Jesus and the Sufi Traditon

  • Jesus – The Paradigm of a Pilgrim in God  according to Ibn Al Arabi

Jesus, the physical embodiment of the divine breath

For Ibn ʿArabī, Jesus is an exceptional being. As the Andalusian author relates, Jesus was his first master and was decisive in his entry into the way of Sufism. This personal relationship, similar to a first love, encouraged him to hope that he would be a witness to the day of Jesus’s coming, and perhaps this motivated him to live his final years in Damascus, the place of his descent.

A vision he had had in the Kaʿba was the principal cause of this identification. Muḥammad, the Seal of the Prophets, had revealed to him that he was his spiritual son, and so, like Jesus, could share the title of the Seal of Sainthood, and this confirmed the friendship he enjoyed with him.

However, Jesus was much more than someone with whom the Shaykh al-Akbar could have a personal relationship of help and mutual care. Jesus is a theophany. Certainly, each prophet is a paradigmatic manifestation of some divine attribute, of a ‘Lord’ as it is interpreted in the sacred hadith: ‘Who knows himself, knows the Lord’. And Muḥammad was superior to all of the prophets in his role as the terrestrial manifestation of the Absolute contained in the Reality of Muḥammad. The prophets, on the other hand, are only visible manifestations of aspects of divinity: for example, Adam is the perfect man, having received all the Names; Abraham is the friend of God (khalīl Allāh); Joseph is the epitome of Beauty; Moses represents the possibility of God speaking directly to man without intermediaries; and David is the one that embodies the Caliphate by bringing together in one person the inner caliphate and being the visible governor of a people. Although Jesus appears in the same way as the prophets theophanically, the reader of Ibn ʿArabī can only be astonished by the divine quality manifested by Jesus.

Jesus is the embodiment of the divine breath, of this spiritus that Gabriel has deposited in the womb of Mary. The human body of Christ was animated by a divine spirit, [2] creating a dual, half human and half divine, being, and thus neither perfectly human nor perfectly divine.

Jesus, therefore, reveals the spiritual quality of every human being since all who live have received the animating breath of the spirit. Whereas in the case of all other living beings the spirit enters after the formation of the physical body, in the akbarian view the spirit is active in the formation of the body of Christ. It was no surprise then for Ibn ʿArabī that Jesus appeared as a man because Gabriel had appeared to Mary in a perfect masculine form. As a result, Jesus is not said to have a spirit but in fact is spirit. As the Shaykh says, his being is identified with his spiritual being because the spiritual side of him is superior to his physical side.

His spiritual constitution – the fact of being the condensation of the divine breath, and therefore of the divine Word ( Logos) – determines all his life: his ability to cure, to give and transform life, as well as being the source of the knowledge that he possesses at the highest level, that is, the science of letters, of alchemy and of the spirits. The long list of sciences attributed to the saints who were considered to be the inheritors of Jesus, and the influence of the planet Mercury, all flow from these fundamental sciences.

Moreover, his being a spirit and being ‘the Word proceeding from God’ make him the paradigm of another quality: that of the pilgrim of God, of the spiritual traveller who comes from God and returns to God without ever having left the presence of God.

This spiritual journey is the reflection of a cosmic movement of a creation which is constantly leaving God and returning to Him. Jesus is the model of both movements because he realises in himself this cosmic journey by being the manifestation of the Word arising from the divine Breath, and by walking through the world in the constant presence of God. Read more here

  • The birth of Jesus in man

Faouzi Skali in his book Jesus and the Sufi Traditon explains in the 10 chapter,The birth of Jesus in man:

The soul of the mystic, Rûmi teaches us, is similar to Mary: “If your soul is pure enough and full of love enough, it becomes like Mary: it begets the Messiah”.

And al-Halláj also evokes this idea: “Our consciences are one Virgin where only the Spirit of Truth can penetrate

In this context, Jesus then symbolizes the cutting edge of the Spirit present in the human soul: “Our body is like Mary: each of us has a Jesus in him, but as long as the pains of childbirth do not appear in us, our Jesus is not born” ( Rumi, The Book of the Inside, V).

This essential quest is comparable to suffering of Mary who led her under the palm tree (Koran XIX, 22-26): “ I said:” 0 my heart, seek the universal Mirror, go towards the Sea, because you will not reach your goal by the only river! ”

In this quest, Your servant finally arrived at the place of Your home as the pains of childbirth led Mary towards the palm tree “(RÛMi, Mathnawî, II, 93 sq.)

Just as the Breath of the Holy Spirit, breathed into Mary, made him conceive the Holy Spirit, as so when the Word of God (kalám al-haqq) enters someone’s heart and the divine Inspiration purifies and fills his heart (see Matthew V, 8 or Jesus in the Sermon of the Mountain exclaims: “Blessed are pure hearts, for they will see God! “) and his soul, his nature becomes such that then is produced in him a spiritual child (walad ma’nawî) having the breath of Jesus who raises the dead.

Human beings,” it says in Walad-Nama ( French translation, Master and disciple, of Sultan Valad and Kitab al-Ma’ârif  the Skills of Soul Rapture), must be born twice: once from their mother, another from their own body and their own existence. The body is like an egg: the essence of man must become in this egg a bird, thanks to the warmth of Love; then it will escape its body and fly into the eternal world of the soul, beyond space.

And Sultan Walad adds: “If the bird of faith (imán) is not born in Man during its existence, this earthly life is then comparable to a miscarriage.

The soul, in the prison of the body, is ankylosed like the embryo in the maternal womb, and it awaits its deliverance. This will happen when the “germ” has matured, thanks to a descent into oneself, to a painful awareness: “The pain will arise from this look thrown inside oneself, and this suffering makes pass to beyond the veil. As long as the mothers do not take birth pains, the child does not have the possibility of being born (. Rumi, Mathnawî, II, 2516 sq.) (…) My mother, that is to say my nature [my body], by his agony pains, gives birth to the Spirit … If the pains during the coming of the child are painful for the pregnant woman, on the other hand, for the embryo, it is the opening of his prison ”(Ibid., 3555 sq)

Union with God, explains Rûmi, manifests itself when the divine Qualities come to cover the attributes of His servant:

God’s call, whether veiled or not, grants what he gave to Maryam. 0 you who are corrupted by death inside your body, return from nonexistence to the Voice of the Friend! In truth, this Voice comes from God, although it comes from the servant of God! God said to the saint: “I am your tongue and your eyes, I am your senses, I am your contentment and your wrath. Go, for you are the one of whom God said: ‘By Me he hears and by Me he sees!’ You are the divine Consciousness, how should it be said that you have this divine Consciousness? Since you have become, by your wondering, ‘He who belongs to God’.

I am yours because ‘God will belong to him. Sometimes, I tell you: ‘It’s you!’, Sometimes, ‘It’s me!’ Whatever I say, I am the Sun illuminating all things. “(Mathnawî, I, 1934 sq).

Once the illusion of duality has been transcended, all that remains in the soul is the divine Presence: the soul then finds in the depths of its being the divine effigy.

It has become the place of theophany. This is what Rumi calls the spiritual resurrection: “The universal Soul came into contact with the partial soul and the latter received from her a pearl and put it in her womb. Thanks to this touch of her breast, the individual soul became pregnant, like Mary, with a Messiah ravishing the heart. Not the Messiah who travels on land and at sea, but the Messiah who is beyond the limitations of space! Also, when the soul has been fertilized by the Soul of the soul, then the world is fertilized by such a soul “( Ibid., II, 1184 sq.).

This birth of the spiritual Child occurs out of time, and therefore it occurs in each man who receives him with all his being through this “Be!” that Marie receives during the Annunciation: “From your body, like Maryam, give birth to an Issa without a father! You have to be born twice, once from your mother, another time from yourself. So beget yourself again! If the outpouring of the Holy Spirit dispenses again his help, others will in turn do what Christ himself did: the Father pronounces the Word in the universal Soul, and when the Son is born, each soul becomes Mary (Ibid., III, 3773.)

So Jesus can declare: “O son of Israel, I tell you the truth, no one enters the Kingdom of Heaven and earth unless he is born twice! By the Will of God, I am of those who were born twice: my first birth was according to nature, and the second according to the Spirit in the Sky of Knowledge!  » (Sha’ranî, Tabaqat, II, 26; Sohrawardî, ‘Awarif, I, 1)

The second birth corresponds to what we also gain in Sufism as the “opening (fath) of the eye of the heart“: “When Your Eye became an eye for my heart, my blind heart drowned in vision ; I saw that You were the universal Mirror for all eternity and I saw in Your Eyes my own image. I said, “Finally, I found myself in His Eyes, I found the Way of Light!” (Rumi, Mathnawî, II, 93 sq.)

This opening is the promise made by God to all those who conclude a pact with the spiritual master, pole of his time, like the apostles with Jesus or the Companions when they pledged allegiance to Muhammad:God was satisfied with believers when they swore an oath to you under the Tree, He knew perfectly the content of their hearts, He brought down on them deep peace (sakina), He rewarded them with a prompt opening ( fath) and by an abundant booty  which they seized ”(Coran XLVIII, 18-19).(The abundant loot indicates Divine Knowledge (mari’fa)

  • Jesus, Mary and the Book, according to Ibn al-ʿArabi

by Denis Gril

This article first appeared in the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, Vol. 57, 2015.

What place do Jesus and Mary occupy in the Quranic revelation, or more precisely, how does the relationship between these two prophetic figures shed light on the very reality of universal revelation that the Quran calls the Book or the Scripture (al-kitāb)? To what extent does our Shaykh allow us to penetrate the meaning of this relationship?

In trying to respond to these questions we will begin by citing a passage from Chapter 5 of the Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya, a commentary on the basmala then on the whole of the Fātiḥa. The rather enigmatic character of the established parallel between the Fātiḥa and the Book on the one hand and between Mary and Jesus on the other, can only encourage us to search for a deeper significance within it. Let us begin therefore by quoting the opening lines of Chapter 5, which bring out the principle of the correspondence between the Book and the World:

We now wish to bring out the knowledge of existence and the beginnings of the universe which is for us the Great Exemplar (al-muṣḥaf al-kabīr). God has enabled us to read the universe as a state (tilāwat ḥāl), just as the Quran is for us a reading by word (tilāwat qawl). The universe is composed of written letters, inscribed on the unfurled parchment of existence. What is written thereon endures forever, without end. God having brought out His mighty Book by that which opens the Book (fātiḥat al-kitāb) – for the universe of which we speak is a book – we wish to open our remarks with the secrets of the Fātiḥa and the basmala, which is the opening (fātiḥa) of the Fātiḥa.[1]

The commentary on the Fātiḥa begins, then, after that of the basmala:

The Fātiḥa is that which opens the Book, for the Book itself alludes to the first being produced (al-mubdaʿ al-awwal). Thus the Book contains the Fātiḥa and other than it because it proceeds from it. It is thus rightfully named, for it is that through which the Book of existence was initially opened. It is the likeness without likeness (al-mithl al-munazzah) as in the verse ‘And there is nothing like His Likeness’ (Q. 42: 11), where the ‘like’ is the qualifier itself.[2] Having brought into existence the Likeness which is the Fātiḥa, God then brought into existence the Book and made the Fātiḥa its key.[3] Meditate upon that.

The Fātiḥa is also the ‘Mother’ of the Quran, for the mother is the place of the bringing into existence (maḥall al-ījād). The being which is found in her is the Quran, and the bringer into existence is that which has exercised its action on the mother (al-fāʿil fī l-umm). The mother is the universal collector (al-jāmiʿa al-kulliyya), and she is the Mother of the Book who is with Him in the verse: ‘And with Him is the Mother of the Book’ (Q. 13: 39). Consider Jesus and Mary – on them be peace – and the agent of the bringing into existence, and [there will emerge] the opposite of that which appears to your senses will emerge: the Mother is Jesus and the Son who is the Book that is with Him (al-kitāb al-ʿindī) or the Quran, is Mary – on her be peace. So understand!

Thus it is that the Spirit doubles itself with the Soul through the intermediary of the Intellect. The Soul becomes the place of the bringing into existence from a sensory point of view. Now the Spirit only came to her from the Soul itself. The latter is thus the Father. This Soul is the inscribed Book (al-kitāb al-marqūm)[4] due to the action of writing. There appeared in the Son that which the Pen traced as writing on the Mother, and that is the Quran as it appeared in the sensible world.

The Mother is equally an expression of the existence of the Likeness, the place of secrets. It is the ‘unfurled Parchment’ on which was set down ‘the inscribed Book’,[5] wherein these divine secrets are deposited. Here the Book is superior to the Fātiḥa, for the latter is the signifier, the Book is what is signified, and the dignity of the signifier is in proportion to that which it signifies.[6]

First of all, we shall attempt to get a sense of the consequences of this particularly allusive passage, and then secondly, to see to what extent it is possible to relate it to other passages concerning Jesus and Mary in the Futūḥāt and the Fuṣūṣ. Finally, we shall examine to what extent this text on the Fātiḥa helps us to better understand Jesus and Mary as figures of Quranic revelation, as well as their association, in this respect, with the Prophet and his heirs. Read More Here

  • Blessed Virgin Mary – Mystical Commentary

by Sheik Muzaffer Ozak Al-Jerrahi

To advance along the ascending way, one enters solitude and seclusion – not necessarily in a literal sense, but even while remaining within the context of family and social responsibility. These communal responsibilities are the sacred temple of human existence. However, solitude alone will not be sufficiënt.

One must remain oriented toward the mystic east, the direction of prayer. One must learn to gaze at the perpetual dawn of Divine Wisdom. This implies full participation in the science of prayer, as expressed within an authentic sacred tradition.

After entering that “solitary room facing east”, which is inwardness and simplicity of mind and heart, one can contemplate Divine Beauty manifest through the transparent creation – the universe in its pristine nature, untouched by conventional conceptuality but illumined instead by prophetic revelation.

Gradually, one’s being becomes more peaceful, harmonious, integrated. Divine Light begins to manifest directly.

Within this ineffable brightness, the conventional structures of society and our own habitual forms of perception are no longer visible. Within this dimension of sheer radiance, both waking visions and mystical dreams occur.


These subtle experiences are indications of progress along the evolutionary way, the steep path spoken of by Allah Most High in His Holy Quran. They can be accurately interpreted by a sheikh, or spiritual guide, who has received empowerment from a previous guide in the unbroken lineage of the Prophet Muhammad to carry on this sacred task of dream interpretation.



The combined inspiration and intention of disciple and guide, murid and murshid, sparks the alchemical process which is called inward.  Read more here

  • Jesus in the Quran: an Akbari Perspective

by Reza Shah-Kazemi


Ibn ‘Arabi refers to Jesus as” symbol of engendering” (mathalan bi-takwin). It is my intention in this paper to show that, in the metaphysical perspective of Ibn ‘Arabi’s school, one of the most important principles of which the “Qur’anic” Jesus stands forth as a “symbol”, sign, and concrete embodiment, is the following:mercy and compassion are the fruits of the realization of the true Self – or self of the Real, the Nafs al-Haqq, as Ibn ‘Arabi calls it.

Compassion, in turn, should be understood not only morally but also, and a priori, metaphysically, in terms of the bestowal of life:God gives life to the cosmos out of compassion for His own hidden qualities that long to be known; and man participates in this process both positively – through being compassionate towards his own self, as well as towards others – and inversely, by enlivening his own soul and that of others through the knowledge of God.

The Qur’anic narratives concerning Jesus, together with the esoteric interpretations thereof from the Akbari perspective, illuminate these intertwined realities of selfhood and compassion in a particularly fruitful manner. Jesus is described in the Qur’an “as a sign for mankind and a mercy from Us”. Ibn ‘Arabi draws out, in a most instructive way, how these two aspects of Jesus can be spiritually understood: what Jesus is a sign of, and how this relates to mercy or compassion.

I shall begin this paper by referring to the Qur’anic passages in the Sura Maryam that relate the stories of the births of John and Jesus. For it was reflection upon these passages that formed the starting-point for the series of observations that are the subject of this paper. One observes a number of remarkable similarities in these two passages.

There is in both cases – to Zakariah, the father of John, and Mary, mother of Jesus – the apparition of an angel to announce the news of the imminent birth of a son; the words addressed to them by the angel, and the responses given by them are similar; several of the phrases used to describe John and Jesus are identical; a vow of silence is observed by both Zakariah and Mary after their vision of the angel, etc.

But there are also notable differences between the two narratives, in particular the following one: whereas it is the angel who describes John, it is Jesus who describes himself, through the miraculous words uttered by him as a baby still in his cradle. Indeed, it is the degree of miraculousness that, in general, distinguishes the two narratives: the birth of Jesus to the Virgin was a more absolute kind of miracle as compared with the lesser prodigy of John’s being begotten by Zakariah, though “my wife is barren and I have reached infirm old age” (XIX:8). But one should pay particular attention to the words at the end of Jesus’ discourse: “Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die and the day I shall be raised up alive.”In the case of John, it is the angel who invokes peace upon him: “Peace be upon him the day he was born, the day he dies and the day he shall be raised up alive.”

The reader is struck by the contrast between the invocation of peace upon oneself and the invoking of peace on another.

Furthermore, it is peace with the definite article, al-salam, that Jesus invokes upon himself, whereas it is the indefinite form, salamun, that is invoked by the angel on John. It is as if there is a deliberate juxtaposition here between the the divine attribute of peace, in respect of Jesus, and the general quality of peace – ultimately divine, in its essence, but considered here at the level of its formal manifestation -in regard to John. This contrast might be interpreted as an allusion to the fullness of divine life, and the totality of supreme Self-consciousness that infused the human substance of Christ from his very inception, this substance itself being the very Word of God. Read more here