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Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat--the Exalted Birds

2013, acrylic on canvas, 41.5" x 48", by Jenny Badger Sultan

These are the names of three goddesses who had been very important in pre-Islamic Arabian religion. I was introduced to them when I read “Joseph Anton” by Salman Rushdie. His book is an account of the ten or so years when he lived under an assumed name because of the fatwa that was issued against him for writing, “The Satanic Verses.”

Islamic historians say that Muhammad once heard a revelation that these three goddesses could be revered and worshipped along with Allah. Later, Muhammad judged this revelation to have been inspired by Satan and rejected the verses referring to these goddesses with a new revelation saying they are but invented names with no authority.

Acrylic painting, 'Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat--the Exalted Birds', by Jenny Badger Sultan. Click to enlarge

Since I have been involved for many years with images of the sacred Feminine, I was drawn to trying to give form to these Arabian goddesses. The monotheistic religions of the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) have tried to override and expunge representations of the sacred Feminine, yet they still have power.

See also my three watercolors, one on each goddess: The Arrival of Al-Lat, Al-Uzza Rides her Lion, and Manat and the Manticore.

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