THE CLAIM THAT JEWS AND THE CHRISTIANS
REJECTED ALLAH AS A FALSE DIETY
The argument that lays the floor work for the people that argue that Allah is a pre-Islamic pagan deity known and worshipped as the moon-god is their claim that Allah was alien to the Jews and the Christians and they rejected Him as a false deity. We find in Robert Morey’s The Moon-god In the Archaeology of The Middle East, p. 1
“The religion of Islam has as its focus of worship a deity by the name of “Allah.” The Muslims claim that Allah in pre-Islamic times was the biblical God of the Patriarchs, prophets, and apostles. The issue is thus one of continuity. Was “Allah” the biblical God or a pagan god in ‘Arabia during pre-Islamic times? The Muslim’s claim of continuity is essential to their attempt to convert Jews and Christians for if “Allah” is part of the flow of divine revelation in Scripture, then it is the next step in biblical religion. Thus we should all become Muslims. But, on the other hand, if Allah was a pre-Islamic pagan deity, then its core claim is refuted.”
The first problem is that the above statement implies that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and in continuation, the Muslims are trying to sell the Jews and the Christians a lie by saying that Allah is the God mentioned within their scriptures. This opinion is demonstrated further in his next statement:
“Muhammad attempted to have it both ways. To the pagans, he said that he still believed in the Moon-god Allah. To the Jews and the Christians, he said that Allah was their God too. But both the Jews and the Christians knew better and that is why they rejected his god Allah as a false god.”
The above sentence is combined with two blatant lies. The first being that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was trying to convince the pagans he worshpped what they worshipped. We know this claim to be false for many reasons as we will refute shortly. The second false claim is that the Jews and the Christians rejected Allah as a false god. Our main focus will be on refuting this false premise.
DID MUHAMMAD TRY TO PLEASE THE PAGANS?
It is very easy to prove that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ rejected the idolatrous worship in Arabia and that the Makkan pagans actually rejected Allah. This can be witnessed by any sensible mind who reads the Qur’an, the Ahaadeeth, or the Biography of Muhammad, even at a basic level. Prophet Muhammad made no efforts at all to try and convince the pagans of Makkah that he worshipped what they worshipped, and just to prove this I will quote a few passages from the Qur’an.
The following passages can be found in Surat al-Kaafirun: “Say [to them] O disbelievers: I worship not what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship, and I will never worship what you worship, so to you your religion, and to me my religion” The Chapter of the Disbelivers” It is reported in the Seerah compiled by Ibn Hisham , p. 285 , also in what is said to be Ibn Ihsaq’s Sirat Rusul Allah, p. 165 that the Prophet was doing the circumbalation of the Ka’bah when al-Aswaad b. Muttalib b. Asad and Umayyah b. Khalaf approached him and said “O Muhammad, worship our Lord for some time and we will worship your Lord for sometime; if yours is better, then we will benefit from that and if ours is better you will benefit from that. It was at this moment that Surat ul-Kaafirun was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is clear from this account alone that Prophet Muhammad was not trying to please the pagans by saying we worship the same god. In fact, he made it a common practice to differ with them at nealry every turn! [Footnote, this also refutes Robert Morey’s claim in which he uses the ayah “Tales of the ancients dictated to him day and night, for this is an example of how the revelation would come down in spontanious circumstances].
DID THE JEWS AND THE CHRISTIANS REJECT ALLAH AS A FALSE DEITY?
Dr. Robert Morey also claimed in the above statement that the Jews and the Christians rejected Allah as a false god. So what name did the Arabic Bible use if it did not use Yahweh? What did the Jews and Christians of Arabia call their deity before Islam and after Islam? The olderst Syriac New Testament dating back to 465 AD [after departure], the Peshitta which is written in the native tongue of Jesus Christ, Aramaic, uses the name Alaha for God. Furthermore, the oldest Arabic Bible, the Mt Sinai Arabic Codex 151, which dates back to 867 AD also uses the name Allah for God. Just this simple fact alone is enough to destroy Dr. Robert Morey’s argument. However, let us look further into this baseless claim.
The fact of the matter is, the Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe that Allah is the true universal God. Had Allah been a pagan deity that the Jews and Christians rejected as a false deity, then surely there would have been record of this in early Jewsish, Christian-Muslim debates. It would have been recorded in the primary and secondary sources, which include the Qur’an and the Ahaadeeth, yet we find no such objections. Not from the Jews, not from the Christians, not even the pagans!
The Qur’an clearly responds to the Jewish claim regarding parts of their Torah in which they substituted:
“Woe to those who write the book with their own hands and then say ‘This is from Allah’…” Al-Qur’an Surah al-Baqarah, ayah 2:79
We can deduce from this evidence that the Jews used to forge scripture and then claim that is was directly from Allah. Firstly you need to ask why would the Jews attribute their Torah to a pre-Islamic pagan deity if they (according to Robert Morey) believed Allah to be such? Secondly, why do we not see any recorded argument from the Jews saying “We did not say this book is from Allah” in response to this ayah?
In the following ayah from the Qur’an the Jews claimed that they had made a promise to Allah not to believe in a messenger unless he showed them a sacrifice consumed by fire, they said:
“Allah took our promise not to believe in a Messenger unless he showed us a sacrifice consumed by fire.” Al-Qur’an, Surah al Imraan .3:183
We can see further from the Qur’an that the Jews and the Christians claimed to be the children of Allah:
“And both the Jews and the Christians say ‘we are the children of Allah and His loved ones…” Al-Qur’an Surat ul Maa’idah, ayah 5:18
It does not stop here as we can see the Jews using the name Allāh for their deity can be seen further in Surah 2, verse 89, where it is noted that the Jews of Madinah used to pray to Allah for victory over the pagan tribes in that residence. Concerning this verse Imaam as-Suyuti said:
“Ibn Abi Hatim narrated through Said or Ikrima from Ibn Abbas: the Jews used to pray for the Prophet ﷺ to come so they could be victorious against the Aws and the Khajaz , before he was sent. Then, Allāh sent him from amongst the ‘Arabs, but they disbelieved in him. They denied and rejected what they used to say about him. At this Muaadh Ibn Jabaal, Bishr ibn al-Bara, and Dawud ibn Salama said: “O Jews! Fear Allaah and submit! For you used to pray for victory with the coming of Muhammad when we were disbelievers, and you used to tell us that he is a Messenger soon to be sent, and you would describe him for us.” Whereupon Salaam ibn Mashkam, one from amongst the Jewish tribe of Banu Naadir, said, “He did not come to us with something we recognize, and he is not the one we used to describe and speak about before” Imaam Suyuti’s Asbaab al-Nuzuwl. from al-Itqaan fi Ulum ul-Qur’an
Imaam Suyuti also records the exact supplication the Jews used:
“Allahumma unsurna alayhim bin-nabi i.e. “O Allah please help us (be victorious) over them with the (promised) Messenger ﷺ” Imaam Suyuti’s Tafseer Jalalayn, ayah 2:89
On another occasion, the Jews were asked by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ what would they think if their main priest converted to Islam and upon hearing that they replied:
“May Allah protect him from that” Saheeh al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, No. 275
This Hadeeth is known to Dr. Robert Morey as he quoted from it on p. 61 of his book, “Winning The War Against Radical Islam,” however he has chose to ignore this evidence along with many others, as it would destroy the credibility of his thesis that Allah was alien to the Jews. Dr. Robert Morey does not want you to know that the Jews used the name Allah for their deity! He knows full well that their argument was not concerning the name of God, but, the prophet hood of Muhammad ﷺ, as the Jews only objection was with the Prophet-hood of Muhammad ﷺ.
Another example is the changing of the direction of the Qiblah. For many years, the Muslims faced towards Jerusalem for their daily prayers until Allah sent down a revelation commanding the Muslims to face the direction of the Kabah in Makkah. Ibn Ihsaaq reports that the change of direction happened one year and six months after the Holy Prophet ﷺ and the Muslims had emigrated to Madinah.
This demonstrates for us that, for so many years the Muslims prayed towards Jerusalem whilst they were in Makkah! Facing the direction of Jerusalem pleased The Jews and gave them hope that they could convert Muhammad ﷺ to Judaism. However, they had lost all hope when Muhammad ﷺ told them:
“All nations are equal before Allah, and Allah chooses whom He wishes for Prophet-hood and the distinction is not for Jews alone”
This belief would have destroyed everything the Jews stood for concerning their beliefs that only they were to be the trustees and owners of Allah’s religion, thus making them thee chosen ones. Allah shattered their delusions by revealing the command for the Muslims to change their direction to Makkah. The Jews objected to this strongly and Allah revealed the verse
“The fools among the people say ‘What has made them turn away from the direction they used to face’”
It is strange that we do not find the Jews arguing anywhere about the name Allah, but, something a lot less serious, being the direction of prayer.
The Encyclopaedia Judaica also gives us strong irrefutable evidence that the Jews in ‘Arabia did in fact use the proper name Allah for their deity. If we look up the name ‘Abdullah Yusuf, we find the following submission:
“Last of the false Messiahs to appear among the Jews of Yemen …His opponents (the Jews) mockingly named him “’Adu Allah” (“enemy of God”), a play on his name ‘Abdallah (“servant of God”). Encyclopaedia Judiaca, Vol. 2, pp. 51-53.
These evidences demonstrate that the Jews used the name Allah before and after the advent of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ declaration to his prophetic office. If there had been a problem with the usage of the name Allah, the Jews would have argued this point and such an argument would have been recorded either in the texts of the Ahadeeth or in historical documentation. However we find none. Had it been that the name Allah was pagan in origin, then the Jews would have strongly objected based on the ruling in the “Torah” which states that one should not utter any name of any false god (Bible, Exodus 23:13).
We clearly see from the evidences that Allah was indeed the Jewish Deity, however, what about the Christians?
The Christians also raised many objections against Islam but we find it was never once about the name Allah. It is reported that the Christians of Najran listened attentively to Mughirah Ibn Shubah (may Allah be well pleased with him) reciting the verses of the Qur’an that relate to Mary (peace and blessings be upon her) and the birth of Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) After hearing the recitation of the Qur’an they objected to Mary being referred to as “O sister of Aaron” accusing Prophet Muhammad ﷺ of Anachronism.
They never objected to the passages which quote baby Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying
“Indeed I am a servant of Allah (‘Abdullah).”
The Christian king Negus had these very same verses recited to him and he made no objections in regards to the name Allah either.
Let us also recall the sixty Christian riders from Najran who came to to hold a face to face dialogue with Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). They had many disagreements with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ but Allah being the true name for God was never one of them. They were refuted for their notion of Trinity in a very clear cut manner, the very verse that says “wa la taquwlu thalatha” i.e. “do not say three” – “innama al maseehu ‘isaabn maryam rasoolullahi” i.e. “Jesus the Messiah, son of Mary is only a Messenger of Allah” (S.4:171).
Note here that we fail to find one Christian in any historical account who says “Wait a minute, hold it right there! You said ‘Rasoolullah’! Allah is not God’s name! You must have it confused, why are you saying Jesus is the Messenger of the moon-god?” In fact, we find in the Qur’an and other historical documents the Christians argued that Jesus was Allah, and they still use this very argument to this day. Furthermore, one of the Christians had the name ‘Abdullah i.e. servant of Allah, and he may have been born well before Muhammad’s (peace and blessing be upon him) declaration to Prophet-hood. Ibn Ihsaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah by Alfred Guillaume, Oxford University Press, pgs. 270-277
Likewise, we find no objections from the pagans!
Had Allah been a pre-Islamic pagan deity housed inside of the Kabah, then the pagans of Makkah would have been the first to object to the idea that Allah was the same God that the Jews and the Christians worshipped. They would have been the first to argue that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the Jews and the Christians. They would have jumped to this chance to call Prophet Muhammad ﷺ an imposter, a liar. This would have been the perfect oppurtunity for the pagans to disprove Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ beliefs, especially in the court of Negus, as mentioned before. However these arguments are conspicuously absent from the texts of the Qur’an and the Ahadeeth, or any historical documentation.
Overall, these few examples demonstrate that even though the Jews, Christians and the pagans made objections, they shared a common belief in Allah as being the true universal God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Dr. Robert Morey confirms that the only challenge to the Qur’an that the infidels put forth was the claim that the Qur’an is just a bunch of tales from the ancients:
“But the unbelievers say, “This is nothing but a lie which he has forged, and other have helped him do it …Tales of the ancients, which he has caused to be written; and they are dictated before him morning and evening” Qur’an S.25:4-5
However look more closely at this claim for Dr. Robert Morey says:
“The authors of the Qur’an assumed that everyone already knew of these things and thus no explanation was needed” Winning The War Against Radical Islam p. 5
Dr. Robert Morey further documents on pgs 7-8 of this said work, that the Qur’an is composed of Jewish and Christian myths. Notice very closely that there was no objection was from the infidels claiming that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had transformed their pagan deity to the God of the Jews and the Christians. Reason being is that the pagans already believe that Allah, the supreme God of the universe was the same God that the Jews and the Christians worshipped. This is clearly seen from the following ayah from the Qur’an:
“Say: ‘Who provides you from the sky and the earth? Or who owns his hearing and sight? And who brings out the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?’ They [the pagans] will say ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘Will you not then be afraid of Allah’s punishment [for setting up partners with Allah].” Surah 10 ayah 31
This understanding is also seen in Imaam Muwaafaq ud-Deen’s lum’at ul-I’tiqaad:
The Holy Prophet ﷺ said to Hussain: “How many deities do you worship?” He replied: “Seven! Six in the earth and one in the heavens” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ then asked him another question: “Which one do you turn to when you feel frightened or terrified or have a need to be fulfilled?” The man said: “He who is in the heavens” So the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Abandon the six and worship He who is in the heavens and I will teach you two supplications” Upon hearing this from the Messenger of Allah the man then embraced Islam and learnt from the Holy Prophet ﷺ the following supplication: “O Allah inspire me and guide me and protect me from the evilness of my soul” Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitaab ud-Da’awaah, hadeeth no. 3483. The whole quotation of this paragraph is found in the classical text Lum’at ul-I’tiqaad p. 45, translated by Andrew Sanders, Saladin Publishing 2009
Therefore it is clearly seen that the pagan ‘Arabs did believe Allah to be the true universal diety “The one in the heavens” and none of them ever understood Allah to be a stone pagan deity housed in the Ka’bah. Although, they “believed” in Allah, their disbeleief was due to associating partners to Him. Robert Morey wants to lead you to believe that Allah was once a stone deity. However it is clear from the evidence I have presented that Allah is the God of the Jews Christians and they had no objections to that.
THE EARLY CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM DEBATES
In a previous disscssion, Robert Morey accused me of making a factual error when I posed the question “why has no objection been made by the Jews and the Christians of Arabia in regards to the name of Allah?” instead of answering the question, he replied by saying:
“You have committed a factual error in that you do not know the early debates between Christians and Muslims where the name “Allah” was rejected as pagan.”
The book that Robert Morey refers to is an edited version of The early Christian-Muslim dialogue by al-Kindi `Abd al-Masih ibn Ishaq. This is best known as “The Apology of al-Kindi” and it documents an early Muslim-Christian debate in which letters were exchanged between a Muslim theologian and ‘Abd ul-Maseeh al-Kindi. This text has been tranlsted from the ‘Arabic manuscript
[Risaalah ‘Abdullah Bin Isma’el al-Hashimy ilaa ‘Abdul-Maseeh Bin Ihsaaq al-Kindi. This text can be downloaded at http://www.jesus-for-all.net/hewar_adyan/pdf_266.pdf ] by Sir William Muir in 1880 and N. A. Newman later edited the English of this text adding a few comments of his own. Robert Morey has refered to this book in his “The moon-god in the Archeaology of the Middle East” on page 13.
So what do we learn from this book?
Firstly, al-Kindi uses the Arabic basmalah which Arabic speaking Jews, Christians and Muslims commonly did. This is to begin the book in Allah’s name by saying “Bismillahi” i.e. In the name of Allah.
“The reply of al-Kindi is introduced thus… The Christian [al-Kindi] answered him [the Muslim scholar he was debating] In the name of God the Merciful” which in the original Arabic manuscript of this apology is “Bismillah ar-Rahmaan arRaheem” [See the apology of al-Kindi translated by Sir William Muir, p. 16 and the Arabic text Risaalah ‘Abdullah Bin Isma’el al-Hashimy ilaa ‘Abdul-Maseeh Bin Ihsaaq al-Kindi The Arabic can be clearly seen at http://www.jesus-for-all.net/hewar_adyan/pdf_266.pdf on p. 41]
Not only this, but we find al-kindi prefixing the name Allah with the ‘Arabic word “ta’alaa” which translates into English as “The Almighthy” so along along al-Kindi is saying Allah the Almighty. Even the Biblical quotes that al-Kindi utilizes contain the name Allah as the name for his supreme deity. This factor destroys Robert Morey’s claim that Allah was rejected as a pagan deity. This really does tear apart his claim that:
“The Jews and Christians… rejected… Allah as a false god” The moon-god in the Archeaology of the Middle East” p. 13.
Especially given the fact Robert Morey then goes on to quote from al-Kindi directly after this statement. This only demonstrates that Robert Morey has not carefully read the text in English, let alone ‘Arabic. Let us look at how he quotes al-Kindi to his own little agenda:
“Al-Kindi, one of the early Christian apologists against Islam, pointed out that Islam and its god Allah did not come from the Bible but from the paganism of the Sabeans.” The moon-god in the Archeaology of the Middle East, By Robert A. Morey, p. 13
Robert Morey wants us to believe that al-Kindi is suggesting that Allah is a pagan deity who is unknown to the Bible, however we have successfully demolished this claim with overwhelming factual evidence. However, let us see what Sir William Muir undertstands from al-Kindi’s statement:
“His friend [Al-Hishamy] had invited him to embrace the Hanyfite, faith of Abraham, their common father. Our Apologist answers that the Hanyfite faith was in reality the idolatrous religion of the Sabeans, which the patriarch professed before his conversion to the worship of the one true God.” The Apology of Al-Kindy, 2nd Edition, page 41
We see from Sir William Muir’s commentary that Al-Kindy alleges that the Hanifite faith of Islam, i.e. the Abrahamic faith, stems from the paganism of the Sabeans, then, he further alleges that Abraham was of this idolatrous religion until he turned in his worship to the one true God. He is not saying Allah is a pagan deity, he is saying that Abraham used to worship pagan deities before his “conversion”.
In Islam we know this to be untrue as the Qur’an clearly states that Abraham was never one of the idolaters in many places, as the Qur’an says “Wa maa kaana minal mushrikeen – He [Abrahama was not one of the pagans”
I would like the readers to take note what Sir William Muir writes in the footnote to this point:
“But the only argument in this passage as to the propriety of circulating or translating which I have doubts is that in which he asserts the Hanyfite religion of Abraham to have been, not the Catholic faith of the Unity (as is clearly intended in the Coran) , but Sabean idolatry. To support this view, our Author twists texts of the Coran…Mahometan readers will with reason object to such misrepresentation of their Scripture.” Ibid page 43.
Please take special care in noticing how Sir William Muir freely admits that he, himself, doubts what al-Kindi has asserted regarding the alleged paganism of Abraham, due to Al-Kindi’s deliberate twisting and misrepresentation and cherrypicking of the Qur’an to deceive the readers into arriving at his own concocted conclusion that Abraham was formerly a pagan. [He uses the ayah’s from the Qur’an 6:74-82, however it must be understood clearly that Abraham was making an example to his people in order to lead them to the One true God and he was never one of the mushrikeen as proven in Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 135]
Therefore the integrity of Al-Kindi is questioned, not by the Muslim but by a Christian Missionary. Al-Kindi only alleged that Abraham was formerly a pagan and attempted to cherrypick ayahs from the Qur’an to prove his case. How then has Robert Morey managed to derive without any hard solid evidence to back up his theory that somehow al-Kindi has implied that Allah was the Sabean Moon-god? Robert Morey’s referral to the early Christian and Muslim debates has failed dismally, and the evidence i against his thesis, not with his thesis.
Robert Morey’s deceptive style of quotation does not stop here as he then tries to conclude from the evience we just refuted that Dr. Newman concludes his study of the early Christian-Muslim debates by stating:
“Islam proved itself to be…a separate and antagonistic religion which had sprung up from idolatry.” moon-god booklet, p.13
However, Dr Newman actually wrote:
“The first three centuries of the Christian-Muslim dialogue to a great degree moulded the form of the relationship which was to prevail between the two faiths afterward. During this period, Islam proved itself to be less a wayward sect of the “Hagarenes,” from a Christian perspective, and more a separate and antagonistic religion which had sprung up from idolatry. ” N. A. Newman (Ed.), The Early Christian-Muslim Dialogue: A Collection Of Documents From The First Three Islamic Centuries (632 – 900 A.D.) Translations With Commentary, 1993, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute: Hatfield (PA), p. 719.
Dr Robert Morey conveniently left out that the idea that Islam originating from paganism is from a Christian perspective i.e. this is a point of view, and does not serve as evidence, nor does it have any citations to even strengthen this bias Christian perspective. Unfortunately, Dr Robert Morey has misunderstood and misused the evidences al-Kindi to form baseless assumptions and misinterpretation of what the text actually says. Once again, we are to find this unscrupulousness all too common when it comes to Dr. Morey’s “truthful” integrity and “careful” scholarship.