I am excited to share something I just realized about the 1992 animated film Aladdin. I won’t bother discussing the live-action remake because that one took out some of the key elements that contribute to the symbolism of the original. What I realized about the original is that the main characters are playing roles similar to ones in the scriptures. It’s basically a retelling of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In fact, the entire movie can be seen as a love story between mankind and Jesus Christ.
It might seem farfetched at first, but as we examine Aladdin, Abu, Jafar, Jasmine, the Genie, and the flying carpet, you will begin to see how much they resemble Biblical figures.
Aladdin Eats His Bread by the Sweat of His Face
Aladdin has quite a bit in common with a certain man named Adam. The first time we see Aladdin, he is holding a loaf of bread and running away from a group of guards who intend to punish his thievery. He puzzles over the lunacy of getting into so much trouble over something as small as a loaf of bread before breaking into song as he continues his daring escape. During the song, a disapproving woman notes that he has no parents to blame for his lot in life. Once he gets away from the guards, he splits his bread in half to share with his faithful companion Abu. But he sees a couple of hungry orphans like himself, and he decides to give his half to them, even though it means he’ll go hungry.
What does any of this have to do with Adam, the first man to walk the Earth? When Adam was cast out of the Garden of Eden for transgressing the law that was given to him, God told him that now he would have to eat his bread by the sweat of his face. In other words, he wouldn’t be given everything for free anymore; he’d have to work for it. And, of course, he had no earthly father and mother, but his physical body was organized and created by God. Despite having no parents in the typical sense, Adam wasn’t alone in life. He had a wife named Eve who was his faithful companion and help meet. And the two of them had children who they sacrificed for and took care of.
Wait, am I calling Eve, the mother of every living soul on the Earth, a monkey? No, I’m simply likening a cartoon character to her because he possesses some qualities and roles that are similar to hers. And I should also note that both Aladdin and Adam were diamonds in the rough. Just like all of us. When Adam partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he became more like God, knowing good from evil. Now it was up to him and his wife and posterity to decide which one they would choose – goodness and life or evil and death?
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is represented by the Cave of Wonders. Interestingly, the Cave of Wonders comes after Aladdin has demonstrated his noble potential in the fallen world, which is actually the opposite of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. No matter. It’s just great to see them presented in a respectful manner, whichever order they come in. The entrance to the Cave of Wonders is only accessible with the aid of a magical golden bug that comes to life when both of its halves are combined. That is reminiscent of the fact that neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in God’s eyes. He made the Earth to be populated, and the only way to do that is through a man and a woman becoming one.
Aladdin and Abu are tested when they enter the Cave of Wonders much like how Adam and Eve were tested when they entered the Garden of Eden. Jafar comes to them in disguise and tempts them with the promise of great wealth if they will bring him the lamp from the heart of the cave. They are warned not to touch anything but the lamp, and Aladdin successfully resists the temptation, even though he’s never seen such fabulous wealth before. Abu isn’t as strong, however. He can’t take his eyes off a shiny red jewel, and, despite the best efforts of a living and helpful flying carpet to stop him, he breaks away and grabs the jewel. For that disobedience, the gold turns into fire and lava, forcing Aladdin and Abu to flee for their lives with the aid of the flying carpet.
That sounds an awful lot like the way Satan came to Adam and Eve and tempted them to partake of the forbidden fruit that God specifically commanded them not to eat. In the Garden of Eden, they could eat everything except one particular fruit, so it’s rather opposite to the command given to Aladdin and Abu that they could only touch one thing. Eve is the first to eat, not because of greed like Abu, but because she was beguiled by Satan and tricked into doing it through the promise of a wealth of knowledge mixed with lies about the true consequences. She gets Adam to partake as well, and their eyes are opened so that they begin to understand the difference between right and wrong. They are both punished for their actions by being driven out of God’s presence in the Garden of Eden.
There is even a literal fall of man when Aladdin is knocked down a high cliff by Jafar and buried in the cave. Thankfully, the flying carpet hurries to catch him and rescue him from certain death. We will identify who that flying carpet represents later on. Right now, let’s talk more about Jafar.
Jafar the Impostor Gets Cast Out
I remember hearing years ago another movie critic named Confused Matthew complain that Jafar isn’t as good as other Disney villains like Gaston or Scar because he lacks depth to his character and doesn’t symbolize anything beyond pure evil. I beg to differ. Jafar reminds me of the great deceiver Lucifer. By day, he pretends to be a trusted advisor to the sultan, but by night he schemes to take the sultan’s glory for himself with sorcery and magic. When the sultan learns of his treachery, he commands his guards to throw Jafar in jail. However, Jafar escapes to cause more trouble later. Lucifer, a Son of the Morning, is a fallen angel who sought to exalt himself above the throne of God, but he was cast out of heaven for disobedience and now, as Satan, seeks to darken the Earth with secret combinations and other evil mischief.
When Jafar discovers that Aladdin is a diamond in the rough, the only one worthy to enter the Cave of Wonders to retrieve the lamp, he captures Aladdin and tempts him with worldly treasures in order to get him to do his bidding. When Aladdin makes it out of the cave and hands him the lamp as promised, Jafar makes it clear that he had no intention of making good on his promise. He is instead planning to kill Aladdin. That is the way Satan works, too. He might promise worldly pleasure by tempting people to be wicked and give in to their base desires, but all we get in the end if we follow him is misery, disease, and death. There is no lasting happiness to be found in following the father of lies. He only seeks to make us as miserable as he is.
Near the end of the film, Jafar takes over Agrabah and exalts his throne high above the city. He enslaves the sultan, Jasmine, and the rest of the city’s inhabitants and banishes Aladdin to the ends of the Earth. Thankfully, Aladdin is able to return and faces off with a snakelike Jafar. Aladdin uses his wits to outsmart Jafar by appealing to his vanity. Seeking to become the greatest of all, Jafar wishes to be an all-powerful genie, forgetting that doing so also chains him to his own tiny lamp where he will be imprisoned for 10,000 years, according to the Genie.
Near the end of the world, Satan will take over most of it and seemingly reign supreme for a time. He is already raging in the hearts of many men and women, to the point that we now have open violence in city streets and bitter hatred between opposing parties. Peace has been taken from the Earth, and we are at the mercy of the one who has been pulling the strings behind the scenes to bring us to the brink of societal collapse. Far worse things are about to happen. But the faithful will be able to find refuge through the calamities, awaiting the return of Jesus Christ to cleanse the world of sin and imprison Satan, that old serpent, for 1,000 years. He’ll be loosed for a little season at the end of that time before being defeated once and for all at the final judgment.
Who Is Jasmine?
So, if Aladdin represents Adam and Abu represents Eve, what are we to make of Jasmine? Let’s see, does this remind you of anyone? Jasmine is the only begotten child of a sultan/king, she leaves her palace on high in disguise to walk among commoners without being known in her true royal identity, she helps the downtrodden, and she proves herself capable of greater feats than at first presumed when she uses a pole to leap over a life-and-death chasm. That’s right, Jasmine is a Christ-type.
This is not to say she is exactly like Jesus Christ. She sometimes comes across as naïve about how the world works, is chastised for her willfulness against her father, sorrows over the news that Aladdin was beheaded without having the power to do anything about it, and distracts Jafar by seducing him so Aladdin can go for the lamp. Jesus, on the other hand, knows everything about the world since He made it, does only the will of His Father, has power to resurrect the dead, and will eventually crush Satan’s head, not wait for someone else to do it for Him.
Once Aladdin lays eyes on Jasmine, his biggest desire becomes getting her to love him. He thinks he has to pretend to be a prince to accomplish this because she can only marry someone on the same level of royalty as her. That’s the law, after all. But her father makes an exception to the law for her sake. Whomever she chooses will be the next sultan, and she chooses Aladdin, which makes him a true prince and a joint-heir of all the sultan possesses.
We don’t need to convince Jesus to love us. He already loved us so much, He was willing to lay down His life for us. Greater love hath no man than that. We just have to love Him enough to keep His commandments. No unclean thing can enter into the Kingdom of God, which means we all fall short because we’re flawed. That is why Jesus atoned for our sins, so that justice is satisfied and mercy can claim her own. If we choose to follow in the Savior’s footsteps, He will make us joint-heirs with Him, and we will receive all that the Father hath.
The Genie and Flying Carpet to the Rescue
Despite not being able to see God on a daily basis, we’re not left alone to try to find Him in the dark. We have an illuminating friend unlike any other who is there to guide us, and He is known as the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost. Kind of like the Genie of the Lamp. The Genie’s phenomenal, cosmic powers are limited in three ways: not being able to infringe on anyone’s free will, kill people, or raise the dead. But he is perfectly capable of granting other wishes if his master just asks.
That sounds like the admonition to ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. God sends the Holy Ghost to burn in people’s bosoms and confirm the truth when they hear it. They can receive the Holy Ghost as their constant companion once they exercise faith, repent of their sins, and are baptized by the proper authority. Neither God, nor Jesus, nor the Holy Ghost encroach on people’s free will, but They have the authority to administer either eternal life or death on all who seek those things.
The Genie acts as Aladdin’s conscience at times, encouraging him to be himself, tell the truth, and do what’s right, even when it’s not easy. That is like how the Holy Ghost operates with us. A big difference between the Genie and the Holy Ghost is that the Genie wishes to be freed from his role because he is basically a prisoner while the Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead along with God and Jesus Christ, so I doubt He feels imprisoned or wishes to be freed from that role.
Finally, let’s not forget the flying carpet. He is a silent companion who guides Aladdin, gives him a helping hand, and often saves his life. Like the Genie, he acts as Aladdin’s conscience on several occasions, warning him not to lie when Jasmine guesses his true identity as a street rat, and reacting ecstatically when Aladdin invites him to lead Abu and himself through the Cave of Wonders. Even at the end of the movie, when the Genie leaves because his work is done and Aladdin has found his second comforter in the form of Jasmine, the flying carpet sticks around and continues to support both Aladdin and Jasmine. That is very much like how the Holy Ghost stays with any man who continues in faith until he comes unto Christ and gains a perfect knowledge of all things as they really are. The still, small voice continues to bear witness of God and Jesus Christ to all who will listen.
Out of the Bottle
Now that we’ve gone through Aladdin and looked at it with a new pair of eyes, the genie is out of the bottle. It’s pretty hard not to see the symbolism now. I love finding uplifting messages in popular entertainment. It shows that it is possible to repackage spiritual stories and history in a way that appeals to everyone without being preachy.
Before we conclude, I would like to clarify that God is really nothing like the sultan, except in a few key moments. The sultan is used for comic relief most of the time. Trying to liken God to a silly side character would be in-sultan.
As one diamond in the rough to another, I hope we will embrace the polishing God gives us and not resent Him for breaking off our jagged edges. I look forward to the changes that are coming (painful though they may be), which will truly transform everything we see around us into a whole new world.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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If you’d like to support the Deja Reviewer, please consider donating a few dollars to keep this site going strong. I’ll even send you an original joke if you do! Try it, and prepare to enjoy a good chuckle.