Skip to main content

Wadd: The Power in the Name

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher with an interest in history, science, and education.

An amulet with Wadd and his known symbols, the moon, snake and Venus One of the few remaining items depicting Wadd and the magic formula with his theophoric  name.

An amulet with Wadd and his known symbols, the moon, snake and Venus One of the few remaining items depicting Wadd and the magic formula with his theophoric name.

A God Nearly Lost to Time

In Islam, Wadd is a false prophet. Because of this designation, his temples were destroyed and much of his history and religion were vanquished to the hot, burning sands of time. Little is known about this ancient moon god, except that he originated among a tribe within the southern half of modern-day Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Fortunately, there are artifacts that bear his name and symbols. Despite being represented negatively in the Quran, Wadd's name has survived as a theophoric name that’s used to this day. In addition, Wadd still garners controversy within the Islamic and Christian communities in the Middle East and beyond.

While it appears that Wadd’s importance as a god has been greatly diminished over time, there is a renewed interest in him. He’s become a character in a role-playing game.

The Pre-Islamic Deity

As mentioned, little is known about the religion or myth that Wadd came from. What is known is that it started with a tribe possibly thousands of years before the arrival of Islam in the area.

It is believed that Wadd was first worshiped by the Banu Kalb tribe of ancient Minaeans of Yemen. According to the Book of Idols from Hisham ibn al Kalbi, idols of Wadd were made in the image of a man meant to represent “heaven”.

Kalbi’s book mentioned that devout followers of Wadd described his idol in following passage:

  • “It was the statue of a huge man, as big as the largest human beings, covered with two robes, clothed with the one and cloaked with the other, carrying a sword on his waist and a bow on his shoulder, and holding in [one] hand a spear to which was attached a standard, and [in the other] a quiver full of arrows.”

The Minaeans was an Arabic group that ruled a kingdom in ancient Yemen and Southwestern Arabia. Their origins in the area can be traced back to the 1st millennium BC.

Minaean did much to spread his influence throughout the ancient world; a temple in Wadd’s honor was believed to be on the Greek island of Delos.

They were one of four ancient Yemenite groups (also known as Greek Ethnos) that made their living through the extremely lucrative spice trade. They were first described by Eratosthenes of Cyrene, the Greek mathematician, geographer and astronomer.

Minaean did much to spread the moon god's influence throughout the ancient world; a temple in Wadd’s honor was believed to be as far as the Greek islands.

Still, the most vital were in the cities and villages of the peninsula. In particular the remnants of the ancient city of Dumat al-Jandal contained an idol and temple made in Wadd’s honor.

The Moon and Serpent

Wadd was represented by symbols. Often, artifacts found from this era used a moon, serpent and the star of Venus.

Snakes within the Minaean tribes were considered sacred. It’s possible that the contortions or curve a snake makes was similar to the shape of the crescent moon. Whatever the reason may be, the snake is rarely the type of animal that gets recognized as being holy among other religions in the area.

from wikipedia commons. Two of three symbols for Wadd; the moon and Venus

from wikipedia commons. Two of three symbols for Wadd; the moon and Venus

In many cases, the three symbols are found together in a pattern. Often, the snake and crescent moon is represented with a planet (as a star) shown. In this case, the planet being Venus. This image with the crescent moon and star seemingly mirrors a popular symbol for Islam. In addition, it has led to some speculation between Wadd and Allah (more on that later). However, that’s where the similarities end.

In terms of pre-Islamic gods, Wadd was considered more superior to the gods of the sun and Venus. In part, Wadd was considered a masculine name whereas the word for sun and Venus was feminine. And, in a patriarchal society, the moon god was much more significant. This may explain why his congregation stretched over large areas and among various tribes and societies.

A Theophoric Name

Possibly, the most important contribution Wadd has had on history is his name. In Arabic, the word “Wadd” means:

  • love,
  • friendship.
  • father

In addition, he was considered the protector of cities. It was not uncommon for leaders in the Minaean society to have his name included in their title. Over the years, his name has come to represent something positive and has been used in different variations.

The use of Wadd’s name in this fashion follows a custom found in ancient cultures. The term, theophoric name, refers to the practice of incorporating the name of gods into the title of kings, buildings, cities and rituals.

Wadd had several names. And each one has been used to name someone or something significant They include:

  • Ilumquh,
  • Amm and
  • Sin.
  • Waddum
  • Wadd’ab

Beside naming people and places, the Minaeans used Wadd’s name by inscribing a magical formula on amulets, temples, and idols. The formula,called Wb’d, stated “Wadd is [my?]father.” The word, alone was meant to protect the people and town.

In addition, it was there to protect pilgrims and colonists of the society. Many pilgrims visited his temples where they worshiped him and sought divine guidance from oracles there.

Wadd’s Influence Spreads

The Minaean Kingdom eventually spread its influence. Alters to him and to other gods stretched throughout the peninsula and beyond.

Its farthest reaches was to the Greek island of Delos. There, relics and altars to the moon god were adorned with inscriptions in both the Minaean and Greek languages.

Translated, the Minaean text state:

  • “Hani and Zayd’l of Hab erected the altar of Wadd and of the deities of Ma’in (alternate name for Minaean) at Delos.”

The Greek version states:

  • “[Property] of Oaddos, god of the Minaeans. To Oaddos.”

The Hellenistic era kingdom Awson worshiped the moon god.

Oaddos was another god worshiped by the Mineaeans from Dedan (now modern Al-’Ula in Saudi Arabia) that settled on the island. Dedan was also an important center for their religion. This included a temple for Wadd.

Eventually, Wadd was accepted as a god in another kingdom in the region. The Hellenistic era kingdom Awson worshiped the moon god. In addition, it appears that this kingdom made Wadd into a theophoric name, too. According to Wikiwand, an Awsan king was proclaimed the “son of Wadd.”

Surprisingly, there appears to be evidence that the Semetic Levites were mentioned in temples dedicated to Wadd. There are questions as to exactly what the connection between the two was. Some scholars believe that Levites may have been priests or members of a cult.

A False Prophet

The sphere of influence that Wadd’s religion had soon came crashing down. Islam swept through the region. Suddenly, Wadd lost influence and his congregation melded into the new religion. Once a revered God, he was labeled a false prophet.

In the Quran (written between 610-632 AD), the chapter of Noah (the same figure from Judeo-Christain tradition) made several references to Wadd, except it was as a false idol people prayed to.

In a passage starting at Chapter 71 and going though verses 21-25, The Ouran states in this translation:

  • (21) Noah said, “My lord, they revolted against me, and instead lined up behind one whose affluence and progeny only led to dearth (sic) for him.
  • (22) They concocted a massive fraud,
  • (23) warning, ‘Never forsake your gods, nor abandon Wadd, Suwa, Yaghuth, Ya’uq or Nasr.’
  • (24) They have duped many. Do not increase the evildoers save in error.
  • (25) Their sins condemned them to drown, then they were cast into the inferno, and they found no one to succor them apart from God.”

The fall of Wadd didn’t come easily. It took a major battle between Mohammad's forces and one of the last major tribes on the peninsula. The Quadith tribe had embraced Wadd and its religion before the pivotal Battle of the Trench. In this final battle, the tribal leader, using Wadd’s theophoric name (Amr ibn Abd Wadd), was defeated and killed by Mohammad’s son-in-law and cousin.

The victors under the guidance of Khalid ibn al-Walid and with an edict from Mohammad, destroyed the temples and idols for the moon god.

Claim of a Wadd-Allah Connection

Wadd and his religion vanished from the region. The mythology that could’ve explained a lot about him disappeared. His temples and idols were either destroyed or buried. The modern world would only know of him through word origins and the negative passage in the Quran.

Gone but not forgotten: his name emerged in the late 20th century. Robert Morey, author of the controversial book “The Islamic Invasion (1992)”, stated that Allah was actually a seventh century moon god; a concept that has been challenged by several Islamic scholars and websites.

In the Quran (Chapter 71), Wadd is mentioned as a false prophet.

In the Quran (Chapter 71), Wadd is mentioned as a false prophet.

One website, Balaam-ass.com, stated that Morey did an acceptable job of showing that the name Allah was pre-Islamic; but it also stated that Morey may have jumped to a conclusion by identifying Wadd as being Allah. It also contended that he didn’t discern between other moon gods and goddesses that were being worshiped in the area, and he didn’t make the connection that Allah's origin was primarily from northern Arabia.

In many respects, Wadd hasn’t been forgotten; however, the recent controversy is fueling this. Morey was not the only Christian writer to attempt to link Allah to Wadd. The attempt, in many respects, is meant to discredit Allah (Arab translation of God) by showing that he was not the same god mentioned in the Old and New Testament of the Bible. Also, it appears that these writers were trying to associate Allah to paganism – a term that carries negative connotations in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Wadd as a RPG Character

Lately, Wadd has become a character in a roll playing game (RPG). The game is known as Sons of Gods, and Wadd is given a very positive profile in the game. In addition, a lot of details have been given to him. In fact, it rivals what is known about the original Wadd.

Still, he possesses some of his old qualities such as being a moon god. He has been given another title that reflects what his name means: The God of Love and Friendship.

Wadd in the 21st Century

Wadd has come a long way from being a footnote in history. The renewed interest has brought about negative and positive attributes for this moon god. To date, Wadd’s resurgence has been relegated to a RPG. There are no indications that the comic book industry, which often borrows heavily from ancient myths, have made the decision to turn him into a modern-day superhero.

But, the future is as bright as the moon on a clear night.

Wadd hiding behind the clouds.

Wadd hiding behind the clouds.

Work Cited

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Dean Traylor