Guest Author - Rachel Schaus
Is the crescent moon Islamic? Archeologists have found evidence that moon-worship was widespread throughout the whole of the Middle East in ancient times. Statues, hieroglyphic inscriptions, shrines, and numerous clay tablets have the crescent moon symbol. The Sumerians, Babylonians, Akkadians, and ancient Arabians had pagan rituals of worship of the moon god.
In the Ancient Near East, the sun god was the male deity and the moon the female. Together, their daughters were the stars. The ancient Arabs, however, considered the moon god, one of their many gods, as a male deity.
The lord of the Ka'aba, Hubal, was a moon god. The Ka'aba is where Muslims identify the presence of God, and where they can worship Allah, the supreme God. The Ka'aba has the crescent moon on its roof, and according to some Muslim experts, has been there since 400 years before the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him - PBUH). This may explain why there is a crescent moon used as the central symbol of Islam and is atop of every mosque throughout the world.
The moon god Hubal was also referred to as "al-ilah". There were many deities in pre-Islamic Arabia. "Al-ilah." was a generic reference to "the god" and was used by each local pagan Arab tribe.
"Al-ilah" was later shortened to Allah before Muhammad (PBUH) began promoting his new religion in 610 AD. There is evidence that Hubal was referred to as "Allah". When Muhammad (PBUH) came along, he dropped all references to the name "Hubal" but retained the generic "Allah". Muhammad retained almost all the pagan rituals of the Arabs at the Ka'aba and redefined them in monotheistic terms.
"The pagan Arabs worshipped the Moon-god Allah by praying toward Mecca several times a day; making a pilgrimage to Mecca; running around the temple of the Moon-god called the Ka'aba; kissing the black stone; killing an animal in sacrifice to the Moon-god; throwing stones at the devil; fasting for the month which begins and ends with the crescent moon; giving alms to the poor, etc." (a href="http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/moongod.htm" rel='nofollow'>Yeshua Communications Network
So while "Allah" may have pagan roots as the moon god, it has come to be known as the Supreme Creator God. Muslims, Jews, and Christians have a different understanding of the Supreme God, but it IS acceptable to use "Allah" in the Arabic to discuss the Supreme God, and to discuss more fully what He is like according to the Biblical understanding of Him.
The moon still plays a large role in governing the rhythm of life in many Muslim cultures. To this day, countries in the Middle East begin and end their festivals and holidays by the appearance of the moon.
Ramadan, which is the month of fasting, and is one of the main pillars of Islam, is governed by the appearance of the crescent moon. The crescent moon sits at the top of mosques and minarets; and a crescent moon is found on the flags of many Islamic nations.
Understanding the pagan roots of the crescent moon is certainly interesting. However, in building friendships with our Muslim friends, we should be careful to not offend if discussing pre-Islamic history - this will certainly not "win Muslim friends and influence people!" Foreigners will all too often sound critical to Muslims by pointing out the pagan roots of the crescent moon as a symbol of Islam. But the moon clearly plays a major role in Islamic culture to this day and is the main symbol of this important religion.