The Oldest Reference to Allah

Theodore Shoebat

So what is the oldest reference to “Allah” discovered in antiquity? Who was he and what did he represent?

The answer should shock many in the scholarly community.

The oldest reference to “Allah” (before this publication), according to Kenneth J. Thomas, was discovered in Northern and Southern Arabia dating back to the fifth century B.C. [1]

But new research linking “Allah” being worshipped as a deity can be found in the Epic of Atrahasis chiseled on several tablets dating to around 1700 BC [2] and was not found in Arabian records, but in Babylonian.

What should shock historians and theologians alike is that this much older reference to the literal name of a deity called “Allah” was never even linked by any of the experts on Assyriology who have written on the subject or any of the translators of the Atrahasis epic.

Even more troubling for Muslims today is that this deity was described nearly four millennia ago to be a god of “violence and revolution”. The beginning of the Epic of Atrahasis describes Allah as how all of the gods labored endlessly in grueling work, under the rule of the patron deity Enlil or Elil. But soon revolt of the gods had erupted, and one deity of “violence and revolution” named Allah (spelled by the experts as Alla), as the following inscription recounts:

Then Alla made his voice heard and spoke to the gods his brothers,’ Come! Let us carry Elil, the counselor of gods, the warrior, from his dwelling. Now, cry battle! Let us mix fight with battle!’ The gods listened to his speech, set fire to their tools, put aside their spades for fire, their loads for the fire-god, they flared up.[3]

This link sheds new light since for many years we have been hearing various ideas on where Allah came from. Christian and Muslim scholars – as well as secular professors – presented numerous arguments on just who Allah really is, not from an actual name reference but as to the attributes of this deity being similar to others in pre-Islamic times. For example, the renowned historian W. St. Clair Tisdal had found traits of the Persian religion Zoroastrianism in Islam;[4] while many Christian writers have argued that Allah was a moon-god in Arabia and Babylon, but such an argument has been difficult to conclude, on account of the absence of a smoking gun chiseled in ancient inscriptions directly by naming Allah literally and connecting him with lunar worship.

Muslim thinkers on the other hand have always argued that Abraham originally worshiped Allah purely without the corruption of idolatry or Christianity or Judaism, as the Koran states:

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah ]. And he was not of the polytheists.[5]

Perhaps the biggest problem for this argument is that there is no ancient inscription found to date in the Near East or anywhere else for that matter, which describes Allah being worshipped purely, without idolatrous connotations.

What is also amazing is that no expert on Assyriology or Sumerology had even suspected that “Alla” had a connection with the Arabian “Allah”. I checked the work of Thorkild Jacobsen, a foremost authority on Mesopotamian history, and while he writes on some aspects of “Alla”,[6] he makes no connection with the Arabian Allah. I even perused the dictionary of the translator, Stephanie Dalley, to see if she could provide me with the significance behind “Alla”, but the name of the deity was entirely absent from it. I could even find a definition for the word “Earth”, and for even obscure names of other gods such as “Hurabtil”, “Kakka”, “Gerra”, and “Haharnu”, but yet not one explanation for “Alla”.[7] She makes no connection between the Babylonian “Alla” and the Arabian “Allah”, nor does she even speculate a connection.

Yet, Dalley has made a theory trying to make the Biblical Yahweh an indigenous deity of Hamath in Syria. She uses as evidence to support this claim, the name of a leader from Hamath, Yau-bi-di, by saying that the “Yau” in the name is a form of Yahweh, and thus assuming that He was worshipped indigenously in Syria.[8] She also came to the conclusion that the name of a north Syrian prince, Azri-Yau, bears the name of Yahweh.[9] While she speculates and concludes that certain names with “Yau” are in reality bearing the name of Yahweh, she does even suspect that the “Alla” of the Babylonians is referring to the Arabian Allah.

And to those who accuse me of basing my conclusion, that Alla is Allah, on solely prejudice against Islam, I will present further evidence for my belief. It must be known to the reader that the author of the Atrahasis epic was one Ipiq-Aya who lived under the reign of the Old Babylonian king Ammi-Saduqa, and that he wrote it in the Akkadian language [10] (the tongue of the Old Babylonian kingdom).[11] The “Akkadians” it must be noted did not originally spring from Iraq, but had migrated from south Arabia, specifically Yemen, into Mesopotamia, where south Arabian inscriptions have been discovered, as in Kuwait on the Arab shores of the Persian gulf close to the borders of Iraq.[12] The deities of Shamash (the Sun), and Ashdar/ Athtar (Venus) were both brought by the Akkadians from South Arabia into Mesopotamia.[13]

Athtar was originally a male deity of Venus for the Akkadian Arabs, but because when they had settled into Mesopotamia, they had equated Athtar with the Sumerian goddess of Venus Inanna, and would become the Babylonian Ishtar.[14] This Athtar was also identified with the Arabian Allat,[15] the female consort of Allah who was so revered by the Mesopotamians that they had called her Um-Uruk, or “the mother of the town of Erech,” [16] an infamous city of ancient Iraq.

Since Allat was the feminine root of Allah, and was worshipped in Mesopotamia, and equal to the Sumerian Inanna, since they were both Venus goddesses, we should be able to find Allah associated with this goddess, based on inscriptions. In fact, we do, a Sumerian verse which directly identifies “Alla” with the bridegroom of Inanna, Dumuzi or Tammuz who was an ancient deified king who once ruled the city-state of Erech, or Uruk, as the fourth king of its First Dynasty, [17] at around—according to Kramer—the third millennium B.C.,[18] and whose death was ritually lamented by the Sumerians.[19]

It must be emphasized that this identification of Dumuzi with Alla is not made by university scholars, but by the ancient Sumerians themselves. In the following text which gives Alla as another Tammuz, amongst others, it reads:

Alas the lad, the warrior Ninazu! Alas the lad, my lad, my Damu! Alas the lad, the child Ningishzida! Alas the lad, Alla, owner of the net!…The shepherd, lord Dumuzi, bridegroom of Inanna.[20]

Alla’s identification with Dumuzi is made specifically in a lament for the king, who is called “the lad,” after his death, in which it refers to him as Alla, amongst other names:

[The bitter cry for him! the bitter] cry [for him!] [The bitter] cry for the captive D[umuzi!] The bitter cry [for] the captive Ama-ushumgal-anna! Woe the lad, the child Ningishzida! Woe the lad, Ishtaran of shining visage! Woe the lad, Alla, owner of the net![21]

The more one peruses this ancient text, the more one realizes that this “Alla” is, in fact an ancestral deity who was worshipped in Mesopotamia. Within the same text we find mention of the deity’s grave, in which Dumuzi, or Alla, in the mythic narrative, tells his sister Geshtinanna that his mother “will make you search for my corpse.” [22]

The tomb of Alla is mentioned specifically in another text, in which it states:

…in the cupbearers’ house, among the little bronze cups, Alla, lord of the net, is laid to rest. [23]

By the testimony of the Sumerians, it is clear that this Alla, or Tammuz, was once an infamous king of Erech, to only be deified by the superstitious masses of Mesopotamia. By reading the Kings’ List of both the city-states of Ur and Isin, we find that later rulers were in fact equated with this Tammuz after their deaths. Kings of Isin and Ur, such as Ishbi-Girra, Gimil-ili-shu, Idin-Dagan, Ishme-Dagan, Bur-Sin, Ur-Nammu, and Idin-Ishtar, were all deified after their perishing, as Tammuz.[24] And because the Sumerians identified Tammuz with Alla, it becomes logical to affirm that these kings were indeed deified as Alla as well. But besides being identified with later kings of Sumer, Tammuz is also recorded by an Arab writer named Ibn Washiyya to have been an ancient and idolatrous prophet, a cult of whom was observed by an Arabian people called the Nabateans.

The same Arab writer recounts how Tammuz had told a king to worship the seven planets and the twelve signs of the zodiac, which was to the fury of the king who had the wizard killed. To commemorate his death, the Nabatean Arabs, just like the Sumerians, had ritually wailed for him, and also lamented the death of another prophet called Yanbushad, whose name is prefixed with that of the god Nabu.[25] The renown Jewish writer Maimonides, wrote on the origins of the ritual of mourning for the deceased Tammuz:

When the false prophet named Thammuz preached to a certain king that he should worship seven stars and the twelve signs of the zodiac, that king ordered him to be put to a terrible death. On the night of his death all the images assembled from the end of the earth unto the temple of Babylon, to the great golden image of the sun, which was suspended between heaven and earth. That image pretreated itself in the midst of the temple, and so did all the images around it, while it related to them all what had happened to Thammuz. The images wept and lamented all night long, and then in the morning they flew away, each to his own temple again to the ends of the earth. And hence arose the custom every year, on the first day of the month Thammuz, to mourn and weep for Thammuz.[26]

Maimonides traces the origin of this ritual to Babylon, which would mean that it had come from Mesopotamia into Arabia at a time of far antiquity. And because Tammuz was identified by the Sumerians with Alla, we must conclude that the false prophet described by Maimonides and Ibn Washiyya, was also this same Alla.

Theodore Shoebat, For God or For Tyranny
Author and history researcher

1 Kenneth J. Thomas, Allah in Translations of the Bible, references to René Dussaud, Les Arabes en Syrie avant l’Islam (Paris, Ernest Leroux, 1907), pp. 141f., and Hitti, loc. cit., pp. 100f., citing the work of F. V. Winnett, A Study of the Lihyanite and Thamudic Inscriptions (Toronto: 1937), p. 30

2 Date from Stephanie Dalley’s introduction to Atrahasis, in her Myths from Mesopotamia, p. 3.

3 Atrahasis, tablet i, OBV i, i-ii, trans. Stephanie Dalley, in her Myths from Mesopotamia, p. 10, underline mine.

4 Sources of the Qur’ân : Zoroastrian and Hindu Beliefs, By W. St. Clair Tisdall, Chapter 5

5 Koran 3.67

6 See Jacobsen, The Harps that Once, part i, pp. 2, 53, 59, 60

7 See Stephanie Dalley’s Glossary Deities, Places, and Key Terms, in her Myths from Mesopotamia

8 See John Barton and Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah, ch. xi, p. 179


10 See Langdon, The Mythology of all Races, vol. v: Semitic, ch. viii, p. 270

11 See Dalley’s Glossary of Deities, Places, and Key Terms, under the term ‘Akkadian’

12 See Langdon, The Mythology of All Races, vol. v: Semitic, ch. i, pp. 3-4

13 See Langdon, The Mythology of All Races, vol. v: Semitic, ch. i, pp. 2-4

14 See Langdon, The Mythology of all Races, vol. v: Semitic, ch. i, pp. 4-5, 14, 19

15 Langdon, The Mythology of all Races, vol. v: Semitic, ch. i, p. 24

16 See F. Lenormant, Chaldean Magic, ch. ix, p. 116

17 Langdon, The Mythology of all Races, vol. v: Semitic, ch. xi, p. 341; Gadd, Ideas of Divine Rule in the Ancient East, lect. i, p. 17, n. 2; Kramer, The Sumerians, ch. ii, p. 45; ch. iv, p. 140

18 Kramer, The Sumerians, ch. iv, p. 140

19 See Kramer, The Sumerians, ch. iv, p. 156

20 In the Desert by the Early Grass, in Thorkild Jacobsen, The Harps that Once, part i, p. 61, Ellipses mine

21 Vain Appeal, in Thorkild Jacobsen, The Harps that Once, part i, p. 53

22 Vain Appeal, in Thorkild Jacobsen, The Harps that Once, part i, p. 55

23 In the Desert by the Early Grass, in Thorkild Jacobsen, The Harps that Once, part i, p. 77; see also the same historian’s intro to this text, p. 59

24 See Langdon, The Mythology of all Races, vol. v: Semitic, ch. xi, pp. 345-346

25 See Langdon, The Mythology of all Races, vol. v: Semitic, ch. xi, pp. 337, 339; James Townley, Reasons of the Laws of Moses, ch. iv, pp. 164-165

26 Maimonides, More Nevochim, in J. Garnier, The Worship of the Dead, part i, ch. iv, pp. 70-71


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