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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Word for 'God' in Swahili: Further Considerations
Author:Frankl, Peter J.L.
Year:1995
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Volume:25
Issue:2
Period:May
Pages:202-211
Language:English
Geographic term:East Africa
Subjects:Islam
deities
African religions
Swahili language
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Swahili
Link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1581274.pdf
Abstract:This paper examines the use of the word for 'God' by the autochthonous inhabitants of Swahililand (the coast of East Africa, including the islands, from southern Somaliland to Mozambique), who are one in language, in culture and in religion. It first shows that it is well-nigh universal practice to use the word present in one's own language when speaking of 'God'. But what matters for Swahili people is not the word that is used to refer to 'God', but whether the attributes associated with that word are consonant with Islam. In order to understand more fully why the Swahili-speaking people use the Bantu word 'Mngu' in their everyday speech, the concept of 'an Islamic language' is discussed. The Bantu word 'Mngu' (or a variant), almost certainly predating the Islamization of the Swahili people, suggests an attribute present in many hundreds of African languages, of God as Creator. After the Swahili embraced Islam, their language did not borrow a word for 'God' since it already possessed one. Bibliogr., notes, ref.
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