Archive for Allah is the Moon-God

Allah as the Best of Deceivers?

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2011 by loonwatch

I recently published a two-part article (see here and here) comparing the God of the Bible with the God of the Quran, showing that Yahweh of the Bible seems more violent and warlike than Allah of the Quran.

The response from the anti-Muslim critics was minimal.  Three very weak responses were provided by Halal Pork, Farlowe, and Nerses.

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Halal Pork replied as follows:

One of the names of Allah is Al-Mukkar-the Deceiver.Why is that not included in the list

I included the twenty-five most common names used for God in the Quran. The term khayru al-makireen is used in the Quran only twice. That’s why it wasn’t included in the list.

The fact that khayru al-makireen didn’t make the list says a lot.  Consider that God is called Merciful over 300 times in the Quran, and the term khayru al-makireen is used only twice.  I wonder which one Islamophobes will focus on?

Meanwhile, the name Lord of Armies is used in the Bible for God just under 300 times.  The most common descriptive name for God in the Quran revolves around mercy, whereas the most common descriptive name for God in the Bible revolves around armies and war.  This was the main point of my two-part article.

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The term khayru al-makireen is first used in verse 3:54 of the Quran:

And they schemed [against Jesus] and God schemed [against them], but God is the best schemer.

This is alternately translated as “deceiver” or “plotter”–the translation of “deceiver” is preferred by anti-Muslim elements, whereas “plotter” by Muslim apologists.  I’ve chosen the more neutral “schemer.”

The context of this verse can be found in Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, as follows:

God says: And they, the disbelievers among the Children of Israel, schemed, against Jesus, by assigning someone to assassinate him; and God schemed, by casting the likeness of Jesus onto the person who intended to kill him, and so they killed him, while Jesus was raised up into heaven; and God is the best of schemers, most knowledgeable of him [Jesus].

Some killers schemed against Jesus, and so God schemed against the killers to fool them.  God made someone else look like Jesus–a willing martyr, by the way–and the killers murdered him instead (don’t worry, he is promised heaven).

So, that is the context in which God “schemed.”

If Osama bin Ladin tried to kill the President of the United States, but the Secret Service used one of the President’s doubles to “deceive” OBL, would there be anything wrong with this? That’s the exact same situation as appears in the Quran.

The term khayru al-makireen is repeated in verse 8:30, again in the context of those who tried to assassinate one of God’s prophets, in this case Muhammad himself. The leaders of Mecca planned to assassinate him, “scheming” against him by deciding to do the ugly deed altogether as one so that nobody could assign blame to any one single tribe.  This would prevent any possible retaliation. They also planned on killing Muhammad using the cover of darkness.

The Quran says that God “schemed” against these killers, and fooled the killers by making them think Muhammad was in his bed when in fact it was his younger cousin Ali.  When the killers found out it was just Ali, they didn’t kill him since he was just an adolescent.  In the meantime, Muhammad slipped away and fled to another city with his life.

So once again, God’s “scheming” involved fooling killers so that they could not murder.

How one could twist this into something negative, I don’t know…but I guess Islamophobes are very adept at twisting things.

But in any case, the attribute of “scheming” or “deceiving” has nothing to do with the context of war. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the topic of my article and Series, which is about whether Islam is more violent and warlike than Judaism and Christianity. What relevance does “scheming” have to do with that, except maybe that God schemes against killers to prevent them from killing?

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In any case, since this has nothing to with the topic at hand and is mostly a religious discussion more fit for Christian and Muslim apologists, I’ll just link to a Muslim apologist who responds to Christian polemicists:

The Biblical God As a Deceiver, by Bassam Zawadi

In that link, Zawadi notes that the Bible contains numerous verses in it where God “deceives.” Once again, for me the interesting thing about it is the level of pure hypocrisy of anti-Muslim Jews and Christians who vilify Islam and the Quran for what is found in their own religion and holy book.

Zawadi points to the following verse of the Bible, for instance:

Jeremiah 4:10 Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, the people have been deceived by what you said, for you promised peace for Jerusalem. But the sword is held at their throats!”

Of relevance here is the fact that unlike the two Quranic verses–which show God stopping people from killing by deceiving murderers–the Biblical verse in which God deceives involves him tricking a population into thinking they would have “peace” when in fact “the sword is held at their throats!”  The Bible says:

4:16  “Tell this to the nations, proclaim it to Jerusalem: ‘A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah.’”

God deceived so that a “besieging army” could carry out its war of conquest.  Similarly, God will delude people in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 so that Jesus can kill and destroy them.

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As for Farlowe’s response, this is perhaps the weakest and most desperate response of all.  He writes:

Yahweh, God of War, yet the Jehovah’s (Yahweh’s) Witnesses (aka Watchtower Society) are a pacifist group who refuse to fight in armed forces in every country they live.

Why on earth would we restrict this to Jehovah’s Witnesses?  All Jews and Christians believe that Yahweh is the name of God.  This seems one last, desperate attempt to obfuscate the issue.  Jehovah’s Witnesses are not even considered to be Christians by our Evangelical opponents; they are condemned as a deviant cult.

Although Christians might use the term “God” more often for God than “Yahweh,” they certainly believe Yahweh of the Bible to be God.  But if one wants to play most common name associations, then Judaism would be most associated with the term Yahweh.  And, traditional and Orthodox Judaism is certainly not pacifist–as my next article in the Series will clearly show.

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Nerses relies on a fall-back argument similar to the trite “But Jews and Christians don’t take the Bible literally like Muslims…!”, which I refuted in part 7.

My next article in the Understanding Jihad Series will be about Jewish law (Halakha) and will address the basic premise of Nerses’ argument.  However, the entirety of his claims will take several articles to thoroughly refute.  Nerses regurgitates the standard lies that are found in Robert Spencer’s book–lies that will be laid to waste over the course of this Series.

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Lastly, I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Muslims shouldn’t vilify other faiths because they have plenty of “tricky issues” in their own religion that they must deal with.  Even if the Islamophobes could prove that the God of the Quran is very deceiving, how would that refute anything I’ve said?  My point is not that Islam has no “tricky issues” to deal with–only that Judaism and Christianity do too (perhaps more so).  Specifically, in the case of war and violence, the Quran pales in comparison to the Bible.

The Bible’s Yahweh, a War-God?: Called “Lord of Armies” Over 280 Times in the Bible and “Lord of Peace” Just Once (II)

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2011 by loonwatch

Please read The Bible’s Yahweh, a War-God?: Called “Lord of Armies” Over 280 Times in the Bible and “Lord of Peace” Just Once (I) first.

A quick glance at the list of God’s names in the Bible (refer to link above) shows that most of them depict God’s Might and Power (including Lord of Armies, which depicts his might on the battlefield), but only very rarely is God described as loving, peaceful, merciful, forgiving, and beneficent.

Contrast this to God’s names in the Quran.  Here are the twenty-five most frequently used names for God found therein:

Twenty-Five Most Frequently Used Names for God in the Quran

1. God (Allah, Al-Iah): over 2,700 times
2. Lord (Al-Rub): over 950 times
3. The All-Merciful, The Most Merciful (Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim): 306 times, another 4 times as The Most Merciful Among the Merciful (Ar-Hamu Ar-Rahimeen) and 11 times as The Extremely Merciful (Al-Ra’ouf)

4. The All-Knowing (Al-Alim): 162 times
5. The Wise (Al-Hakim): 114 times
6. The Forgiving (Al-Ghafur, Al-Ghaffar, Al-Ghafir): 93 times, another 1 time as The Vast in Forgiveness (Wasi’u Al-Maghfirah)

7. The Mighty (Al-Aziz): 64 times
8. The All-Hearing (Al-Sami’u): 46 times
9.  The All-Seeing (Al-Basir): 46 times
10.  The All-Aware (Al-Khabir): 46 times
11.  The All-Capable (Al-Qadir): 46 times
12.  The Self-Sufficient (Al-Ghaniy): 21 times
13.  The Witness (Al-Shahid): 20 times
14.  The Knower of the Unseen (Alimu Al-Ghaybi, Alimu Al-Ghaybi wa al-Shahada, Allam Al-Ghiyoob): 17 times

15.  The Patron (Al-Wakil): 13 times
16.  The Acceptor of Repentance (Al-Tawwab): 11 times
17.  The All-Able (Al-Qadir): 11 times
18.  The Clement, Forbearer, Forgiver (Al-Halim): 10 times, another 5 times as The Pardoner (Al-’Afuw)

19.  The Praised (Al-Hamid): 10 times
20.  The Truth (Al-Haq): 10 times
21.  The Powerful (Al-Qawiy): 9 times
22.  The Vast (Wasi’u): 9 times
23.  The Creator (Al-Khaliq): 8 times
24.  The Great (Al-Adhim): 8 times
25. The Peace (Al-Salam): 7 times

One immediately notices a theme here: the God of the Quran is The All-Merciful, The Most Merciful,  The Most Merciful Among the Merciful, The Extremely Merciful, The Most Compassionate, The Most Beneficent, The Most Forgiving, The Acceptor of Repentance, The Clement, The Forbearer, The Pardoner, etc.  As Prof.  William Schweiker notes on p.52 of Humanity Before God that “…the Qur’an frequently emphasizes God’s mercy, pardon, and forgiveness…”

Prof. Harold A. Netland writes on p.78 of Dissonant Voices that “the early preaching of the prophet [Muhammad] ‘spoke of God’s power and his goodness to human beings.’”  Prof. Caesar E. Farah writes on p.133 of Islam: Beliefs and Observances:

In the early days of Muhammad’s preachings he stressed rahmah (mercy) and Rahman (the merciful) so much that his listeners believed he was calling upon them to worship a god called al-Rahman

The Qur’an contains numerous revelations on mercy, ending with the words “Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

In fact, every single chapter of the Quran aside from one starts with a verse calling on God the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful.

This emphasis on Allah’s Mercy is altogether unlike Yahweh’s emergence as Israel’s war-god; the Canaanites came to fear the terror of Yahweh, such that even seeing the Ark struck fear in their hearts.  For example, as Henricus Oort’s Bible for Learners (vol.1, p.337) so presciently notes, Rahab (a Canaanite) cooperates with the Israelite army ”because she feared Yahweh,” as she had seen what Yahweh had done to the surrounding nations.  Indeed, the Israelites benefited from portraying their god as particularly brutal and cruel, which caused Israel’s enemies to be paralyzed by fear.

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Most of the other names of Allah refer to His Power (such as the All-Hearing, All-Seeing, All-Knowing, etc.), but without any association to war.  In fact, not a single name or description of God in the Quran attributes war to God.  Unlike the Bible, one simply cannot find in the Islamic holy book a name of God such as “Lord of Armies,” or a description such as a “man of war” or “warrior.”

There is a reason for this: Allah was never understood to be a “war-god.” Quite simply, there is no “divine warrior god” theme found in the Quran.  Unlike Yahweh who entered the Judeo-Christian tradition as a war-god, Allah was known during Islam’s birth as a creator God.  Writes Prof. Harold A. Netland on p.76 of Dissonant Voices: Religious Pluralism and the Question of Truth:

Above all the gods, distant and remote, was Allah, the God, creator of the world.

As Prof. Jonathan P. Berkey notes on p.42 of The Formation of Islam, Allah “represented a remote creator god.”  Unlike Yahweh, Allah was not thought to march out on the battlefield alongside the soldiers. Instead of Allah, the pagans brought along idols such as Hubal to the battlefront.  Dr. Malise Ruthven writes on p.28 of Islam in the World that “the pagans carried some of [their] idols as standards into battle,” but this was not the case with Allah as there were “no images of Allah” (p.21 of Prof. William E. Phipps’ book Muhammad and Jesus).

In their battle against other tribes or against the Muslims, the pagans of Mecca did not carry with them the “remote, creator God” that was Allah, but instead took with them ”Hubal, a war god” (p.13 of Prof. Matthew S. Gordon’s Islam).  This did not change with the early Muslims, who never believed that Allah was ever physically present on the battlefield.  Instead, the Prophet Muhammad and early Muslims would point upwards to the sky when they referred to Allah.  Whether or not this meant that the Islamic God was literally “above the heavens” or merely otherworldly  (a matter of intense debate among Muslims today), the fact is that Allah was never thought to reside on earth, an idea that has always been considered blasphemous to Muslims.

In other words, the Israelites acquired a war-god, whereas the early Muslims acquired a creator god.  Yahweh, a war-god, later acquired the ability to create; Allah, a creator god, later acquired the ability to assist in wars.  But, there is a difference between being a war-god and being a god that can assist in wars.  The former defines the god’s primary role to be war, whereas the latter holds war to be one function of many.  It is the difference between being a chef by occupation and being a journalist who sometimes cooks.  Stated another way: Yahweh was principally a war-god, whereas Allah was principally a creator god who also had the capability to assist in wars.

Additionally, it should be noted that although Allah did come to assist the early Muslims in wars, He only did so through divine agents.  It was believed that He dispatched an army of angels to fight for the faithful.  Nowhere does God Himself become a “divine warrior” and march out onto the battlefield.  This is an important difference, and one that explains why Allah is not understood to be a “warrior god” like Yahweh.

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As noted in my disclaimer to this Series, nowhere is this information meant to be used to vilify Judaism or Christianity.  Suffice to say, there are plenty of “tricky issues” in the Islamic faith that should make the Muslim believer think twice before lobbing polemical grenades against people of other religions.  There is almost nothing I find more odious than adherents of a religion viciously attacking other religions.

Yet, it is completely appropriate in our very specific and particular context–in which Muslims and Islam are vilified by the majoritarian religious group–to chop anti-Muslim demagogues down to size.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to subject their own religion to the standards that they themselves foist upon Islam.  When this is done, what can they do but choke on their own medicine?

The Bible’s Yahweh, a War-God?: Called “Lord of Armies” Over 280 Times in the Bible and “Lord of Peace” Just Once (I)

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2011 by loonwatch

*This piece was first published on Aug, 23.

This article is the conclusion to part 9 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series. Please read my “disclaimer”, which explains my intentions behind writing this article: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

Islamophobes argue that the holy book of Islam, the Quran, is uniquely violent as compared to other religious scriptures–certainly more so than the “peace-loving Bible.”  Similarly, they argue that the the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, was uniquely violent as far as prophets go–certainly more so than the religious figures of the Judeo-Christian faith.

These reassuring platitudes were shattered in LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series, (see parts 1234567, and 8).  Clearly, the Bible is more violent than the Quran, and the Biblical prophets were more violent than the Islamic prophet.

But what about the Islamic God?  How does He compare to the Judeo-Christian God?  Is it true that Allah of the Quran is uniquely warlike and violent as the anti-Muslim camp claims?

We previously came to the conclusion (see here, here, here, here and here) that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God–however, whereas the God of the Bible and the God of the Quran are essentially the same, they differ somewhat in their details.  In other words, they have slightly differing qualities and characteristics.  For example, Christians would argue that their God is Trinitarian, whereas the Islamic God is Unitarian.

Anti-Muslim Jews and Christians often try to portray the Islamic God as uniquely warlike and violent, as opposed to the supposedly loving and peaceful God of the Bible.  However, I will argue (quite convincingly) that in fact the Quranic God is no more warlike and violent than the Biblical one.  Indeed, we might even be able to say the opposite: Yahweh of the Bible, unlike Allah of the Quran, is a war-god.

Yahweh originated from a war-god tradition.  Dr. Lloyd M. Barre writes:

The earliest Yahwistic traditions reveal that Yahweh was a bedouin war god from the deserts of Edom and of the surrounding regions. His essentially warlike characteristics are demonstated by his name, by cultic celebrations of his mighty deeds, and by his ark.

Prof. Mark S. Smith notes on p.144 of The Origins of Biblical Monotheism that Yahweh was introduced to the Israelites as a “divine warrior [god] from the south.”  Indeed, “Yahweh and Baal co-existed and later competed as warrior-gods” (Ibid., p.33).  This motif continued in the Israelite tradition: the tribal warrior-god Yahweh went to war against competing gods and nations on behalf of Israel.

Although Yahweh, the God the Israelites adopted, would one day become the supreme God of the land and eliminate his competition, initially he was just one of many competing “war and storm-gods;” as Prof. Erhard S. Gerstenberger writes on p.151 of Theologies of the Old Testament (emphasis added):

Yahweh was not always God in Israel and at every social level.  Rather, initially he belongs only to the storm and war gods like Baal, Anath, Hadad, Resheph and Chemosh…His original homeland was the southern regions of present-day Palestine and Jordan.  Thus the regional and functional, cultural and social limitations of Yahweh should be beyond all doubt.  The elaboration of ideas about Yahweh, e.g. as a guarantor of fertility, personal good fortune, head of a pantheon, creator of the world, judge of the world, etc. is gradual and only fully unfolds in the exilic/post-exilic age, always in connection with social and historical changes.

In other words, Yahweh started out as a “storm and war god,” and only later acquired other functions now commonly associated with God, including for example the ability to create.

Prof. Corrine Carvalho writes on p.79 of Encountering Ancient Voices: A Guide to Reading the Old Testament that “Yahweh was first and foremost a warrior God.”  From the very beginning, “God appeared to the ancient people as a warrior…’armed in military attire, to contend with all the forces of his foes’” (p.19 of God is a Warrior by Professor Tremper Longman).  This is a reflection of God being introduced to the Hebrews in a time of persecution and war, as Moses defeats Pharaoh’s forces and then leads his people to war against the Canaanites in the Promised Land.

As we shall see later, herein lies a major difference between Yahweh of Judaism and Allah of Islam; the very first introduction of Yahweh to the believers was in the war-god role, not as the creator of all things; as Robert Wright writes in The Evolution of God:

…If you go back to the poems that most scholars consider the oldest pieces of the Bible, there’s no mention of God creating anything. He seems more interested in destroying; he is in large part a warrior god. What some believe to be the oldest piece of all, Exodus 15, is an ode to Yahweh for drowning Eygpt’s army in the Red Sea. It begins, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea…the Lord is a warrior.”

He notes:

The part about creating stars and the moon and the sun and light itself–the story in the first chapter of Genesis–seems to have been added later. In the beginning, so far as we can tell, Yahweh was not yet a cosmic creator.

Biblical scholar Prof. J.M.P. Smith writes in Religion and War in Israel published in The American Journal of Theology (emphasis added):

Among the functions of Yahweh called into play by Israel’s needs, the leading place in the earlier times was held by warHence, Yahweh is constantly represented as a war-god. He it is who marches at the head of Israel’s armies (Deut. 33:27); his right arm brings victory to Israel’s banners (Exod. 15:6); Israel’s wars are “the wars of Yahweh” himself (Num. 21:14; I Sam. 18:17, 25:28); Israel’s obligation is to “come to the help of Yahweh, to the help of Yahweh against the mighty” (Judg. 5:23); Israel’s enemies are Yahweh’s enemies (Judg. 5:31; I Sam. 30:26); Yawheh is Israel’s sword and shield (Deut. 33:29); yea, he is a “a man of war” (Exod. 15:3) As the leader of a nation of war, Yahweh was credited with the military practices of the day.  He shrank not from drastic and cruel measures. Indeed, he lent his name and influence to the perpetration of such deeds of barbarity…Yahweh orders the total extermination of clans and towns, including man, woman, and child (I Sam. 15:3; Josh 6:17 f.).

In line with the customary belief in ancient times, the warrior-god of Israel did not just lend his help from afar or through divine agents but was thought to literally accompany the soldiers on the battlefield. Professor Sa-Moon Kang of Hebrew University of Jerusalem writes on p.224 of Divine War in the Old Testament and in the Ancient Near East (emphasis added):

YHWH was understood as the divine warrior…YHWH intervened not only to help the army on the battlefield but He also marched in front of the king and soldiers…The victory after the battles was given to YHWH, and the spoils obtained were dedicated to YHWH and His treasures.

In Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, winner of the 2005 National Jewish Book Award, Howard Schwartz writes (emphasis added):

40. The Warrior God

Yahweh is a mighty warrior who defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea…God appeared to Pharaoh as a mighty warrior, carrying a fiery bow, with a sword of lightning, traveling through the heavens in a chariot…God took a cherub from His Throne fo Glory and rode upon it, waging war against Pharaoh and Egypt, as it is said, He mounted a cherub and flew (Ps. 18:11). Leaping from one wing to another, God taunted Pharaoh, “O evil one, do you have a cherub? Can you do this?”

When the angels saw that God was waging war against the Egyptians on the sea, they came to His aid. Some came carrying swords and others carrying bows or lances. God said to them, “I do not need your aid, for when I go to battle, I go alone.” That is why it is said that Yahweh is a man of war (Exod. 15:3).

Notice here that Yahweh does not merely engage in fighting via divine or worldly agents.  Instead, he is literally on the battlefield itself, fighting as a warrior god.  Schwartz goes on:

In addition to Exodus 15:3, Yahweh is a man of war, God is described as a warrior in Psalm 24: Who is the King of glory–Yahweh, mighty and valiant, Yahweh, valiant in battle (Ps. 24:8).  Frank Moore Cross finds in this passage a strong echo of the Canaanite pattern, in which both El and Ba’al are described as warrior gods.

Prof. F.E. Peters writes on p.272 of The Monotheists:

Yahweh was a warrior God (Exod. 5:3, Isa. 42:13)…The Israelites, quite like the pre-Islamic Arabs, even carried their God with them into conflict on occasion (Num. 10:35-36).

Eventually, the Ark became associated with the presence of God Himself, and was brought to the battle front.  Prof. Reuven Fireston writes in an article entitled Holy War Idea in the Hebrew Bible:

The Ark of the Covenant is the symbol and banner of God’s presence in battle (1 Sam. 4:4, 2 Sam. 11:11), and this connection between the Ark and the presence of God in war is made already in the desert in Num.10:35: “When the Ark was to set out, Moses would say: Advance O Lord!  May your enemies be scattered and may your foes flee before you!”  The Ark is like a battle station from which God fights for Israel and, although not mentioned in every battle, probably went forth often and is referred to in passing as a regular part of the battle array (Jud. 4:14).  The Philistine army was terrified of the Ark itself and related to the Ark as if it were the very appearance of God (1 Sam. 4:5-8)

On pp.16-17 of God Is a Warrior, Longman et al. trace the “the divine warrior theme,” dividing it into ”five stages:”

The first stage is God’s appearance as a warrior who fights on behalf of his people Israel against their flesh-and-blood enemies.  The second stage overlaps with the first, yet culminates Israel’s independent political history as God fights in judgment against Israel itself.  The Old Testament period ends during the third stage as Israel’s prophets look to the future and proclaim the advent of a powerful divine warrior.  While many studies of the divine warrior are restricted to the Old Testament, we will show its development into the New Testament.  The Gospels and letters reflect a fourth stage, Christ’s earthly ministry as the work of a conqueror, though they also look forward to the next stage.  The fifth and final stage is anticipated by the church as it awaits the return of the divine warrior who will judge the spiritual and human enemies of God.

The divine warrior theme is one of the basic motifs of the Bible, and can be seen from the very start of the Biblical narrative with Moses defeating the Egyptians all the way to the end of with it with the triumphant return of the divine warrior conqueror Jesus Christ.  The genocide against the infidels begins with Moses and comes to its completion with Jesus (refer to parts 1234567, and 8 of the Understanding Jihad Series).

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That Yahweh, the God of the Bible, is a war-god is clearly written in the text itself:

Exodus 15:3 The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is His Name.

Of note aside from the obvious “man of war” appellation is that Yahweh is depicted as a man who is actually physically on the battlefield as a warrior, instead of merely helping from afar. “The Lord will fight for you” (Ex. 14:14) is meant to be taken very literally.

Says the Bible elsewhere:

Isaiah 42:13 The Lord will march forward like a warrior.  He will arouse His zeal like a man of war.  He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry.  He will prevail against all His enemies.

God was not just any warrior, but the best of them–victorious in battle:

Psalm 24:8 Who is the King of Glory?  The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

He would prove his might in battle by crushing the heads of his enemies:

68:21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies.

Indeed, the God of the Bible would order his people to do more than that, commanding them to ethnically cleanse and commit genocide against infidel populations (again, refer to parts 1234567, and 8 of the Understanding Jihad Series).

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That Yahweh was a warrior-god can be ascertained from the choice of name itself. A longer name for Yahweh is found in the Bible: Yahweh Tzevaot or Yahweh Sabaoth, which is translated as “Lord of hosts” or “Lord of armies.”  Prof. Corrine L. Carvalho writes on p.79 of Encountering Ancient Voices: A Guide to Reading the Old Testament:

In other passages in the Bible, a longer version of the name, the Lord of hosts, could also be translated as “the one who created the heavenly armies.” This would suggest that Yahweh was first and foremost a warrior God.

Biblical scholar Jonathan Kirsch writes in God Against the Gods:

Among the many titles and honorifics used to describe the God of Israel is Elohim Yahweh Sabaoth, which is usually translated as “Lord of Hosts” but also means “Yahweh, the God of Armies.”

This name, Lord of Hosts (Armies)–which defines God’s function as the war-God (or warrior God)–is used well over two-hundred times in the Bible.  Stephen D. Renn notes on p.440 of the Expository Dictionary of Bible Words:

This title, translated “Lord of hosts,” occurs around two hundred times [in the Bible], mainly in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the postexilic prophets. It is found occassionally in the Former Prophets, Chronicles, and Psalms.

Biblical scholar David Noel Freedman writes on page 1402 of Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible:

Yahweh is linked with seba’ot (“armies/hosts”) 284 times in the Hebrew Bible.

Jehovah is another way to spell Yahweh in English.  BlueLetterBible.org says of Jehovah Sabaoth (the Lord of Armies):

Use in the Bible: Jehovah and Elohim occur with Sabaoth over 285 times. It is most frequently used in Jeremiah and Isaiah. Jehovah Sabaoth is first used in 1Sa 1:3.

Interestingly, if you scroll up just one entry above, you find the following entry for Jehovah-Shalom (the Lord of Peace):

Use in the Bible: In the Old Testament Jehovah-Shalom occurs only once in Jdg 6:24.

In other words, God is the Lord of Armies over 280 times in the Bible, but Lord of Peace only once.  Based on this, would you say that the emphasis of God’s nature is on his warlike nature or his peaceful side?

*  *  *  *  *

To make matters worse, the one time that the Lord of Peace is used, the passage isn’t that peaceful at all.  As noted above, the name Yahweh Shalom is found in Judges 6, in which God orders an Israelite man named Gideon to ethnically cleanse the indigenous population of Midian, reassuring him that “you will strike down all the Midianites together” (Jdg 6:16).

Gideon expresses some doubt about his ability to do this “great task,” and he wants to make sure it’s really God who said that (reasonable enough, right?).  Gideon asks God to prove that it’s really Him, so God reveals an angel to him.  The angel burns up some meat and bread, which are both completely incinerated.  The meat and bread represent the Midianites, who are to be “utterly destroyed.”

Once Gideon realizes it’s an angel in front of him, he panics and thinks that God is angry with him for asking for proof.  Gideon is worried that God might kill him for that.  That’s when God reassures him that He’s not going to kill him (Gideon, that is), whereupon Gideon breathes a huge sigh of relief and calls God the Lord of Peace for not killing him.  Gideon decides to build an altar at that place which he calls “The Lord is Peace” and then God tells him to build an altar by destroying the altar built for the pagan god Baal.

Then, the Bible goes on to tell how God helps Gideon destroy the Midianites.  Of note too is the fact the name Gideon is a Hebrew name that means “he that bruises or breaks; a destroyer,” as well as “mighty warrior.”  So, The Destroyer built an altar called The Lord is Peace by destroying an altar to another god, in thanks to God for sending him proof that He is the one who asked him to destroy the heathen Midianites.  Not very peaceful at all.

*  *  *  *  *

Indeed, “‘Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of hosts’ is one of the frequent titles or names of God in the Old Testament.”  In fact, using BlueLetterBible.org I compiled a list of the most frequently used names in the Bible, and Yahweh Sabaoth is God’s fourth most frequently used name in the Bible:

Most Frequently Used Names for God in the Bible

1.  Yahweh (Lord): 6,519 times
2.  El, Elohim (God): over 2,000 times
3.  Adonai (Lord): 434 times
4.  Yahweh Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts/Armies): over 285 times
5.  El Elyon (The Most High God): 28 times
6.  El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty): 7 times
7.  Qanna (Jealous): 6 times
8.  El Olam (The Everlasting God): 4 times
9.  Yahweh-Raah (The Lord is My Shepherd): 4 times
10.  Yahweh Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness): 2 times
11.  Yahweh Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You): 2 times
12.  Yahweh Nissi (The Lord My Banner): 1 time
13.  Yahweh-Rapha (The Lord That Heals): 1 time
14.  Yahweh Shammah (The Lord is There): 1 time
15.  Yahweh Jireh (The Lord Will Provide): 1 time
16.  Yahweh-Shalom (The Lord is Peace): 1 time

(This list seems consistent with that provided by Agape Bible Study.)

This would mean that not only is Lord of Hosts/Armies the fourth most common name of God, it would mean that it is the first most frequently used descriptive name of God in the Bible, behind only generic names such as Yahweh (Lord), El/Elohim (God), and Adonai (Lord).  Sabaoth is certainly the most common descriptor following Yahweh, with Raah (as in Yahweh-Raah) a very distant second place.

*  *  *  *  *

Having thus understood the warlike and violent origin and nature of the Judeo-Christian God, one would wonder why it would be something necessary for Muslims to prove that they worship the same deity.  If it is agreed–as is only reasonable–that Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians but that their conception and understanding of God differs–I argue that the Judeo-Christian conception and understanding of God is not very desirable in the first place.  That the Islamic view of God differs in regard to war and violence is a good thing.

Stay tuned for the next page, in which we contrast the Islamic conception and understanding of God with the Judeo-Christian one…

Update I: Check out The Bible’s Yahweh, a War-God?: Called “Lord of Armies” Over 280 Times in the Bible and “Lord of Peace” Just Once (II) which was just published.

The “Allah is the Moon-God” Nonsense Could be the Stupidest Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theory Yet, Page V [Conclusion]

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2011 by loonwatch

Please make sure to read Page IIIIII, and IV first, which were recently published.  What follows is the concluding page:

After this lengthy analysis, it becomes quite clear that the anti-Muslim theory that “Allah is the moon-god” comes from nothing more than the fact that the crescent moon is often used as a symbol to represent Islam.  This argument is paper thin for numerous reasons:

1)  The star of David is used to denote Judaism; well then, the Jews must worship the stars–Yahweh must be the star-god!   The cross is used to denote Christianity; do Christians worship the cross?  Certainly, this is silly “logic.”

We can similarly disregard the “Muslims use the lunar calender” argument.  Jews also use the lunar calender; does this mean that they too worship the moon?  Christians use a solar calendar; does this mean they worship the sun god?

2)  The crescent moon as a symbol for Islam is a relatively new phenomenon.  The Prophet Muhammad certainly never used it.  In fact, it seems that he forbade all forms of religious iconography, as he feared it would lead to idolatry.  Neither did the Muslims use the symbol for hundreds of years.  It was only in the nineteenth century that the Ottoman Empire used the crescent symbol on their flag.  The Ottomans were of Turkic origin, and the crescent symbol was used by the pre-Islamic Turkic tribes.  The Ottoman Turks were converts to Islam, and they retained the pre-Islamic symbol from their pagan faith.

The Ottoman Empire expanded to involve much of the Islamic world, and soon “Muslim” became synonymous with “Turk” to the Europeans.  Therefore, the crescent became associated not just with the Ottoman Empire, but Islam in general.  Even so, it was only until the twentieth century that the crescent really became the symbol of Islam in the West and in some (but certainly not all) Muslim countries.  It is a historical irony that the adoption of the pagan symbol was a result of the early Islamic reticence towards adopting an icon.  With no icon representing the faith, the crescent moon became the stand-in symbol for Islam.

Although it is true that the crescent symbol is pagan in origin, it cannot be used as a proof that the Prophet Muhammad or the early Muslims worshiped the moon, since the crescent is of recent origin.  During Muhammad’s time (and hundreds of years thereafter), the Muslims did not use the crescent symbol.

It is hotly debated whether or not the Ottomans adopted the crescent symbol from the Byzantine Empire.  Recent scholarship has moved away from this belief, but it is interesting to note that even when it was a widely held belief, nobody in their right mind would think that it would be proof that the Christians of the Byzantine Empire worshiped the moon!  But somehow when it comes to Muslims there are always foregone conclusions.

3)  As mentioned above, the Prophet Muhammad forbade the use of religious icons.  Furthermore, even though the crescent is used by the religious laity, it is rejected by the traditional and orthodox clergy of Islam.  For example, the ultra-orthodox Islamic website Islam-qa.com says:

There is no basis in sharee’ah for taking the crescent or star as a symbol of the Muslims. This was not known at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), or at the time of the Khulafa’ al-Raashidoon (the first four leaders of Islam after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), or during the time of the Umawis (Umayyad dynasty)…there is no evidence that this symbol is prescribed by Islam, it is better not to use it. Neither the crescent nor the star are symbols of the Muslims, even though some Muslims may use them as symbols.

Elsewhere, the site says that the symbol might be haram (strictly forbidden) and even bidah (literally: a blame-worthy innovation; what it really refers to is a deviation from or corruption of the faith).  Since our opponents usually take the most conservative expressions of Islam as the only legitimate and representative forms of the religion, surely this should be acceptable to them as proof that the crescent is not a part of Islam.

*  *  *  *  *

It would be appropriate here to point out the pagan origins of many things in the Christian faith: for example, both Christmas and Easter–the two most popular holidays of Christianity–are of pagan origins.  Christmas originated from a pagan holiday involving the worship of the sun.  As for Easter, this too has pagan origins, and involved the worship of the Great Mother Goddess named Eostre. Just imagine if the two Islamic holidays–the two Eids–had pagan origins.  This would become the supreme proof for the anti-Muslim camp.  It would be proof that Allah was the sun god or the pagan mother goddess.

Robert Morey was forced to admit that Christmas and Easter come from pagan origins, but he brushed this point off by saying:

Some Muslims may point to the so-called Christian feasts of Christmas and Easter being pagan in origins.  I agree.  They are pagan in origin!  That is the reason I teach people to not indulge in Christmas and Easter as a form of worship to God, because the New Testament teaches that we are not to observe any holy days, or months or years (Gal. 4:10-11).   Keeping Christmas and Easter as a non-religious time of gift-giving is okay.  But we do not worship God with it.

Morey is arguing that although the majority of Christian laypersons worship Christmas and Easter with great devotion, the purists like himself “teach people to not indulge” in them.  Doesn’t this then apply to the crescent symbol, which is rejected by Islamic purists, namely the traditional and orthodox clergy?  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?  This is yet another case of the huge double-standards employed by the anti-Muslim camp when criticizing Islam.

But Christmas and Easter are just the tip of the iceberg.  Scholarship has uncovered much else of Christianity’s pagan origins; there is evidence to suggest that even the concept and story of Jesus Christ has pagan roots.

Yet more relevant is the fact that the Judeo-Christian concept of God originates from pagan sources, according to some scholars. Professor Mark S. Smith, a professor of the Bible and Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU, published a book entitled The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel in which he discusses this issue in great detail.  The book is dense and difficult reading, but fortunately it has been appropriately summarized by Wikipedia (normally I would be averse to using Wikipedia as a “source,” but here I am simply using it as a good summary of the book itself, which I have read; whoever summarized it on Wikipedia did a great job, better than I could do myself. More importantly, I’ll reference a scholar’s review of the book to corroborate the online encyclopedia.):

Smith begins from the understanding that Israelite culture was largely Canaanite in origin, and that deities such as El, Baal and Asherah, far from being alien to the Israelites, formed part of their heritage. He therefore sees Israelite monolatry (the insistence that Israel should worship one god, Yahweh, but without denying the reality of other gods) as a break with Israel’s own past.

Yahweh, he argues, originated in Edom/Midian/Teman as a warrior-god and was subsequently assimilated into the highland pantheon headed by El and his consort, Asherah and populated by Baal and other deities.[2]

Smith sees this process as marked by two major phases, which he describes as “convergence” and “differentiation.” In the period of the Judges and the early monarchy, convergence saw the coalescence of the qualities of other deities, and even the deities themselves, into Yahweh. Thus El became identified as a name of Yaweh, Asherah ceased to be a distinct goddess, and qualities of El, Asherah and Baal (notably, for Baal, his identification as a storm-god) were assimilated into Yahweh. In the period from the 9th century BC through to the Exile certain features of the Israelite religion were differentiated from the Yahweh cult, identified as Canaanite, and rejected: examples include Baal, child sacrifice, the asherah, worship of the sun and moon, and the cults of the “high places”

In other words, various Canaanite (pagan) deities converged into Yahweh, and only at a later point differentiated into competing gods but only after Yahweh had assimilated many of their qualities into himself.  Prof. Richard S. Hess has also summarized and reviewed Smith’s book, saying (emphasis added):

Smith argues that there are three major tendencies in the history of Israelite religion. There is the convergence of the characteristics of deities such as El, Baal, and Asherah into those of Yahweh. There is the divergence of the figures of Baal and Asherah from Yahweh.  Finally, there is the role of the Monarchy in the acceptance of various deities and images associated with Yahweh as well as rejection of these late in the Monarchy under Josiah.

Smith then turns his attention toward the evidence for various deities during the period of the Judges, i.e., Iron Age I. For him, this was largely a time that saw the convergence of deities such as El and Yahweh…

For Smith, El was never a threat and simply became assimilated with Yahweh in the first millennium, as evidenced by the early divine name Yahweh-El. Baal was a clear threat from the ninth century onwards as the account of Ahab and Jezebel’s attempt to introduce the Tyrian form of this deity (Baal Shamem) led to a prophetic revolt and intolerance for the god. Nevertheless, various characteristics such as those of the storm and stormcloud were adopted and applied to Yahweh. As noted, Asherah was reduced to a cult symbol of Yahweh. However, the female characteristics of Yahweh and some background to the personification of Wisdom (e.g., Proverbs 3) owe their origins to Asherah. The sun deity was assumed by Yahweh who took on its characteristics. The actual symbol of the sun in the form of the winged sun disk became a later symbol of the Judean monarchy.

This is a polemical goldmine: “the sun deity was assumed by Yahweh who took on its characteristics.”  If anti-Muslims Jews and Christians want to argue that Allah came from the moon-god, then Muslims can reply by noting that Yahweh came from the sun-god.  If the Islamophobes would cite unacademic and spurious sources like Robert Morey and Yoel Natan to claim Allah comes from the moon-god, Muslims can cite actual scholars such as Prof. Mark S. Smith and others in academia to claim that Yahweh originates from a solar deity and other pagan gods.

One could certainly disagree with Smith’s hypothesis and conclusion.  What is relevant here however is the recurring theme of hypocrisy displayed by anti-Muslim Jews and Christians, whereby they vilify Islam for what is present in their own religion.

It would be easy to apply the same simplistic line of thinking to Christianity that the Islamophobes apply to Islam: Christians use the solar calendar, they celebrate Christmas which originated from a pagan holiday involving the sun-god, and they worship the Sun/Son of God–THIS IS ALL PROOF THAT CHRISTIANS WORSHIP THE SUN-GOD!

I wouldn’t really be surprised if some anti-Muslim Jews and Christians used this fact, that some scholars say the Biblical God had roots in a solar-deity, to argue that the Islamic God came from the sun-god, since after all, the Islamic God is the same as Judeo-Christian one–except they would somehow link Allah to the sun-god, and use “ellipses” to omit the fact that the link to the sun-god is through the Judeo-Christian tradition itself.  Then they’d argue: the Islamic God is not the same as the Judeo-Christian one because Allah comes from the pagan sun-god!

*  *  *  *  *

This last revelation, that early Judaism was not completely independent of “pagan” religion and society, should signal a paradigm shift in the minds of modern-day Jews, Christians, and Muslims who often define themselves in complete opposition to pagandom.  Such a myopic view towards pagan faiths (here defined simply as non-Abrahamic religions) is intolerant, hateful, and simply inaccurate.

On a more positive note, there is certainly room to accept a more tolerant, nuanced, and appropriate view of “paganism” in Islam: the Prophet Muhammad is said to have affirmed what was good in pre-Islamic Arab custom and rejected what was wrong with it.  For example, he affirmed the hospitality that the pre-Islamic Arabs were known for, whereas he rejected female infanticide.  The point is that he did not reject pagan custom wholesale.

*  *  *  *  *

Having thus established that Allah did not originate from the moon-god–that Muslims never worshiped the moon, that the Quran itself explicitly forbids lunar worship in multiple verses, and that Allah was the most popular name the Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians used for God long before Muhammad was born, that the Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians continue to do so, that Allah is the name used for God in Arabic Bibles, that the word Allah is derived from the Aramaic word Alaha which Jesus used, that the word Allah is closer to what Jesus used than the word “God” that Christians use today, that much of Christianity comes from pagan origins, that the word “God” that Christians use today comes from pagan roots, and that some scholars say that the Israelite god originated from pagan deities including the sun-god–the Islamophobes have absolutely no leg to stand on.

And because they don’t have a leg to stand on, the Islamophobes resort to their fall-back argument.  They argue that the Muslims do not worship the same God as Christians because the Quran categorically rejects the Trinity dogma.  This argument, supported by the likes of Robert Spencer, will be addressed in the next part of the Series–and it will be seen how this is yet another case of anti-Muslim Christians shooting themselves in the foot in their desperate attempts to vilify the religion that they despise so much.

The “Allah is the Moon-God” Nonsense Could Be the Stupidest Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theory Yet, Page IV

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by loonwatch

Please make sure to read Page III, and III first, which were recently published.

Robert Morey’s book is full of academic dishonesty and wholesale deceit.  This is what Shabir Ally referred to as “deceptive methods” and “dishonest tactics.”  Ally lists Morey’s methodology as follows:

1. Misquoting authorities,

2. Concealing evidence,

3. Filling pages with irrelevant information thus giving a false impression of establishing something,

4. Using logical fallacies to establish conclusions, and

5. Drawing conclusions for which no evidence was even suggested, much less established.

Ally criticized Morey for reproducing a quote without including ellipses (…) to indicate the omission of words.  This, as we have seen, is a tactic that Robert Spencer has employed as well.  Morey responded to Ally’s allegation of “misquoting authorities” by saying:

What Shabir means by “misquotation” is actually partial quotation. He thus confuses partial quotation for misquotation.  This is sad as it reveals he has no command of the English language or the laws of logic.

Morey goes on:

The same is true of Shabir’s focus on if I used …enough times to suit him. Yet, he failed to use… when quoting me on several occasions! The point is: The presence or absence of … in a citation has no logical bearing on the validity of what is quoted.

One would think that Morey would be more cautious in accusing others of having “no command of the English language or the laws of logic,” when in fact he is absolutely wrong:

The failure to indicate any textual omission within the quote is always a misquotation and often makes a large effect on the meaning of the words.

Neither does the question of misquotation, partial quotation, or ellipses have anything to do with the laws of logic.  Lastly, it seems that Morey might not even know what the word ellipses means, an assumption that seems reasonable enough considering his repeated usage of “…” which renders his sentences virtually unreadable.  As stated before, perhaps he should exhibit a bit of discretion before accusing others of having “no command of the English language or the laws of logic.”

Clearly, a person who quotes books and omits words and phrases without so much as an ellipses is wholly unreliable.  This is academic dishonesty, and would be considered fraudulent.

Morey protests:

The same is true of Shabir’s focus on if I used …enough times to suit him. Yet, he failed to use… when quoting me on several occasions! The point is: The presence or absence of … in a citation has no logical bearing on the validity of what is quoted.

I did not find a single instance of Shabir Ally omitting ellipses when quoting Robert Morey, so this is a baseless claim.  As for his claim that the ellipses has no bearing on the validity of what is quoted, this is also false.  In this specific instance, Morey quoted Professor Carleton S. Coon as follows:

The god Il or Ilah was originally a phase of the Moon God.

Here is what Morey omitted from Coon’s quote (emphasis added):

The god Il or Ilah was originally a phase of the Moon God, but early in Arabian history the name became a general term for god, and it was this name that the Hebrews used prominently in their personal names, such as Emanu-el, Isra- el, etc., rather than the Ba’al of the northern semites proper, which was the sun.  Similarly, under Mohammed’s tutelage, the relatively anonymous Ilah became Al-Ilah, The God, or Allah, the Supreme Being. (Carleton S. Goon, Southern Arabia, p. 399)

Shabir Ally pointed out this deception, saying (emphasis added):

A second problem with Dr. Morey’s approach here is that he left out of Professor Coon’s statement what would disprove Morey’s most important argument against the God of Islam. Morey is proud of repeating that Allah is not the God of the Bible but the Moon-god of pre-Islamic Arabia. It would have been inconvenient for him to repeat what Coon had said as follows: … “and it was this name that the Hebrews used prominently in their personal names, such as Emanu-el, Isra-el, etc…” Morey would not let his readers understand that according to Professor Coon the same name which in South Arabia was used for the Moon-god was also used in Hebrew names like Emanu-el which Morey considers a name for Jesus.

Robert Morey protests:

He also commits the “Tit for Tat” fallacy of arguing that if Islam falls because Allah was originally the Moon-God, then Judaism goes down with it as some liberal scholars feel that Elohim started out as an astral deity. But the issue of whether Elohim started out as the Moon-God has no logical bearing on whether Allah began as the Moon-God. He is using Elohim as a red herring to divert attention from Allah.

This is yet another example of an anti-Muslim ideologue invoking the familiar “tu quoque, tu quoque!” defense.  Morey argues that whether or not the Judeo-Christian god Elohim started out as the moon-god “has no logical bearing” with regard to his basic theory, and is thus merely “a red herring.”  This is quite absurd when we consider that the entire question that is being debated here is whether or not Muslims worship the same god as the Jews and Christians.  It could therefore not possibly be more relevant!

In other words, if Robert Morey cites a source saying that Allah comes from El, and El was originally a moon-god, then in that case all Morey has proven is that both the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions worship a god (El/Elohim and Allah respectively) that was originally the moon-god.  But, even in this case, Muslims worship the same god as the Jews and Christians–exactly the opposite of Robert Morey’s entire argument.

Morey writes on pages 10-11 of The Moon-God Allah in the Archaeology of the Middle East:

As Coon pointed out, “The god Il or Ilah was originally a phase of the Moon God.” The Moon-god was called al-ilah, i.e. the god, which was shortened to Allah in pre-Islamic times. The pagan Arabs even used Allah in the names they gave to their children. For example, both Muhammad’s father and uncle had Allah as part of their names. The fact that they were given such names by their pagan parents proves that Allah was the title for the Moon-god even in Muhammad’s day. Professor Coon goes on to say, “Similarly, under Mohammed’s tutelage, the relatively anonymous Ilah, became Al-Ilah, The God, or Allah, the Supreme Being.”

This is a logical fallacy if there ever was one.  How does the fact that the pagan Arabs believed in Allah (and named their children after him) prove that Allah was the moon-god?  It doesn’t.  This simply does not follow, and therefore this is a non sequitur.

In fact, what Prof. Coon says is (emphasis added):

The god Il or Ilah was originally a phase of the Moon God, but early in Arabian history the name became a general term for god, and it was this name that the Hebrews used prominently in their personal names, such as Emanu-el, Isra- el, etc., rather than the Ba’al of the northern semites proper, which was the sun.  Similarly, under Mohammed’s tutelage, the relatively anonymous Ilah became Al-Ilah, The God, or Allah, the Supreme Being. (Carleton S. Goon, Southern Arabia, p. 399)

Coon is saying that the word ilah had become the general term for god “early in Arabian history.” We know that this was long before the Prophet Muhammad was born, because Coon says that “it was this name that the Hebrews used prominently…”

Furthermore, Coon is saying that the word ilah became the generic term for god, and that the Prophet Muhammad called his god “Al-Ilah, The God, or Allah.”  This makes it even clearer that Allah was never the name for the moon-god.  If one accepts Prof. Coon’s quote, then all this is saying is that the word ilah (not Allah) was originally used for the moon-god, then long before Muhammad it had become the generic term for god and gods in general.  This is not the same as Allah.  As Shabir Ally concludes: “Obviously, then, al-ilah was not the Moon-god according to Coon but only according to Morey.”

*  *  *  *  *

The fact that even the source Robert Morey cites says that the term Allah is connected to the Judeo-Christian name for God is underscored by the modern-day reality that Arabic-speaking Christians continue to refer to God using the term Allah. Even the Arabic translation of the Bible uses the term Allah to refer to God.  Does this mean that these Christians worship the moon-god?

Anti-Muslim ideologues attempt to counter this point by arguing that Arab Christians adopted the word Allah for God only after the advent of Islam.  One anti-Muslim website, for example, offers the following explanation: “The name ‘Allah’ had permeated the Arab mind and became its supreme god. Thus the name slipped into the Arabic translation of the Bible.”  We are told that this was either a mistake or happenstance, or alternatively that Arab Christians adopted the term Allah for God out of fear that they may be persecuted in the lands of Islam if they called their god anything else.  Yet another theory is that certain “dhimmi”-minded Christians used the term Allah to appease the Muslims.  Robert Morey seems to adhere to this theory, as his website whines: “Bible societies have even gone so far as to use the name Allah in the Bibles they produce for Arab Christians.”

However, these counter-arguments fall to the wayside when it is pointed out that Arab Christians used the term Allah for God long before the Prophet Muhammad was born.  Professor Timothy George writes (emphasis added):

The word Allah is found 2,685 times in the Quran.  Muhammad not invent the word.  In fact, it was the common word of address for God used by Arabic Christians centuries before Muhammad was born. Millions of Arabic-speaking Arab Christians still address God as Allah today…Christians called God Allah long before Muslims did.  (Timothy George, Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?, Ch.4)

Dr. Miroslav Volf, distinguished Professor of Theology at Yale University, writes:

“Arab Christians and Arabic-speaking Jews since long before the time of Muhammad have used the name ‘Allah’ to refer to God.” (Miroslav Volf, Allah: A Christian Response, p.82)

Bible scholar Rick Brown writes (emphasis added):

However the term Allah came into Arabic, we know from ancient inscriptions that Arabic-speaking Christians were using the [word] Allah before the rise of Islam…Even today, Allah is the Arabic name for God that is commonly used by Jews and Christians.

Brown goes on to say:

Imad Shehadeh (2004), director of an Arab Christian seminary, notes the oldest extant Arab Christian translations of [Biblical] Scripture use allâh, and that this practice is documented from ancient times until the present. This fact is well exemplified in the essays in David Thomas (2006a), especially (Kachouh 2006). Shehadeh notes the total lack of evidence that anyone ever used the term allâh as the name of a moon god. Quoting Montgomery Watt, he says the claim that “Christians worship God and Muslims worship Allah” is as sensible as saying “Englishmen worship God and Frenchmen worship Dieu”.

Professor J. Dudley Woodberry says:

Many missionaries branded so-called Muslim forms of worship and religious vocabulary as wrong, without knowing that virtually all quranic religious vocabulary, including the name “Allah,” and virtually all the forms of worship, except those specifically related to Muhammad, were used by Jews and/or Christians before they were used by Muslims.

Brown comments on the Christian usage of theophoric Arabic names bearing the name Allah in them (emphasis added):

The hardest pre-Islamic evidence comes in the form of stone inscriptions that bear theophoric Arab names, i.e., Arabic names that incorporate a word for deity. The word one finds most often in the surviving inscriptions is ’lh, pronounced [ałłâh], and sometimes the shortened or Hebraic form, ’l. There is no evidence for a significantly different term for God used in place of this, such as Greek theos or Hebrew adonai or elohîm, although Yhwh is found on occasion, probably as part of a Jewish name.

He goes on:

The widespread usage of these terms in the two centuries before Islam correlates with the well-documented spread of Christianity throughout most of Arabia that during that same period (Guillaume & Ibn Ishaq 2002 [1955]: 18).

Brown offers one such example, a Christian man by the name Abdullah (slave of Allah) who lived before Muhammad:

For example, a leader of the Christians who was martyred in Najran in 523 AD is said to have been ‘Abdullah ibn Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad. Not only does he bear a theophoric name that means “servant of allâh”, he is also said to have worn a ring that said “allâh is my Lord” (Guillaume & Ibn Ishaq 2002 [1955]: 18).

There is archaeological proof that buttresses the historical evidence.  For instance, an inscription has been found honoring a Christian martyr, “in which God is referred to as alah or allah.”

Robert Morey complains that ”[dhimmi-oriented] Bible societies have even gone so far as to use the name Allah in the Bibles they produce for Arab Christians.”  Yet, Arabic Bibles have always used the word Allah for God.  It is the exact opposite of what Morey claims: Arabic Bibles had historically always used Allah until recent times when suddenly some Evangelical Christians furthered the absurd idea that Allah is some different, pagan moon-god.  But, all the ancient Arabic manuscripts we have of the Bible used the term Allah.  This, even though the Bible was translated by different churches in different parts of Arabia.  Brown expounds (emphasis added):

The New Testament or parts of it were translated many times into Arabic…The extant manuscripts date from the post-Islamic period, but there is evidence for pre-Islamic translations of the Gospel, although scholars disagree on the matter…

They all use the word allâh to refer to God. Since the Arab Christians were spread over a vast region and belonged to diverse and warring churches long before the rise of Islam, the fact that all of them used allâh to refer to God in the earliest surviving translations is an indication that the term allâh must have been in widespread use by Arab Christians in pre-Islamic times.

*  *  *  *  *

The next obvious question is: why did pre-Islamic Christians use the term Allah to refer to God?  The answer to this is quite the slap on the face of anti-Muslim Evangelical Christians.  It may come as a surprise to many ignorant anti-Muslim Christians today, but Jesus Christ did not speak English (amazing revelation, I know) and would never have used the term “God.”  Instead, Jesus spoke Aramaicwhich is a sister language of Arabic–and he referred to God as Alaha. Allah is the Arabic cognate of the Aramaic word Alaha.  UCLA professor Michael G. Morony writes on p.528 of Iraq After the Conquest:

alaha (Syr.): god, used for God by Christians, cognate with Allah (Ar.).

This explains why Arabic-speaking Christians, even before Muhammad, used the term Allah for God.  Brown writes (emphasis added):

The term allâh is most likely derived from the Aramaic word for God, alâh

Dudley Woodberry stated that the term allâh is derived from Syriac, which was the form of Aramaic commonly used in literature and Scripture in the Middle East from the fourth to the ninth centuries. (Forms of Aramaic had been the lingua franca for centuries, but Syriac took on the role of a literary language.) Kenneth Thomas (2006a: 171) supports Woodberry’s claim with the observation that “Western scholars are fairly unanimous that the source of the word Allah probably is through Aramaic from the Syriac alâhâ”. Arthur Jeffrey (1938: 66) wrote that “there can be little doubt” about this, and F. V. Winnett (1938: 247), an expert in Ancient Arabic, came to the same conclusion. Syriac-speaking Christians, most of whom speak Arabic as well, have had the same opinion, namely that the Arabic term allâh is a loanword from Syriac, and Imad Shehadeh (2004) has supported the argument from the perspective of an Arab Christian scholar.

The Aramaic word Alaha became Allah just as any word is modified when it is taken from one language to another.  For one thing, Brown points out:

In Aramaic, God is called alâh-â, where the final –â is removable…Given the prevalence of Judaism and Christianity in Arabia, the term alâh-â would have been well-known, and one would expect them to have Arabicized it by dropping the final ‘-â’ vowel.

Even to the layperson, the difference between Alah and Allah is minimal, and only the most dishonest person would fail to see the connection between the two.  As Brown comments: “It is normal for words to undergo some alteration when they are borrowed into another language.”

As for the doubling of the letter –l, Brown argues that this “was most likely prompted by…the Arab tradition of using epithets to refer to deities,” as in aluzza instead of simply uzza.  The definite article al– (the) was added to the names of deities, and this may well have been the case for the Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians.  Herein lies a great debate of whether or not the word Allah comes from the contraction alilah (The God), as well as the argument raised by Islamophobes that the word “alah” in the Bible is used as a generic term for “god”–even a false god–whereas Allah is the personal name of God for the Muslims.

Neither of these arguments is very relevant: whatever the case, it was the pre-Islamic Christians of Arabia who used the term Allah as the name of God.  So even if it is true that the Bible did not use “alah” as the personal name of God, several hundreds of years later the Jews and Christians of Arabia were referring to their god by the name Allah.  Therefore, Muhammad was only following the convention of the Judeo-Christian tradition as it had developed in the Arabian peninsula. To this day, Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians refer to God as “Allah,” using it as a name–as God and not god.  Both then and now did (and do) Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians most commonly refer(red) to God as Allah; Muhammad would of course refer to the Judeo-Christian God as they themselves most commonly referred to Him as.

The (irrelevant) argument is raised for example by Evangelical author Timothy C. Tennent who writes:

On the one hand, Christians understand the word “Allah” as a broad term for God in the Bible, but not for the tetragrammaton YHWH, which is the convenantal name for God in the Old Testament.

Do Christians in their day-to-day lives, at home and in church, commonly refer to God as “God” or do they routinely use “the tetragrammaton YHWH?”  All one has to do is listen to any Christian alive today, go to any church or listen to any Christian television channel, to see quite clearly that the most common way in which Christians invoke and refer to God is “God”–not “the tetragrammaton YHWH.”

Even Tennent himself refers to “God” as “God” throughout the very same book he makes the argument in, as well as on his website.  Just as Christians in the English-speaking West most commonly refer to their deity as “God,” so too do Arabic-speaking Christians refer to their deity as “Allah”–and so too did they hundreds of years ago in Arabia–and it only makes sense (indeed, it can be no other way) that Muhammad would refer to their God using the most commonly used word they themselves used.  Insisting that Muhammad should have used “the tetragrammaton YHWH” seems absurd when it is considered that the Jews and Christians themselves did not commonly do so.

*  *  *  *  *

Regardless of its exact etymological origin, the undeniable fact is that Arabic-speaking Christians used the term Allah for God long before the Prophet Muhammad was born.  Amazingly, this is a fact that even Yoel Natan, author of Moon-O-Theism and the greatest proponent of the moon-god theory, could not deny.  Natan thus entitles a section of his book as “The Title Allah As Used by Jews and Christians in Pre-Islamic Arabia.”  Natan writes on p.594 of Volume 1 of his book (emphasis added):

Though Arab Christians spoke the Arabic language and they used the appellation Allah, meaning “the God,” they clearly were Trinitarian.

Natan admits that the Christians in pre-Islamic Arabia named their children Abdullah, which means “servant (or slave) of God.”  He continues:

Arab Christians also used the theophoric name ‘Abdullah (“Servant of Allah”) as a baptismal name.

Even while he concedes that the Jews and Christians in pre-Islamic Arabia used the term Allah for God, Natan insists that the Prophet Muhammad was referring to another Allah when he invoked the term!  What a fantastic explanation, especially when the Quran itself commands the Muslims:

Do not argue with the People of the Book [the Jews and Christians] except in the kindest possible manner, save those of them who are oppressive, and say: “We believe in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to you; our God and your God are one and the same, and to Him do we submit ourselves.” (Quran, 29:46)

What more proof is needed?  This Quranic verse alone suffices to refute the moon-god theory, and makes it clear that Muslims worship the same God as the Jews and the Christians.  The Quran offers religious criticisms of Judaism and Christianity, each time referencing Allah as the God of the Jews and the Christians.  For example, the Quran says:

The Christians say, “The Christ is Allah’s son.”  Such are the sayings which they utter with their mouths! (Quran, 9:30)

Elsewhere, the Quran says:

O People of the Book, do not exaggerate in matters of your religion, and do not say anything about Allah except the truth: the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was nothing more than a messenger of Allah…Allah is only one Allah. (Quran, 4:171)

The fact that the Allah of the Quran is mentioned in relation to the Christian dogma of the Trinity and with relation to Jesus–coupled with the fact that “Allah is only one Allah”–proves that the early Muslims worshiped the same God as Jews worshiped and whom Christians refer to as God the Father.

There exists a multitude of Quranic verses that associate the Allah of Islam with God the Father of Christianity.  In yet another verse, for instance, Jesus says:

“O Children of Israel!  Worship Allah my Lord and your Lord.” (Quran, 5:72)

Even if we accept the fantastic explanation offered by Yoel Natan, that there somehow existed at least two Allah’s (one belonging to the Jews and Christians and the other to the moon-god worshiping pagans), the Quran itself is proof that the Islamic Allah aligns with the Judeo-Christian Allah.  Over twenty “prophets of Allah” are mentioned in the Quran, each corresponding to a prophet in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  For example, Adam (as in Adam and Eve found in the Judeo-Christian tradition) is mentioned in the following verse in relation to Allah:

The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be!” And he was. (Quran, 3:59)

Adam ate from the forbidden tree in Paradise due to Satan’s influence, and he was thus sent to earth “for a time.”  Adam turned to repentance to Allah, who subsequently forgave him:

Then Adam received word from his Lord, who accepted his repentance, for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.  (Quran, 2:37)

After forgiving Adam, Allah gave the following advice to Adam, his wife, and all his progeny:

“When guidance comes to you from Me, as it certainly will, no fear or sorrow will be felt by those who heed it.” (Quran, 2:38)

This statement of Allah to the first human being is considered the guiding principle of Islam, and the key to attaining eternal salvation.  Whoever follows the guidance from Adam’s Lord and Creator will have eternal success.  Based on the fact that this Quranic story corresponds closely (albeit with minor variations) to that found in the Judeo-Christian tradition, it can clearly be seen that the Allah of Islam is the same God as the God of Adam and Eve found in the Bible.

The Quran then speaks of Noah, another “prophet of Allah:”

We sent Noah to his people. He said, “My people, worship Allah!  You have no god other than Him.” (Quran, 7:59)

So, the Islamic Allah is the same God as the God of Noah, who is of course the God of the Bible.

Allah is also the God of Abraham, which is why Islam is an Abrahamic faith.  In the Quran–just as in the Bible–Abraham rejects the gods and idols that his father worships, and he says to his father:

“I dissociate myself from you and whatever you invoke besides Allah. I will pray only to my Lord.” (Quran, 19:48)

An even clearer proof that the Islamic God is not the moon-god (and another “I sunk your battleship” argument to the moon-god theory) is found in the story of Abraham.  Before Abraham rejects the idolatry of his father, he had considered worship of the moon (as well as the sun and the stars) only to explicitly reject it:

When the night grew dark over him he saw a star and said, “This is my Lord,” but when it set, he said, “I do not like things that set.”  And when he saw the moon rising he said, “This is my Lord,” but when it too set, he said, “If my Lord does not guide me, I shall be one of those who go astray.” Then he saw the sun rising and cried, “This is my Lord! This is greater.” But when the sun set, he said, “My people, I disown all that you worship beside Allah. Behold, I have turned my face as a true believer towards Him who created the heavens and the earth. I am not one of the idolaters.” (Quran, 6:76-79)

How could it possibly be any more evident that the Allah of the Quran is the same God as found in the Bible?

So too does the Quran make it clear that the Allah of the Quran is the God of other Biblical prophets and figures, including Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, and John the Baptist.  On the other hand, not a single reference is made of Allah being the moon-god nor is a single moon-god story reference made in respect to Allah.  In fact, the Quran explicitly rejects moon-worship in more than a half-dozen verses.  Therefore, even if we accept (for argument’s sake only) the tenuous claim that there existed two Allah’s (a ludicrous argument to begin with), the Quranic Allah is linked to the Allah of the Biblical figures and not the moon.

Based on this absurd two-Allah theory, Yoel Natan argues:

When Christians used the title Allah, they had “The God” of the Bible in mind.  By contrast, Abdullah was also the name of Muhammad’s pagan father.  He however was named after Allah the Makkan moon-god…

As we have seen, the evidence does not bear out Natan’s claim.  Clearly, the Quran had “The God” (Allah) of the Bible in mind, evidenced by the explicit statement to the Christians stating that “our God (Allah) and your God (Allah) are one and the same” (Quran, 29:46), as well as the multitude of verses that affirm the Abrahamic tradition by linking Allah to the Biblical prophets.  On the other hand, the Quran rejects the moon-god in multiple verses.

As for Muhammad’s father Abdullah, the Prophet Muhammad renounced him for his idolatry just as Abraham renounced his father; to this effect, the Prophet Muhammad said to another man whose father was also an “unrepentant” idolater: “my father and your father are in Hell” (Sahih al-Muslim, Book 1, #398).  The Prophet Muhammad renounced his father not because his father believed in Allah, but because he associated other gods and idols alongside Him.

If Muhammad really believed in the moon-god, then why are the Biblical prophets mentioned in the Quran promised eternal salvation in Paradise whereas his idol- and (supposedly) moon-worshiping father Abdullah is condemned to damnation in Hell?  (To make matters worse for Yoel Natan, there is no proof that Muhammad’s father worshiped the moon at all, although it is irrelevant since Muhammad renounced him altogether.)

In any case, the idea that there existed two different Allah’s–a Judeo-Christian Allah and a pagan Allah–is absurd.  Rather, the pre-Islamic pagans of Arabia were henotheistic, not purely polytheistic, in belief.  As mentioned before, this means that they believed in one supreme God who created the world, but also in lesser gods who carried out day-to-day affairs.  This supreme God they believed in was Allah, who was also the same god as that of the Jews and Christians.  Unlike the Jews and the Christians, however, Allah was of nominal importance to the pre-Islamic pagans of Arabia; He was believed to be a remote god who had faded from relevance after He created the world and set it into motion.

It is easy to imagine how it came to be that the pagans of Arabia believed in the God of the Jews and Christians, whom Arabic-speaking adherents referred to as Allah.  As Judaism and Christianity spread into Arabia–and Jewish and Christian communities became a part of the Arabian milieu–the pagans of Arabia were introduced to the name, concept, and deity of Allah.  Just as the foreign god Hubal had been accommodated by the pagans, so too was the God of Israel absorbed into their pantheon.

In a similar way that the foreign god Hubal became supremely important to the pre-Islamic Arabs so too did Allah reach “high god” status; the Judeo-Christian emphasis on Allah as the creator of everything was accepted, although Allah retired from the world and delegated his duties to lesser gods.  It would be the Prophet Muhammad who renounced these lesser gods and called to the singular worship of Allah.  Islam came as an absolute form of monotheism, rejecting the trinitarianism of the Christians and the henotheism of the Arabs, and affirming the absolute oneness of God.

The “Allah is the Moon-God” Nonsense Could Be the Stupidest Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theory Yet, Page III

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by loonwatch
Image from ImranArt: http://imranart.deviantart.com/

Please make sure to read Page I and II first, which were recently published.

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.

*  *  *  *  *

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.

The “Allah is the Moon-God” Nonsense Could be the Stupidest Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theory Yet, Page II

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2011 by loonwatch

Please make sure to read page I first, which was published yesterday.

Robert Morey et al. argue that the pre-Islamic pagans of Arabia worshiped a moon-god called Allah.  The reality, however, is that there was a moon-god but his name was Sin, not Allah.  Sin had absolutely no relation whatsoever to Allah.  Bible scholar Rick Brown writes:

It is in fact true that before the coming of Islam many “gods” and idols were worshiped in the Middle East, but the name of the moon god was Sîn, not Allah, and he was not particularly popular in [Northern] Arabia, the birthplace of Islam.

Moon-worship was certainly not unheard of in Arabia, something we can safely say based on the Quran itself, which categorically condemns worship of the moon.  In other words, one of the strongest proofs for the historicity of moon-worship comes from the Quran’s rejection of it.

No verse in the Quran links Sin or the moon to Allah. Instead, the only mention in the Quran of moon-worship comes in the form of categorical rejection of such a practice. Yet, somehow the anti-Muslim ideologue links Sin and the moon to Allah–without any proof whatsoever to do this.  This, as Shabir Ally pointed out, is how Robert Morey draws “conclusions for which no evidence was even suggested, much less established.”

Brown concludes:

There is no clear evidence that moon-worship was prominent among the Arabs in any way or that the crescent was used as the symbol of a moon god, and Allah was certainly not the moon god’s name.

*  *  *  *  *

Similarly, some anti-Muslim ideologues claim that Allah refers to the pagan idol Hubal, and that Hubal was a moon-god.  This seems to be a case of throwing the kitchen sink at Islam and hoping something sticks: well, was Allah the same as the moon-god Sin or the pagan idol Hubal?  Since Sin and Hubal were clearly not the same, how can Allah have been both?  This exposes the insincerity of the anti-Muslim camp, whereby they will attribute whatever they possibly can to Allah and Islam in general, so long as it is something derogatory, even if it contradicts one of their earlier claims or other anti-Muslim beliefs.

Just as it can be concluded that Allah was not the moon-god based on the Quran’s categorical rejection of moon-worship, so too can we safely conclude that Allah was not the same as Hubal based on the fact that the Prophet Muhammad quite clearly differentiated between the two.  When the pagans of Arabia won a decisive battlefield victory against the early Muslims, the leader of the pagans (Abu Sufyan) yelled in triumph:

“Superior is Hubal!”

To which the Prophet Muhammad replied in defiance:

“Allah is more exalted and more majestic!”  (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, Book 59, #375)

The above narration is found in Sahih al-Bukhari, the most well-respected book of hadith (prophetic traditions).  When Islamophobes find a “useful” narration in this collection, they are quick to push the absolute authenticity of it.  When a narration like this one is found in the very same collection suddenly they doubt it! [Hat tip: Saifullah et al.]

For example, Christian polemicist Timothy W. Dunkin disregards this prophetic tradition as mere “redaction,” giving absolutely no proof for this claim except his own whim.  Thus does the conspiracy theorist construct and reinforce his far-fetched belief: whatever text supports the moon-god theory even in a convoluted and miserably indirect way is accepted, and whatever text clearly and categorically rejects the conspiracy theory (Quranic verses that forbid worship of the moon, hadiths that differentiate Hubal from Allah, etc.) is simply rejected.  Once all contrary evidence is taken out of the equation, then aha!, see all the evidence points to Allah being the moon-god!

It is interesting to note, however, that not even Yoel Natan, author of Moon-O-Theism (and the most ardent proponent of the moon-god theory), could accept the claim that Allah was the same as Hubal.  Natan admits that “Hubal was not a moon-god” (Vol. II, p.168) and that in fact “Hubal was Allah’s competitor” (Ibid., p.167), which is clear from the prophetic tradition we have cited above.

This is not to say that the pagans rejected Allah altogether.  However, they focused their worship on idols such as Hubal, neglecting to worship Allah except in times of severe distress–for which the Quran condemns them (see Quran 29:65).  Hubal had become the chief idol of the Kaaba, outstripping Allah in terms of day-to-day importance and cultic worship, even while Allah retained nominal supremacy as “Lord of the Kaaba.”  Scholars believe that Hubal was likely a Syrian or Mesopotamian god that was accepted into the Arabian pantheon of deities, much like the Israelite god Allah was accommodated by the pagan belief system as the creator god (more on this later).

The Prophet Muhammad was intent on aligning the early Muslims with the Israelite god Allah and away from the pagan god Hubal, exclaiming the superiority of Allah over Hubal.  This culminated in the eventual destruction of the Hubal idol by the Prophet Muhammad once he conquered Mecca.  How could Allah be the same as Hubal when the Prophet Muhammad declared Allah’s supremacy to Hubal, and even went on to destroy the idol Hubal?

The only “evidence” used to link Hubal to Allah is the fact that the Quran does not mention Hubal by name.  The argument goes: the Quran repudiates al-Lat, Manat, and al-Uzza but makes no mention of Hubal; therefore, Hubal is Allah.  This, as rightfully pointed out by M.S.M. Saifullah and Abdullah David, is an argumentum e silentio–using the absence of proof as a proof in and of itself:

…While the Qur’an railed against Allat, Manat, and al-ʿUzza, whom the pagan Arabs referred to as the “daughters of Allah”, it stopped short of attacking the cult of Hubal. Although such an argument can be applied to any of the pagan idols not mentioned in the Qur’an, such as Dhul-Khalasa and Dhul-Shara, the argumentum e silentio of Wellhausen became a rallying cry for the missionaries and apologists to claim that Hubal was none other than Allah.[24] This is clearly a logical fallacy.

The verse in the Quran that “railed against Allat, Manat, and al-’Uzza” can be found in verses 53:19-23, which reads:

Have you considered al-Lat and al-Uzza–and the last of the three–Manat?  What!  Why for yourselves you would choose only male offspring, whereas to Him you assign females?  What a bizarre distribution!  These are nothing but names you have invented yourselves, you and your forefathers, for which God (Allah) has sent no authority for.  These people merely follow guesswork and their own whims, even though guidance has come to them from their Lord. (Quran, 53:19-23)

The Islamophobes argue that the Quran mentions al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat by name but not Hubal and that this somehow means that Hubal is Allah.  This is a very dubious claim, based only in the negative vacuum of proof.

It should be noted that the style of the Quran is very different than the Bible in that it does not generally name names–rather, general and generic references are made.  To this effect, it should be noted that Muhammad is only mentioned by name in the Quran a grand total of four times.  Only one of the many disciples of the Prophet Muhammad is mentioned by name.  The most revered disciple, Abu Bakr, is not mentioned by name a single time in the entire Quran; instead, his story is told using generic pronouns (the Arabic equivalent of he and him).  Therefore, it is not at all surprising that the name Hubal is not taken in the Quran.

Secondly, if we were to accept the dubious claim that Hubal was the moon-god, then in that case the Quran does mention him in verses 7:54, 13:2, and 21:33, in which worship of the moon is rejected.  After all, if we accept (as we must) the idea that the Quran in general refrains from naming names and focuses instead on concepts and stories, then in that case–if Hubal was indeed the moon-god–then he is referenced in those verses.  Here, the Islamophobic opponent is caught in a Catch-22: if Hubal was really the moon-god, then he is rejected in the Quran in those passages; if he was not the moon-god, then proving Allah was Hubal would actually prove that Allah was not the moon-god.

Thirdly, the Quran mentions al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat in a very specific context: the passage condemns the pagans for attributing daughters to Allah even while they themselves prefer sons for themselves.  Hubal was a male deity and therefore it would not make sense to mention him in a verse about daughters.  Saifullah et al. write:

…The Qur’an is referring to the concept of “daughters of Allah”, and to mention a male deity like Hubal would be against the very argument the Qur’an is drawing attention to.

What! for you the males and for Him the females! This indeed is an unjust division! [Sūrah al-Najm:21]

The Qur’an uses irony to drive home a point. While many of the Arabs buried their daughters alive, as well as holding the position that women were inferior to men in all aspects, they still fabricated daughters for Allah.

Fourthly, there were over three-hundred idols worshiped by the pagans of Arabia, Hubal being one of them.  The Quran doesn’t mention any of the rest of them; by the logic of argumentum e silentio could we argue that Allah was not Hubal or the moon-god but any or all of the many gods in the pantheon of deities?  This indicates the flawed logic behind argumentum e silentio.

Fifthly, some argue that Hubal originated from–and is the same as–the Semitic god Baal.  This is certainly something accepted by many anti-Muslim ideologues who wish to link the evil Baal to Allah through Hubal.  Yoel Natan, for example, endorses the idea that Hubal came from–and was–Baal.  If this was indeed the case, then the Quran does mention Hubal/Baal by name:

Will you invoke Baal and forsake the best of Creators, Allah, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers? (Quran, 37:125-126)

In the process of trying to make this fantastic juxtaposition between Allah and the moon-god, the Islamophobes attribute any and all negative points to Islam that they possibly can, often unknowingly furthering multiple, contradictory claims.  The truth-seeker should doubt their sincerity, and refrain from taking them seriously.  Whichever way you slice it, it is very difficult to link Allah to the moon.

Stay tuned for page III…

The “Allah is the Moon-God” Nonsense Could be the Stupidest Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theory Yet, Page I

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2011 by loonwatch

This article is page I of My God is Better Than Yours (IV), which is part 9 of the Understanding Jihad Series. See My God is Better Than Yours I, II, and III. (In retrospect, I haven’t used the best numbering system and it will require a bit of cleaning up later on…)

Robert Morey first wrote about his “Allah is the moon-god” theory in The Islamic Invasion (1992) and then later reproduced it with minor changes in a twenty page booklet entitled The Moon-God Allah in the Archeology of the Middle East (1994).  The latter has fallen out of print, and Morey himself refers readers to The Islamic Invasion “for more information” about his moon-god theory.  It is this book then that I will refute.

Morey’s theory was refuted by Muslim preacher Shabir Ally in Robert Morey’s Moon-god Myth & Other Deceptive Attacks on Islam, which is a surgical deconstruction of Morey’s nonsense. Morey whined that Ally used “ad hominem slurs such as ‘deceptive’ and ‘dishonest.’”  Ally did say that Morey used “deceptive methods” and “dishonest tactics,” but since this was in reference to Morey’s methods and tactics–and not his person–how then is this an ad hominem attack, let alone a “slur?”

Fascinatingly, in this very same article Robert Morey referred to the Muslims in the audience as “terrorists;” now that’s a slur, one which conflates Muslim with terrorist.  Morey issued his response to Shabir Ally, saying (emphasis added):

Let every Muslim terrorist please take note of the fact that I, Robert Morey, did not invent the idea that Allah came from Il or Ilah.  Nor did I invent the idea that Allah in pre-Islamic times can be traced back to the Moon-God.

Not only this, but Morey insinuates that Shabir Ally is a terrorist, saying his book is “an example of terrorism.”  And yet somehow Robert Morey is complaining of ad hominem attacks?  This is a case of right-wing projection.  In fact, Ally maintained a rather mild tone in his writing, and did not question Morey’s academic qualifications and credentials.

Having said that, I have myself called to question Robert Morey’s academic qualifications and credentials–and have found them to be completely bogus.  It is completely licit in academic circles to question the legitimacy of a source, especially if someone furthers a bizarre and new view on a controversial topic.

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Robert Morey first mentions the moon-god theory on page 42 of The Islamic Invasion.  Here he provides the background behind his theory: he argues that moon-worship was the dominant religious practice in pre-Islamic Arabia.  (He will later argue that the Prophet Muhammad simply continued worship of this moon-god.)  To buttress his theory, Morey argues that:

1) The Sabeans were the dominant religious group before Muhammad’s time.

2) The Sabeans primarily worshiped the moon.

3) The Quran itself mentions the Sabeans and their worship of the sun, moon, and stars!

These three points are used to argue that the Prophet Muhammad simply continued the worship of the Sabean moon-god.  In Morey’s own words on page 42:

The Sabeans

The dominant religion that had grown very powerful just before Muhammad’s time was that of the Sabeans’.

The Sabeans had an astral religion in which they worshiped the heavenly bodies.  The moon was viewed as a male deity and the sun as the female deity.  Together they produced other deities such as the stars.  The Quran refers to this in Sura 41:37 and elsewhere.

They used a lunar calendar to regulate their religious rites.  For example, a month of fasting was regulated by the phases of the moon.

The Sabean pagan rite of fasting began with the appearance of a crescent moon and did not cease until the crescent moon reappeared.  This would later be adopted as one of the five pillars of Islam.

All three of these points are dubious.  With regard to the first point, there is no proof at all that the Sabeans were the dominant religious group before Muhammad’s time.  Robert Morey provides absolutely no proof for this statement of his (like many of the other claims in his book).  Morey simply assumes that if he says something definitively enough, the reader will just believe him.

However, the truth is that the Sabeans were but a small minority in Mecca, to the point where just a few generations later the Arab chroniclers weren’t even quite sure who the Sabeans were, a confusion that continues up until this day.  Therefore, Robert Morey’s starting point–that the Sabeans constituted the dominant religious group in Mecca at the time of Muhammad–has absolutely no factual basis to it whatsoever.

What little is known about the religion of the pre-Islamic Arabs is that they were polytheistic and worshiped rocks and idols.  Says Professor Jonathan P. Berkey on p.42 The Formation of Islam (emphasis added):

The dominant religious traditions of pre-Islamic Arabia remained polytheistic, but little can in fact be known with certainty about them. There has been much debate among historians of religion about the origin and character of Arabian religion–for example, whether it represented a “primitive” form of Semitic religion, or instead a degenerate form of the more sophisticated traditions of the Fertile Crescent (paralleling the traditional Muslim account according to which Muhammad’s role was to restore a primitive monotheism associated with Abraham).  There are signs of litholatry [the worship of stones] among the Arabs, although by the time of Muhammad most of the various deities had acquired faces and personalities.  Several hundred Arabian deities are known from the Muslim sources, the most prominent of which were those identified by the Arabs as the three “daughters of Allah”–Manat, Allat, and al-’Uzza–a trinity which was, according to the later Muslim tradition, accorded a special place among Muhammad’s tribe of Quraysh and their allies around the advent of Islam, and to which prominent (although ambiguous) mention is made in the Koran.  Behind the specific deities, the Arabs were also probably aware of Allah.  For some he may have represented a remote creator god, possibly related to the Semitic El; some Western scholars have suggested (again, paralleling in a way the traditional Muslim account) that he represents a deus otiosus [a creator god who largely retires from the world and is no longer involved in its daily operation] who had over the centuries been eclipsed by more particularized and localized deities.  Allah apparently played little role in religious cult.

He concludes:

It is in fact difficult to say much with confidence regarding pre-Islamic Arabian religion.

Prof. Berkey’s quote is actually sufficient to refute the entire moon-god theory.  Let us, however, focus on the following:  Morey’s claim that the “dominant religion that had grown very powerful just before Muhammad’s time was that of the Sabeans’…[who] had an astral religion in which they worshiped the heavenly bodies” is not supported by the evidence.  Where did Morey get his information that the “Sabean religion” was the predominant religious group before Muhammad’s arrival?  In fact, this is completely contrived.

The pre-Islamic Arabs were polytheistic and worshiped “several hundred Arabian deities.”  They started out as stone-worshipers, and these stones eventually developed into anthropomorphic idols.  The pre-Islamic Arabs worshiped many different gods.  The moon-god was but one of many–and not even the most important of them.  As Prof. Paul Fouracre puts it on page 320 of his book The New Cambridge Medieval History, the pre-Islamic Arabs “were animistic and varied; they worshiped stones, trees, and idols.”  The fact that the pre-Islamic Arabs worshiped the moon doesn’t mean Allah is the moon-god any more than he is the stone, tree, sun, or star god.

So, why then did Robert Morey single out the moon, as opposed to stones, trees, the sun, and the stars?  Is it not simply to buttress his conspiracy theory?  Such is the modus operandi of the conspiracy theorist: facts that support a conspiracy are highlighted and exaggerated, while other facts are minimized or ignored altogether.

As for what gave him the idea in the first place, Morey most likely noted the crescent symbol often used to represent Islam, and this gave him the idea that Muslims worshiped the moon.  The Moozlums use the symbol of the crescent to represent their faith, so they must then worship the moon! Quite simply, the moon-god nonsense is based primarily in this simple, simplistic, and stupid idea–one which I will refute later in this article series.

I have as of yet completely ignored the white elephant in the room: scholars are unsure whether or not the Sabeans are to be considered synonymous with the Sabians mentioned in the Quran, as the Arabic spelling of the two words differs significantly.  What is perfectly clear, however, is that neither the Sabeans or Sabians were the predominant religious group at the time prior to Muhammad’s arrival.  Indeed, the early Muslims were themselves unsure who the Sabians mentioned in the Quran refers to, a confusion that hardly would have existed had the Sabeans/Sabians been the predominant religious group prior to the arrival of the Islamic religion.

Morey’s second point–that the Sabeans/Sabians worshiped the moon–is also questionable.  He passes this off as undisputed fact, when in fact scholars–both Islamic and Western–are not exactly sure who or what the Sabeans/Sabians worshiped.  This is not surprising, considering that it is not even accepted who exactly the Sabeans/Sabians were!

As for his third point, Morey tries to invoke the Quran as proof of his argument, saying:

The Sabeans had an astral religion in which they worshiped the heavenly bodies.  The moon was viewed as a male deity and the sun as the female deity.  Together they produced other deities such as the stars.  The Quran refers to this in Sura 41:37 and elsewhere.

In fact, verse 41:37 (and the surrounding passage in which it is contained in) says nothing at all about the Sabeans/Sabians.  The Sabians are only mentioned three times in the Quran: in verses 2:62, 5:69, and 22:17.  In each of these three instances, no mention at all is given of any moon-god.  As for 41:37 which Morey mentioned, this verse actually is a slap on the face of the moon-god theory, as it reads:

And from among [God’s] signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon.  Do not bow down in worship to the sun or to the moon, but bow down to the God (Allah) who created them, if it is truly Him you serve.  (Quran, 41:37)

How much clearer could the Quran be?  This single verse is enough to refute the entire moon-god theory: the Quran, the holy book of Islam, categorically forbids worship of the moon.  Although this verse does indicate that moon-worship existed in pre-Islamic Arabia, it should be remembered that (1) the moon was but one of many objects the pagan Arabs worshiped and (2) the Quran categorically rejected and forbade such worship.  Allah was not the moon according to Islamic theory; rather, He created the moon, along with the sun, the stars, and everything else.

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In addition to 41:37 above, there are other verses along the same lines–verses that show clearly that the Quran teaches that the sun and the moon are merely creations of God (Allah) and not God (Allah) the Creator:

Your Lord is God (Allah), who created the heavens and earth in six Days, then established Himself on the throne; He makes the night cover the day in swift pursuit; He created the sun, moon, and stars to be subservient to His command; all creation and command belong to Him. Exalted be God, Lord of all the worlds!  (Quran, 7:54)

It is He (God) who made the sun a lamp, and the moon a light. (Quran, 10:5)

It is God (Allah) who raised up the heavens with no visible supports and then established Himself on the throne; He has subjected the sun and the moon each to pursue its course for an appointed time; He regulates all things… (Quran, 13:2)

It is He (Allah) who created night and day, the sun and the moon, each floating in its orbit.  (Quran, 21:33)

Not only does the Quran say that Allah created the moon, but it also says that He will basically destroy it on Judgment Day:

When is the Day of Resurrection?  (Say:) When the eyes are dazzled, and the moon becomes dark, and the sun and the moon are fused together, then on that Day will man exclaim: “Where can I escape?” (Quran, 75:6-10)

The Hour draws near and the moon is rent asunder. (Quran, 54:1)

In yet another passage, one of God’s prophets–Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic)–explicitly rejects moon-worship after he notices that the moon sets:

When the night grew dark over him [Abraham] saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord,’ but when it set, he said, ‘I do not like things that set.’  And when he saw the moon rising he said, ‘This is my Lord,’ but when it too set, he said, ‘If my Lord does not guide me, I shall be one of those who go astray.’  Then he saw the sun rising and cried, ‘This is my Lord! This is greater.’ But when the sun set, he said, ‘My people, I disown all that you worship beside God (Allah). I have turned my face as a true believer towards Him who created the heavens and the earth. I am not one of the polytheists.’ (Quran, 6:77-78)

Another one of God’s prophets, Joseph, has a divine dream which involves the moon (along with the stars and the sun) bowing down to him which would make no sense if Muslims understood the moon as God (God does not bow to His creation):

Joseph said to his father, “Father, I dreamed of eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them all bow down before me.” (Quran, 12:4)

The moon (along with the earth, the sun, the stars, and everything else in the universe) bows down in worship to God (Allah):

Do you not see that everything in the heavens and the earth bow down in worship to God (Allah): the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, and the animals? (Quran, 22:18)

The moon not only submits itself to God, but God made the moon subservient to humankind (and therefore the moon cannot be God, since humans are subservient to God–not the other way around):

It is God (Allah) who created the heavens and the earth, who has sent down water from the sky and with it brought forth produce to nourish you.  He has made ships subservient to you, sailing the sea by His command, and the rivers as well.  He made the sun and the moon subservient to you, constant in their courses.  He has made the night and the day subservient to you… (Quran, 14:32-33)

By his command, [God] has made the night and the day, the sun, moon, and stars all subservient to you. (Quran, 16:12)

The Quran explains that God created the moon to help humans calculate the months of the year and to make a calendar:

They ask you about the crescent moons.  Say: “They are time-marks for the people and help determine the time of Hajj (pilgrimage).”  (Quran, 2:189)

[God] made the sun and the moon for reckoning time. (Quran, 6:96)

An interesting factoid would be worthwhile to mention here: did you know that the English word month comes from moon?  AstronomyOnline explains:

Phases and Time:

The Moon has played a vital role in the formation of our Calendar. The word “month” comes from a root word “moon” or “moonth,” the time it takes the Moon to go from New Moon to New Moon.

It seems like the Quran’s understanding of the moon is pretty spot-on: the moon helps calculate the months of the year.

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There are other Quranic verses that could be cited, but for brevity’s sake (since I’ve always been known for brevity) let’s move on to the next point…

Update I: Page II has been published.