Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/18

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the qur′ân

cations of the powers of nature to that of the presiding genius of a tribe or of a place, is an easy transition, and we accordingly find that each tribe had its patron deity with the cult of which their interests were intimately bound up. The chief god of this vague national cult was Allâh, and most tribes set up a shrine for him as well as for their own particular deity. The offerings dedicated to the former were set apart for the advantage of the poor and of strangers, while those brought to the local idol were reserved for the use of the priests. If Allâh had by any chance anything better than the inferior deity, or a portion of his offerings fell into the lot of the local idol, the priests at once appropriated it; this practice is reprehended by Mohammed in the Qur′ân (Ⅵ, ver. 137).

The principal deities of the Arab pantheon were —

Allah ta′âlah, the God most high.

Hubal, the chief of the minor deities; this was in the form of a man. It was brought from Syria, and was supposed to procure rain.

Wadd, said to have represented the heaven, and to have been worshipped under the form of a man.

Suwâ′h, an idol in the form of a woman, and believed to be a relic of antediluvian times.

Yaghûth, an idol in the shape of a lion.

Ya′ûq, worshipped under the figure of a horse.

Nasr, which was, as the name implies, worshipped under the semblance of an eagle.

El ′Huzzâ, identified with Venus, but it appears to have been worshipped under the form of an acacia tree, cf. note 2, p. 132.

Allât, the chief idol of the tribe of Thaqîf at Tâ′if, who endeavoured to make it a condition of surrender to Mohammed that he should not destroy it for three years, and that their territory should be considered sacred like that of Mecca, a condition which the prophet peremptorily refused. The name appears to be the feminine of Allâh.

Manât, worshipped in the form of a large sacrificial stone by several tribes, including that of Hudheil.