Arabian religions, ancient

Arabian religions, ancient
Polytheistic religions of Arabia prior to the rise of Islam.

Most of the deities of the Arab tribes were sky gods, associated with heavenly bodies such as the Sun and Moon, and they had the power to ensure fecundity, protection, or revenge. At the head of the southern Arabian pantheon was ʽAthtar, a god of thunderstorms and rain. Each kingdom also had a national deity, of whom the nation called itself the progeny. Sanctuaries were carved in rock on high places and held a baetyl ("raised stone") or statue of the god in an open-air enclosure, accessible only to ritually clean persons. In northern Arabia they included a walled enclosure with a covered or enclosed altar, similar to the Muslim Kabah. Libations, animal sacrifices, and other offerings were made to the gods, and priests interpreted oracles and performed divination. Worshipers made yearly pilgrimages to important shrines, participating in rites that included purification, the wearing of ritual clothing, sexual abstinence, abstention from shedding blood, and circuits performed around the sacred object.

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Universalium. 2010.

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