Amar ibn Luhai Al-Khuzai was the first person to change the religion of Ismail (A), he introduced idol worshiping in Al-Ka’bah. He was also the first person to introduce superstitions. Rough estimate suggests that Luhai was from the first century of Christian Era (CE), around 500 years before the birth of Prophet Muhammad .
He traveled to Syria where the Amalekites lived. They were a powerful civilization at that time. Luhai saw them worshiping idols and they told him that their sources of power was these idols. Whenever there was a natural disaster or a threat of enemy, they used to pray to these idols and miracle happened. So Luhai requested them to gift him one of these idols. They gave him an idol named ‘Hubal’, Luhai brought it back and put it in Al-Ka’bah. So Hubal became the very first idol of the Arabian peninsula and also the main idol of the Quraish. That is why, hundreds of years later, in the battle of Badr, when Abu Sufian thought they have won, he shouted ‘Hubal has won!’.
The question arises here that how can one man change the religion of his people? How would he convince others and why would they listen to him? Allah knows best but we can find at least three factors that might have been there.
When the descendants of Ismail (A) became too numerous to live all in the same valley of Makkah, some went to settle elsewhere. Those who went elsewhere took with them stones from the holy precinct to worship it.
Also, whenever a caravan left Makkah, they would take a rock from the wall and treat is as an equivalent to an idol. As the time passed, during the time of pilgrimage, the pilgrims started bringing their own idols to Makkah. These idols were kept in the vicinity of Ka’bah.
When the Prophet conquered Makkah there were around 360 idols of different shapes and sizes inside Ka’bah. Some were of human shape, others of animal shape but most of the idols were shaped as half human and half animal.
Also, they had this theology that Allah had daughters and the angles were the daughters and therefore the used to worship angels as well.
They did not have a unified creed, some would believe in something while others would believe on other things. But they all agreed to one thing – that they have to worship these idols to be able to come closer to Allah (S).
The content of this page was compiled from video lectures on the Seerah of the Prophet Muhamamd (PBUH) by Yasir Qadhi. The video can be found here.