Allāh (Arabic: الله) is the Meccan creator god and the supreme deity of the pre-Islamic Arabian pantheon, who was worshiped by the pagan Arabs primarily in times of despair, need and drought as he was believed to grant life-giving rain and intervene in times of extreme crisis. The three chief goddesses of Mecca; al-Lāt, al-‘Uzzā and Manāt, were believed to be his daughters and were invoked alongside many other deities to intercede for the worshiper on behalf of Allāh: all the tribes of pre-Islamic Arabia venerated him as the High God and supreme being, but direct worship of him was rare. After creating the universe, Allāh then retired into the position of a silent and remote spectator who dwelt in 'Aliyyin (Hebrew: Elyon ), the highest heaven, and only intervened in human affairs in extreme cases of drought or danger. In pre-Islamic Arabia, the practice of calling upon God or gods to send rain (’ istisq ā ') continued with Islam although the practice of calling upon any other god other than Allah is a grave sin in Islam.
The pre-Islamic Arabian tribes who followed the native polytheistic religion, in particular the Banu Quraysh of Mecca, acknowledged Allāh to be the creator of the universe; the father of the gods, angels and jinn, and the supreme being who controls the mechanisms of the universe: the Arabian counterpart of the ancient Hebrew creator god El. The Jewish and Christian tribes of pre-Islamic Arabia called their Biblical god Allāh , although the Allāh of the Arab polytheists was distinct in concept to the Christian and Jewish Allāh. Officially, the god Allāh had no idol assigned to him, however; a black meteorite called al-Hajar al-Aswad was kept at a shrine in the corner of the Ka’aba: Allāh was believed to house a portion of his power within this mysterious black stone due to its alleged heavenly origins.
The pre-Islamic Allah was believed to reside in a distant heaven called 'Aliyyin or Lahut - the uppermost stratum of the universe and the highest plane of existence: with the other gods ( ālihah ) and angels ( mal ā’ikah ) ruling from lesser heavens which were located in the sky ( as-Samawat ). In addition to having the gods and the angels under his command, the pre-Islamic notion of Allah enjoyed a special relationship with the jinn: primordial spirits of the land that functioned as lesser gods beneath the rank of angels who ruled the desert wilderness and desolate places.
The cult of Allāh in pre-Islamic Arabia, aside from that among the monotheistic hanifs who followed an Abrahamic religion which was not Judaism or Christianity; was not prominent in society: the god Allāh was represented with only one baetyl, the Black Stone of the Ka’aba, and had no other idols apart from this. In Arabian polytheism, Allāh is considered far too powerful and immense to be interested in the affairs of humans so worship is instead directed towards his children, the ālihah ; the pantheon of gods and goddesses who intercede for humans on behalf of Allāh. In pre-Islamic Mecca, the status of Allāh as creator deity and high god did not earn him the status of patron god of the town itself: this honor was afforded to Hubal; a warrior rain-god and one of the ‘offspring’ of Allāh; who was considered in the theology of the pagan Meccans to be more interested in the well-being of the common man than Allāh himself was.
Although the pagan Arabians believed in a multitude of gods or ālihah , they knew Allah to be the Lord ( Rabb ) of the Heavens ( as - Samawat ) and the Earth (al-'Ardh ), and as the ultimate deity with authority over the gods, angels, jinn and mankind: existing before Time ( Dahr ) itself and was described as being “neither accident nor essence”. The concept of a high god, creator deity and supreme deity with power over all the other gods was common to the mythologies of all the ancient Semitic religions; the Arabian Allah playing the same role as the Babylonian Ilu ; the Phoenician Elos ; the Aramaean Elaha ; the Hebrew Eloah , and the Canaanite El . In pre-Islamic Arabian religion, the words " i lāh " ( god ) and " i lāhat " ( goddess ) were used to refer to any deities other than Allāh. The belief in Allāh among the polytheists of Mecca was so prominent that even the most notable opponents of Muhammad, in particular with Amr ibn Hisham al-Makhzumi ( Abu Jahl ) and Abd al-'Uzza ibn Abd al-Muttalib al-Hashmi ( Abu Lahab ), would often swear oaths by his name.