Living God’s Names

By: William Rory Dickson   Meena Sharify Funk  

The relationship between names and what they name, between signifiers and signified, has a rich history of discussion in a variety of religious and philosophical traditions. Within the Islamic tradition, names play a role the significance of which is hard to overestimate. In particular, the 99 Beautiful Names of God or asma’ al-husna remain a foundational, if understudied element of Islam. Islamic theology, philosophy, and mysticism are premised on the Names of God found in the Qur’an, which communicate something of God’s qualities in human language. For the famous Sufi master and metaphysician Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1240), who’s influence on the later Islamic tradition is paramount, the names of God take ‘center stage’ in his voluminous works. This paper will explore how Ibn al-‘Arabi understands the Names of God in relation to his overall cosmology, underscoring how the Names are understood to correspond with and shape the various elements of space and time that make up our world.

Religious Foundations
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

William Rory Dickson

Associate Professor , Religion and Culture , University of Winnipeg , Canada

Meena Sharify Funk

Associate Professor , Wilfrid Laurier University , Canada