What Does Abou Ben Adam Mean?


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Abou Ben Adhem means, literally, “Abou, son of Adhem.”  Abou Ben Adhem is also the title of a poem by the 19th C. English critic, essayist, poet and writer, Leigh Hunt.  The poem describes a man waking from a peaceful sleep, to find an angel in his room, writing in a book.  When he asks the angel what he is writing, the heavenly being replies he is recording the names of all of those who love God.  Ben Adhem asks if his own name appears in the book, and the angel replies that it does not.  Although momentarily disappointed, Ben Adhem requests that the angel record him as one who loves his fellow man, then.  The angel does so, and then vanishes.  The next night, the angel reappears.  This time, the angel reveals in his book the names of those whom God has blessed for their capacity to love.  Abou Ben Adhem’s name is at the top of the list.  

This ideology is also beautifully expressed in a New Testament passage from the first epistle of John:

“Beloved, let us love one another;  for love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.   He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.”

This is a common theme in a great many religious and even non-religious philosophies.

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