"Please, when we read the history of the people of Makkah before and during the life time of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), we often hear the name of Abdullah which meant the "Servant of Allaah" while it is said that the people were polytheist and unbelievers. Does it mean that Allaah is one of the gods that they worshipped along with the over 300 tiny gods or what? Please give us an explanation. Yours in Islaam. Qaasim. Lagos state.
Alhamdullilah - The Praise is for Allaah and May His peace and blessing be upon the Messenger. It is important to point out that the English word "God or god" is a loose translation of the word "ilaah" from the Arabic language. It means the deity that is worshipped and adored and the One whose help should be sought. So in the Arabic language, Allaah is the name of the "ilaah" that deserves that right in truth and this is without recourse to writing it in capital letters or otherwise. Thus.. It is true that the people of Makkah were unbelievers and polytheist before arid up till a particular time during the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessing be upon him). It is also true that they bore names that reflected servitude to Allaah like "Abdullah" and other names similar to it; while in their manners of worship and supplications they associated partners with Him, the Most Exalted.
Firstly, the people of Makkah knew about the existence of Allaah. They affirmed Him as the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. They only disagreed and went to war with the Prophet (peace and blessing 'be upon him) because he called to make worship complete and perfect only for Allaah.
"And verily, if you ask them: "Who created the heavens and the earth?"Surely,they will say:"Allaah (has created them). Say: "Tell me then, the things that you invoke besides Allaah, if Allaah intended some harm for me, could they remove His harm, or if He (Allaah) intended some mercy for me, could they withhold His Mercy?" Say "Sufficient for me is Allaah; in Him those who trust must put their trust. "(Zumar : 38)
Secondly, they knew about Allaah in their worship, but they considered him too great a deity to be approached without intermediaries in form of the smaller gods. This is why Allaah aptly described them as "Mushrikun" - meaning those who believe in more than one deity that deserves worship(polytheist). Allaah says:
"Surely, the religion is for Allaah only. And those who take protectorsand helpers'besides Him (say): "We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allaah. " Verily, Allaah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Truly, Allaah guides not him who is a liar, and a disbeliever." (Zumar : 3)
So they were amazed when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessing be upon him) called them to Tawheed - the unity of Allaah and His Oneness. Allaah says:
"And the Arab pagans wonder that a warner (Prophet Muhammad) has come to them from among themselves! And the disbelievers say: "This (Prophet Muhammad) is a sorcerer, a liar. "Has he made the aliha (gods) (all) into One lIah (God - Allaah). Verily, this is a curious thing!" (Sad : 4 - 5)
Finally, the Arabs were the descendants of Prophet Ismaa'eel (AS), the son of Prophet Ibraaheem (AS) and Hajar (AS). Hence they had information regarding their lives and how they lived it and the commands of Allaah to them such as performing hajj and Umrah and the sacrifice. However, rather than limiting themselves to those worthy traditions, they invented ways and means of worship for themselves and went astray. And Allaah knows best.