Arabs of old had deviated from path of Ibraheem and Ismaeel (as). And the cause of this deviation was ONE man who introduced an evil practice into the religion. No one dared stop him because of his ‘high’ status and respect in the society. Yet, that one act of evil, slowly but surely started enrooting until no one remembered the ‘real’ religion anymore.
Idoltary spread through Arabia and it became worse so much so that when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) conquered Mecca in the 8th hijrah, they had 360 idols in ka’bah. Ka’bah which was supposed to be the symbol of tawheed, the icon of the pure worship of Allah, which unites all Muslims upon tawheed and that one symbol became the very place where 360 idols were introduced!
Additionally each tribe had a famous idol that they used to own. Each household used to have an idol that they used to own. Every time a person would go on a journey, he would touch and rub his idol for blessing and as soon as that person would come back he would again touch and prostrate to this idol.
Remember, they didn’t worship idols thinking of them as Creators, or Naurishers, or Providers. Not a single Arab in their Jahiliyya time ever claimed that these idols created them. No Arab ever claimed that al-laat gave him life, or ul-uzza sent down rain or al-manaat gave him children or health. No, none of the Arabs ever believed this.
The amazing thing and the irony of the situation is that all Arabs believed in Allah by the name Allah. They believed Allah is the Creator, Sustainer, Naurisher, the One Who gives life and takes life. What is the proof for this? (23:84-89), (29:61-63)
“Say: “Whose is the earth and whosoever is therein? If you know! They will say: “It is Allâh’s!”…Say: “Who is (the) Lord of the seven heavens, and (the) Lord of the Great Throne?” They will say: “Allâh.”…Say “In Whose Hand is the sovereignty of everything? And He protects (all), while against Whom there is no protector, if you know.” They will say: “(All that belongs) to Allâh.” (23:84-89)
They believed in Allah yet they rejected Islam. This is a very crucial point and a very important point. It shows that mere belief in Allah is not sufficient to be a Muslim. It is not sufficient to believe and know that Allah is the Creator, Sustainer, Lord. Abu Talib, and Abu Jahal they all believed this.
They refused to direct their worship to Allah. When it came to worship they worshipped Allah and others. They used to excuse that these idols were their intercessors:
“And they worship besides Allâh things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: “These are our intercessors with Allâh.” Say: “Do you inform Allâh of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth?” Glorified and Exalted be He above all that which they associate as partners with Him!” (10:18)
Their famous excuse was, “We are too sinful and impure to turn to Allah directly so we must go through these objects, manta uzzah, not because they created, not because they control. No they don’t. But they are closer to Allah and so by going through them we can reach Allah.”
This shows that the crux of Islam is not just belief in Allah. It is to SINGLE out Allah in worship. La illaha illalah doesn’t mean that there is no creator other then Allah. If this was the kalimah, ALL Mecca would have accepted Islam.
Any Muslim who believes in Allah but associates others in du’a, sacrifice etc. then he has fallen into the same mistake as Meccans.