Before the spread of Islam in the middle-eastern cultures people worshiped several deities and they had rather animistic world-view. Middle-eastern cultures are tribal cultures, therefore each tribe had their own local gods and goddesses. People also believed to the spirits of their ancestors and all kinds of other spirits. These spirits were often personifications of social norms and natural phenomenas.
Allah was the creator god and the highest of the gods in the Arabic folklore. Allah was the god of rain and the god of growth and people worshiped him especially durin a drougth.
Three prodector goddesses of the city of Mecca al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat were daughter s of Allah. Allah was considered to be the highest and the oldest of all gods but direct worship of Allah was rare. After creating the universe Allah withdraw himself and only interfered human affairs in the time of need, like drought or extereme danger.
Allah lived in Aliyyiin (Arabic) / Elyon (Hebrew). Aliyyiin was a place beyond our universe, in the highest level of conscience. All the other deities ( ālihah) and the angels (malā'ikah) lived there together with him. Angels ruled all the lower levels of the universe. Allah had special relationship to jinni´s who were spirits of nature, who ruled over the desert. In the heavenly order jinni´s were just below the angels.
In the Pre-Islamic Arabic peninsula it was tradition to invoke the deities to bring the rain and later on this tradition became part of early Islamic-faith but in Islam it is a sin to invoke any other god beside Allah. Tribes like Banu Quraysh, in Mecca considered Allah as the creator of the universe, father of the gods and as the creator of all spirits. He was a similar god to the Hebrew creator god El. Christian and Jewish tribes that resided in Arabic peninsula also refered to their biblical god as Allah. In the city of Ka´abad there was a sanctuary dedicated to Allah. There was a large, black meteorite called al-Hajar al-Aswad (meaning the black stone). It was believed that the stone had mystical powers because it was of heavenly origin. Now days this stone is located in Mecca. There was no other sanctuaries for Allah.
In Arabic polytheism Allah was considered to be too great power to be interested human affairs so people worshiped his children (ālihah). In pre-Islamic Mecca Allah´s status as the creator god did not make him the prodector god of the city but his nephew Hubal, god of the war and rain got the job. In Mecca people believed that Hubal was way more interested from the lives of humans than his grandfather.
Belief for the creator god who has power over all other deities is very common in semetic belief systems. In Babylonia similar creator god was Llu, for Phoenician Elos, Eloah for the Hebrews, kanaait worshiped El and aramenians worshiped Elaha. In pre-Islamic Arabic culture words ”ilāh" (god) and ”ilāhat" (gods) refered into any other deity but not Allah. Name of Allah comes from Arabic words al-Ilah meaning the god. Allah was also seen as the god of justice and people swore oaths in his name.
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