World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Arab mythology

Article Id: WHEBN0000291869
Reproduction Date:

Title: Arab mythology  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Petra, List of paterae on Io, List of geological features on Titan, Ruldaiu, Berber mythology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Arab mythology

Arabian mythology is the ancient, pre-Islamic beliefs of the Arab people. Prior to Islam the Kaaba of Mecca was covered in symbols representing the myriad demons, djinn, demigods, or simply tribal gods and other assorted deities which represented the polytheistic culture of pre-Islamic Arabia. It has been inferred from this plurality an exceptionally broad context in which mythology could flourish.[1] Many of the physical descriptions of the pre-Islamic gods are traced to idols, especially near the Kaaba, which is asserted to have contained up to 360.[1]


The main god in the Arabian peninsula was Hubal (Arabic: هبل‎), who is regarded as the most notable and chief of the gods. An idol of Hubal said to have been near the Kaaba is described as shaped like a human with the right hand severed and replaced with a golden hand.[2]

The three daughters of Hubal, and chief goddesses of Meccan Arabian mythology, were Al-lāt, Al-‘Uzzá, and Manāt. Each is associated with certain domains and had shrines with idols located near Taif[3] which have been destroyed.[4] Allāt (Arabic: اللات‎) or Al-lāt is the goddess associated with the underworld.[5] Al-‘Uzzá (Arabic: العزى‎) "The Mightiest One" or "The Strong" was an Arabian fertility goddess. She was called upon for protection and victory before war.[6] Manāt (Arabic: مناة‎) was the goddess of fate, the Book of Idols describes her as the most ancient of all these idols. An idol of Manāt was erected on the seashore in the vicinity of al-Mushallal in Qudayd, between Medina and Mecca. The Aws and the Khazraj, as well as the inhabitants of Medina and Mecca and their vicinities, venerated Manāt and performed sacrifices before her idol, including offering their children. Pilgrimages of some Arabs, including the Aws, Khazraj, Yathrib and others, were not considered completed until they visited Manāt and shaved their heads.[7]

Other notable gods
  1. Manaf (Arabic: مناف‎) was a god related to women and menstruation.[3]
  2. Wadd (Arabic: ود‎) was a god of love and friendship. Snakes were believed to be sacred to Wadd.[3]
  3. Amm (Arabic: أم‎) was a moon god worshipped in ancient Qataban. He was revered as in association with the weather, especially lightning.
  4. Ta'lab (Arabic: طالب‎) was a god worshipped in southern Arabia, particularly in Sheba and also a moon god. His oracle was consulted for advice.
  5. Dhu'l-Halasa (Arabic: ذو الحلاس‎) was an oracular god of south Arabia. He was venerated in the form of a white stone.
  6. Al-Qaum (Arabic: القوم‎) was the Nabataean god of war and the night, and also guardian of caravans.
  7. Dushara (Arabic: ذو الشرى‎) was a Nabataean god, his name meaning "Lord of the Mountain"

Supernatural beings


  • Jinn (also called djinn or genies, Arabic: جنjinn) are supernatural creatures which possess free will, and can be either good or evil. In some cases, evil genies are said to lead humans astray.[8]
  • Marids (Arabic: ماردmārid) are often described as the most powerful type of jinn, having especially great powers. They are the most arrogant and proud as well. Like every jinn, they have free will yet could be compelled to perform chores. They also have the ability to grant wishes to mortals, but that usually requires battle, and according to some sources imprisonment, rituals, or just a great deal of flattery.
  • Ifrits (Arabic: عفريت‘ifrīt) are infernal jinn, spirits below the level of angels and devils, noted for their strength and cunning. An ifrit is an enormous winged creature of fire, either male or female, who lives underground and frequents ruins. Ifrits live in a society structured along ancient Arab tribal lines, complete with kings, tribes, and clans. They generally marry one another, but they can also marry humans. While ordinary weapons and forces have no power over them, they are susceptible to magic, which humans can use to kill them or to capture and enslave them. As with the jinn, an ifrit may be either a believer or an unbeliever, good or evil, but he is most often depicted as a wicked and ruthless being.


  • A Nasnas (Arabic: نسناسnasnās) is "half a human being; having half a head, half a body, one arm, one leg, with which it hops with much agility". It was believed to be the offspring of a demon called a Shiqq and a human being.[9]
  • Ghouls (Arabic: غولghūl) are desert-dwelling, shapeshifting demons that can assume the guise of animal, especially hyenas. They lure unwary travellers into the desert wastes to slay and devour them. These creatures also prey on young children, rob graves, drink blood, and eat the dead, taking on the form of the one they previously ate. Because of the latter habit, the word ghoul is sometimes used to refer to an ordinary human such as a grave robber, or to anyone who delights in the macabre.[10]
  • Bahamut (Arabic: بهموتBahamūt) is a vast fish that supports the earth. It is sometimes described as having a head resembling a hippopotamus or elephant.[11]

See also



  • The Book of Idols (Kitāb al-Asnām) by Hishām Ibn al-Kalbī


  • Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia by Jeremy Black and Anthony Green (ISBN 0-292-70794-0)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.