"Abd al-Muttalib offered a last prayer to the moon god [Hubal] to preserve the Kaaba...The Meccans expected the Abyssinians to advance but Hubal heard their prayers overnight, and epidemic perhaps an aggravated form of small pox swept through the army...No one could doubt the power of the moon god [Hubal] who kept the army of the elephants at bay" (The history of Islam, p.7, by Robert Payne).
The Ethiopians invaded Arabia and Meccan land in the year Muhammad was born – 571 AD. There was much contact and conflict between what became Christianized Ethiopia and pagan Arabia. The black Ethiopians were impressed in their thousands into slavery in Arabia. Arabs had long attacked Ethiopia – a Christian non-Hubal worshipping state – and deranged trade and economy. The East Africans had little choice but to end the threat and could have taken Mecca but were mysteriously arrested in their conquest by the most intractable of human enemies the bacillus plague. This miracle is attributed in 571 – some 39 years before Allah was invented – to Hubal. Apparently angels dropped stones on the Ethiopian forces, and finished them off with disease. Hubal saved the Kaaba, the Meccans rejoiced.
But nowhere in the Koran is Hubal mentioned. Most Moslems don't know anything about Hubal. [See here for a summary description]. Hubal or Baal was a Sumerian invention and roughly identified with the sky. For the Babylonians Baal was a moon deity. For the Hittites a thunder god. In the Bible, Baal becomes linked with bad deeds and chaos. For the northern Arabs Hubal became 'the one', or the ilah or Al-Lah. The northern Arabians worshipped the moon idol as the main deity or 'lord' in their pantheon. Hubal or Baal simply became Allah or the one and only lord and idol to be worshipped. Serendipitously for Muhammad the 'one' chose him to be its only and last spokesman. The fact that Muhammad's Quraysh tribe worshipped Baal or Hubal, and that 'the one' or ilah was a common middle or last name [Abdullah or slave of Allah which was Muhammad's father's last name], are clear signals that the 'one' references the typical Near Eastern idol or veneration of celestial objects and not the Christian ideal of an anthropomorphic 'god' [see also David Hunt, In Defense of the Faith, pp. 37-38]
Hubal rituals are found in today's Moslem practices. The Hajj or pilgrimage used to be a fertility festival where females rubbed the black stone against their genitalia to ingratiated themselves with Baal and ensure plentiful offspring. Muhammad simply took the pagan Hajj and Hubal rituals and embedded them into his poli-cracy, thereby pacifying the pagan Arabs and earning their support:
"The Pilgrimage is a survival of the ancient Arabian pilgrimages to the holy stones. Almost none of the customs attended upon the pilgrimage derive from Muhammad's time...Muhammad changed the sevenfold tawaf or cicumambulation of the Kaaba only in one respect, before his time it was performed naked.” [Payne, The History of Islam, p.79].
"...several pre-Islamic ritual practices especially those connected with the kaaba cult in mecca were continued by muhammad..." [Frederick Denny, An Introduction to Islam, p.56]
"...important Muslim practices such as visiting the Kaaba, and the many details of the ceremony of Hajj, including visits of Safa and Marwa, and also throwing stones against the stone pillar symbolizing Satan, were all pre-islamic practices of pagan Arabia." [Answering Islam, Norman Geisler, p. 309]
"Middle Eastern scholar, E.M. Wherry in his monumental work, A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran shows that worship of Allah and the worship of Baal (Hubal) involved the worship of heavenly bodies, the moon, the stars and the sun" [Moshey, Who is this Allah, p.137].
Ibn Warraq the great investigator of Islam and an apostate, sums it up quite well:
"Muhammad did not find it necessary to introduce an altogether novel deity, but had contented himself with ridding the heathen Allah of his companions [the daughters of Allah]...Wellhausen also cites pre-Islamic literature where Allah is mentioned as a great deity. Had he not been accustom from his youth to the idea of Allah as the supreme go, in particular in mecca, it may be all doubted whether he would have come forward as a preacher of monotheism."
There is no real doubt that the idea of Baal mutated into ilah or the 'one'. This would be consistent with other areas of Near Eastern theological and societal development – especially pastoral societies who were dependent on the elements and celestial gods who would ensure that their flocks, their tribe and their way of life would be protected and secured. Even in the poor settled areas of Mecca the Arabs would have still offered their ancient 'protectors' oblations and reverence. It is impossible to suppose that after the Ethiopians were defeated in 571 AD, that Hubal disappeared and magically 39 years later, the 'one', or ilah makes an entrance. But that irrational premise is what Moslems want the rest of us to believe.