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Thursday, August 11, 2011

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F.E. Peters and the pagan origins of the Kabaa Shrine

How many Moslems know about the pagan origins of the Kabaa ?

by Ferdinand III


 

...the Meccan Ka'ba was also built to serve people who were originally nomads and who had, even by the late sixth century, so little skill at construction that they required the assistance of a foreign carpenter to put a timber roof on the edifice. But for all that, it was a temple and had all the primary characteristics of such: a quadrangular cella oriented to the cardinal compass points, 20 a sacred rock and sacred spring, a characteristic haram with the usual privileges of the right of asylum, and so on.” [Peters, The Hajj, p.41]

 

Islam is not a religion but a pagan cult, and a fascistic one in the true sense of that word which is concerned primarily with the destruction of the individual and the elevation of the communal, managed by a cult. Peters is a well-known historian of both the Arabs and Islam, and there is little doubt that Islam's pagan nature is the prime animating force of the cult. In essence, and in its simplest terms, Muhammad simply took the pagan rites of the Arabs and fused them into a monotheism under the guise of the moon idol Al-ilah, in the form of a cult managed of course by himself.

Not only is the Moslem Hajj or obligation to journey to Mecca to pay homage to Muhammad's greatness a pagan journey with long pre-Muhammadan antecedents, so too is the 'holy' cube or Kabaa used by Moslems to house a black asteroid rock and the focal point of submission to the moon idol El-Lah. As Peters relates:

In a chapter entitled "The Building of the Ka'ba by the Quraysh in the Age of Barbarism," the Meccan historian at-Azi-aqi (d. 834 C.F.) collected some of the traditions still extent on the early appearance of the House before its substantial reconstruction during the early manhood of Muhammad. Some men from quraysh sat in the sanctuary ... and were remembering the building of the Ka'ba and they described how it was before that time. It was built of dried [unmortared] stones and not with clay or mud. Its door was on ground level and it had no roof or ceiling. The curtain (kiswa) was hung on its wall on one side and was tied to the top of the center of the wall. On the right as one entered the Ka'ba there was a pit where gifts of money and goods for the Ka'ba were deposited. In this pit sat a snake to guard it, which God had sent at the time of the (tribe of) jurhum....

Islam's holiest place was at one time a very crude construction indeed. During Muhammad's lifetime the Kabaa was largely a functional and ceremonial locus of enforced ritualization and ceremony. Unlike grand structures in Europe, the Kabaa would not have inspired much in the way of admiration in its architecture, nor in its image or aura. It would be as if the magnificent halls then being built in Europe from stone and using advanced engineering techniques were in actual fact large mud huts, and thatched pens.

...it has been plausibly suggested that the later cubiform stone building, the ancestor of the one that stands in Mecca today, succeeded a square or quadrangular tent and so was distinguished from the round tents of the inhabitants of the settlement. The sequence would not be very different, then, from the Israelite one: the Ark of the desert wanderings continued to be housed in a tent even after its transfer to urban Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17); and when it was finally housed in a stone building, that "holy of holies" was likewise a ka'ba, twenty cubits in length and width and height (1 Kings 6:20).” [The Hajj, F. E. Peters]

The Kabaa was thus entirely unimpressive. The Meccan cube was also just one of many in pagan Arabia. Apparently the cubed form had some spiritual meaning for Arab tribes, as Peters states; “Al-Fakihi then records a tradition traced back to Ibn Abbas stating that there is an inscription on the maqam saying: "This is the House of God, He put it on the quadrangles of His throne, its sustenance will come from this and that, its people will be the first to suspend its sanctity." An early Muslim historian Hisham ibn al-Kalbi, reported the presence of other Kabaa's in and around the Arabian peninsula listing half a dozen main sites. We can infer that Mecca was not unique nor even primary amongst the Kabaa's of Arabia.

It is also clear from Peters and others that the Meccan cult had used a structure like the Kabaa for centuries. By the time Muhammad conquered Mecca in 630 AD there were 360 idols in the poorly built cube structure, with the Al-Lah moon deity just one amongst many venerated idols. Muhammad of course smashed all of the other artefacts within the Kabaa leaving the ilah idol as the only deity to be venerated. The Bedouin were to have only one 'god' who would be conflated with Muhammad himself. Muhammad and Allah – the two are inseparable. Early pagan rites had included sex orgies which occurred during fertility festivals [the area around the Kabaa was famous for prostitution as well]; as well as the bloody practice of animal sacrifice. By Muhammad's era, these two infamous uses of the Kabaa had apparently ended:

...The word hijr itself means "inviolable" or "taboo," and it occurs once in that sense in the Quran (6:137-139), in reference not to the area near the Ka'ba but to animals and crops earmarked as belonging to the gods, a sense that supports the contention that the hijr, whatever its original extent, may have served as a pen for the animals destined for sacrifice to the idols around the Ka'ba. Whether it was so used in Muhammad's own lifetime seems doubtful, however, at least on the evidence of the Muslim authorities. As the hijr is portrayed in Muhammad's day, it was a place of common assembly where political matters were discussed, or people prayed, or, as it appears, slept. [ibid]

The Kabaa was as much a center of local politics as higher spirituality. It would be commonsensical to view the Kabaa and the surrounding area as an age-old 'market square'. No doubt markets, stalls, traders, visitors, and local worthies all congregated around the central Kabaa area. It was not a holy place in the sense of the Christian vision of that word but more a practical meeting point of parties with various interests. Muhammad's invention was to separate the secular from the religious and make the Kabaa an inviolable and holy location for only the Allah thing.

But even here we see the pagan roots of the Kabaa and Allah. Part of a Moslem's responsibility is to kiss a black rock or something which represents the asteroid supposedly given by God to Abraham at the location of the Kabaa. Rock worship of course was long practiced in Arabia. along with celestial veneration, pre-dating Muhammad by millennia. Kissing the black rock of the Kabaa had its echo in past rites and occult beliefs. It was certainly not a Muhammadan invention:

What were transparently sacred stones, or perhaps stone idols-the jurhum story may reflect an etiological myth or be a distant echo of some form of ritual prostitution at the Ka'ba or nearby 48 were originally worshiped atop the "high places" of Safa and Marwa and then brought down somewhere in the vicinity of the Ka'ba by Qusayy himself. The circumambulation ritual continued to be performed at the two hills, but thereafter sacrifices were offered at the new sites of the idols.” [ibid]

The holiest place on earth for Moslems, the Kabaa, is a place mired and overgrown with paganism. I wonder how many Moslems know this. I wonder how many Moslems think about the import of this fact. If the Kabaa was pagan, what else in Islam is pagan ? And further. Is paganism a religion?

 

 


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