Pre-Islamic Arab Religion in Islam
Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination
This article or section is being renovated.
Worship at the Ka’aba
The Prophet Muhammad discarded the 360 idols but retained for Islam, the Ka’aba with its Black Stone, justifying it with the claim that Abraham and Ishmael originally constructed it. However, there is no historical or archaeological evidence for the existence of the Ka’aba beyond a few hundred years before Muhammad's lifetime. In fact, the Quran contradict this connection between Abraham, Ishmael and the Ka’aba.
The Quran says Abraham built it:
One hadith claims Muhammad says it was built 40 years prior to the Temple at Jerusalem:
The Temple at Jerusalem was built by Solomon around 958-951 BC. This implies that if Muhammad were to be believed, the Ka’aba must have been built approximately 998-991 BC. But Abraham is alleged to have lived around 2000 BC so both Abraham and Ishmael would have been dead by then.
The traditions of the hadith and the Quran are mutually contradictory and do not align with other traditions about Abraham and Ishmael.
Rather than being the creation of Abraham, Egyptian Professor and authority on Arabic literature, Dr. Taha Husayn, said the following:
Also, according to a sahih hadith of Bukhari, Muhammad even considered dismantling it:
Worship at the Ka’aba and the kissing of the Black Stone are according to the Islamic tradition one of many practices adopted from the 7th century paganism of the Meccans and repackaged within monotheistic Islam.
Veneration of the Black-stone
The pagan gods of pre-Islamic Arabia were worshiped in the form of rectangular stones or rocks. For example, the pagan deity 'Al-Lat', mentioned in Quran 53:19, and believed by pre-Islamic pagans to be one of the daughters of Allah, was once venerated as a cubic rock at Ta'if in Saudi Arabia according to Islamic sources on the subject written after the rise of Islam. An edifice was built over the rock to mark it apart as a house of worship.
The Black Stone seems to have been one among many stones and idols venerated at the Ka’aba by the pre-Islamic pagans of Arabia. The Black Stone was kissed during pre-Islamic pagan worship. Though Muhammad is asserted to have thrown out 360 other objects at the Ka’aba, he retained this Black Stone and continued the practice of kissing it. It is this same stone that the pre-Islamic pagans once kissed, that Muslims kiss today when visiting Mecca.
Praying 5 Times Towards Mecca
Pagans prior to Islam would pray five times per day towards Mecca. Muhammad retained for Islam, this pre-Islamic practice, sanctioning it with a story of a night trip to heaven on a mythical beast called al-Buraq. In heaven, the Hadith tells us that Allah demanded 50 prayers per day per Muslim. Upon advice from Moses, Muhammed bargains with Allah and successfully reduces it to five prayers per day.
Zoroastrians are also expected to recite their (kusti) prayers at least five times a day having first cleansed themselves by washing (ablution). These Islamic practices show Zoroastrian influence. But, contrary to the Muslims, Zoroastrians pray in the direction of the Sun (at each time of the day) and/or of the Holy Fire (if they are in a Fire Temple). 
Fasting on the 10th of Muharram
Muhammad's pagan tribe, the Quraish, fasted on the 10th of Muharram. Though optional, Muhammad retained this practice from the pagan past too.
Tawaf between Safa and Marwa
Doing Tawaf between Safa and Marwa is an Islamic ritual associated with the pilgrimage to Mecca. Safa and Marwa are two mounts, located at Mecca. This ritual entails Muslims walking frantically between the two mounts, seven times. According to a hadith in Bukhari, this was originally a pagan pre-Islamic practice. Muhammad retained it for Islam, sanctioning it with yet another Qur'anic revelation.
This Hadith states that Muhammad adopted this pagan ceremony from the pre-Islamic "period of ignorance" and justified it with yet another convenient Qur'anic revelation.
A tradition also exists about Hagar running between these two mounts in search of water until she found the Zamzam Well.
Requirement of Ihram
Ihram is a state a Muslim enters into for his pilgrimage to Mecca. It involves a series of procedures like ritual washing, wearing 'Ihram garments', etc. Ihram was according to Sahih Bukhari originally a pagan requirement for worshiping idols during pre-Islamic times. Muhammad retained this practice for Islam. Muslims assume Ihram to perform the Hajj or Umrah.
Circumambulation 7 Times
Circumambulation is to go in circles around a particular object. In Islam, worshipers and pilgrims do this around the Ka'aba at Mecca. Pre-Islamic pagans are alleged to have done it to please the moon god Hubal, the 360 deities and Allah (who was merely one among the many deities worshiped there). Muhammad himself used to do it, even before the 360 idols inside the Ka'aba were removed.
Judaism and Christianity (the religions of those who are considered People of the Book) do not practice ritual circumambulation to please God. Two of the other major faiths with similar practice are Hinduism and Buddhism (called Parikrama). Both of these faiths are accused by traditional Islam of “paganism” and practicing idolatry.
Crescent Moon Symbol
Hubal was the moon god worshiped at the Ka’aba. The crescent moon was Hubal’s symbol. Muhammad's pagan grandfather Abd al-Muttalib almost slaughtered Muhammad's father Abdallah at the Ka’aba, to Hubal. From Ibn Hisham:
The Ka’aba, Islam's holiest shrine, has been a place where such pagan human sacrifices and slaughters have taken place for Hubal. When Muhammad founded Islam, according to Islamic sources he discarded Hubal and all the other pagan god. At the Battle of Badr, his enemy Abu Sufyan praised the high position of moon god Hubal, saying "O Hubal, be high". Muhammad asked his followers to yell back, "Allah is higher". This is supposed to be the origin of the commonly uttered phrase "Allahu Akbar" in Arabic.
- A version of this page is also available in the following languages: French. For additional languages, see the sidebar on the left.
- The Pagan Religious Sources of Islam - Answering Islam
- The Influence of Animism on Islam - Online book by Samuel M. Zwemer, F.R.G.S.
- As quoted in Mizan al-Islam by Anwar al-Jundi, p. 170
- The Book of Idols, p 14; (translation of Kitab Al-Asnam ) by Hisham Ibn-Al-Kalbi, 819 CE, translated by Nabih Amin Faris, 1952
- Encyclopedia Britannica - Arabian Religions, p1059, 1979
- The Encyclopedia of Islam (edited by Eliade) P. 303FF
- Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 763-764
- Joseph H. Peterson - GAHS (prayers for each period of the day) - Avesta Zoroastrian Archives, accessed May 27, 2011
- "Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of Allah. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeyeth his own impulse to good,- be sure that Allah is He Who recogniseth and knoweth." - Quran 2:158
- Ibn Hisham 1/151-155; Rahmat-ul-lil'alameen 2/89,90
- "...After that he started reciting cheerfully, "O Hubal, be high! (1) On that the Prophet said (to his companions), "Why don't you answer him back?" They said, "O Allah's Apostle What shall we say?" He said, "Say, Allah is Higher and more Sublime."..." - (Sahih Bukhari 4:52:276)