Christians who try to claim that the word Allah (Arabic: الله) is the name of the moon god are influenced by the writings of Dr. Robert Morey, who wrote as such in his book The Islamic Invasion, alleging that a statue at Hazor represents Allah. Regardless, they (and Dr. Morey included) are playing a silly game. It should be noted right from the start that the writings of Dr. Morey are nothing more than the thoughts of a mid-Western, creationist closet-fascist that were not originally intended for a wide audience.
“He it is who cleaves out the morning, and makes the night a repose, and the sun and the moon two reckonings (of Time). That is the decree of the Mighty, the Wise.” [Qur’an 6:97]
For years the Christian missionaries have been entertaining the idea that “Allah” of the Qur’an was, in fact, Allah the moon god of the Kaaba and a pagan Arab “moon god” of pre-Islamic times. This theory was first popularised by a fanatical, mid-Western closet-fascist polemicist by the name of Dr Robert Morey, of which his deceptive methods have already been exposed in the past.
The following page is found in “Appendix C: The Moon God And Archaelogy” from Morey’s The Islamic Invasion and lies at the heart of the missionary propaganda today1:
Naturally the missionaries get very excited at the idea of anything that has the “potential” of demeaning Islam and lifted (or should we say, plagiarised) this claim of Morey. This “theory” later became widespread and gained notoriety among gullible Christians, so much so that Jack T. Chick, another Christian polemicist, drew a fictionalised racist cartoon story entitled “Allah Has No Son”. More examples of this opportunistic propaganda being repeated at various missionary websites all over the WWW  could also be found.
We have previously discussed the word “Allah” from an etymological perspective, as well as having shown how the word “Allah” is consistently translated as “Elohim” in a Hebrew translation of the Qur’an. It is obvious that these “pseudo-scholars” have no idea about what they are dealing with, much less understand the subject matter.
Therefore, our intention here to expose the ignorance these missionaries have about one of the best-known objects from Israel/Palestine and is now currently on exhibition in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The findings in this paper has also been incorporated in Islamic Awareness‘ latest publication, Reply to Robert Morey’s Moon-God Allah Myth: A Look At The Archaeological Evidence, of which this author is one of the co-writers.
The Shrine At Hazor (Area C)
It is known among Near Eastern archeological circles that the statue which the missionaries claim to be the “moon-god Allah” (as parroted from Robert Morey) comes from the ruins of Hazor (Area C), a very prominent bronze-age city in Galilee (in present-day Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories) and belongs to a shrine, 4.75 x 3.4 m in size, furnished with an offering table, a lion orthostat, the statue in question, and ten stelae, all made from regional black basalt.2
The shrine is described as follows:
At Hazor, a small shrine in Area C of the Lower City probably served families residing nearby. It comprised a single broad room and was built on the inner slope of the Middle Bronze Age rampart. A row of eleven stelae was erected in this room-the central one of which was carved in relief, depicting two hands in prayer posture below a moon-and-crescent symbol. The shrine included also a miniature relief of a crouching lion, a statue of a sitting male figure (possibly depicting a god or a priest) and an offering table made of one stone slab.3
The central stelae show a pair of hands raised (stipulated to be in adoration) below a crescent plus circle symbol, usually considered to depict the crescent moon plus the full moon. The other stelae are plain. Therefore the whole shrine has been interpreted as referring to the moon-cult.
Description of The Hazor Statue
It is without a shadow of a doubt that Robert Morey has attempted to present the Hazor statue as “the moon god”. Note the following description of Diagram #1 by Morey:
- “The Moon god on all four sides…”
Now let us focus on discussing the object itself4, which is currently being fawned upon by the rabid Christian missionaries and paraded by them as the “moon god idol, Allah.
The statue — 40 cm in height — depicts a male person with an inverted crescent suspended from his necklace and holding a cup in his right hand, certainly as an offering.
The statue was found decapitated, and the head was discovered lying on a floor at a lower level. It depicts a man, possibly a priest, seated on a cubelike stool. He is beardless with a shaven head; his skirt ends below his knees in an accentuated hem; his feet are bare. He holds a cup in his right hand, while his left, clenched into a fist, rests on his left knee. An inverted crescent is suspended from his necklace.5
Pictures and descriptions of the shrine and the statue may be found in virtually every comprehensive publication on the archaeology of Israel/Palestine.6
Is this statue, therefore, the “Allah” of the Muslims? The answer is an obvious no. The statue is not even an “idol” at all — it does not represent any deity, but a human worshipper or priest of a deity which may well have been a Canaanite moon god.7 The statue is also described in a caption as a “Basalt statue of deity or king from the stelae temple”.8
But one is compelled to ask, was the decapitation of the head of the statue intentional or otherwise and if so, what was its significance?
This was addressed by Beth Alpert Nakhai as follows:
A decapitated basalt statue of a seated man, his head lying nearby, was also found in the niche. This statue resembled the decapitated statue from the Orthostat Temple and again the intentional beheading is considered indicative of the individual’s special status….9
It should be noted that there are indeed dissenting opinions among scholars as to the nature of the statue, of which the more popular opinions are (a) a god, (b) a king, or (c) a priest.10
But to the scholars who reject opinion (a), it seems illogical that a god should hold offering vessels in his hand(s); the god is usually the one who receives offerings, therefore the statue should, in all probability depict a worshipper to a god, who himself is in a way considered present, either invisibly or in the upright stones (stelae) of the sanctuary.
Further, how could a god’s statue be arranged anywhere but in the centre of the sanctuary? The statue in question is seated at the left fringes of the shrine, which can hardly be the proper position for a revered god.
Regardless of the differing opinions, however, certainly no serious scholar — including those who considered the possibility that it could be a god — has ever identified the statue with Allah.
It is clear that, contrary to what Robert Morey or the Christian missionaries would like to themselves admit, the figure presented as the “moon-god” is not even remotely connected to Islam, much less related to the pantheon of the pre-Islamic Arab deities in the city of Makkah and their claim is swiftly refuted by solid, overwhelming archaeological evidence.
Moreover, this figure was found in the ancient ruins of Hazor (located in present-day Israel) and is not necessarily believed to have even represented a deity.
In commenting on the issue, the Bible scholar and missionary Rick Brown admit that:
It is sometimes claimed that there is a temple to the moon god at Hazor in Palestine. This is based on a representation thereof a supplicant wearing a crescent-like pendant. It is not clear, however, that the pendant symbolizes a moon god, and in any case this is not an Arab religious site but an ancient Canaanite site, which was destroyed by Joshua in about 1250 BC.11
Thus, the contents of the Morey’s inconsequential polemic of the so-called “cult” of the moon-god, most especially the “Allah Hazor statue” polemic, have got nothing to do with serious ancient Near Eastern scholarship and should, therefore, be utterly dismissed outright by any objective person. Its obvious intention is clearly to defame Muslims and the religion of Islam — and nothing else.
We would also like to add that the findings in this paper has also been incorporated in Islamic Awareness‘ latest publication, Reply to Robert Morey’s Moon-God Allah Myth: A Look At The Archaeological Evidence, of which this author is one of the co-writers.
The paper also looks at various aspects of the propagation of the moon-god myth not covered in the scope of this article, therefore we would implore the interested readers to have a look at the paper by Islamic Awareness in order to understand how the argument that “Allah is the moon-god” is, at best, fallacious.
And only Allah knows best!
The author would like to thank Dr. Stefan J. Wimmer from the University of Munich and the Friends of Abraham Society for the help offered in obtaining information and the relevant material on the statue of Hazor. Dr. Wimmer is not associated with bismikaallahuma.org.
- Robert Morey, The Islamic Invasion: Confronting The World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (Harvest House Publishers, 1992), p. 214 [↩]
- Yigael Yadin, Hazor (Hoffman und Campe, Hamburg, 1976), pp. 44-45 [↩]
- Amihai Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (Doubleday, 1990), pp. 253-54 [↩]
- Yigael Yadin, op. cit. [↩]
- Treasures of The Holy Land: Ancient Art From The Israel Museum (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY:1986), p. 107 [↩]
- See for example Amnon Ben-Tor (ed.), The Archaeology of Ancient Israel (New Haven, London, 1992) and Ephraim Stern (ed.), The New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land, Vol 2 (The Israel Exploration Society, Carta, Jerusalem), cf. the rest of the cited scholarly works in this article (with the exception of Morey’s polemical work). [↩]
- For the worship of the moon in the Canaanite realm the most recent comprehensive treatment is Gabriele Theuer, Der Mondgott in den Religionen Syrien-Palaestinas, OBO 173, Fribourg (Switzerland), 2000 (in German). [↩]
- Michael Avi-Yonah (ed., English), Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land, Vol. II (The Israel Exploration Society and Massada Press, Jerusalem, 1976), p. 476 [↩]
- Beth Alpert Nakhai, Archaelogy and the Religions of Canaan and Israel, (American Schools of Oriental Research, 2001), p. 130 [↩]
- Yigael Yadin in Hazor (Hoffman und Campe, Hamburg, 1976) proposed all three opinions, of which he argues in favour of the first opinion, i.e. that the statue is a deity. However, he certainly neither makes mention of nor does he connect the statue to Allah. [↩]
- Rick Brown, Who Is “Allah”?, International Journal of Frontier Missions 23:2 (Summer 2006), p. 79 [↩]
Adapted from Common Questions People Ask About Islam by Shabbir Ally
Dr. Robert Morey proves in his book that Allah is the name of the moon god worshipped in Arabia before Islam. Is he right?
The book you refer to is entitled The Islamic Invasion: Confronting the World’s Fastest Growing Religion. The author, Dr. Robert Morey, sees Islam as an invasion into North America and a threat to his religious heritage. Unfortunately, Dr. Morey has resorted to dishonest tactics in combating Islam. To prove his contention that Allah is not the God of Christians and Jews, he quoted from several books in such a dishonest fashion that the quotations say the opposite of what we find in those books.
Dr. Morey quoted from the Encyclopedia Britannicato support his case. But in fact the Encyclopedia says:
Allah is the standard Arabic word for “God” and is used by Arab Christians as well as by Muslims. (Britannica, 1990 Edition, vol. 1, p. 276)
Dr. Morey also quoted from H. A. R. Gibb to support his case. But Gibb actually says the opposite. In his book Mohammedanism, Gibb says on page 26 that both Muhammad and his opponents believed in the existence of a supreme God Allah. Gibb further explained this on pages 37-38. Dr. Morey should have checked his references more carefully before his book went into print.
Dr. Morey said that Alfred Guillaume agrees with him, and he refers to page 7 of Alfred Guillaume’s book entitled Islam. But here is what Alfred Guillaume actually says on page 7 of his book:
In Arabia Allah was known from Christian and Jewish sources as the one God, and there can be no doubt whatever that he was known to the pagan Arabs of Mecca as the supreme being.
How could Dr. Morey misquote like this?
Dr. Morey quoted from page 28 of a book by another non-Muslim writer Caesar Farah. But when we refer to that book we find that Dr. Morey gave only a partial quotation which leaves out the main discussion. The book actually says that the God who was called Il by the Babylonians and El by the Israelites was called ilah, al-ilah, and eventually Allah in Arabia. Farah, says further on page 31 that before Islam the pagans had already believed that Allah is the supreme deity. Of course they had 360 idols, but, contrary to Dr. Morey’s assertion, Allah was never one of the 360 idols. As Caesar Farah points out on page 56, the Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace, personally destroyed those idols.
Dr. Morey also quoted from William Montgomery Watt. But Watt says on page 26 of his book that the Arabic word Allah is similar to the Greek term ho theos which we know is the way God is referred to in the New Testament.
Dr. Morey quoted from Kenneth Cragg’s book entitled The Call of the Minaret. However, on page 36 of Kenneth Cragg’s book we find the following:
Since both Christian and Muslim faiths believe in One supreme sovereign Creator-God, they are obviously referring when they speak of Him, under whatever terms, to the same Being.
Further on the same page, Cragg explains that the One whom the Muslims call Allah is the same One whom the Christians call ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ although the two faiths understand Him differently.
Dr. Morey should know that as a scholar he has the academic obligation to quote honestly. He should also know that as a follower of Jesus, on whom be peace, he has an obligation to speak the truth.
A missionary under the Yahoo! Groups nome de plume of “Patriot Tim” has made an allegation in a discussion group by stating that the Syrian pagan idol Rimmon () as mentioned in 2 Kings 5:18 is the same Deity as for the Muslims, who sometimes call upon God as ar-rahman (The Merciful). To repeat the missionary’s claim:
The verse in question is II Kings 5:18, and the words were spoken by Naaman the Syrian general who had just been healed of his leprosy by Elisha the prophet[….] We see Naaman saying that, because of his position of importance to the king of Syria, he would be required to enter and bow to Rimmon in that deity’s temple in Damascus. Thus, we see that RIMMON is found in the Bible.
This article is more or less an improvement from the original response we had offered and is intended to deeply address the issue of Rimmon, insha’allah.
Is Rimmon really “Rahman”?
On the issue of “Rahman”, the missionary argues that:
Rahman, as indicated to us in the Qu’ran, Surah 17:110, is another name for All?h. Hence, we see that there is a definite connexion, linguistic and otherwise, between the Rimmon who was worshipped all throughout Syria, Paddan-Aram, Assyria, and the rest of the northern Fertile Crescent, and Rahman, or Allah.
We believe that we have had tolerated enough of this shoddy scholarship, and now is the time to blast this missionary to kingdom come. The reality is that one does not need the source(s) that he dutifully parrots from Christian polemicists like Dr. Robert Morey, as The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon and William Gesenius’ Hebrew and English Lexicon are all good enough authorities on the etymology.
As we have earlier stated, the name of this Syrian pagan idol Rimmon appears in 2 Kings 5:18. This verse is as follows:
May the Lord forgive your servant in this matter: when my master enters the house of Rimmon to worship there, supported by my hand, and I have to bow myself down in the house of RIMMON; when I have to bow myself down thus in the house of RIMMON, may the Lord forgive your servant in this matter.
According to Gesenius, the Hebrew word “rimmon” actually means “pomegranate,” and the Arabic equivalent is “rumman”, which is quite similar to the Hebrew and shares the same R-M-N cognate1. The following image would clearly illustrate this relation:
“Pomegranate” is thus the proper translation of “rimmon” in the Bible (Numbers 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8; 1 Samuel 14:12; Songs 4:3, 6:7). ‘Rimmon’ is also the name of a number of places mentioned in the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, named such because of the number of pomegranates that grow there. As Gesenius states:
The pomegranate tree is still found in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt […] From their abounding in pomegranates, several places received the proper name Rimmon[.]2
Examples of such places being named ‘Rimmon’ can be seen in Joshua 15:32, 19:7; Judges 20:47; 1 Chronicles 4:32 and Zechariah 14:10. Indeed, until today there is a specific place in Palestine called Rimmon (reysh-mem-vav-nun) in Hebrew, and Rammwan/Rummon (raa-meem-waw-nun) in Arabic, and it still exists today.
We can see that Rammwan/Rummon is thus the closest Arabic equivalent to the Hebrew “rimmon”, and not “Rahman” as Patriot Tim erroneously asserts.
Referring to Strong’s on RIMMON, the following entry is found:
4. A Syrian god (7417)
The B-D-B Lexicon has more information on RIMMON, and on p. 942 we read that:
[Rimmon] n. pr. dei; as Rammanu, god of wind, rain and storm; thunder; storm.
There are two possible etymological explanations for the RIMMON of Syria. The first is from Gesenius, who says that it is “…perhaps the exalted, from the root RMM.” The other possibility is that the spelling is a deliberate Jewish insult, and this is not uncommon in the Bible. We read that
“Rimmon” is an epithet of Hadad (Adad in Mesopotamia); the Akkadian form is Ram(m)an. It has been suggested that the Hebrew Rimmon, which is identical to the Hebrew word for “pomegranate,” is a deliberate mispointing of an original Ram(m)an (or something similar) to disparage the deity. This epithet Rimmon/Ramman is best understood as “thunderer” (cf. Akkadian ramanu “to roar,” hence “to thunder”). Accordingly, the name Hadadrimmon means “Hadad is the thunderer.” Hadad, or Rimmon/Ramman, was the chief diety of the Arameans of Syria[.]
In light of Jewish traditions with disparaging name-games in Hebrew, we favour the possibility that calling the Syrian pagan idol as RIMMON was merely an attempt at insulting this pagan deity, and have no connections with “rimmon” meaning “pomegranate”.
This is already enough to refute the missionary’s mendacity. But let us take one step further and look up the meaning of the Arabic ar-rahman, as stated in Hans Wehr’s Arabic-English Dictionary:
ar-rahman : the Merciful (i.e. God)
The root of ar-rahman is the word rahma, and from the very same page, we find that the root means:
pity, compassion; human understanding, sympathy, kindness; mercy
Clearly, we certainly do not see any etymological relation at all with the Hebrew noun RIMMON (). Indeed, one does not blindly assume that a word is connected to another simply by the play of sounds, and we need to look at several established rules for finding etymological connections. The rules are:
- 1. Geographic proximity
- 2. Shared cognates/roots
- 3. Relative synonymy
So what does this mean? It means that the languages have to originate near one another, and indeed Hebrew and Arabic are from the same branch and area. They have to share the same cognate, and lastly, they have to share the same meaning. While we do not deny that the Hebrew noun Rimmon conforms with criteria 1, it does not conform with criterias 2 and 3, and hence fails the ruling for determining whether RIMMON is indeed related to the Arabic word ar-rahman. As one of the greatest Philosophers of Language (one of the founding fathers of the field), Ludwig Wittgenstein, put it:
The meaning of a word is its use in the language.
The equivalent word for ar-rahman in the Hebrew would be “Ha-Rachman”, as found in Rivlin’s Hebrew translation of the Qur’an, 1:1:
In the name of God, Ha-Rachman, the Merciful3
Apparently this title is not alien to the South Arabian Christians, for Philip K. Hitti informs us the following:
The earlier South Arabian civilization could not have altogether passed away without leaving some trace in its northern successor. The inscription (542-3) of Abrahah dealing wih the break of the Ma’rib Dam begins with the following words: “In the power and grace and mercy of the Merciful [Rahman-an] and His Messiah and of the Holy Spirit”. The word Rahman-an is especially significant because its northern equivalent, al-Rahman, became later a prominent attribute of All?h and one of His names in the Koran and in Islamic theology.
Philip K. Hitti further informs us in a footnote that:
Rahmanan appears as title of the Christian God in a fifth-century South Arabic inscription.
So we see that the South Arabic Christians themselves using the appelation Rahmanan for their God, and hence we begin to see how perjurious the claims of the missionary really is.
The Aramaic word for Rachaman/Rahman is rachamanaa, and indeed this is found in the Talmud. Consider the Aramaic text of Qiddushin 81b, where it is recommended that those looking to be protected from evil say:
Rachamanaa nighar beih ba-Satan
Translation: May the Most Merciful rebuke Satan.
In the same part of the Talmud, there is a fascinating story about Rabbi Chiyya:
Rabbi Chiyya bar Ashi hawah raghil kal eedan dahawah nafal l’apeih hawah amar: ha-Rachaman yatsileinu miyetser haraa’
Translation: Rabbi Chiyya bar Ashi had a practice where everytime he prostrated he would say “may the Most Merciful save us from evil inclinations”.
So, even the great Talmud sages were doing as the Muslims do to this day, prostrating and giving homage to the Most Merciful, ar-rahman. This passage from the Talmud is still relevant, as there is yet one more point to be made here. Later in the story Rabbi Chiyya is tempted by his wife, who asks him to bring him a pomegranate. She is quoted as saying:
aiytei neehaleih l’hakh rumanaa d’reish tsutsitaa shawur aazal
Translation: Bring me that pomegranate on the uppermost branch.
The word for pomegranate in the Aramaic is rumanaa, which is quite close to the Arabic rumman. What we learn from this is that in Hebrew, Arabic and even Aramaic (from this look at Qiddushin 81b), there is no connection between the word for “Most Merciful” — a name given to God — and pomegranate, a name heaped upon a pagan deity.
This is further collaborated when we refer to the root word of ha-rachman, which is rachuwm, in Strong’s number 7349 and find the following:
rachuwm rakh-oom`; from 7355; compassionate:- full of compassion, merciful.4
Thus we see that rachuwm and rahma share the same R-H-M cognate, and thus we have established a solid etymological connection between both words. Of course, there is another Hebrew word that is even closer to raheem (RHYM) than rachuwm is, and that is the exact Hebrew equivalent! Consider the following:
As the final nail in the coffin, let us summarise what we have discussed above:
1) RIMMON is a Syrian pagan god of thunder and the name itself is a noun and has nothing in common with ar-rahman, which is an attribute/appellation of God, as any Muslim schoolchild would know.
2) RIMMON has its roots in the Akkadian Rammanu, meaning “thunderer” or “to roar, to thunder” and its only connection to the “pomegranate” (rimmon) is that this is part of a deliberate Jewish insult against this pagan idol. “Rahman” came from a totally different root word, rahma, which means “pity; compassion; sympathy”, etc.
3) RIMMON is the Syrian “god of wind, rain and storm”. By no stretch of imagination can this be applied to Allah, the God of Abraham(P), Moses(P), Jesus(P) and Muhammad(P)! Further, we have seen how the South Arabian Christians themselves use the appelation Rahman-an (equivalent to the northern ar-Rahman) for God, and how the Aramaic phrase Rachamanaa is found in the Jewish Talmud.
4) Nowhere in Strong’s or in the BDB/Gesenius lexicons do we find any correlation of RIMMON with the Arabic word ar-rahman or its root word rahma. The Hebrew equivalent for rahma is the word rachuwm. Both rahma (Ar.) and rachuwm (Heb.) share the same R-H-M cognate.
It is evident that the missionary “Patriot Tim” clearly resorts to nonsensical and shoddy scholarship in order to discredit Islam, no matter how silly the ‘theories’ that he repeats. We suggest that “Patriot Tim” should stick to his current daytime occupation instead of trying to pass himself off as some sort of etymologist-cum-archeologist and parroting verbatim from monolingual polemicists like Morey.
And only God knows best.
 William Gesenius, Op. Cit., p. 982
 James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, under the word “RIMMON”
 Under , The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon, p. 942
 William Gesenius, Op. Cit.
 Frederic W. Bush, “HadadRimmon”, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, (Doubleday 1992), Vol. 3, p. 13
 J. M. Cowan (ed.), Hans Wehr’s Arabic-English Dictionary, p. 332
 Wittgenstein, Philophische Untersuchungen, pt. I, sect. 43
 Yosef Yo’el Rivlin, Alkur’an / tirgem me-`Arvit, Devir, Tel Aviv (1936-1945)
 Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, The Macmillan Press, Ltd (1970), p. 105
- William Gesenius, Hebrew and English Lexicon, (Crocker & Brewster, 1865), p. 982; c.f. J. M. Cowan (ed.), Hans Wehr’s Arabic-English Dictionary, p. 360 [↩]
- William Gesenius, op. cit., p. 982 [↩]
- Yosef Yo’el Rivlin, Alkur’an / tirgem me-`Arvit, Devir, Tel Aviv (1936-1945) [↩]
- James Strong, op. cit, under the word “rachuwm”, p. 131 [↩]