned along with deities Dushara (ذو الشراة) and Manawatu. On the basis of such slender evidence, it has been suggested that Hubal "may actually have been a Nabataean" (Maxime Rodinson, Mohammed, 1961, translated by Anne Carter, 1971, p 38-49), but the Nabataeans were cosmospolitan traders who drew on many traditions in every aspect of life.

According to Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar, Muhammad The Holy Prophet (1969), "About four hundred years before the birth of Muhammad one Amr bin Lahyo bin Harath bin Amr ul-Qais bin Thalaba bin Azd bin Khalan bin Babalyun bin Saba, a descendant of Qahtan and king of Hijaz, [more usually called Amr ibn Luhayy had put an idol called Hubal on the roof of the Kaaba. This was one of the chief deities of the Quraish before Islam." The actual date for this quasi-legendary leader of the Quraish are disputed, with dates as late as the end of the 4th century CE suggested, but what is quite sure is that the Quraish group of tribes became the protectors of the ancient holy place, supplanted the Khuza'a. There may be some foundation of truth in the story that Luhayy had travelled in Syria, and had brought back from there the cult of the goddesses al-Uzza and Manah, and had combined it with that of Hubal, the idol of the Khuza'a. (Maxime Rodinson, 1961).

An earlier reference to this legend records that he "brought with him (to Mecca) an idol called Hubal from the land of Hit in Mesopotamia... So he set it up at the well inside the Ka'ba and ordered the people to worship it. Thus a man coming back from a journey would visit it and circumambulate the House before going to his family, and he would shave his hair before it. Muhammad ibn Ishaq said that Hubal was cornelian pearl in the shape of a human. His right hand was broken off and the Quraysh made a gold hand for it. It had a vault for the sacrifice, and there were seven arrows cast [on issues relating to] a dead person, virginity and marriage. Its offering was a hundred camels. It had a custodian (hajib)" (Al-Azraqi, died 834 CE, an early commentator).

According to Ibn al-Kalbi, Book of Idols "The Quraysh had several idols in and around the Ka'ba. The greatest of these was Hubal. It was made, as I was told, of red agate, in the form of a man with the right hand broken off. It came into the possession of the Quraysh in this condition, and they therefore made for it a hand of gold. The first to set it up was Khuzaymah ibn-Mudrikah ibn-al-Ya's' ibn-Mudar Consequently it used to be called Khuzaymah's Hubal.

It stood inside the Ka'bah. In front of it were seven divination arrows. On one of these arrows was written "pure" (sarih), and on another "consociated alien" (mulsag). Whenever the lineage of a new-born was doubted, they would offer a sacrifice to it [Hubal] and then shuffle the arrows and throw them ... It was before [Hubal] that 'Abd-al-Muttalib shuffled the divination arrows [in order to find out which of his ten children he should sacrifice in fulfilment of a vow he had sworn], and the arrows pointed to his son Abdullah, the father of the Prophet.

Hubal was also the same idol which abu-Sufyan ibn-Harb addressed when he emerged victorious after the battle of Uhud, saying:

"Hubal, be thou exalted;"

To which the Prophet replied:

"Allah is more exalted and more majestic."

Welllhausen (1926:717, as quoted by Hans Krause (http://hanskrause.de/HKHPE/hkhpe_32_01.htm)) indicates that Hubal was regarded as the son of al-Lat and the brother of Wadd.

External link

  • The Kitab al-Asnam ("Book of Idols") (http://answering-islam.org.uk/Books/Al-Kalbi/uzza.htm): translation as posted by an evangelical Christian site.
  • Kitab al-Asnam (http://www.alwaraq.com/index2.htm?i=137&page=1) in the original Arabic (description on p. 5)
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