By Wesley Muhammad, PhD © 2012 Wesley Muhammad
(Excerpt from Black Arabia and the African Origin of Islam)
It is popular in some Afrocentrist circles to claim that Allah is a patriarchal corruption of the paramount Arabian goddess Al-Lat/Allāt. This claim is largely based on a suggestion by Dr. Yusef Ben Jochannan. According to ben-Jochannan the Islamic god Allāh was “launched” in Arabia by the Arabian prophet Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allāh, who apparently (according to ben-Jochannan) converted the female goddess Allāt into the male god Allāh. The implication is of course that before Muhammad replaced the female deity Allāt with his own creation, the male god Allāh, no one worshipped the latter. Hindu nationalist Purushottan Negesh Oak likewise suggests that the male Allāh derived from the early goddess. This is a most unfortunate historical reconstruction in that, while it is completely disproven by linguistic, epigraphic and historical data, it nonetheless is frequently repeated. But as pioneering Canadian scholar of Islam Arthur Jeffrey points out:
"The name Allah¼ was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Arabia."
The male and female pair Allāh/Allāt coexisted in Arabia before Muhammad's time, with Allah receiving recognition as supreme creator deity. Western Islamicist and historian from the University of Minnesota, Caesar E. Farah, affirms that
"Allah, the paramount deity of pagan Arabia, was the target of worship in varying degrees of intensity from the southernmost tip of Arabia to the Mediterranean."
Samuel M. Zwemer notes as well:
"But history establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that even the pagan Arabs, before Muhammad's time, knew their chief god by the name of Allāh, and even, in a sense, proclaimed his unity."
British Islamicist William Montgomery Watt has shown that Allāh, before the time of Muhammad, was what students of comparative religion know as a “high god.” This means that while only one of several gods whose existence was acknowledged, Allāh was the supreme deity over the others. One of these subordinate gods was in fact the goddess Allat, who was considered both the feminine complement of the male Allāh and his “daughter.” Thus Jacques Ryckmans, French historian of Pre-Islamic Arabia, writing on the gods of Pre-Islamic North Arabia notes:
"Al-Ilāt or Allāt ("the Goddess"), was known to all pantheons. She is daughter or a consort, depending on the region, of al-Lāh or Allāh, Lord of the Ka’bah in Mecca.”
To suggest that Muhammad somehow 'converted' the female deity Allāt into the male Allāh is completely without warrant.
Prophet Muhammad did not 'launch' Allāh or his worship in Arabia. Second century CE inscriptions from Sumatra Harabesi in the Tektek mountains, Edessa Syria, document this. At an Arab sanctuary the “governor of the Arabs” left the following inscription dated to 165 CE:
(2) I, Tiridates, son of Adona, governor of ‘Arab, (3) built this altar and set up a pillar for Mār 'Allāhā, 'Lord Allah'.
These inscriptions are 400 years prior to the beginning of Muhammad's reform movement in Mecca. But there are more, earlier examples as well. Evidence of the worship of Allah in ancient Arabia has been found in both the Northern and Southern portions of the peninsula. It is most documented for the Lihyan tribe in Northern Arabia. Four hundred Lihyanite and Dedanite inscriptions dating back to the fifth century BCE were found in the Nejd (Central Arabia). In these inscriptions are invocations to Allah. For example:
H'lh 'btr bk hsrr
'O Alah, (god) without offspring; in Thee be joy'
F.V. Winnet, who has translated these inscriptions, lists others in his article, "Allah Before Islam."
O Allah, permit me to accomplish salvation¼
O Allah, God without offspring, greeting
O Allah, guide me that I may attain prosperity¼
O Allah, God without offspring, knower of men¼
Allāh is called in these inscriptions "The Exalted": Give favor to this rock, O Exalted Allah.
This Lihyanite inscriptional material gives evidence of an early Allah cult center 1100 years before Muhammad. And who were the Banu Lihyan? According to al-Tabari the Banu Lihyan were the survivors of Jurhum, one of the twelve original Kushite tribes in Mecca. They were a division of the ancient tribe Hudhayl in the northern vicinity of Mecca and al-Tāʾif, of whom the Encyclopedia of Islam describes:
"Their skins were black and shinning; their looks¼were not hollow but round and teeming."
This was an ancient center of Black worshippers of the male Allāh that preceded Muhammad in Arabia by over a millennium. The evidence for the cult of Allāh in Arabia, however, does not begin with the Lihyanites, but goes back to the Proto-Semites.
 Yosef A.A. ben-Jochannan and George Simmonds, The Black Man's North and East Africa (Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 2005 ) 25; Yosef ben-Jochannan, African Origins of the Major "Western Religions" (The Black Man's Religion, Volume I; Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1991 ) 212, 213.
 Wayne B. Chandler advances the same claim, quoting from the non-Arabist and non-Islamicist Amaury de Riencourt's critique of feminism, Sex and Power in History (New York: Dell Publishing, 1974). See Chadler's article "Ebony and Bronz: Race and Ethnicity in Early Arabia and the Islamic World," in Rashidi and Sertima, African Presence, 272.
 P.N. Oak, World Vedic Heritage: A History of Histories, 2 vols. (3rd Edition; New Delhi: Hindi Sahitya Sadan, 2003) I:696.
 Islam: Muhammad and His Religion (New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1958) 85.
 Caesar E. Farah, Islam: Beliefs and Observances (Hauppauge, NY: Barron's, 2003 ) 28.
 Samuel M. Zwemer, The Muslim Doctrine of God (1924) 24.
 Montgomery W. Watt, "The Qur'ân and Belief in a High God," Der Islam 56 (1979): 205-211; idem, "Pre-Islamic Arabian Religion in the Qur'an," 15 (1976): 73-79; idem, "Belief in a 'high god' in pre-Islamic Mecca', Journal of Semitic Studies, 16 (1971): 35-40.
 Encyclopedia Britannica 2004 s.v. Arabian Religion by Jacques Ryckmans. See further: F. V. Winnett, "The Daughters of Allah," Moslem World 30 (1940): 113-130.
 Retsö, Arabs in Antiquity, 441, 616 n. 5; Han J.W. Drijvers and John F. Healey, The Old Syriac Inscriptions of Edessa and Osrhoene: Texts, Translation and Commentary (Leiden: Brill, 1999) 104.
 F.V. Winnett, A Study of the Lihyanite and Thamudic Inscriptions (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1937) Plate IV.
 F. Winnet, "Allah Before Islam," The Moslem World 28 (1938): 243.
 F. Winnet, A Study of The Lihyanite and Thamudic Inscriptions (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1937) 27.
 Ed. de Goeje, Annales, 749.
 “Hudhayl,” Encyclopedia of Islam, 3:540.