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Allah: The Stolen God of the Phoenicians

Allah: The Stolen God of the Phoenicians

“Allah”, an Arabic name – feared and loved by some, severally misunderstood by many – spoken by the Jews, Christians, and Muslims of the Middle-East. Though mostly affiliated to those of the Abrahamic religion, the actual word “Allah” is a contraction of “al Ilah”, which literally means The God. While the Muslims believe that the word Allah was spoken and written by God himself in Arabic in the Quran (which is why all Muslims, no matter what nationality they are from, tend to use the name Allah in Arabic since they believe that God spoke Arabic thus the actual word God does not exist to them), etymologically, the root of the name is traced to the earliest Aramaic Semitic writings as Eloah or Elohim which was also an extension of the name EL, an ancient Canaanite/Phoenician God who was considered to be the supreme God of the Mesopotamian Semites, of all of the other Gods and Goddesses, as well as the creator, father of humankind, and ruler of the Universe and of all divinities.

The Phoenicians, like every other ancient civilization were polytheists. While the exact number of Gods and Goddesses they worshipped is still debatable, the main deities they devoted their lives to are heavily recognized such as Baal, Astarte, Melqart, Tanit, Mot, Adonis…just to name a few. Every single deity had his/her own importance, but the one who ruled them all was the God El. Portrayed as an old man with a long be beard and some times with two wings, El was the equivalent of the Hurrian God Kumarbi, and the Greek God Cronus.

The Canaanites pre-date the Israelites by a good two millennia, and were settled along the Levant, mostly in what is now known as Lebanon. The God of the Jews who later became to be known as the Chief God of the Hebrews emerged from the Canaanite El as there are extremely close similarities and qualities between the two: Time after time, the Israelis completely converted his name into Yahweh/Elohim and worshipped him along with his wife Asherah – who was originally the consort of El -, and then over the course of years, Asherah vanished into what is considered as mythology (in Judaism and the rest of the Monotheistic religions) and only one God remained, one deity to worship, and that was Yahweh/Elohim.

One of the similarities or connection -shall we say- between El and the Monotheistic God can be found in the Ugaritic literature in the Baal cycle and the Torah (Hebrew Bible): “Let me tell you, Prince Baal, let me repeat, Rider on the Clouds, now your enemy Baal, now you will kill your enemy, now you will annihilate your foe, you will take your eternal kingship, Your dominion forever and ever.” And the Torah reads: “Behold your enemies Yahweh, behold your enemies perish, all evildoers are scattered, your kingship is an eternal kingship, your dominion is forever and ever.” The list of similarities goes on and on, where one can find the exact same literal concept between the Ugaritic literature and verses from the Torah.

Going back to the actual Arabic name of Allah, since we have established that Allah comes from the Hebrew Elohim, which is an extension of the Aramaic and Phoenician language El, then how did it get to Mohammad? Arab Polytheism was the dominant form of worship before Islam or any form of Monotheistic religion. Mohammad was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and according to Muslim religious scholars, the Quran -which represents the words of God- were revealed by the Archangel Gabriel to Mohammad. Now, during that particular era, tribal communities were fierce and vicious towards one another, and Goddesses were viewed as protectors of individual tribes, with their spirits being associated with sacred trees, stones, and other natural beings. According to archeologists, religious scholars, and historians, the Kaaba shrine (where Muslims do their annual pilgrimage), housed 360 idols of tribal patron deities, and three main goddesses were worshipped: All?t, Man?t and al-‘Uzzá. Now who is was Allat? She was the Lunar Deity that was worshipped during the time of Mohammad and some historians claim that she was the Arab version of Asherat who was the wife of El. Allat is the female version of Allah. It is wise to note that Muslims follow the Lunar Calendar, especially when wanting to determine the time of Ramadan, while starting with their religious holiday when the moon is crescent, they put a lot of importance on the crescent moon imagery (such as on the Turkish flag), in their hospitals etc…

Basically put, while the Israelis did not have a particular religion; they had no Gods nor Goddesses of their own; the Arabs had hundreds of deities whom they worshipped, and yet they both had to steal or borrow -however you would like to put it- from the Canaanites, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian, alter their deities, assembling them into one God, and causing several massacres against the polytheists, more specifically, the Canaanites. Centuries later, the Christians and Muslims finished what the Jews began in the Levant region, eliminating every trace of the Phoenicians and their religion.

Sources:
Abi Fares, Jad (July 2020), The Religion, The Phoenicians,
http://www.pheniciens.com/index.php
Afsaruddin, Asma (date N/A), Allah, Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/tawhid
Author (unknown), date unknown, El (Deity), Wikipedia,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_(deity)
Cartwright, Mark (April 2016), Phoenician Religion, World History Encyclopedia,
https://www.worldhistory.org/Phoenician_Religion/
Editors of Encyclopedia Britannia (date N/A), El-Semitic Deity, Britannica,
https://www.britannica.com/place/Canaan-historical-region-Middle-East

Khalaf, Salim (date N/A), Phoenician Canaanite Religion-Pagan, Phoenicia,
https://phoenicia.org/pagan.html#anchor90487
Lafayette, Maximillien (July 2014), The Origin of the Name of God and His True Identity,
Times Square Press. New York. Berlin; 1st Edition, Pgs. 5, 7, 16, 17, 32, 33.
Spar, Ira (April 2009), The Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/cana/hd_cana.htm

 

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About the Author:

Amara, a practicing Eclectic Phoenician Witch, is a content writer, vocal coach, opera singer, and killer storyteller with a B.A in Musimedialogy, a Master’s in Vocal Studies and the ability to communicate in three languages (English, French, Arabic) as a Native and a tad of Italian.

Born in Beirut-Lebanon to a monotheistic family, and growing up between the Middle-East and Europe, she always felt a strong and deep connection to her ancestry: the Phoenicians, also known as the Canaanites. Although her given birth name is Christine Fakhoury, she adopted the name Amara Willow at the age of twelve and fully devoted herself in the Craft and her spiritual practices.

Some fun facts about her: every morning she opens a Tarot card to see how her day is going to pass, she and her mum must have their 4 PM Arabic coffee together while gossiping then off-course reading their cups together, she is addicted to Charles Dickens, intense impressionism art, Al Bowlly, the 1920’s and bloody Marys.