Idols

Posted on 04/10/2012 by marina

IDOLS
Arabic wasan وثن, pl. ausan, also sanam صنم, pl. asnam, both words being used in the Qur’an. Ten of the idols of ancient Arabia are mentioned by name in the Qur’an, viz:-
Surah iv. 52: “Hast thou not observed those to whom a part of the Scriptures hath been given? They believe in al-Jibt and at-Taghut, and say of the infidels, ‘These are guided in a better path than those who hold the faith.’”
Surah liii. 19: :Have ye considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza, and Manat the third?”
Surah lxxi. 21 : “They have plotted a great plot and siad, ‘Ye shall surely not leave your gods: ye shall surely neither leave Wadd, nor Suwa’, nor Yaghus, nor Ya’uq, nor Nasr and they led astray many.”
Al-Jibt and at-Taghut (the latter also mentioned in Surah ii. 257, 259) were according to Jalalu ‘d-din, two idols of the Quraish whom certain renegade Jews honored in order to please the Quraish.
Al-Lat was the chief idol of the Banu Saqif at at-Ta’if. The name appears to be the feminine of Allah, God.
Al-‘Uzza has been identified with Venus, but it was worshiped under the form of an acacia tree, and was the deity of the Banu Ghatafan Manat was a large sacrificial stone worshiped by the Banu Khuza’ah and Banu Huzail.
The five idols, Wadd, Suwa’, Yaghus, Ya’uq, and Nasr, the commentators say, were originally five persons of eminence in the time of Adam, who after their deaths were worshiped in the form of idols.
Wadd was worshiped by the Banu Kalb in the form of a man, and is said to have represented heaven.
Suwa’ was a female deity of the Banu Hamdan.
Yaghus was a deity of the Banu Mazhij and in the form of a lion.
Ya’uq was an idol of the Banu Murad in the shape of a horse.
Nasr was, as its name implies, an image of an eagle, and worshiped by Himyar.
It is said (according to Burkhardt, p. 164) that at the time of Muhammad’s suppression of idol worship in the Makkan temple, there were not fewer than 360 idols in existence.
The chief of the minor deities was Hubal, an image of a man, and said to have been originally brought from Syria. Other well-known idols were Isaf, an idol on Mount as-Safa, and Na’ilah, an image on Mount al-Marwah, as part of the rites of the pilgrimage, the Prophet not being able to divert entirely the regard of the people for them.
Habhah was a large sacred stone on which camels were sacrificed, and the Hajaru ‘l-Aswad, or Black Stone, was an object, as it still is; of idolatrous worship. In the Ka’bah there were also images representing Abraham and Ishmael, each with divining arrows in his hand.
The statement, made by some writers, that the image or picture of Jesus and Mary had a place in the Ka’bah, seems to be without any authority.
Although Herodotus does not refer to the Ka’ban, yet he mentions as one of the chief divinities of Arabia Alilat, which is strong evidence of the existence of an idol called al-Lat at that time as an object of worship. (Herod. iii. 8) [IDOLATRY.]

Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam