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WND Pushes Bizarre “Origin of Allah” Theory

Time for silliness at WND:

Researcher says Babylonian reference dates to 2 millennia before Muhammad

The “researcher” is none other than Walid Shoebat’s son, who has long embraced the family business. Theodore Shoebat has noted a couple of references in Mesopotamian mythology to a god called “Alla”, and he suggests that this is the same as “Allah”. However, the scholarly community has conspired to hide the truth:

“Allah of the Babylonian Epic of Atrahasis was most likely kept hidden by researchers who feared controversy or even concealed the find,” he wrote. “In the epic Allah, which translators spelled ‘Alla’; (really pronounced the same way), was never even linked by any of the experts on Assyriology or any of the translators who wrote on the subject to the known Allah of Arabia and Islam.”

Shoebat describes the supposed essential attibutes of Alla, which therefore reveal the “true” nature of Islam:

…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 is from the Atrahasis, as translated by Stephanie Dalley Myths from Mesopotamia (although he’s Americanized “counsellor” and failed to note a gap in the original text of eight lines after “brothers”). However, the reference to Alla as a “deity of ‘violence and revolution'” does not appear in the text – it seems that this is Shoebat’s own interpretation of the deity’s character, placed in quotation marks for no good reason.

A later line of the text mentions “Ilawela who had intelligence”, or, in Helge Kvanvig’s version as published in his Primeval History: Babylonian, Biblical, and Enochic, “Ilaw?ila who had planning capacity” (p. 44). Kvanvig notes that a late Babylonian recension has “Alla” rather than “Ilawela” here, and he suggests that the original version may be a “hint to Alla”. Kvanvig  also discusses various transliteration options. Either way, though, this is the god who led the revolution – and his attribute as given in the text is “planning capacity”, not “violence and revolution”. This god is then slaughtered, and his flesh and blood used to create humanity.

Kvanvig also refers to an article entitled “Tablets from the Sippar Library VI. Atra-?as?s”, by A. R. George and F. N. H. Al-Rawi and published in the journal Iraq in 1996. They describe Alla as a “minor deity” and as “well known as a dead god”, and they regard the relationship of “Alla” to the name in the older version as being “fraught with difficulty”. George and Al-Rawi also have a footnote about “Alla”, instructing us that “On this god in general see W. G. Lambert in B. Alster (ed.) Death in Mesopotamia (CRRA 26; Copenhagen, 1980), pp. 63-4″. I do not have access to this book (full title: Death in Mesopotamia: papers read at the XXVIe Rencontre assyriologique internationale), although there is a snippet view Google books of limited value. It should be noted that there is also German literature on the topic. Shoebat references Thorkild Jacobsen, but his discussion is for the most part informed by old and general works (such as S.H. Langdon’s The Mythology of All Races: Semitic, which was published in 1931).

Shoebat does not make any actual etymological link between the Mesopotamian “Alla” and the Arabian “Allah”; instead, he relies on the very general suggestion that:

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.

Therefore what? That’s far from adequate to show that the Atrahasis records information about Arabian religion that has otherwise been lost, and it certainly doesn’t tell us anything about Arabian religion of a later period. Shoebat instead goes on to present also a somewhat obscure argument about Alla having a consort.

The whole thing is a mess; Shoebat fails to make any link between the character and story of “Alla” in  the Atrahasis with the concept of Allah in Arabia. And his association of “Alla” with “violence” in the Atrahasis appears to be based on his personal (and very odd) subjective view of the story. The whole argument amounts to no more than the banal observation that “Alla” sounds like “Allah”.

It’s a shame: Theodore Shoebat is young, and he clearly has some passion for research. Alas, his only role model is the crank theorising of his father and his father’s friends.