“And they (the leaders of the mushrikoon) said (to their followers): ‘Don’t ever abandon (worshipping) your gods, and don’t ever abandon (worshipping) Wadd, nor Suwaa’, nor Yagooth, Ya’ooq and Nasr.” [Surah Nooh, Aayat 23]
These five, viz., Wadd, Suwaa’, Yagooth, Ya’ooq and Nasr, were the first idols made on earth. These were the names of righteous men – Auliya – who lived from the time of Nabi Aadam (alayhis salaam) until the age of Nabi Nooh (alayhissalaam).
They were renowned for their worship and piety, and the people followed their teachings which they had inherited from Nabi Aadam (alayhissalaam) and Nabi Sheeth (alayhissalaam), the eldest son of Hadhrat Aadam (alayhissalaam) who had become the Nabi after Hadhrat Aadam (alayhissalaam).
While these Auliya were alive, all the people were following the one true path of the Deen. There was no shirk, kufr or any other religion or ideology. The people had profound love for these Auliya and they followed their teachings. After they died, their followers were grief-stricken. There was much crying and mourning.
Shaitaan appeared in human form to the people and presented his plot to deceive them from Siraatul Mustaqeem (the Straight Path). He took advantage of their love and yearning for these Auliya, and he prepared perfect pictures which closely resembled these Auliya. He convinced the people to keep the pictures solely to refresh their memories of their noble Guides and to derive greater inspiration. This would enhance the quality of their ibaadat.
The simple folk readily fell into this satanic trap. Initially the pictures were not worshipped. They were only kept and viewed to create greater enthusiasm for worshipping Allah Ta’ala in the way in which these Auliya had taught them. When the next generation arrived, Shaitaan
convinced the people that their predecessors used to actually worship these pictures. The arguments and interpretations of shaitaan convinced the people that their predecessors had actually worshipped these pictures of the Auliya. Thus they resorted to actually worshipping the pictures. This was the origin of idolatry.
The pictures ultimately led to the making of stone idols. Shaitaan again arrived and convinced the people that a better way of worshipping these Auliya was to erect their likenesses in stone. Thus, came into origin the worship of stone images.
According to one tafseer, Wadd was actually the title of Nabi Sheeth (alayhissalaam). This word means ‘love’. It was the profound love which people had for him that he was given this title.
Nabi Nooh (alayhissalaam) according to the Qur’aan Majeed lived for 950 years. This was not the average age of the people. Allah Ta’ala had granted him this long age. During his lifespan several generations came and departed from the world. Allah Ta’ala had granted him this long age. During his lifespan several generations came and departed from the world. Despite his tableegh, every successive generation obstinately clung to the worship of these five idols.
The Mushrikeen of Makkah had adopted these five idols for their worship. The tribe of Kalb had taken to the worship of the idol named Wadd. The tribe of Huzail worshipped the idol Suwaa’. The tribes of Muraad and Banu Ghateef had adopted for their worship the idol Yagooth while Ya-ooq was the idol of the tribe Hamdaan. Nasr was worshipped by the Zil Qalaa’, an offshoot of the tribe of Humayr.
More corrupt beliefs developed with the passage of time. Wadd was believed to be the god of male virility and became the god of love. Suwaa’ was made the god of beauty, hence the idol was erected in the form of a woman. Yagooth was their god of strength and power. This idol was therefore moulded in the forms of a lion and a bull. The god of speed was Ya-ooq which was made in the form of a horse (perhaps a horse with wings). Nasr was believed to be the god of powerful vision hence the form of this idol was an eagle. Today in India, these idols are also worshipped generally symbolizing the same issues.
The original idols did not have these forms nor were these beliefs attached to them. These doctrines of shirk were later accretions which developed among the Arab mushrikeen after the idols were retrieved.
During the Great Deluge of Athaab (Divine Punishment) which destroyed the people in Nabi Nooh’s time, these idols were buried under the earth, and the Arabs of Makkah had discovered them. After unearthing them, they were set up by the different tribes as their special deities.
After steadfastly with the greatest toleration and perseverance engaging in tableegh for more than nine centuries, Allah Ta’ala informed Hadhrat Nooh (alayhissalaam): “Never will your people accept Imaan accept those who have already believed.”, Hadhrat Nooh (alayhissalaam) supplicated to Allah Ta’ala invoking curses on his mushrik nation since all hope of their reformation had now receded into oblivion. Thus he supplicated:
“O My Rabb! Do not leave on earth even a single house of the kaafireen. Verily, if You should leave them, they will only mislead your servants and give birth to only immoral unbelievers.” [Surah Nooh, Verses 26 and 27]
Then came the mighty and tumultuous Athaab of the Great Flood which utterly wiped out the mushrikeen. Islam’s uncompromising stance against all forms of picture-making of animate objects and its severe prohibition are therefore readily comprehensible. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “The worst-punished people on the Day of Qiyaamah will be the picture-makers.”
The story of the origin of idolatry also illustrates the deception of Iblees. He approaches sincere and pious men to swerve from Siraatul Mustaqeem with ‘pious’ and ‘logical’ arguments. May Allah Ta’ala save us from such talbees of Iblees.