The following references are all taken from Ahmad Al-Jallad’s book, The Religion and Rituals of the Nomads of Pre-Islamic Arabia: A Reconstruction Based on the Safaitic Inscriptions, published by Brill, Leiden/New York, 2022. All emphasis will be mine.   


According to the inscriptional data, Allat was a prominent deity who was believed to be the daughter of Rodaw, the moon god:

ʾʾlht “The gods”: A term to refer to all the deities collectively, cognate with Classical Arabic ʾālihatun

ʾʾlht “The gods”: A term to refer to all the deities collectively, cognate with Classical Arabic ʾālihatun

(ʾ)lt “Allāt,” the most popular goddess in the inscriptions. She is invoked 1437 times according to the OCIANA corpus in all orthographic variations of her name. Like Allāh, the first syllable is inconsistently represented withʾ, twice within the same inscription. These cases have been used to argue that lt and ʾlt are two different deities, but this is not necessary. Allāt is often called upon multiple times in an inscription, and so the rare appearance of lt and ʾlt together could easily reflect a prosodic difference between their two occurrences. The first syllable of this name appears to have been vocalic (as in the Classical Arabic definite article), and so in isolation, a glottal stop would have been pronounced, hamzatu l-qaṭʿ, ʾAllāt, while in context, it would be elided. Perhaps the vocative particle, depending upon stress, could either combine with Allāt forming one initial syllable or be treated independently: that is, hāllāt vs ʾállāt, respectively.4 There is one case where lt is followed directly by ʾlt (IS.H 296), but the rest of the inscription is broken and it is likely that the latter was simply the first element of a compound divine name. Indeed, lt and ʾlt dṯn co-occur and may be invoked together here. In terms of origin, two Safaitic inscriptions invoke Allāt as coming from a place called ʿmn.5 Its identification is unclear but it may refer to Jebel Ram, in Iram (mod. Wādī Ram), where an important temple of Allāt was located. (Pp. 93-94)

rḍw/rḍy “Satisfaction”: Together, rḍw and rḍy are invoked 630 times total, 365 for rḍw and 265 for rḍy. The two deities are never invoked together in a single inscription, which suggests that they are in fact one and the same, reflecting different pronunciations of the name.19 Indeed, the confusion of III-W and III-Y roots in Safaitic is widespread. Only rḍw occurs in Thamudic B, which suggests that this is the original form. A Dumaitic inscription indicates that North Arabians in the middle of the 1st millennium BCE considered Chaldea the mythological residence or cult center of Roḍaw. It is unclear if this idea continued into the Safaitic context…

nʾr “Luminous one”: A participle of the verb nāra, yanūru “to radiate light,” a suitable epithet for any astral deity. If we assume that Roḍaw was regarded as a lunar deity, then perhaps this was one of his titles, cf. Quran 10:5 huwa lladī ǧaʿala ššamsa ḍiyāʾan wa-l-qamara nūran “he is the one who made the sun to shine and the moon to give light.” This title is attested once in CSNS 98. (P. 97)

The existence of a kin-based pantheon comes from a small number of texts. A pair of inscriptions from Wādī as-Sūʿ, Syria indicate that the goddess Allāt was the daughter of Roḍaw.


h ʾlt bnt rḍw flṭ m-snt h-ḥrb flṭʾl bn ḫzr bn ḫḏy bn wkyt

‘O ʾAllāt daughter of Roḍaw deliver Flṭʾl son of Ḫzr son of Ḫḏy son of Wkyt from this year of war.’

AWS 291

h ʾlt {b}nt rḍw ġwṯ-h ḥld bn ḥḍrt bn ʾbrr w l-h h-dr

‘O ʾAllāt {daughter} of Roḍaw aid him, Ḥld son of Ḥḍrt son of ʾbrr and this place is his.’

Allāt was known by the epithet mlkt ṯry “queen of abundance/fertility,” possibly linking her with the Venus/Aphrodite/Ishtar complex.4


h ʾlt mlkt ṯry sʿd bnʿm qsy bn zgr bn śrb w-rʿy bql w h rḍw mḥlt l-m-ʿwr

‘O Allāt, queen of abundance/fertility, help Bnʿm Qsy son of Zgr son of Śrb and he pastured on fresh herbage, and O Rḍw, may whosoever effaces (this writing) experience a dearth of pasture.’

No clear epithet for Roḍaw is attested in Safaitic, but a single Dumaitic inscription calls him the one “from Chaldaea.”5 If we assume a similar mythological complex as other near eastern traditions, the two could form an astral pair of father and daughter, where Allāt is Venus and Roḍaw is the Moon.6 In this light, the divine title nʾr “luminous one” (CSNS 98) may apply to him.7 The god of rain and storm was Baʿal-Samīn, sometimes simply called Baʿl. Like Allāt, he takes the epithet “master,” namely, mlk h-smy “master of the rains/heaven” (KRS 1944). The texts do not relate Baʿal-Samīn to Allāt or any other deity explicitly. He is described as directly controlling the rains, withholding them in bad years.  (Pp. 56-57)

6 Idem. And on the suggestion that Roḍaw was a lunar deity, see Knauf (1985a: 85). Others have made a connection with Venus, but in light of the newly discovered texts mentioned above, this seems unlikely. (P. 57)

Bennett shows that the deity most often partnered with Allāt in invocations is Dusares (dśr), the national deity of the Nabataeans.9 Unlike the case with Allāt and Roḍaw, no inscription gives us the reason for this. The image is equally murky when we turn our attention to the Nabataean material. Healey brings our attention to the inscription CIS II 185 from Ṣalkhad (a city referenced in the Safaitic inscriptions and in which a handful of Safaitic-writing people dwelt)10 which calls Allātʾm ʾlhyʾ dy mʾrnʾ rbʾl “mother of the gods of our lord RabbʾEl” and suggests that a familial relationship between the gods was possible. As Healey goes on to point out, Dusares is explicitly called the “the god of our lord the king” in another inscription implying that Allāt was then his mother.11 If the same relationship held true in the Safaitic context, then invocations to Allāt and Dusares would be to mother and son, and with Roḍaw, we would have three generations of a divine family. (Pp. 58-59)

Now this raises a peculiar dilemma for Muslims. The Islamic sources attest that Allat was believed to be one of three daughters of Allah, with the other two being Al-Uzza and Manat:

Have you then considered Al-Lat, and Al-‘Uzza (two idols of the pagan Arabs) And Manat (another idol of the pagan Arabs), the other third? Is it for you the males and for Him the females? S. 53:19-21 Hilali-Khan

Refuting Idolatry, Al-Lat and Al-`Uzza

Allah the Exalted rebukes the idolators for worshipping idols and taking rivals to Him. They built houses for their idols to resemble the Ka`bah built by Prophet Ibrahim, Allah’s Khalil…

(Have you then considered Al-Lat,) Al-Lat was a white stone with inscriptions on. There was a house built around Al-Lat in At-Ta’if with curtains, servants and a sacred courtyard around it. The people of At-Ta’if, the tribe of Thaqif and their allies, worshipped Al-Lat. They would boast to Arabs, except the Quraysh, that they had Al-Lat. Ibn Jarir said, “They derived Al-Lat’s name from Allah’s Name, and made it feminine. Allah is far removed from what they ascribe to Him. It was reported that Al-Lat is pronounced Al-Lat because, according to `Abdullah bin `Abbas, Mujahid, and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Al-Lat was a man who used to mix Sawiq (a kind of barley mash) with water for the pilgrims during the time of Jahiliyyah. When he died, they remained next to his grave and worshipped him.” Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said about Allah’s statement…

(Al-Lat, and Al-`Uzza.) “Al-Lat was a man who used to mix Sawiq for the pilgrims.” Ibn Jarir said, “They also derived the name for their idol Al-`Uzza from Allah’s Name Al-`Aziz. Al-`Uzza was a tree on which the idolators placed a monument and curtains, in the area of Nakhlah, between Makkah and At-Ta’if. The Quraysh revered Al-`Uzza.” During the battle of Uhud, Abu Sufyan said, “We have Al-`Uzza, but you do not have Al-`Uzza.” Allah’s Messenger replied…

<<Say, “Allah is Our Supporter, but you have no support.”>> Manat was another idol in the area of Mushallal near Qudayd, between Makkah and Al-Madinah. The tribes of Khuza`ah, Aws and Khazraj used to revere Manat during the time of Jahiliyyah. They used to announce Hajj to the Ka`bah from next to Manat. Al-Bukhari collected a statement from `A’ishah with this meaning. There were other idols in the Arabian Peninsula that the Arabs revered just as they revered the Ka`bah, besides the three idols that Allah mentioned in His Glorious Book. Allah mentioned these three here because they were more famous than the others. An-Nasa’i recorded that Abu At-Tufayl said, “When the Messenger of Allah conquered Makkah, he sent Khalid bin Al-Walid to the area of Nakhlah where the idol of Al-`Uzza was erected on three trees of a forest. Khalid cut the three trees and approached the house built around it and destroyed it. When he went back to the Prophet and informed him of the story, the Prophet said to him…

<<Go back and finish your mission, for you have not finished it.>> Khalid went back and when the custodians who were also its servants of Al-`Uzza saw him, they started invoking by calling Al-`Uzza! When Khalid approached it, he found a naked woman whose hair was untidy and who was throwing sand on her head. Khalid killed her with the sword and went back to the Messenger of Allah, who said to him…

<<That was Al-`Uzza!>>” Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated, “Al-Lat belonged to the tribe of Thaqif in the area of At-Ta’if. Banu Mu`attib were the custodians of Al-Lat and its servants.”

I say that the Prophet sent Al-Mughirah bin Shu`bah and Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb to destroy Al-Lat. They carried out the Prophet’s command and built a Masjid in its place in the city of At-Ta’if. Muhammad bin Ishaq said that Manat used to be the idol of the Aws and Khazraj tribes and those who followed their religion in Yathrib (Al-Madinah).

Manat was near the coast, close to the area of Mushallal in Qudayd. The Prophet sent Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb or `Ali bin Abi Talib to demolish it. Ibn Ishaq said that Dhul-Khalasah was the idol of the tribes of Daws, Khath`am and Bajilah, and the Arabs who resided in the area of Tabalah. I say that Dhul-Khalasah was called the Southern Ka`bah, and the Ka`bah in Makkah was called the Northern Ka`bah. The Messenger of Allah sent Jarir bin `Abdullah Al-Bajali to Dhul-Khalasah and he destroyed it.

Ibn Ishaq said that Fals was the idol of Tay’ and the neighboring tribes in the Mount of Tay’, such as Salma and Ajja. Ibn Hisham said that some scholars of knowledge told him that the Messenger of Allah sent `Ali bin Abi Talib to Fals and he destroyed it and found two swords in its treasure, which the Prophet then gave to `Ali as war spoils. Muhammad bin Ishaq also said that the tribes of Himyar, and Yemen in general, had a house of worship in San`a’ called Riyam. He mentioned that there was a black dog in it and that the religious men who went with Tubba` removed it, killed it and demolished the building. Ibn Ishaq said that Ruda’ was a structure of Bani Rabi`ah bin Ka`b bin Sa`d bin Zayd Manat bin Tamim, which Al-Mustawghir bin Rabi`ah bin Ka`b bin Sa`d demolished after Islam. In Sindad there was Dhul-Ka`bat, the idol of the tribes of Bakr and Taghlib, the sons of the Wa’il, and also the Iyad tribes.

Refuting the Idolators Who appoint Rivals to Allah and claim that the Angels were Females

Allah the Exalted said…

(Have you then considered Al-Lat, and Al-`Uzza. And Manat, the other third), then Allah said…

(Is it for you the males and for Him the females) Allah asked the idolators, `do you choose female offspring for Allah and give preference to yourselves with the males? If you made this division between yourselves and the created, it would be…

(a division most unfair!)’ meaning, it would be an unfair and unjust division. `How is it then that you make this division between you and Allah, even though this would be foolish and unjust, if you made it between yourselves and others?’ Allah the Exalted refutes such innovated lies, falsehood and atheism they invented through worshipping the idols and calling them gods… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; emphasis mine)

In light of the foregoing, one can legitimately conclude that certain Arab pagans viewed Allah as simply another name for the Chaldean moon deity Rodaw, since both are said to be the father of Allat.

Note the logic of this argument:

  1. Allat is the daughter Allah.
  2. Allat is the daughter of Rodaw.
  3. Allah is, therefore, another name for Rodaw.
  4. Rodaw is also believed to have been the Chaldean moon deity.
  5. Therefore, since Allah and Rodaw are most likely the same god this bolsters the view that the pre-Islamic pagan Allah is actually the moon god.   


The Safaitic inscriptions often group Allat with Dushara (Dusares), who was the national deity worshiped by the Nabateans. They are even mentioned alongside the false god Baal:

ZSIJ 1612

lʾnʿm w tdy h lt w dśr w bʿl smn w gdḥr…w gdnbṭ w gdwh bʾl wkllʾl h b-h-smy

‘By ʾAnʿam and he called out: O Allāt, Dusares, Baʿal-Samīn, Gadd-Ḥr …, Gadd-Nabaṭ, Gadd-Wahbʾel and every god in the heavens ….’ (Pp. 59)

HH 113

n{ṣ}b w ḏbḥ w ḥll w ḫrṣ {ʾ}śyʿ-h ḍbʾn f h lt w dśr [s][l]m w qb{l}{l} { f} {h} {l}t {r}w[ḥ] w {ġ}nmt

‘he erected a cult stone and performed an animal sacrifice, then encamped and kept watch for his companions who were on a raid, and so, O Allāt and Dusares, [grant] {security}, and {a reunion of loved ones} {and then} {O} {Allāt} [grant] {relief} and {booty}’ (P. 20)


bny h-str w ḏbḥ f h lt w dśr slm

‘He built the str-shelter and performed an animal sacrifice so, O Allāt and Dusares, may he be secure.’ (P. 38)


w ḥgg snt myt mnʿt bn rḍwt w ḫrṣ ʿl-ʾhl-h f h lt w dśr slm w qbll

‘and he set off on the pilgrimage the year Mnʿt son of Rḍwt died and he kept watch for his family so O Allāt and Dusares, may he be secure and be reunited (with loved ones)’ (P. 41)

C 2947

w ndm ʿl-ʾḫ-h mlṯ mqtl b-hld f h lt w dśr nqmt mn-mn mṣr-h

‘and he was devastated by grief for his brother Mlṯ, who was murdered at Hld so, O Allāt and Dusares, let there be vengeance upon the one who attacked him’…

LP 146

h lt w bʿlsmn śyʿ h-gś h-rdf f nqḏ

‘O Allāt and Baʿal-Samīn, escort the rear guard that they may be safe.’ (P. 64)


h lt w gdʿwḏ w śʿhqm w dśr b-ḫfrt-k ʿwḏ-k

‘O Allāt and Gadd-ʿAwīḏ and Shayʿhaqqawm and Dusares, through your guidance comes your protection.’ (P. 65)

SS 1

w rʿy sbʿt ʾgm ḫlf ġnyt w lm ysʿd f smʿ ngʾt w rʾy śr mn-h f h lt mn ʿmn w ḏśr mn rqm ġnyt w slm m-bʾs

‘and he pastured during the rising of Pleiades on herbage of the (season of) abundance but he did not prosper, and he suspected the evil eye as he saw its evil and so O Allāt from ʿmn and Dusares from rqm (Petra) [grant] abundance that he may be secure from misfortune’ (P. 72)


l ʾdm bn whbʾl bn ḫl bn whbl bn ʾdm bn ḥḍg bn swr w ḫrṣ f {h} lt nqmt m-ḏkr bn ẓlm f h lt nqmt w h bʿlsmn w śʿhqm w dśr w ʾlh tm w gdḍf w gdnbṭ w ʾlh h-fls nqmt w ʿwr ḏ yʿwr h-sfr w sḥq w mḥq w nqʾt b-w{d}d ḏ yḫbl m-h-sfr

‘By ʾdm son of Whbʾl son of Ḫl son of Whbl son of ʾdm son of Ḫḍg son of Swr and he kept watch so {O} Allāt let there be retribution against Ḏkrson of Ẓlm and again O Allāt let there be retribution! and O Baʿal-Samīn and Shayʿhaqqawm and Dusares and the god of (the tribe) Taym and Gadd Ḍayf and Gadd-Nabaṭ and the god haf-Fals let there be retribution! And blind him who would efface this inscription and may ruin and misfortune befall him who would efface any part of this inscription and may he (finally) be thrown out of the grave by a loved one.’ (P. 87)

One inscription even contains an invocation to both Allah and Dusares:

… KSR 2298 clearly equates rġm with death: f h lh w dśr ġyrt l-ḏ rġm “O Allāh and Dusares, let there be blood money (in retribution) for those who were struck down.”… (P. 74)

Al-Jallad assumes that this may suggest that Allah and Dusares are not the same deity:

(ʾ)lh “Allāh”: A deity likely introduced from the west, literally meaning “the god,” and attested frequently in Nabataean personal names as ʾlh, ʾlhy, and lhy. As in Nabataean, the first syllable appears to be a vowel, which in some cases is preceded by a euphonic glottal stop. This produces two spellings in Safaitic:

ʾlh (15 times) and lh (26 times). We can be sure that the spelling lh represents Allāh based on Greek-Safaitic bilinguals, e.g. WH 1860 whblh = WH Greek 2 Ουαβαλλας. Allāh can be invoked alongside other gods; that he is invoked beside dśr in KRS 2298 seems to exclude the identification of these two gods as one and the same. C 2816 calls upon him alongside Shayʿ-Haqqawm and Allāt. In SIJ 293, the author makes an oath to Allāh whom he calls “living”—ʾqsm b-ʾlh ḥy.1

hʾlh “the god”: Perhaps a calque of Nabataean ʾlh /ʾAllāh/ into Safaitic (cf. śʿhqm below) producing /haʾ-ʾelāh/. It is attested once in the inscriptions, in WH 2923, ingeniously restored by M.C.A. Macdonald. The divine name is encountered in theophoric names such as ʾshʾlh /ʾaws-haʾ-ʾelāh/; ʿbdhʾlh /ʿabd-haʾ-ʾelāh/, etc.2 (P. 93)

The reason for al-Jallad’s caution is due to the fact that in another inscription Dusares is called the elah/alah (alef-lam-ha) of the Nabateans:

dśr / dśry / ḏśr / ḏśry “Master of the Śarē (mountains)”: The national deity of the Nabataeans—called BES17 1326 ʾlh nbṭ “god of the Nabataeans”—is invoked 205 times in various pronunciations.13 The commonest form is dśr, which Macdonald argues indicates a direct port from the Nabataean Aramaic pronunciation, probably diśar. The form dśry is attested 2 times, reflecting the presence of the final diphthong. The form ḏśr likely reflects the Nabataean Arabic pronunciation ḏū-śarē, Δουσαρης, dwšrʾ, while the Arabian form ḏśry /ḏū-śaray/, as attested in Hismaic, is attested only once (WH 61). Dusares is called the one from rqm (Petra) in one Safaitic inscription.14 (Pp. 95-96)

Since the terms Allah, alah/elah, Lah, al-elah, and ha-elah are often used synonymously and interchangeably, this means that Dusares would have been the Allah worshiped by the Nabateans.  

This isn’t surprising seeing that it is not unusual to find pagans employing the same term for different gods, where an epithet will be used for one and the same deity, as well as for a different and distinct god. This brings me to my next and final example.


One of the most interesting inscriptions found was that of an invocation to both Ahad and Allat, showing that Ahad was believed to be the name of a particular deity:

ʾḥd “The One”: This deity is attested in one inscription, alongside Allāt. It appears to be an Arabicization of the Greek epithet εἰς θεός, found in a Palmyrene inscription as mrnʾ ḥd. See Al-Jallad (forthcoming). (P. 93)

What makes this example so remarkable is that Ahad is a key expression that the Quran uses to describe the unity of Allah:

Say: ‘He is God, One (huwa allahu ahadun),… and equal to Him is not any one (ahadun).’ S. 112:1, 4 Arberry

This confirms the point made earlier in regards to pagans employing the same term for deity in varying ways. Sometimes they used it as a title for a specific god, whereas in other instances they would employ it for an altogether different deity.



Allah of the Arabic Bible versus the Ilah of Islam

Who really is Muhammad’s Allah?

The Identity of the pre-Islamic Allah [Part 1]

The Identity of the pre-Islamic Allah at Mecca [Part 2]

The Identity of the pre-Islamic Allah at Mecca [Part 3]

The Identity of the pre-Islamic Allah at Mecca [Addendum]

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