Monday, 16 February 2009

Traditional Stories of Jesus (a.s.) from Muslim Sources

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is compiled from “Traditional Stories of Jesus (a.s.) from Muslim Sources.”  Many of these stories are taken from the Isra'iliyyat, narration from the Ahl al-Kitab.  They are considered weak since these narrations are not from the Prophet (s.a.w.).

Shaykh Ka‘b al-Ahbar (r.a.), whose full name is Abu Ishaq Ka‘b ibn Mati’ al-Humyari al-Ahbar, was a prominent rabbi from Yemen who converted to Islam.  He was of the clan of Dzu Ra'in or Dzu al-Kila.  He is counted among the tabi‘in and narrated many Isra'iliyyat.

Shaykh Ka‘b al-Ahbar (r.a.) said, “Jesus (a.s.), son of Mary (a.s.), was a ruddy man, inclined to white; he did not have long hair, and he never anointed his head.  Jesus used to walk barefoot, and he took no house, or adornment, or goods, or clothes, or provision except his day’s food.  Wherever the sun set, he arranged his feet in prayer until the morning came.  He was curing the blind from birth and the leper and raising the dead by Allah's Permission and was telling his people what they were eating in their houses and what they were storing up for the morrow, and he was walking on the surface of the water in the sea.  His head was dishevelled and his face was small; he was an ascetic in the world, longing for the next world and eager for the worship of Allah.  He was a pilgrim in the earth until the Jews sought him and desired to kill him.  Then Allah Raised him up to Heaven; and Allah Knows best.”

Shaykh Ka’b al-Ahbar (r.a.) also narrated a version of the story of the “Wise Men from the East.”  He said, “That night, people went out repairing to him because of a star which had risen.  They had been told formerly in the Book of Daniel that the rising of that star would be one of the signs of him who was to be born.  So they went out seeking him, and took with them gold, myrrh, and frankincense.  They passed one of the kings of Syria who asked them, ‘Where are you making for?’ and they told him about that.  He asked, ‘What is the meaning of the myrrh, gold, and frankincense?  Will you present him with these things?’

They replied, ‘Those represent him, because gold is the lord of all goods, similarly this prophet is the lord of the people of his time; and because what is broken and wounded is put right with myrrh, similarly Allah will Heal by this prophet all who are infirm and ill; and because the smoke of frankincense and no other smoke enters heaven, similarly Allah will Raise this prophet and no other prophet of his time to heaven.’

When they said that to that king he decided to kill him, so he said to them, ‘Go away, and when you learn where he is, tell me about that, for I wish the same with respect to him as you do.’

They set off until they came to Mary (a.s.) and gave her the present that was with them.  And they desired to return to that king to tell him where he was, but an angel met them and said to them, ‘Do not return to him and do not tell him where he is, for he only wanted to kill him.’  So they went off another way.”

The Gospels state that it was Herod Agrippa, the usurper king of Israel and Roman puppet, who wanted Jesus (a.s.) killed and for that, he perpetrated the Slaughter of the Innocents in Bethlehem.  However, Palestine was also considered part of the Greater Syria region.

Shaykh Wahb ibn Munabbih (r.a.) was a Muslim muhadditsin of Dzamar, two day’s journey from Sana’a, in Yemen.  He passed away at the age of ninety, in a year variously given by Arab authorities as 725, 728, 732, and 737 CE.  He is counted amongst the tabi‘in and narrated Isra'iliyyat.  Hi full name was Abu ‘Abdullah asw-Swana'ani adz-Dzamari or Wahb ibn Munabbih ibn Kamil ibn Siraj ad-Din.

Shaykh Wahb ibn Munabbih (r.a.) said, “The first sign which the people saw from Jesus (a.s.) was that his mother was living in the house of a village headman in the land of Egypt, to which Joseph the carpenter had brought her when he went with her to Egypt, and the poor used to repair to that headman's house.  Some money belonging to that headman was stolen from his treasury, but he did not suspect the poor, and Mary (a.s.) was grieved over the affliction of that headman.  When Jesus (a.s.) saw his mother's grief over her host's affliction he asked her, ‘Mother, do you want me to guide him to his money?’

She replied, ‘Yes, my son.’

He said, ‘Tell him to gather the poor for me in his house.’  So Mary (a.s.) said that to the headman and he gathered the poor for him.  When they had collected, he went to two of them, one of whom was blind and the other lame, and lifted the lame man on to the blind man's shoulder, and said to him, ‘Rise up with him.’

The blind man replied, ‘I am too weak for that.’

Jesus (a.s.) said to him, ‘How is it you were strong enough for it yesterday?’  When they heard him saying that, they beat the blind man until he arose, and when he stood up, the lame man reached to the window of the treasury.  Then Jesus (a.s.) said to the headman, ‘Thus they schemed against your property yesterday, because the blind man sought the help of his strength and the lame man of his eyes.’

Then the blind man and the lame man said, ‘He has spoken the truth, by Allah!’ and restored all his money to the headman.

He took it and put it in his treasury and said, ‘O Mary, take half of it.’

She replied, ‘I was not Created for that.’

The headman said, ‘Then give it to your son.’

She replied, ‘He is greater in rank than I.’”

Soon after, the headman gave a marriage-feast for a son of his.  He prepared a feast for him and gathered all the people of Egypt to it and was feeding them for two months.  Then when that came to an end some people from Syria visited him, but the headman did not know about them until they arrived and on that day, he had no wine.  When Jesus saw his concern about that, he entered one of the headman's houses in which were two rows of jars and Jesus (a.s.) passed his hand over their mouths while he was walking by; and every time he passed his hand over a jar it became full of wine, until Jesus (a.s.) came to the last of them.  And at that time he was twelve years old.

It is important to note that most Muslim scholars doubt the existence of Joseph and do not believe that Mary (a.s.) was betrothed or ever married.  Like the Catholics, they agree she was a virgin and left this world a virgin.  According to the Gospels, the miracle of the transmutation of the water into wine occurred in Canaan, not Egypt.

The poet, Shaykh Sa’adi ash-Shirazi (q.s.) said, “When Jesus (a.s.) was in school, he used to tell the boys what their fathers were doing; and he would say to a boy, ‘Go home, for your people have been eating such and such and have prepared such and such for you and they are eating such and such.’  So the boy would go home to his people and would cry until they gave him that thing.

Then they would ask him, ‘Who told you about this?’

And he would say, ‘Jesus.’

So they shut away their boys from him and said, ‘Do not play with this magician.’  So they gathered them in a house, and Jesus came looking for them.  Then they said, ‘They are not here.’

He asked them, ‘Then what is in this house?’

They replied, ‘Swine.’

He said, ‘Let them be swine.’  So when they opened the door for them, they were swine.  That spread among the people, and the Children of Israel were troubled about it.  So when his mother was afraid concerning him, she put him on an ass of hers and went in flight to Egypt.”

Shaykh Farid ad-Din ‘Aththar (q.s.) said, “When Mary (a.s.) had taken Jesus (a.s.) from the school, she handed him over to various trades, and the last to which she entrusted him was to the dyers.  She handed him over to their chief that he might learn from him.  Now, the man had various clothes with him and he had to go on a journey, so he said to Jesus (a.s.), ‘You have learned this trade and I am going on a journey from which I shall not return for ten days.  These clothes are of different colours and I have marked every one of them with the colour with which it is to be dyed.  So I want you to be finished with them when I return.’  Then he left.

Jesus (a.s.) prepared one receptacle with one colour and put all the clothes in it and said to them, ‘Be, by Allah’s Permission, according to what is expected of you.’

Then a dyer came and saw all the clothes were in one receptacle.  He said, ‘O Jesus, what have you done?’

He replied, ‘I have finished dyeing them.’

The dyer asked, ‘Where are they?’

He replied, ‘In the receptacle.’

The dyer asked, ‘All of them?’

He replied, ‘Yes.’

The dyer exclaimed, ‘Why are they all in one receptacle?  You have spoiled those clothes.’

Jesus (a.s.) replied, ‘Rise and look.’  So he arose and Jesus (a.s.) took out a yellow garment and a green garment and a red garment until he had taken them out according to the colours which were desired.  Then the dyer began to wonder, and he knew that that was from Allah (s.w.t.).

Then the dyer said to the people, ‘Come and look at what Jesus has done.’  So his companions and he became disciples; they believed on him; and Allah (s.w.t.) Knows best.”

According to the Gospels, Jesus (a.s.) was a carpenter and none of the twelve apostles were dyers.

Shaykh Farid ad-Din ‘Aththar (q.s.) also said his prayer by which he was curing the sick and bringing the dead to life was: “O Allah, You are the God of those who are in Heaven and of those who are on Earth; there is no god to them other than You.  And You are the Almighty of those who are in the Heavens and the Almighty of those who are on Earth; there is no almighty to them other than You.  And You are the King of those who are in the Heavens and the King of those who are on Earth; there is no king in them other than You.  And You are the Judge of those who are in the Heavens and of those who are on Earth; there is no judge in them other than You.  Your Power on Earth is like Your Power in Heaven, and Your Authority on Earth is like Your Authority in Heaven.  I ask You by Your Noble Names.  Verily You are Omnipotent.”

ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) said, of the apostles, “They were fishermen who were catching fish, and Jesus (a.s.) passed them and asked them, ‘What are you doing?’

They replied, ‘We are catching fish.’

He asked them, ‘Will you not come with me that you may catch men?’

They replied to him, ‘What do you mean?’

He said, ‘We will summon men to Allah.’

They asked, ‘And who are you?’

He said, ‘I am Jesus, son of Mary, Allah's servant and apostle.’

They asked, ‘Are any of the prophets above you?’

He replied, ‘Yes, the Arabian prophet.’

So those men followed him and believed on him and set out with him.”

Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr (r.a.) was also known as Mus‘ab al-Khayr.  He was a swahabi.  We was from the Banu ‘Abd ad-Dar branch of the Quraysh.  He embraced Islam in 614 CE and was the first ambassador of Islam.  He was killed in the Battle of Uhud in 625 CE.

Mus`ab narrated a tradition as follows: “The disciples were twelve men who followed Jesus (a.s.); and when they were hungry, they said, ‘O Spirit of God, we are hungry;’ then he would strike the ground with his hand, whether on the plain or on a mountain, and two loaves would appear for each man and they would eat them.  And when they were thirsty, they said, ‘O Spirit of God, we are thirsty;’ then he would strike the ground with his hand, whether on the plain or on a mountain, and water would appear and they would drink.  They said, ‘O Spirit of God, who is better off than we are?  When we wish, you feed us, and when we wish, you give us drink; and we believe in you and have followed you.’

He replied, ‘He is better off than you who works with his hand and eats what he has earned.’  So they began to make clothes for wages.”

Shaykh Hisham ibn al-Kalbi (r.a.) was an Arab historian.  His full name Abu al-Mundzir Hisham ibn Muhammad ibn as-Sa’ib ibn Bishr al-Kalbi.  He was born in Kufa but spent much of his life in Baghdad.  Like his father, he collected information about the genealogies and history of the ancient Arabs.  Shaykh al-Kalbi (r.a.) established a genealogical link between Ishmael (a.s.) and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and put forth the idea that all Arabs were descendants of Ishmael (a.s.).

Shaykh al-Kalbi (r.a.) said, “Jesus was raising the dead by means of ‘O Living One!  O Eternal One!’”

It is related that Jesus (a.s.) went out one day in his wandering accompanied by one of his companions who was a short man who attached himself greatly to Jesus (a.s.).  Then when Jesus (a.s.) came to the sea he said, “In the name of Allah, with health and certainty;” then he walked on the surface of the water.

Then the short man said, “In the name of Allah, with health and certainty;” and he walked on the surface of the water.  Then wonder entered him and he thought, “This is Jesus, the Spirit of God, walking on the water, and I am walking on the water.”

Then he sank in the water and appealed to Jesus (a.s.), so Jesus (a.s.) reached out to him from the water and took him out and said to him, “What did you say, O brother?’   He told him what had pervaded his mind and Jesus (a.s.) said to him, “You have put yourself in a place other than that in which Allah Put you and Allah Abhorred you on account of what you said; so turn to Allah in repentance for what you said.”  So the man repented and returned to the rank in which Allah had Placed him.  So we must be conscious of Allah (s.w.t.) and do not envy one another.

Imam Abu Manswur al-Khamshawi (r.a.) said in his tradition from Mu’adz ibn Jabal (r.a.), that the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “If you really knew Allah, you would have learned the knowledge after which there is no ignorance, but no one has ever attained to that.”

They asked, “Not even you, O Apostle of Allah?”

He replied, “Not even I.”

They said, “O apostle of Allah, it has reached us that Jesus, son of Mary, walked on the water.”

He said, “Yes, and if he had had more fear and certainty, he would have walked on the air.”

They said, “O Apostle of Allah, we were not thinking that the apostles came short.”

He replied, “Verily Allah has too high a Rank for anyone to reach His Rank.”

Khalid ibn Sa’id ibn al-‘Aasw (r.a.) was also known as Khalid ibn Sa’id ibn al-‘Aasw al-Amawi.  He was a swahabi and one of the muhajirun.  He was also Umm Habibah’s (r.a.) wali when she married Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) while she was in Abyssinia.

Khalid ibn Sa’id (r.a.) said, “And when Allah informed the Messiah that he was going from the world he was disturbed at that, and called the disciples and prepared food for them and said, ‘Come to me tonight, for I have need of you.’  Then when they gathered at night, he gave them supper and rose to serve them; and when they had finished eating he began to wash their hands and wipe them with his clothes; but they disdained that, so he said, ‘Whoever rejects anything of what I do is not one of mine.’  Then they left him alone until he finished.

Then he said, ‘I have only done this that you should have in me an example of serving one another.  And as regards my need of you, it is that you should strive for me in prayer to Allah that my end may be delayed.’  But when they wished to do that, Allah (s.w.t.) Cast sleep upon them, so that they were incapable of prayer; and the Messiah began to waken them and rebuke them, but they only increased in sleep and laziness and told him that they were too overcome for that.  Then the Messiah said, ‘Praise be to Allah!  The shepherd is taken away and the sheep are scattered.’  Afterwards he said to them, ‘Verily I say unto you, one of you will deny me before the cock crows, and one of you will sell me for a small sum of money and will consume my price.’

And the Jews had been energetic in searching for him; then one of the disciples came to Herod, the governor of the Jews, and to a company of the Jews and said, ‘What will you assign me if I guide you to the Messiah?’

They assigned him thirty darahim, and he took them and guided them to him.  Then Allah (s.w.t.) Raised the Messiah to Himself and cast his likeness on him who led them to him.”

Imam Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad (r.a.) was better known as Imam ‘Ali ‘Izz ad-Din ibn al-Atsir al-Jazari.  He was an Arab or Kurdish historian and biographer who wrote in Arabic and he was from the famous ibn al-Atsir family.  Imam al-Atsir (r.a.) lived a scholarly life in Mosul.  He often visited Baghdad and for a time, traveled with Sultan Saladin's (r.a.) army in Syria.  He later lived in Aleppo and Damascus.  His chief work was a history of the world, al-Kamil fi at-Tarikh, “The Complete History.”

Imam ibn al-Atsir (r.a.) wrote in the al-Kamil, concerning Jesus (a.s.), “The learned have differed concerning his death before his being raised up.  Some say, ‘He was raised up and did not die.’  Others say, ‘No, Allah Made him die for three hours.’  Others say, ‘For seven hours, then He Brought him back to life.’  And those who say this are expounding His Saying:


… ‘O Jesus!  I will Take thee and Raise thee to Myself….’ (Surah Ali ‘Imran:55)

And when the Jews seized the person who had been Made to resemble him, they bound him and began to lead him with a rope and say to him, ‘You were raising the dead.  Can you not save yourself from this rope?’  And they were spitting in his face and putting thorns on him; and they crucified him on the cross for six hours.  Then Joseph the carpenter asked for him from the governor who was over the Jews, whose name was Pilate and whose title was Herod, and buried him in a grave which the aforementioned Joseph had prepared for himself.  Then Allah (s.w.t.) Sent down the Messiah from heaven to his mother, Mary (a.s.), when she was weeping for him, and he said to her, ‘Verily Allah has Raised me to Himself and nothing but good has befallen me.’  And he gave her instructions, and she gathered the disciples to him and he sent them through the earth as messengers from Allah and he ordered them to convey from him the Message Allah (s.w.t.) had Commanded him.

Then Allah (s.w.t.) Raised him to Himself and the disciples scattered where he commanded them.  The Messiah's (a.s.) Raising up was three hundred and thirty-six years after Alexander's conquest of Darius.”

It is important to note that Imam al-Atsir (r.a.) was only conveying what he had gathered.  We have historical evidence that Pontius Pilate may have been the governor of Ideorum, what the Romans called Judea.  Herod Agrippa, the usurper was a distinct person and an enemy of the prophets.

Imam Taj ad-Din Abu al-Fath Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Karim ash-Shahrastani (r.a.) was an influential Persian historian of religions and a historiographer.  His book, Kitab al-Milal wa an-Nihal, The Book of Sects and Creeds, was one of the pioneers in developing a scientific approach to the study of religions.  Besides these, he was also a philosopher and theologian.

Imam ash-Shahrastanî (r.a.) wrote from the Christians, “Then four of the disciples, Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John, came together, and each of them collected a Gospel, and the end of the Gospel of Matthew is that the Messiah said, ‘Verily I have sent you to the nations as my Father Sent me to you; so go and summon the nations in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.’”

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