One day, when the world first began, God gave gifts to man. Yahweh’s people gathered for miles around to see what their Father had for them. The LORD even gave gifts to the rebellious. And so it was that Abdul, a man from the Arabian Peninsula, came to see what the living God of Israel might give to him. When he arrived, Jews filled the throne room of God for as far as the eye could see. In the distance, Abdul could make out the King of Glory and hear His thunderous voice move over the crowd as He passed out talents and gifts to the Jewish people.
“Albert Einstein,” said Yahweh, “I have a theory of relativity for you. Be sure to use it wisely. Billy Gates, you won’t believe what this computer will do! Jonas Salk,” Yahweh continued, “this vaccine will eliminate Polio. And for you Three Stooges,” Yahweh began to grin, “you’re going to lighten this place up a bit!”
Many, many Jews showed up for their gifts. They shoved and they nudged and they pushed their way to the front of the line. Witty inventions, mathematical algorithms, deep philosophical understandings, discoveries in Physics, Geology, Chemistry, Astronomy and Social Sciences abounded. Many of the Jews received great talents in dance, theater, literature and art.
Abdul tried to reach God, but no matter how often or loud he muttered “Excuse me!”, “If I could just get by”, and “Pardon me,” the more he was shoved aside and pushed back towards the end of the line.
“These Jews are certainly a zealous bunch” Abdul muttered, as he stood on his toes and watched from afar as Yahweh opened another box of gifts and talents and spread them amongst His people.
“Steven Spielberg,” Abdul could hear The LORD shout above the tumultuous noise of the Jews, “they are going to love this movie!”
By now the line was getting shorter, but Abdul could see that the immense mountain of gifts and blessings had also shrunk considerably. At last, Abdul made his way to the front. There, at the feet of the Living God of Israel, was a small, crumpled box. There was nothing else left in the throne room. Abdul raised his eyes and looked up at Yahweh. The LORD looked down at Abdul and slowly began to smile.
“Do not think that I have forgotten you,” Yahweh said slowly.
The LORD took the tattered box and offered it, with the slightest of smiles, to the small Arab man. Abdul took the present. He noticed it was surprisingly light. As he tore off the wrapping, Abdul peered intently into the box. There was nothing there! He lifted his eyes to God, wondering what was the meaning of such a gift.
“That’s right, Abdul, there is nothing there,” Yahweh said slowly. “I have given to you and your people absolutely nothing; nada, zip, Zero. Do with it what you can.”
Abdul looked back at the empty box, slowly taking in the significance of the words of God.
“Nothing,” he repeated. “Absolutely Zero.” Abdul thought long and hard. A smile spread across his face. “I think I shall do very well with this Zero,” he said and he began to laugh. “I think I shall do very well, indeed.”
And so the concept of Zero was added to the world of Mathematics. Computations that could never have been imagined were completed with ease. Abdul’s gift spread throughout the world and was the envy of every mathematician. As for Abdul, all he could say was:
“You can’t say God never gave nothing to the Arabs.”