The Pagan Deities Al-Lat and Al-‘Uzza | An Explanation of Hadiths 4859 & 4860 of Sahih Al-Bukhari

The Heading

Have you not seen Al-Lât and Al-¢Uzza… [Sûrat Al-Najm, 53:19]


The Human Chain of Narration for Hadith 4859

Bukhâri narrates:

Muslim ibn Ibrâhîm told us that

Abû Al-Ash-hab told us that

Abû’l–Jawzâ’ told us that

On the authority of Ibn ¢Abbâs that

He himself had said

About the Word of Allah: “Al-Lât and Al-¢Uzza”:

The Text of the Hadith

Al-Lât was a man who used to make dough for the pilgrims.

Additional Narration

Ibn Abî ±âtim narrated this ^adîth with an addition, stating that Ibn ¢Abbâs said: “Al-Lât [the baker man] used to ground grain with a rock [and make soup], and none would drink from it save that they became hardy. Thus, the people took to worshiping him.”

Explanation of Hadith 4859

In the ^adîth of Ibn ¢Abbâs, all of the narrators—except Ibn ¢Abbâs—are from Ba|ra, Iraq.

‘Lât’ in the Arabic language means “he who makes the dough.” There is a difference of opinion about the name of this man. Al-Fâkihi narrates by way of Mujâhid that Ibn ¢Abbâs had said:

Al-Lât was a man in the days of ignorance before Islam who lived on a rocky plane in >â’if. He had sheep. So he used to take butter from the milk of the sheep and raisins and cheese from the people of >a’if and make [with these ingredients] ^ys [thin porridge], with which he would feed all the wayfarers. Then, when he died, they [the people] began to venerate him [in worship]. His name, it has been said, was ¢Âmir ibn Al-Ẓurib, and he was the leader of the Arabs at his time. The poets said of him in the past: “And among us is a leader who judges / And his judgment is never nullified.”

Others have said that his name was ¢Amr ibn Lu^ay , but this cannot be because Al-Fâkihi narrated on the authority of Ibn ¢Abbâs that when Al-Lât died, ¢Amr ibn Lu^ay said: “He has not died. Rather, he is living under the bedrock.”

So, they built a house on his grave and worshiped there. And it is known that ¢Amr ibn Lu^ay is the one that introduced idolatry to the Arabs. It is also known that Al-Mughîrah ibn Shu¢bah is the one who destroyed the idol Al-Lât at the command of the Prophet œ when the Thaqîf, the people of >â’if, accepted Islam, and Khâlid ibn Al-Walîd destroyed the idol Al-¢Uzza at the command of the Prophet œ in the year of the Conquest of Makkah (8^ /630 ce).

The Human Chain of Narration for Hadith 4860

¢Abdullah ibn Muhammad narrated to us that

Hishâm ibn Yûsuf informed us that

Ma¢mar informed us that

On the authority of Al-Zuhri

On the authority of ±umayd ibn ¢Abd Al-Ra^mân

On the authority of Abû Hurairah

That he himself had said:

The Text of the Hadith

The Messenger of Allah œ said: ‘Whoever swears an oath and says in his oath [out of habit]: ‘By Al-Lât and Al-¢Uzza! Then let him say Lâ IIâha illa-Allâh. And whoever says to his companion: ‘Come, let us gamble!’ then let him [instead] give charity.”

Explanation of Hadith 4860

Occasion of Utterance

Al-Nasâ’î and Ibn Mâjah narrate an authentic ^adîth which seems to have occasioned this ^adîth, that is, that Mu|¢ab, the son of Sa¢d ibn Abî Waqqâṣ, narrated on the authority of his father, Sa¢d ibn Abî Waqqâṣ, that his father had said:

I was recently out of my state of ignorance [had newly accepted Islam], so I swore by Al-Lât and Al-¢Uzza. My companions said to me: ‘What a terrible thing you have said!’ So I mentioned it to the Prophet œ, and he said: ‘Say Lâ Ilâha illa-Allâh, there is no God but Allah. Lâ sharîka lahu. He has no partner.’”

Al-Kha~~âbi says: “An oath is sworn on the basis of something or someone that is magnified and worshiped. Thus a person who swears by other than Allah resembles the unbelievers in this. Therefore he is commanded to return back to his faith by saying the shahâda, the testification of faith.”

Imam Ibn Al-¢Arabi says: “Whoever swears by anything other than Allah intentionally is a disbeliever. One who does it out of ignorance or by slip of tongue should say, by way of repentance: Lâ Ilâha illa-Allâh, there is no God but Allah, whereby Allah will forgive him, turn his heart away from its slip-up, bring his tongue back to the truth, and remove from him the evil of the thoughtless words he has uttered.”

As for the word of the Prophet œ: “He who says to his companion: ‘Come, let us gamble!’ let him [instead] give charity.”

Al-Kha~~âbî says that the person should give in charity the money with which he was planning to gamble. It is also said that it is not necessary that he give in charity the money with which he was planning to gamble, but that he give some money to charity as expiation for [the intention] that he has expressed.

Al-Nawawi says that this second opinion of Al-Kha~~âbi is the correct one. “And the evidence for this,” he says, “is in the narration of this ^adîth found in Muslim, which says: ‘And let him who says to his companion: ‘Come, let us gamble!’ give something in charity.’” Some ±anafi scholars claim that the expiation for saying, “Come let us gamble!” is the same as the expiation for not fulfilling an oath, which is fasting three days or feeding the poor; however, there is no evidence for this.

¢Iyâ\ says: In this ^adîth lies proof for the opinion of the majority [of scholars], which is that firmly resolving oneself to disobey Allah is a sin that counts against this person even if they fall short of committing the sin.

Ibn ±ajar says:

I do not know from whence ¢Iyâ\ came by this opinion, for the ^adîth states that if a person explicitly calls his companion to gamble, then he should expiate for this, for gambling is forbidden by consensus. Thus, calling someone to gamble is also a sin. Hence, inviting someone to gamble is more than just a resolution [to sin] in one’s heart. It is itself a [sinful] act of the tongue.

Written By

Omar Abdl-Haleem is a fourth generation Muslim in America. He has a BA from Al-Azhar University in Usul Al-Din, specializing in Hadith, and was about to finish his Master’s Degree from Al-Azhar in Hadith, when he had to leave Egypt for safety reasons in the fall of 2013. He has translated most of Ibn Al-Jawzi’s book: Sayd Al-Khatir into English, which he intends to complete (some episodes of Omar’s translation of this book have appeared in Aljumuah Website). He is also working on a Hadith book for English speakers that explains and teaches Mustalah Al-Hadith (Hadith Terminology) in common terms. His Arabic is native, having studied in Egypt since he was 14, and then full time after completion of High School in the US. He is invaluable for AlJumuah in accessing scholarly texts. He intends to complete his graduate studies in Hadith.

"You are invited to respond to the contents of the article and to engage in conversation about the issues raised."

Leave a Reply