Tawil on Pavlovitch 1 and Reply 1

1. Comments

by Dr. Hashim Al-Tawil (Oakland Community College, Farmington Hills, MI, USA; hmaltawi@occ.cc.mi.usa; hmaltawil@att.net) on Pavel Pavlovitch's Article "Qad kunna la na'budu 'llaha wa-la na'rifuhu. On the Problem of the Pre-Islamic Lord of the Ka'ba." (Tuesday, 11 Jan. 2000.)

2. Response

by Dr. Pavlovitch (Sofia University, Bulgaria; pavlovitch@iname.com). (Thursday, 13 Jan. 2000)

(Some minor editorial changes have been made by the editors.)

 


1. HASHIM AL-TAWIL

I have tentatively reviewed Dr. Pavlovitch "On the Problem of the Pre-Islamic Lord of the Ka`ba" and have gathered some initial thoughts about the interpretations ofآ  Hubal in the article. I think that the concept that Allah is pre-Islamic Hubal is highly ambivalent and unfounded. To this end I would like to mention a few remarks that might assist in reconstructing the definition of this deity "Hubal". There are a few slight inaccurate Arabic translations of some words in verses and texts in the article that can change the meaning of the relevant statement. I can send a list of these words if desired.

a. The definition and use of the term-statements "Rabb al-Bayt": Lord (head) of the House, "Rabb al-Manzil": Lord (head) of the House (Mansion), "Rabb al-`A'ilah": Lord (head) of the Family, "Rabb al-'Usrah": Lord (head) of the House have the same meaning. That is the head of the family and in other situations the head of the city, the territory and the state. The terms "Rabb al-`A'ilah" and "Rabb al-'Usrah" are still used in the Arab world and convey exactly the same pre-Islamic definition. In government records and statistic information you find the term "Rabb al-`A'ilah" and "Rabb al-'Usrah" to designate the head of the family who is usually the male, the father.

a. The term "Rabbat al-Bayt" is also used to designate the wife as second in command after the husband, "Rabb al-Bayt". This definition has been in use in the Arab world since the pre-Islamic period through to the present time. In both cases the term Rabb and Rabbat do not imply any exaltation or deification.

a. Hubal can not be assumed to have been the sole lord of the Ka`ba in pre-Islamic times, and cannot be assumed to have had the status of "Allah". Interestingly enough, Hubal's presence was not as strong as Allat or al-`Uzza. Mohammed himself was not concerned with the cult of Hubal as much as with Allat, al-`Uzza, and Manat.

a. If the "sanam" of Hubal which occupied the Ka`ba in Mecca represented the image and the "deity" Allah, then why did Mohammed destroy it. He couldآ  easily have spared the statue and justified it as the image of Allah.

b. The "Ahnaf" of pre-Islamic Arabia were fully aware of the Ibrahimic (monotheistic) religion that Mohammed resumed in the form of Islam. They, the "Ahnaf" and the contemporaneous inhabitants of Arabia, were aware of the concept of Allah as the supreme God and of the fact that Hubal, Allat, al-`Uzza, Manat, and the other deities were but man-made mediators between human beings and God.

c. Finally I would like to present an excerpt from my Ph.D. dissertation "Early Arab Icons: Literary and Archaeological Evidence for the Cult of Religious Images in Pre-Islamic Arabia" (University of Iowa, 1993) related directly to Hubal with some details concerning this sanam that might shed more light on the concept and the definition of this idol.
آ 

Hubal was a deity worshipped at Mecca, who held an extremely important position in the ancient Arabian pantheon. A cornelian statue of Hubal stood inside the Ka`ba at Mecca and was in the form of a massive male figure. His cult involved divination and forecasting of future events.

The origin of the word "HBL" is uncertain. It may mean "fat", "fleshy" or "heavy". It has been suggested that Hubal is a later version of the Mesopotamian deity Ba`l, whose cult must have traveled into the Sinai and was called Ba'lu and Hab`al. This hypothesis is further supported by the fact that despite the preeminence of Hubal's cult at Mecca, he is never mentioned in the Qur'an. But instead, a mention of Ba`al is found: "Do you invoke Ba`al and discount the best creator (God)."

The tribe of Kalb, who dwelt in the Syrian Desert, used Hubal in proper names and in clan names, as is the case with Hubal ibn `Abdullah ibn Kinanah al-Kalbi.

Hubal is mentioned in a Nabataean inscription along with Dusares and Manat. This inscription is dated to the year 1 A. D. or B. C. and [is] still in situ at al-Hijr (Mada'in Salih) in northeast Saudi Arabia. Another Nabataean inscription dated to 5 A. D. mentions the name of the builder of a tomb "Ben-hobal," [that is], Ibn Hubal, meaning son of Hubal. As a deity, The name Hubal is found only in North Arabian inscriptions.

According to Ibn al-Kalbi and others, Khuzaymah ibn Mudrikah ibn al-Ya's ibn Mudhar erected the statue of Hubal inside the Ka`ba at Mecca. Therefore it was called the idol (sanam) of Khuzaymah. In front of the statue there were seven divination arrows. It was before the statue of Hubal that we are introduced to an analogous legend on the line of Abraham's sacrifice. `Abd al-Muttalib, grandfather of the Prophet Mohammed, shuffled the divination arrows in order to find out which of his ten children he should sacrifice in fulfillment of a vow. The arrow pointed to his son Abdullah, father of Mohammed. Ibn Ishaq relates that `Abd al-Muttalib held his son `Abdullah with a knife in his hand and went to the statues of Isaf and Na'ilah to execute the sacrifice. The Qurayshites deterred him, arguing that his act would establish a precedent that other Arabs might follow.

On the eve of the battle of "Badr" in 623, between the Qurayshites and the Prophet, the Qurayshites consulted the statue of Hubal to foretell the result of the war. Zaid ibn `Amr ibn Nufayl, a pre-Islamic Hanifi, recorded in a poem his intention to abandon the worship of all idols including Hubal: "Nor do I pay visit to [the icon of] Hubal and adore it, although it was our God (Rabb) when I was young."

In 624 at the battle called "Uhud", the war cry of the Qurayshites was, "O people of `Uzza, people of Hubal." By the end of that war, the victorious Abu Sufyan cried: "O Hubal be exalted, O Hubal be exalted." The Prophet answered him: "God is the highest and the most exalted."

According to al-Azraqi the cult of Hubal was well organized inside the Ka`ba at Mecca. A custodian guarded the statue, received the offerings and sacrifices and conducted future-forecasting to pilgrims. The arrows of divination that were associated with the cult of Hubal are mentioned in a poem that was customarily recited upon approaching the statue:

"We have disagreed, so grant us solution. Three, O Hubal, explicit matters, Death, apology and marriage. Caring the sick and the healthy, If you do not say it then order the arrows."

As was the case with Allat at Ta'if, when a Meccan returned from travelling he would circumambulate the Ka`ba and pay a thanksgiving visit to Hubal before rejoining his family.

Most references attribute the origin of the statue of Hubal to "Ma'ab" in Syria but al-Azraqi alone claims that `Amr ibn Luhayy brought it from Hit in Iraq. He erected the statue by the well on the right side of the entrance of the Ka`ba. The well, about three yards deep, was thought to have been dug by the prophet Abraham to receive the offerings brought to the Ka`ba.

The life-size statue of Hubal was a sculpture in the round made of cornelian in the form of a standing man with the right hand broken off, which the Qurayshites restored by replacing it with a golden hand. In 610 when the Meccans rebuilt the Ka`ba, the statue of Hubal was removed and set beside the Ka`ba. After the rebuilding was completed, the statue was returned to its place.

We know that several mural paintings existed inside the Ka`ba. One of which represented Abraham depicted as an old man holding arrows. The connection between the cult of Hubal involving arrow divination and the narrative painting is not totally clear, but the original broken hand of the statue could likely have held arrows.

References to the events surrounding the destruction of the statue of Hubal are vague and general. In 630 A. D. the Prophet Mohammed reentered Mecca and destroyed the supposed 360 standing statues in and around the Ka`ba. It is reported that he did not enter the sanctuary until all images were removed and all paintings were erased except a narrative of the Madonna which he protected.

Aside from the few inscriptions which mention Hubal, no significant archaeological find has yet substantiated the cult of this deity. It is interesting to mention that around the second decade of this century, C. Doughty reported that at Ta'if he was introduced to the remains of what was believed to have been a statue of Hubal (Fig. 38). Due to its damaged condition and questionable authenticity this 5 to 6 foot broken granite rock does not help in telling us much about the actual appearance of Hubal. Since archaeological investigation has not been undertaken in Mecca, the confirmation of the literary information awaits further visual evidence


2. PAVEL PAVLOVITCH

The letter [of Dr. Hashim Al-Tawil] was very interesting for me, but I have to say that the question about Hubal is not the primary topic of my article. What I am trying to discuss is the plausibility of the Islamic assumption that Allah was the lord of Ka'ba during the Jahiliyya. The information about Hubal presented by Dr. At-Tawil is very interesting indeed, but it does not imply any new information relevant to my article. Please, find my additional comments in the body of the letter marked with "PP" [ and Dr. Al-Tawil's text marked with "HT"]. In view of this I would not make any changes to the article.

HT

I have tentatively reviewed Dr. Pavlovitch "On the Problem of the Pre-Islamic Lord of the Ka`ba" and have gathered some initial thoughts about the interpretations ofآ  Hubal in the article. I think that the concept that Allah is pre-Islamic Hubal is highly ambivalent and unfounded. To this end I would like to mention a few remarks that might assist in reconstructing the definition of this deity "Hubal". There are a few slight inaccurate Arabic translations of some words in verses and texts in the article that can change the meaning of the relevant statement. I can send a list of these words if desired.

a. The definition and use of the term-statements "Rabb al-Bayt": Lord (head) of the House, "Rabb al-Manzil": Lord (head) of the House (Mansion), "Rabb al-`A'ilah": Lord (head) of the Family, "Rabb al-'Usrah": Lord (head) of the House have the same meaning. That is the head of the family and in other situations the head of the city, the territory and the state. The terms "Rabb al-`A'ilah" and "Rabb al-'Usrah" are still used in the Arab world and convey exactly the same pre-Islamic definition. In government records and statistic information you find the term "Rabb al-`A'ilah" and "Rabb al-'Usrah" to designate the head of the family who is usually the male, the father.

a. The term "Rabbat al-Bayt" is also used to designate the wife as second in command after the husband, "Rabb al-Bayt". This definition has been in use in the Arab world since the pre-Islamic period through to the present time. In both cases the term Rabb and Rabbat do not imply any exaltation or deification.

PP

I think the point here is that the term "rabb" is relevant to two basic semantic fields--the field of secular terminology (exaltation) and the field of religious concepts (deification). As far as the first semantic field is concerned, Ibn Manzur states: "wa-qad qaluhu [rabb, P.P.] fi 'l-jahiliyya li-l-malik [short alif and ya', P.P.]" (Lisan al-'arab, r-b-b), thus implying that the term was indeed used to designate exalted people. In addition "rabb" means "lord", "possessor", etc., which imply a kind of hierarchy between the possessor and the possessed. In the religious field, if the term "does not imply any exaltation or deification", the question stands why Allah is called "rabb" in a number of instances meant to glorify Him, for instance "rabbu 's-samawati wa-l-'ard", "rabbu 'l-'alamin", etc.

HT

a. Hubal can not be assumed to have been the sole lord of the Ka`ba in pre-Islamic times, and cannot be assumed to have had the status of "Allah". Interestingly enough, Hubal's presence was not as strong as Allat or al-`Uzza. Mohammed himself was not concerned with the cult of Hubal as much as with Allat, al-`Uzza, and Manat.

PP

I do not assume Hubal to have been the "sole lord of the Ka'ba". In my article I only say that there is a lot of source data, which could lead to the conclusion that Hubal and al-'Uzza played major roles in the pre-Islamic Meccan sanctuary. Yes, there may have been other deities claiming that role, and I do not exclude this possibility. In the conclusion of the article I say the following: "As for the pre-Islamic Lord of the Ka'ba, only tentative conjectures can be made. Our sources definitely show the importance of Hubal and al-'Uzza before Islam. Yet to what extent these reports can be trusted remains to be studied. Both Hubal and al-'Uzza, as well as other deities, were highly venerated at Mecca, but the extant data is insufficient to tell whether they were deemed lords of the Ka'ba." I think it is clear from this passage that I do not view Hubal as the sole lord of the Ka'ba.

HT

a. If the "sanam" of Hubal which occupied the Ka`ba in Mecca represented the image and the "deity" Allah, then why did Mohammed destroy it. He couldآ  easily have spared the statue and justified it as the image of Allah.

PP

And thus he would have justified the old heathenism. The main emphasis of the monotheistic religion is to sever the shirk (ASSOCIATION) tie between man and his deity. The God of monotheism is transcendent, and Islam being a pure monotheistic cult wouldآ  never have tolerated any kind of anthroposophy, which it discerns in Christian icons and other cultic images.

HT

b. The "Ahnaf" of pre-Islamic Arabia were fully aware of the Ibrahimic (monotheistic) religion that Mohammed resumed in the form of Islam. They, the "Ahnaf" and the contemporaneous inhabitants of Arabia, were aware of the concept of Allah as the supreme God and of the fact that Hubal, Allat, al-`Uzza, Manat, and the other deities were but man-made mediators between human beings and God.

PP

The question of the old Abrahamic religion, which Muhammad resumed in the form of Islam is a tentative one. I do not possess any tangible source data about it. In Sirat ibn Hisham we find only vague references to a group of pious people, who decided to eschew the heathen rites of the Jahiliyya. It is remarkable that in the sequel many of them adopted either Christianity (Waraqa b. Nawfal, 'Ubayd Allah b. Jahsh, 'Uthman b. Huwayrith) or refused to worship the idols without becoming a proselyte of Judaism or Christianity as Zayd b. 'Amr (Sira, 1: 242-251). When Jawad Ali discusses the question of the "Ahnaf" he relates it to the influence of Christianity and Judaism (al-Mufassal fi ta'rikh al-'arab qabla 'l-islam, 6:449-511). As to what extent those people and the ancient Arabs were aware of the concept of Allah and the mediators remains to be seen. Most of the accounts related to that effect are subject to doubts concerning later interpolations and modifications, but this could be a subject for a whole book.

Publisert 5. feb. 2013 14:07 - Sist endret 7. nov. 2013 14:40