15 August 2022 The Future is the Product of the Past

“Woman Gods” Worshiped in Ancient Petra Pre-Islam

Al-lat, Manat (also called Manah), and Al-‘Uzza are the three goddesses that with Hubal were the primary deities of Mecca. Al-‘Uzza, with the god Dushara, was also a primary deity of the Nabateans.

Cultures in the Arabian Peninsula worshiped many gods before the advent of Islam in the 7th century. One of the most important among these is the goddess Al-Lat, who has now become a blurred figure but was once widely known in the West and the Middle East.

His faith is located near Mecca, where the later faith of Islam arose with the Prophet Muhammad. Al-Lat was a well-known goddess in many parts of the Arab world before the advent of Islam.

Al-Lat was originally the moon goddess but had many other different roles. She was the abundance goddess of the earth and also a god of love. It was also related to the sun, and although its main symbol was the new moon, it was sometimes represented by the sun.

Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and the Manat sculpture group, M.S. 1-3. century, the period of the Parthian Empire. Iraq Museum.
Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and the Manat sculpture group, M.S. 1-3. century, the period of the Parthian Empire. Iraq Museum.

Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat are usually depicted together and are sometimes confused with each other. Al-Lat is the moon goddess. Besides the crescent moon, other symbols of Al-Lat are a sheaf of wheat and a pot of incense.

  Al-Uzza (The Mighty One) is the goddess of the morning and evening stars and symbolizes war and love. She is shown with lions, similar to Inanna. The Nabataean people built a great temple for her at Petra. Also worshiped near the acacia trees and rooftops dedicated to her. Some scholars believe She may even have been the patron deity of Mecca itself. Al-Uzza is the Mistress of Heaven, and she is a member of the Nabatean zodiac. 

It is thought that the Temple of the Winged Lions was built for Al-Uzza.
It is thought that the Temple of the Winged Lions was built for Al-Uzza.

Al-Uzza is also the Goddess who protects ships on long-distance travel. Despite the fact that Arabia is a region of deserts and nomads, the Nabateans did engage in ocean voyages to trade. In this aspect, She is symbolized by the dolphin, whose habit of swimming alongside ships made them guardians and protectors. Felines are also holy to Her, and Petra’s Temple of the Winged Lions might be hers.

Menat is the goddess of faith and death. People summoned her either to protect themselves or to follow their enemies. Its symbol is the waning moon and is usually depicted as an old woman holding a vessel of death in her hand.

Al-'Uzza: The most famous of the three female gods, her face carved in stone
Al-‘Uzza: The most famous of the three female gods, her face carved in stone. Photo: Sonia Halliday

The ancient peoples of Canaan in Jordan and northern Arabia are called the Nabataeans. B.C. In the 3rd and 1st centuries, they were so prosperous that they built the magnificent city of Petra, with numerous temples, tombs, and other buildings carved directly into the rock. Although they did not leave much-written material today, it is thought that they worshiped the early Arab gods, especially Dhu Shara and Al-Uzza.

The ancient city of Petra

They were also goddesses mentioned in the Quran which the prophet Muhammad refused to recognize as partners of the one God – a compromise suggested by the Meccans.

In many ways, they represent the religion of the jahiliyyah or “the time of ignorance” which the Muslims would come to describe as the time before Islam.

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