POLEMIC AGAINST PRE-ISLAMIC DEITIES IN THE SŪRAH NAMED AFTER THE PLEIADES
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The thesis explores the idea of whether Allāt, al-‘Uzzā, and Manāt were worshipped as manifestations of Venus by Muhammad’s pagan opponents known as the mushrikūn; an idea inspired through engagement with Gerald Hawting’s book The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam. By reading Q53 Sūrat al-Najm within a broader context of ancient Near Eastern astral religion/mythology I develop an “astral” interpretation of Muhammad’s angelic vision of the Archangel Gabriel, highlighting how the description of Gabriel at the beginning of the sūrah parallels the movements of Venus as the morning star in some salient features. Based on this finding I argue that the Venusian description of Gabriel serves as a polemic posing him in comparison to the goddesses mentioned later in the sūrah at Q53:19-20. These developments prompt me to examine their implications for the Satanic verses story and propose a date for Q53’s revelation.