The beginning of Paganism in Arabia

Amar ibn Luhai Al-Khuzai was the first person to change the religion of Ismail (A), he introduced idol worshiping in Al-Ka’bah. He was also the first person to introduce superstitions. Rough estimate suggests that Luhai was from the first century of Christian Era (CE), around 500 years before the birth of Prophet Muhammad  .

He traveled to Syria where the Amalekites lived. They were a powerful civilization at that time. Luhai saw them worshiping idols and they told him that their sources of power was these idols. Whenever there was a natural disaster or a threat of enemy, they used to pray to these idols and miracle happened. So Luhai requested them to gift him one of these idols. They gave him an idol named ‘Hubal’, Luhai brought it back and put it in Al-Ka’bah. So Hubal became the very first idol of the Arabian peninsula and also the main idol of the Quraish. That is why, hundreds of years later, in the battle of Badr, when Abu Sufian thought they have won, he shouted ‘Hubal has won!’.

How can one man change the religion of Ismail (A) and Ibrahim (A)?

The question arises here that how can one man change the religion of his people? How would he convince others and why would they listen to him? Allah knows best but we can find at least three factors that might have been there.

  1. Inferiority complex : The Amalekites were a powerful nation, they had great history, big buildings, undefeated in battles etc. They were the feared nation. So Luhai felt an inferiority complex, he assumed that they must be correct in everything since they are so powerful.
  2. Reputed authority : why would his people listen to him? He was not just a simple person, he was the chieftain of the tribe Khuza’a. He was one of the most respected man of this tribe and his people loved him. That is why when he brought a theology, people followed him.
  3. Ignorance : between Luhai and Ismail (A), there have been at least 2000 years without any Prophet or guidance. Therefore ignorance prevailed and people started to deviate from the teaching of Ismail (A) and Ibrahim (A).
Simply because a nation is powerful does not mean it has the correct morality, the correct ethic, the correct theology. We need to watch for these 3 factors in our time as well, as this can have an affect on religion in modern time as well.

Spread of idols

When the descendants of Ismail (A) became too numerous to live all in the same valley of Makkah, some went to settle elsewhere. Those who went elsewhere took with them stones from the holy precinct to worship it.

Also, whenever a caravan left Makkah, they would take a rock from the wall and treat is as an equivalent to an idol. As the time passed, during the time of pilgrimage, the pilgrims started bringing their own idols to Makkah. These idols were kept in the vicinity of Ka’bah.

Muslims do not consider the bricks or the wall of the Ka’bah to be holy – it is the location that is holy. Ka’bah is rebuilt every few decades, there is nothing holy about the structure or the silk cloth.

When the Prophet   conquered Makkah there were around 360 idols of different shapes and sizes inside Ka’bah. Some were of human shape, others of animal shape but most of the idols were shaped as half human and half animal.

Also, they had this theology that Allah had daughters and the angles were the daughters and therefore the used to worship angels as well.

They did not have a unified creed, some would believe in something while others would believe on other things. But they all agreed to one thing – that they have to worship these idols to be able to come closer to Allah (S).

The content of this page was compiled from video lectures on the Seerah of the Prophet Muhamamd (PBUH) by Yasir Qadhi. The video can be found here.