God's Most Beautiful Names: A Mystical Perspective


'Call upon God, or call upon the All-Compassionate; whichever you call upon, to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names' (Quran, 17:110); 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful' (Luke, 6:36); 'God said unto Moses: I am that I am' (Exodus, 3:14). Any understanding of Islam, Christianity and Judaism inevitably involves understanding the doctrine of the Divine Names. According to a well-known Islamic tradition, there are 99 Most Beautiful Names of God, which are said to have been taught to the human being so that the fullness of the Divine may be realised.

As mentioned in the Quran and Hadith, these Names have been the subject of treatises by various authors and they have been depicted in beautiful calligraphy throughout the Islamic world. The most comprehensive and influential treatment of their meaning is that given by Ibn 'Arabi (d. 1240) in his various works. Modern scholars have described the divine names as 'the single most important concept in Ibn 'Arabi's works', and as 'the clue to our knowledge of the categories manifested in the spiritual and physical worlds', indicating 'the infinite lines of activity of the One'.

In this course we will explore the topic through original texts in translation, contemplation and group discussion, as well as readings from secondary literature and comparative studies with other traditions.

Programme details

Courses starts: 22 Jan 2020

Week 1:  What's in a Name? One Named and Many Names

Week 2:  Does God have a Name? Divinity and Lordship

Week 3:  Mercy and Compassion

Week 4:  Will and Power

Week 5:  Hearing and Seeing

Week 6:  Living and Knowing

Week 7:  Speaking

Week 8:  Majesty

Week 9:  Beauty

Week 10:  Divine simlitude, human assimilation


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £215.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Mr Stephen Hirtenstein

Stephen Hirtenstein is a Senior Research Fellow of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society, editor of its Journal, and director of Anqa Publishing. He has been studying the works of Ibn 'Arabi for over 40 years, and has taught courses and seminars on Ibn 'Arabi and Sufism worldwide. His publications include a biography of Ibn 'Arabi (The Unlimited Mercifier) and translations of various works, including The Alchemy of Human Happiness.

Course aims

To introduce students to a deeper understanding of the Names of God in the Sufi tradition, as a practical doctrine that links the human to the divine and the divine to the world 

Course Objectives:

a) to examine the doctrine of the Divine Names from various perspectives

b) to explore through group discussion some of the key Names, and how they relate to the human being

c) to assess the contribution of Ibn 'Arabi's insights in the light of modern understandings of human development and evolution

Teaching methods

Tutor-led or student-led introductions to the topics, based on prior reading, and reading of selected source-texts and commentary. Group discussion of key questions raised by the material. The emphasis will be on stimulating discussion, either as a whole class or in smaller groups.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have developed a general framework for understanding the doctrine of the Divine Names in Islam and Sufism, and a deeper understanding of specific Names in Islamic mystical thought. 

Assessment methods

Students will be able to choose whether to be assessed by Option A, a long written piece (1,000 words), or Option B, a collection of shorter pieces (oral or written) based on the weekly themes, including 5-minute writing tasks and course journal and short presentations.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

This course is suitable for those who wish to deepen their knowledge of Islam or any other monotheistic tradition, and for those interested in Sufi teachings in general. 

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)