Even if the exact etymology of the word « Allah » cannot be determined with certainty,9 ,9 one thing we can be sure about from historical records is that the Arabs of pre-Islamic days, despite all their idolatry, knew of and acknowledged Allah’s existence as the supreme God. In proof of this point Cragg comments: « It is clear from the negative form of the Muslim creed, ‘There is no god except God,’ that the existence and lordship of Allah were known and recognized in pre-Islamic Arabia. The Prophet’s mission was not to proclaim God’s existence but to deny the existence of all lesser deities. The fact that Muhammad’s own father bore the name Abd-Allah, slave of God, would indicate that God was known by that name prior to Islam. « Cragg goes on to say that « There can be no doubt then that the Prophet ‘ s contemporaries knew of a Supreme Being, but He did not dominate their minds. Rather they thought more directly and frequently of the lesser gods, the daughters, perhaps even the sons, of Allah who were far more intimately related to their daily lives, their wars, their harvests, and their fertility. » Zwemer makes a similar point: « But history establishes beyond theshadow of a doubt that even the pagan Arabs, before Mohammed’s time, knew their chief god by the name of Allah and even, in a sense, proclaimedHis unity. In pre-Islamic literature, Christian or pagan, ilah is used for any god and Al-ilah (contracted to Allah), i.e., ‘o Oeos, the god, was the name of the Supreme. Among the pagan Arabs this term denoted the chief god of their pantheon, the Kaaba, with its three hundred and sixty idols…. As final evidence, we have the fact that centuries before Mohammed the Arabian Kaaba, or temple at Mecca, was called Beit-Allah, the house of God, and not Beit-el-Alihet, the house of idols or gods.
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