Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies Seminar (IISS) Workshop. Sainthood Between the Ineffable and Social Practice: Jesus Christ in the Writings of Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-Arabi and Later Sufism
Ali Hussain, PhD Candidate, Middle East Studies, U-M
Thursday, November 8, 2018
This dissertation investigates the various portrayals of ʿĪsā b. Maryam (Jesus son of Mary) in the thought of the Andalusian mystic Muḥyī al-Dīn Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 1240) and later Sufism, specifically the teachings of two celebrated North African mystics, ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Dabbāgh (d. 1719) and Aḥmad al-Tījānī (d. 1815). After discussing the organization and methodology of the research in the Introduction, chapter two explores the corpus of secondary references on Jesus in Islam and Ibn al-ʿArabī studies. Thenceforth, chapters three and four delve into Christ’s presence in Ibn al-ʿArabī’s Meccan Openings and Bezels of Wisdom respectively. The results of this analysis is then used to gauge the son of Mary’s depictions in the teachings of al-Dabbāgh and al-Tījānī; all the while also situating Ibn al-ʿArabī’s own image in these later mystics’ Weltanschauungs. Lastly, the concluding chapter synthesizes the results from chapters three, four and five in an attempt to answer some overarching questions regarding the importance of Jesus for Sufi mystics like Ibn al-ʿArabī, al-Dabbāgh and al-Tījānī. In this regard, the emphasis in this final chapter pertains not only to the concepts in these saints’ writings, but the contexts in which these concepts arise and insights that they provide into the unique pedagogical and writing styles of these Sufi authors. It is in this last sense that the dissertation contributes to the ongoing research in Sufi intellectual history by also considering the religious concerns and approaches of Sufi figures in Islamic history.
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