chapter  15
6 Pages

Belief in a “High God” in Pre-Islamic MeccaW. Montgomery Watt

There are a number of other passages where similar questions are asked and a similar answer given. In one, 3 1 . 2 5 /4 , there is no reference to other deities, but in others some such reference is implicit. Thus 4 3 . 87 follows a verse which asserts that those they call on apart from God have no power of intercession. The passage 4 3 . 9 / 8-1 5 / 1 4 concludes with a statement that those who have admitted various signs of God’s power nevertheless (according to the usual interpretation) place some of God’s servants on a level with him. In another passage, 2 3 . 84/6-89/9 1 , the opponents admit that the earth and what is in it belong to God, that he is the Lord of the seven heavens and the mighty throne, that the kingdom of all things is in his hand, and that he protects others whereas none protects against him. This last clause is almost certainly to be understood of pagan deities in the light of statements about the inability of these deities to avert the evil willed by God. (Incidentally this clause has frequently been misunderstood by European translators. ) 1A second point is that, even though God is acknowledged as creator, some men set up “ peers” (andad) or “ partners” (shurahd’) for him. In 2 . 2 1 / 1 9 men m general are called on toserve their Lord who created them and their predecessors, whoplaced the earth beneath them and the heaven above, who sent rain to give a provision of fruits; knowing this they are not to set up peers for God.2 Later in the same sura (v. 1 6 5 /0) it is stated that “ some people take apart from God peers whom they love as they love God” . Yet again it is said to unbelievers (4 0 . 1 2 ): “ when God alone is called on, you disbelieve; but if he is givenpartners (inyushrak bi-hi)yyou believe”.Other verses speak of the pagan deities acting as intermedi­aries between men and God, and in particular interceding with God on behalf of men. Thus, “ those who take patrons (awliyd’) apart from God” are described as saying “ we serve them only that they may bring us near to God in intimacy” (3 9 . 3/4). Another description of the pagans is that “ they serve apart from God what neither harms nor benefits them, and they say, These are our intercessors (shufa'd’) with God” (1 0 . 1 8 / 1 9 ). Again it is said of the sinners on the Day of Judgement that “ among their partners (sburaka’) they have no intercessors, and they believe no more in their partners” (3 0 . 1 2 /n ) . The phrase “ their partners” 1 For the correct rendering see Lane, s.v. ; and also R. Paret’s German translation.* Cf. 4 1 . 9/ 8 . Other references to andad: 1 4 . 3 0 / 3 5 ; 3 4 . 3 3 / 3 2 ; 3 9 . 8/ 1 1 .