The concepts of God, By Ahmad Deedat

In the religious terminology of the world, we will find that every “son of man” in his own way, in his own dialect has given some beautiful attributive name for the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth.

The Zulu concept

In South Africa, the Zulus, a very virile and militant people – a nation akin to the Qureish of pre-Islamic Arabia – have given a name to God – ‘uMvelinqangi’. This word when properly articulated in its own dialect sounds identical to the Arabic word Walla-hu-gani, meaning – “And Allah is Rich” (Bounteous). It also sounds like “Allegany” of the Red Indians of North America (remember their allegany mountain). The Origin or real meaning of the word “Allegany,” is not commonly known to the American people. But ask any Zulu as to who or what this uMvelinqangi is and he will surely explain to you in Zulu:

“Hawu uMnimzani! uyena, umoya oingcwele. Akazali yena, futhi akazalwanga; futhi, akukho lutmo olu fana naye.”

This is almost a word for word translation in chapter 112 of Quran:
“Say: He is Allah the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten: and there is none like unto Him.” (Quran 112:1- 4)

Almost Islamic

Now, compare the above verses with the translation of what the Zulu actually said: “Oh Sir! He is a pure and Holy Spirit, He does not beget and He is not begotten, and further there is nothing like Him.”

Every African tribe, South of the Zambesi River, that is, in Southern Africa, have given different names to the – Tixo, Modimo, uNkulunkulu, etc., and each and every African language group will take pains to explain the same pure and holy concept as the Zulu.

It is to the glory of the African nations that though they had no written languages, and hence no written records, therefore not being able to recount the names of their respective prophets, yet not a single one of the tribes ever stooped down to worshipping idols or images of either of men or animals, until the White man first introduced his religion and gave the African his anthropomorphic concept of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, and brought the African down to bowing before the statues of Jesus, Mary, St. Joseph, St. Christopher and so on.

Out of the dozens of African tribes inhabiting this part of the world, not a single one of them ever made “umfanegisos” (images) of their God. Yet they were capable of carving out of wood, elephants and lions, and reproducing men and women also, in clay. Besides, the Zulus also had some knowledge of metallurgy. When questioned an old Zulu as to the reason, why the Africans did not make umfanegisos of their Gods, he replied, “How could we make images of Him (God) when we know that He is not like a man, He is not like a monkey, or an elephant or a snake: He is not like anything we can think of or imagine. He is a pure and Holy Spirit.”

Like the Arabs

This term, uMvelinqangi, though well known to the Zulus, was not commonly used. Again they were like the pagan Qureish of Pre-Islamic Arabia who knew the name Allah, but passed Him by, because they felt that He was too High, too Pure, too Holy to be approached, so they went for their substitutary and imaginary Gods – their Al- Lats, AI-Uzzas and Al-Manats and a hundred besides. The Zulus too would not call upon uMvelinqangi directly, but he was better than the Arab of the Ayyam-ul-jahiliyya (days of ignorance), because he did not go after false Gods; he only invoked the spirits of his ancestors to intercede with uMvelinqangi on his behalf, exactly as the Catholics do in invoking the Virgin Mary and the Saints.

The more common term used by the Zulus for their God is uNkulunkulu which literally means – the Greatest of the Great or the Mightiest of the Mighty. More colloquially when taking oath, they would exclaim “iNkosi phe-Zulu” meaning – the Lord Above (knows), or the God in Heaven (knows), or Heaven knows, that I am speaking the truth. The word “zulu” in the language of the Zulu literally means High Heaven, and they consider themselves to be superior to the numerous other tribes of Southern Africa, being in this respect like the Querish among the dwellers of the desert before Islam.

Concept from the East

The Hindi word for God is Pramatma. In Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, “Atma” meant the soul, and “Pram-atma” meant the Great and Holy Soul, or the Holy Spirit, which is really a beautiful description of the “Father” in Heaven. The Bible says, “God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24)

Not in form, shape or size, but in spirit. Despite his pantheistic interpretation of the Divinity, the name the Hindu gives the Supreme Being, in his classical language, is OM (Aum), which means Guardian or Protector. A very suitable attribute about which the Muslim can have no misgivings.

“Pantheism:” a doctrine in which people believe that God is everything, and everything is God. The Muslim puts the right emphasis when he says – “everything is god’s!” Do you realise the stupendous difference this apostrophe ‘s makes to the concept of God?

Concept from the West

The Anglo/Saxon and the Teuton in their own and other allied European languages call their object of worship “God” or words of similar sound and import, i.e. God in English; Got in Afrikaans (the language of the descendants of the Hollandse people in South Africa);

Gott in German; and Gudd in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian languages.
The ancient Phoenicians called their God – Allon – (not far from Allah if we could only hear it articulated), and the Canaanites Ado. The Israelites not only shared the word EL with the original people of Palestine, but borrowed the name of their chief deity – Ado and turned it into Adonai, and everywhere the four-letter word Yhwh occurred in their Holy Scriptures, they read “Adonai” instead of “Yahuwa.” You will not fail to notice the resemblance between the Jewish Adonai and the heathen Adonis. Adonis was a “beautiful Godling loved by Venus” in the Greek pantheon.

The Latin concept

In the Latin-dominated languages of Western Europe, where Latin had remained dominant in learning and diplomacy for centuries, the chief term used for God is Deus: Deus in Portuguese; Dieu in French; Dio in Italian; Dies in Spanish; Dia in Scotch and Irish; and Duw in Welsh.

Surprisingly in all the languages above, Deus and all the similar sounding words mean heaven.

Moulana Vidyarthi, in his monumental work – “Muhammad in World Scriptures,” (No student of Comparative Religion can afford to be without this book. It may become your priceless heir-loom) devotes a hundred pages to the names of God in the different languages. And out of a list of 155 attributive names, over 40 of them use the word “Heaven” or the “Above,” in their language in describing God. Though the Muslim chants the Asma-ul-husna (the most beautiful names), 99 as derived from the Quran with the crowning name, Allah; “Heaven” is not one of those ninety-nine attributes. Symbolically, heaven may be described as the abode of God, and in the words of Wordsworth in Tintern Abbey:

“Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, and the round ocean and the living air, and in the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit that impels all thinking things, all objects of all thoughts, and rolls through all things.”

Concept from beyond the far East

Among all the 155 tantalising names of God in the various tongues, the one that tickled me most was – “ATNATU!” – and this I have adopted as a title of my book, instead of the original title promised – “What is His Name!” for this present publication.

What is so funny or so novel about Atnatu?

The aborgine of South Australia calls his God “Atnatu” because some philosopher, poet or prophet had programmed him, that the Father in Heaven is absolutely free from all needs; He is independent; He needs no food nor drink. This quality, in his primitive, uninhibited language, he conversely named ATNATU, which literally meant “the One without an anus – the One without any flaw” – i.e. the One from Whom no impurity flows or emanates.

When I started sharing this novel idea with Hindu, Muslim and Christian friends, without exception, their immediate reaction was one of mirth, they giggled and laughed. Most of them not realising that the joke was on them. The boot was on the other foot. Though the word “anus” is a very small word, only four letters in English, most people have not heard it. One is forced to use the colloquial substitute which I hesitate to reproduce here, nor will I use the same in public meetings because of people’s hypersensitivity

– because in the words of Abdullah Yusuf All, people “Had perverted their language once beautiful, into jargons of empty elegance and unmeaning futility.”

Therefore to ease the situation, in a round-about-way let us say that where you have an “input,” you must allow for an “output.” The one who eats, must have the call of nature – the toilet or the bush – and our primitive friend smelt the need, which he could never attribute to his Creator. Therefore, he called his God – ATNATU! ‘The one without the excretory system or its tail end.

God eats not!

This novel concept of God by primitive man, is not really altogether novel. God conveys the same truth to mankind, as in His Last and Final Revelation – The Quran – but in a language so noble, so sublime, as befitting its Author. But because of its very finesse, and refined manner of expression we have overlooked the Message. We are commanded to say to all those who wish to wean us from the worship of the One True God

“Say: shall I take for my protector any but Allah the Originator of the Heavens and the Earth? when it is He Who feeds but Has no need to be fed.” (Quran 6:14)

In other words, we are made to declare that – “We will not take anyone as our Lord and Protector, other than Allah, Who is the wonderful Originator of the universe.” And if any have misgivings about his so called “man-Gods” or “God-men,” then bring him down to earth, for our God is the One who feeds but is not fed. (Feedeth but is not fed: true, both literally and figuratively) He is not, in need of food. Does your man-God eat? Or doesn’t he? If he does, then he MUST submit to the call of nature – Our God Eats Not! How simple the logic, yet how stupendous the argument. Alas!

We need primitive man to remind us of the potency of our weapons. We have lost the art or the knack of propagation, because for a good many centuries we have stopped preaching Islam to those around us.

The Christians are knocking at our doors. Only the spiritually blind and the “ostriches” in our midst cannot see. Kuwait had just one Arab Christian family about fifty years ago. Today there are 35 Churches in that little country. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian sect which originated in the USA a hundred years ago, are claiming that the 2nd largest group of Jehovah’s Witnesses outside their country of origin, is the Muslim country of Nigeria.

In Indonesia, the largest Muslim populated country in the world, there are over 6000 full-time Christian missionaries (Muballighs), not priests, parsons or ministers attached to their respective Churches, but propagators (Crusaders) of their Faith to the non-Christians – harassing “the heathen,” as they call them.

These Christians missionaries have more private air-strips of their own than the Indonesian Government has. They have mission ships that anchor off the islands, because Indonesia is a country of over 2000 islands, which have no harbour or docking facilities. They invite the native for refreshment and entertainment on board the ship and subtly initiate them into their blasphemy. In their operation code named “over-kill,” they are aiming to make Indonesia a Christian Nation by the turn of the century. Of the over 60 000 missionaries raising dust throughout the world, more than half of them occupied in Africa.

Africa the only Muslim continent today, is now being assailed by these modern day Crusaders who aim at making it a Christian continent, this again, by the turn of the century. Our armour, sword and sheild in this battle of Faiths are in the Quran, we have been chanting it for centuries to accumulate sawab (spiritual blessings) only; but now we must bring them forth into the battlefield.

Did Jesus eat food?

“Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a saintly woman. They both ate earthly food.

see! How clear we make for them our messages. Yet see! How they are deluded away from the truth,” (Quran 5:78)

The House of Islam acknowledges that Jesus Christ, the son of Mary was one of the mightiest of Messengers of God. It acknowledges that he was born miraculously, without any male intervention; that he was the Messiah; that he gave life to the dead, by God’s permission; and that he healed the blind and the lepers, by God’s permission – but did he not eat food? “And they gave him (Jesus) a piece of broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he (Jesus) took it, and did eat before them.” – (Luke 24:42-43)

Further, the mother of Jesus was a woman of truth, a pious and saintly woman – but did she not eat food? Can’t you see the implications? Do we need an Australoid (the aborigine of South Africa) to remind us? Indeed, we do! In this battle for the hearts and minds of people, we need his “Atnatu.” In his simple rustic language, in his childish puerile way, he is telling the world that his God eats not. That the one who eats can never be his God, because he would not be ATNATU. Our primitive brother had no inhibitions. He called a spade a spade.

The “Mohammedans”?

The Westerner is an adept at concocting names. When he invented the incandescent lamp, he called his light- bulbs or globes, “Mazda lamps.” Mazda happens to be the “God of light’ of the Zoroastrians. In South Africa today, the European is making a great success with the sale of his “Rama” Margarine. Rama happens to be the “man-God” of a substantial number of our population here.

The white man calls himself, Christian, because he is a worshipper of Christ. He calls the worshipper of Buddha a Buddhist, and with the same logic he calls the Muslim a “Mohammedan” presuming that he is a worshipper of Muhammad. But the fact of the matter is, there is no such creature among the thousand million Muslims of the world.

Let us assume that there were such a lunatic, a worshipper of Muhammad who would in his misguided zeal be called a “Mohammedan.” Now if this so-called “Mohammedan,” in his zeal, went among the primitives of South Australia and with all fan-fare preached his “Mohammedenism,” urging this poor, backward nation, and asked them to accept Muhammad as their God. You could then well imagine this child of nature asking our deluded brother, “Was Muhammad ‘Atnatu’?” The answer will of course be, “No!;” even from our lunatic. What about the heroes and heroines of the world who are worshipped today by the millions of civilised men and women in our own day?

Present your candidates one by one to the native – Why don’t you try with your real or imagined “man- Gods” or “Goddesses” – and he will hit you for a “sixer” (over the boundary, as in cricket) every time with his “boomerang,” with his “ATNATU!” Is he not higher in his concept of God than the millions in Europe and America, and in Asia and Africa?

Progress in regression!

Just picture the American who lands on the moon, and his tribe who sit at home monitoring happenings on the lunar surface and also in the world by means of their satellites, like “Gods” with a finger on every pulse. Marvelous, isn’t it? Remember the Bay of Bengal Tragedy? The Americans warned Pakistan about the impending tidal wave. Remember the Ramadan War in 1973? The Americans warned Israel that the Arabs were on the move. But neither heeded the warning.

These same Americans, despite all their depravity wield a power greater than all the “man-Gods” put together. Yet this mighty nation and their counterparts in Europe and the world, are worshipping men and monkeys – Nay! The very devil himself (“The Satan Cult”) How is, this possible? “Shaitan (Satan) has made their deeds fair seeming to them. And he (the devil) is their patron today.” (Quran 16:63)

Hero and Hero-worshipping is ingrained in man. If he will not worship God, then he will worship something else. But worship he must. What can be better than a handsome man or a beautiful woman, who is one of his own kind?

Anthropomorphism, a system in which man conceives of God after his own likeness is traditional. It is modern as well as ancient. Mankind thinks of God as one like himself, in his own image. Does not the Christian Bible say, in the very first chapter of the very first Book? “And God said, Let us make man in our own image” (Genesis 1:26)

As to the word “image,” God is not talking about a physical, human likeness, which is not far from a certain family of apes. Little wonder that Darwin claimed that the monkeys are our ancestors! No! We are made in the spiritual image of the Beneficent. We are one with Him in attributes. The Holy Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Imbue thyself with divine attributes.” As Allah is Holy, we must be holy. As He is just, justice being his attribute, we must imbibe justice. As He is Merciful, we must portray mercy, and so on with each of the 99 attributes of God from the Book of Allah – The Quran. None can be one with God physically, because He is not a physical Being.

The three hypostases of the trinity

The poor (Yes, spiritually. Because materially they are the most affluent people on earth) benighted Christians misunderstood the word “image” as well as the word “us” in the preceding quotation at the very beginning of the Bible. Christians interpret the word “us” to imply the existence of a combination of “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” of their Holy Trinity. They fail to realise that in Hebrew as well as in Arabic there are two types of plurals.

There is a plural of numbers as well as that of respect and honour. Here is a plural of honour which you might not have noticed: – the quotation from the Quran about Jesus and his mother, observe the words – “See! how clear we make for them our messages.” No Muslim ever understood by these plurals, a plurality in the Godhead, neither did any Christian Arab or Jew. Ask any Jew who knows Hebrew as to the number of Gods in his Hebrew “US” from the first chapter of his Torah, and he will confirm without any hesitation what I am telling you.

The Gods of Apartheid

Apartheid: A political philosophy of keeping races apart in South Africa. The deluded souls among mankind not only imagined God in their own likeness physically, but they also gave him a racial bias and racial characteristics: “Ethiop Gods have ethiop lips bronze cheeks and woolly hair; the Grecian gods are like the Greeks as keen-eyed, old and fair.” (Anonymous)

The Greeks and the Romans jettisoned their Minervas, Appolos and Hercules’ and opted for the newest of “man-Gods” two thousand years ago, namely, Jesus Christ. These Romans became the pioneers of their mythology couched in a fresh garb to the nations of Western Europe who were tiring of their Thors and Woodenness and so took on the new creed with alacrity.

In turn the Europeans inflicted their tri-theology on their colonies. They gave a man-God, more handsome than the “Gods” of the natives. And look how they have transformed him in pictures, sculptures and in the movies. He has blond hair, blue eyes, handsome angular features like those of Jeffrey Hunter in the film “King of Kings.” But no! He does not look anything like the Jew with his proverbial polly-nose.

The new “God” is more English/German/Scandinavian, in his bone structure. A white, “man-God,” as against a blue “man-God.” (Rama and Krishna are usually painted blue in Hindu religious pictures). Compare the portraitures and you will pity the subjected people for falling “out of the frying pan into the fire.”