Jeong Jae Yoo


Despite the differences between Islam and Christianity, Islam is the only non-Christian religion in the world, which requires its adherents to believe that Jesus is one of the prophets of God. Ibn al-’Arabī, one of the Sufi mystics of the 12th century, wrote an entire chapter devoted to Jesus in his book, Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam, translated as the Bezels (or Seals) of Wisdom. In this chapter, Jesus is characterized by five names that most clearly explain his attributes. These names are ‘the Spirit of God’, ‘the Word of God’, ‘the Breath of God’, ‘the Mercy of God’, and ‘the Slave of God’. Each of these names represents an important characteristic that Ibn al-’Arabī wishes to convey about Jesus as the Seal of the general Sainthood, his most famous notion manifested in all of Ibn al-’Arabī’s writings. Christian scholars such as Thomas Aquinas, St Anselm of Canterbury and Meister Eckhart – who lived during the same period - wrote a considerable amount on Christian doctrines. These writers discussed crucial topics such as the Trinity, the virgin birth, the Judgment day, the angels, and more. This thesis is a comparative study of Jesus as portrayed by Ibn al-’Arabī and the three Christian scholars: analyzing and comparing the embedded meanings of the five names mentioned above. It can be concluded that all of the differences between Ibn al-’Arabī and Christian scholars derived from fundamentally divergent perspectives on the deity of Jesus Christ. Although there are some superficial similarities, there is not any significant similarity between the two sides.


Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department

Degree Name

MA in Arabic Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

March 2013

First Advisor

Ahmad, Nizamuddin

Committee Member 1

Talib, Adam

Committee Member 2

Reimer, Michael


89 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Ibn al-ʻArabī, 1165-1240 Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Jesus Christ -- Islamic interpretations.


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I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Saiyad Nizamuddin Ahmad, for all the help he has given me in this work; to my two readers Dr. Michael Reimer and Dr. Adam Talib for providing me with constructive comments.