`Īsā (The Muslim Jesus)

by Mark Chmiel

1.

A man came to Jesus and said, “Teacher of goodness, teach me something that you know and I do not, that benefits me and does you no harm.” Jesus asked, “What would that be?” The man said, “How can a servant be truly pious before God?” Jesus replied, “The matter is easy. You must truly love God in your heart and work in His service, exerting all your effort and strength, and be merciful toward the people of your race as you show mercy to yourself.” He said, “Teacher of goodness, who are the people of my race?” Jesus replied, “All the children of Adam. And that which you do not wish to be done to you, do not do to others. In this way you will be truly pious before God.”

2.

Christ passed by a group of people who hurled insults at him, and he responded with blessings. He passed by another group who insulted him, and he responded likewise. One of his disciples asked, “Why is it that the more they insult you, the more you bless them, as if inviting this upon yourself?” Christ said, “A person can bring forth only what is within him.”

3.

It is related that Jesus said, “God preserve you” to a man who did not deserve to be so addressed. Jesus was asked, “Why do you say this to such as he?” He answered, “A tongue accustomed to good speaks thus to all men.”

4.

They asked Jesus, “Show us an act by which we may enter paradise.” Jesus said, “Do not speak at all.” They said, “We cannot do this.” Jesus replied, “Then speak only good.”

5.

Jesus said to his people, “Do not talk much without the mention of God, lest your hearts grow hard; for the hard heart is far from God, but you do not know. Do not examine the sins of people as though you were lords, but examine them, rather, as though you were servants. Men are of two kinds: the sick and the healthy. Be merciful to the sick and give thanks to God for health.”

6.

Jesus said, “It is of no use to you to come to know what you did not know, so long as you do not act in accordance with what you already know. Too much knowledge only increases pride if you do not act in accordance with it.”

7.

Jesus was asked, “Which of your deeds is the best?” He answered, “Leaving alone that which does not concern me.”

–from the collection by Tarif Khalidi, The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature.

Therein, Khalidi comments, “Here is a Jesus who on the one hand is shorn of Christology, but who on the other is endowed with attributes which render him meta-historical and even, so to speak, meta-religious. In his Muslim habitat, Jesus becomes an object of intense devotion, reverence, and love. He bears the stamp of Qur’anic nubuwwah, or prophecy, but as he advances inside the Islamic tradition he ceases to be an argument and becomes a living and vital moral voice, demanding to be heard by all who seek a unity of profession and witness.”

 

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