In the Qur’an, in a passage describing the annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus (‘a) is described as a Word from God: O Mary! Verily Allah gives you the glad tidings of a Word from Him; his name is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, eminent in this world, and in the Hereafter of those near [to God] (3:44)
The context in which this ayah was revealed was one of inter-religious encounter. It is said that the Christians of Najran sent a delegation to the Prophet of Islam (s) at Makkah to question him about the teachings of Islam concerning Jesus (‘a), and God revealed the above and other ayat of Surat Al ‘Imran in response. The response is not only not a denial of Christian teachings, although the divinity of Christ is clearly rejected, but also an affirmation of much believed by Christians as well, even the designation of Christ as logos: ‘O People of the Book! Do not go to extremes in your creed, and do not say of Allah but the Truth. Verily, the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a Spirit from Him (Qur’an 4:171) So in addition to being called the Word of God, Jesus (‘a) is also called a Spirit of God and in some of the narrations reported in the Shi’i tradition, this title is used.
Of course, the interpretation of the logos in Christian theology differs markedly from the interpretation of the kalimah by Muslim scholars. For the Christian, according to the Gospel of John, the Word was God and the Word became flesh.’ For the Muslim, on the other hand, the Word is creature, even while it is the creative principle, for it is in God’s utterance of the word ‘Be’. That creation takes place. To call Christ the Word of Allah is not to deify him, but to verify his status as prophet. Because of his high status as prophet, Jesus (‘a) becomes a complete manifestation of God, one who conveys the message of God, one who can speak on behalf of God, the Word of God Jesus (‘a) becomes the Word of God not because of an incarnation whereby his flesh becomes divine, but because his spirit is refined to such an extent that it becomes a mirror whereby divinity comes to be known. The temple is holy not because of any inherent sanctity in the structure, but because it is the place of the worship of God.
The differences between Islamic and Christian thinking about Jesus (‘a) are as important as they are subtle. Both accept the virgin birth, although it is ironic that a growing number of liberal Christians have come to have doubts about this miracle while Muslims remain steadfast! Among the other miracles attributed to Jesus (‘a) in the Glorious Qur’an are the revival of the dead and the creation of a bird from clay, but all of the miracles performed by Jesus (‘a) are expressly by the permission of Allah. Just as in the miracle of his birth, Jesus (‘a) came into the world by a human mother and divine spirit, so too, his miracles are performed as human actions with divine permission. In this regard the error of the Christians is explained by Ibn ‘Arabi as follows:
This matter has led certain people to speak of incarnation and to say that, in reviving the dead, he is God. Therefore, since they conceal God, Who in reality revives the dead, in the human form of Jesus, He has said, They are concealers [unbelievers] who say that God is the Messiah, son of Mary. (5:72)
The point is that one can find God in Jesus (‘a) without deifying him, and furthermore that deifying Jesus (‘a) is really an obstacle to finding God in Jesus (‘a), for in the deification one ceases to look in Jesus (‘a) for anything beyond him. It is as if one were to become distracted from a message by focusing one’s attention on the words through which it was conveyed.
To the above point it may be added that not only does the doctrine of the incarnation prevent one from finding God in Christ (‘a), but it also prevents one from seeing Christ (‘a) the man, because his imagined divinity gets in the way.
One of the central questions of Christian theology is: Who was Jesus Christ? The formulation of answers to this question is called Christology. In this area of theology, Christians have debated the significance of the historical Jesus as opposed to the picture of Jesus presented in the traditions of the Christian Churches and the Biblical understanding of Jesus. The time has come for Muslims to begin work in this area, as well. Through the development of an Islamic Christology we can come to a better understanding of Islam as contrasted with Christianity, and Islam in consonance with Christianity, too. Indeed, the first steps in this direction are laid out for us in the Qur’an itself, in the verses mentioned above and others. Contemporary work toward an Islamic Christology is scarce. Christian authors have tended to stress the salvific function of Jesus (‘a) which seems to have no place in Islam, and given this, the Christians ask one another whether Christ (‘a) can be the savior of Muslims and others who are not Christians. Christians should be reminded that Muslims accept Jesus (‘a) as savior, along with all the other prophets, for the prophetic function is to save humanity from the scourge of sin by conveying the message of guidance revealed by God. The important difference between Islam and Christianity here is not over the issue of whether Jesus (‘a) saves, but how he saves. Islam denies that salvation is through redemption resulting from the crucifixion, and instead turns its attention to the instruction provided in the life of the prophets (‘a).
Muslims, on the other hand, have tended to produce polemical works showing how much of what is in the Bible is consistent with the Islamic view of Christ (‘a) as prophet rather than as a person of the Trinity. Some interesting work along these lines has been initiated by Ahmad Deedat in South Africa. More profound insights into the differences between Islam and other faiths, including Christianity, may be found in the writings of Frithjof Schuon, Shaykh ‘Isa Nur al-Din Ahmad, who presents the beginnings of a genuine Christology from a sufi perspective in his Islam and the Perennial Philosophy. There is also a valuable collection of stories about Jesus (‘a) culled from the writings of various Muslim mystics, Jesus in the Eyes of the Sufis. Some of the items reported in this work have their origins in the narrations attributed to the Shi’i Imams (‘a) presented below.
These days there is much discussion of dialogue between different faith communities. Conferences have been held for this purpose in the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as in Africa, Europe and the United States. Perhaps one of the best ways Christians can find common ground for discussion with Muslims is to become familiar with the portrait of Jesus (‘a) presented in Islamic sources, the most important of which are the Qur’an and hadith, and as for the latter, no matter what one’s religious orientation, it must be admitted that the narrations handed down through the Household of the Prophet (s) deserve careful attention. For those of us who have the honor of being counted among the Shi’ah, the importance of what has been related by the Ahl al-Bayt weighs especially heavily, as it should, according to the famous hadith al-thaqalayn, in which the Prophet (s,), in the last year of his life, is reported to have said:
Verily, I am leaving with you two weighty things (thaqalayn): the Book of Allah and my kindred, my household, for indeed, the two of them will never separate until they return to me by the Pond [of Kawthar on the Last Day].
Perhaps some Christians will be dismissive of what is said of Jesus (‘a) in the Islamic narrations because the main debate about contemporary Christology among Christians is whether research about the historical Jesus (‘a) is relevant to religion, or whether knowledge of Jesus (‘a) requires attention to the role he plays in the Church and in theology. The Islamic narrations, coming centuries after the life of Christ (‘a) (and in some cases more than a century after the life of Muhammad [s] will likely be dismissed by liberal Christians in pursuit of a portrait of Jesus (‘a) based on the standards of historical research currently accepted in the West. The neo-orthodox Christian claims that the Savior is not to be found in history, but in the Church, so it will not be surprising if he displays no interest in what Islam has to say about Christ (‘a). However, the Christian may find that the Islamic perspective illuminates a middle ground between the historian’s emphasis on the natural and the ecclesiastical emphasis on the supernatural. The humanity of Jesus (‘a) is evident in the narrations of the Shi’ah, but it is a humanity transformed, a perfected humanity, and as such there is no denying its supernatural dimension.
The Muslim always seems to appear as a stranger to the Christian, but perhaps it is from the stranger that the Christian can best come to know his savior. The crucifix has hung in the Church for so long that it becomes difficult for the Christian to find significance there. The attraction of the quest for the historical Jesus is that it provides a fresh look at the subject, even if that quest is marred by naturalistic presumptions inimical to the religious outlook. By trying to see Jesus (‘a) as the Muslim sees him, the Christian may find his savior come to life, lifted up to God in his own inner life rather than crucified.
If we have given reason for Christians to study the narrations of the Shi’ah about Jesus (‘a), the question of the value of such study for Muslims remains. Some might wonder why, when we have the Qur’an and Sunnah, we should be especially interested in Jesus (‘a). To begin with, Jesus (‘a), along with the prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peace be with them, and Muhammad (s) has a special status in Islam as one of the greatest prophets, the ulu al- ‘azm, the prophets who brought the divine law. What was revealed to the last of them, (s), is a confirmation of what was revealed to the others. The truth of the revelation is not to be found in its particularity but in its universality, and we come to understand this best when we understand the teachings of all the prophets (‘a). Is this not why so much attention is given to the previous prophets in the Qur’an?
All of the prophets (‘a) have brought a gospel of love, love of God and love of neighbor and love even for the meanest of His creatures. So, in the reports narrated below we find Jesus (‘a) giving some of his food to the creatures of the sea. At the same time, however, this love is not to be confused with a sentimentalism which would prevent the execution of the divine law. Jesus (‘a) found fault with the Pharisees not because of their regard for the exterior forms of religion, but because of their disregard for its interior forms, that is, because of their hypocrisy.
The words of the Spirit of Allah reported in the selections that follow are primarily concerned with morals. These are Christian morals and at the same time Islamic morals. Today Christendom is in a state of moral upheaval. Peculiarly modern ideas of what is right and wrong have found their way into the theologians’ understandings of ethics. Significant areas of agreement are difficult to find. The simple morality taught by Jesus (‘a) and which continues to be emphasized in Islam resonates in the narrations of the Shi’ah. While excessive asceticism is forbidden, we are to turn, like Jesus (‘a), away from the world to find refuge in God.
From the following narrations we not only become reacquainted with the moral teachings of Jesus (‘a) and with his character, but we also discover what the dear friends of Allah, the Household of the Prophet (s) found it important to transmit about him, and thereby we get a glimpse into their moral teachings and characters, too.
The Words of Jesus (‘a)
- It is said that Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) was sitting and an old man was working with a small shovel tilling the earth. Jesus (‘a) said: O Allah! Extract his desire from him. The old man put down the small shovel and slept for an hour. Then Jesus (‘a) said: O Allah! Return the desire to him. Then he stood up and began to work. Jesus (‘a) asked him about it. He said: When I was working my soul said to me: ‘How long will you work, being that you are an old man?’ Then I put down the small shovel and slept.’ Then my soul said to me: ‘By Allah! You have no alternative but to live as long as you remain.’ Then I stood up with my small shovel. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 329)
- It is reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq] (‘a) said: The Devil [iblis, the devil who tempted Adam and Eve. Cf. Qur’an 2:34; 7:11; 15:31; 38:74] said to Jesus the son of Mary: ‘Does your Lord have the power to put the earth into an egg without reducing the size of the earth or enlarging the egg?’ Then Jesus (‘a) said: ‘Woe unto you, for weakness is not attributed to Allah. Who is more powerful than He Who makes the earth subtle and makes the egg great?’ (Bihar al-anwar, iv, 142)
- It is reported that Imam Sadiq (‘a) said: Iblis came to Jesus (‘a), then he said: ‘Do you not claim that you can revive the dead?’ Jesus said: ‘Yes.’ Iblis said: ‘Then throw yourself down from the top of the wall.’ Then Jesus said: ‘Woe unto you! Verily the servant does not try his Lord.’ And Iblis said: ‘O Jesus! Can your Lord put the earth in an egg while the egg remains in its form?’ Then he said: ‘Verily impotence is not attributed to Allah, the Supreme, but what you said cannot be.’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 271)
On Human Poverty:
- One of the Imams is reported to have said: It was said to Jesus the son of Mary (‘a): ‘How did you begin the morning, O Spirit of Allah?’ He said: ‘I began the morning with my Lord, the Blessed and Supreme, above me and the fire (of hell) before me and death in pursuit of me. I do not possess that which I hope for and I cannot avoid what I hate. So which of the poor is poorer than me?’ (Bihar al-anwar, lxxvi, 17)
The World and the Hereafter:
- Jesus (‘a) said: O assembly of disciples! I have thrown the world prostrate before you, so do not lift it up after me, for one of the evils of this world is that Allah was disobeyed in it, and one of the evils of this world is that the next world is not attained except by abandoning this one. So pass through this world without making it your home, and know that the root of all wrong is the love of this world. Many a vain desire leaves a legacy of lasting sorrow. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 327)
- [Jesus (‘a)] said: Blessed is he who abandons the present desire for the absent promise. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 327)
- Jesus (‘a) said: Who would build a house on the waves of the sea? This world is that house, so you should not take it as a dwelling.” (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 326)
- Jesus (‘a) said: Woe to the companion of the world! How he dies and leaves it and how he relies on it and it deceives him, and how he trusts it and it forsakes him! Woe unto those who are deceived! How that which is repugnant encompasses them and that which is beloved separates from them! And that which is promised will come to them. And woe to those whose endeavors are only for the world and error. How he will be disgraced before Allah tomorrow!
(Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 328)
- Jesus, Peace be upon him, is reported to have said: How can one be of the people of knowledge if the next world is shown to him while he remains involved in this world, and what harms him is more desirable to him than what benefits him?” (Majmu’at at warram, i, 83)
- It was said to Jesus (‘a): Teach us a deed for which Allah will love us. He said: Detest the world and Allah will love you. (Tanbih al-khawatir, i, 134)
- It has been reported by Mujahid from Ibn ‘Abbas from the Apostle of Allah, may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him and with his folk: Verily, Jesus. Peace be upon him, passed a city which had come to ruin and whose foundations had collapsed. He said to some of his disciples: ‘Do you know what it is saying?’ One said: ‘No.’ Jesus, Peace be upon him, said: ‘It says: Verily, the true promise of my Lord has come. My rivers have dried up, though once they were full; my trees have withered, though once they were in bloom; my castles are in ruins and my residents have died. Then, oh, these are their bones within me, and their property that was gained lawfully along with their ill-gotten gains are in my belly, and the inheritance of the heavens and the earth is only for Allah. ‘ (Adab al-nafs, I, 122)
- The Messiah, Peace he upon him, said to the Apostles: Verily, the eating of barley bread and the drinking of plain water today in this world is for he who would enter heaven tomorrow. (Adab al-nafs, ii, 225)
- It is reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq], Peace he upon him, said: ‘Jesus the son of Mary, may the blessings of Allah be upon him, said: ‘You work for the sake of this world while it is not by work that you are provided for in it. And you do not work for the sake of the next world, while it is only by work that you will be provided for in it. Woe be unto you, evil learned ones (‘ulama)! You take your wage and neglect works. Soon the worker’s work will he accepted, and soon you will be driving forth from the narrowness of this world toward the darkness of the grave. How can one be knowledgeable who is on the way to the next world and yet his face is turned towards this world, and he likes the things that harm him more than the things that benefit him?’ ‘ (Al-Kafi, ii, 319)
- Jesus (‘a) said: The love of this world and the next cannot come together in the heart of a believer, like water and fire in a single vessel. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 327)
l5 It is reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq], Peace be upon him, said that Jesus, Peace be upon him, said: ”It is hard to get any good thing whether it is of the world or the hereafter. As to the good things of this world they are hard to get because there’ is nothing of it which as soon as you extend your hand to get, some profligate does not grab first, while the good things of the other world are hard to obtain because you do not find any helper who may help
you to obtain it.” (al-Kafi viii, 144)
- When Jesus passed by a house whose inmates had died and others had taken their place, he said: woe to your owners who inherited you! How they have learned no lesson from their late brothers. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 329)
- Jesus (‘a) said: This world and the next one are rivals. When you please one of them you displease the other. (Bihar al-anwar, lxxiii, 122)
- It has been reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah, Peace he upon him, said: The world took the form, for Jesus (‘a), of a woman whose eyes were blue. Then he said to her: ‘How many have you married?’ She said: ‘Very many.’ He said: ‘Then did they all divorce you?’ She said: ‘No, but I killed all of them.’ He said: ‘Then woe be to the rest of your husbands! How they fail to learn from the example of the predecessors!’
- It is reported that ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn [Imam Sajjad], Peace be upon him, said: The Messiah, Peace be upon him, said to his Apostles: ‘Verily, this world is merely a bridge, so cross over it, and do not make it your abode.’ ” (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 319)
- I heard Imam Rida (‘a) say: Jesus the son of Mary, may Allah bless him, said to the apostles: ‘O Children of Israel! Do not grieve over what you lose of this world, just as the people of this world do not grieve over what they lose of their religion, when they gain this world of theirs.’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 304; al-Kafi. ii, 127)
- Jesus (‘a) said: Do not take the world as a master, for it will make you its slave. Keep your treasure with one who will not squander it. The owners of the treasures of this world fear for its ruin, but he who owns the treasure of Allah does not fear for its ruin.” (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 327)
- Jesus (‘a) said: ”In truth I say unto you, just as one who is sick looks at food and finds no pleasure in it due to the severity of the pain, the companions of this world find no pleasure in worship and do not find the sweetness of it, for what they find is the sweetness of this world. In truth I say unto you, just as an animal which is not captured and tamed becomes hardened and its character is changed, so too when hearts are not softened by the remembrance of death and the effort of worship they become hard and coarse, and in truth I say unto you, if a skin is not torn, it may become a vessel for honey, just as hearts, if they are not torn by desires, or fouled by greed, or hardened by pleasures, may become vessels for wisdom.” (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 325)
- It was said to Jesus (‘a): [Would it not be better] if you got a house? He said: The remains which are left from those before us is enough for us.” (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 327)
- It is reported that Jesus ( ‘a) said: ”O assembly of scholars ( ‘ulama)’. Just as the sovereigns have abandoned wisdom, leaving it to you. So you should abandon sovereignty, leaving it for them.” (Adab al nafs. i, 134)
- And it was said to him [Jesus ( a)]: Who trained you? He said: No one trained me. I saw the ugliness of ignorance and I avoided it.” (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 326)
- The apostle of Allah [Muhammad] (s) said: Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) stood up among the Children of Israel and said: ‘O Children of Israel! Do not speak with the ignorant of wisdom, for otherwise you do injustice with it, and do not keep it from its folk, for otherwise you do injustice to them, and do not help the unjust with his injustice, for otherwise your virtue becomes void. Affairs are three: the affair whose righteousness is clear to you, so follow it: the affair whose error is clear to you, so avoid it’. and the affair about which there are differences, so return it to Allah, the Almighty and Glorious. (Faqih, iv, 400)
- Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) said: O assembly of Apostles! I have a request of you. Fulfill it for me. They said: Your request is fulfilled, O Spirit of Allah! Then he stood up and washed their feet. They said: It would have been more proper for us to have done this, O Spirit of Allah! Then he said: Verily, it is more fitting for one with knowledge to serve the people. Indeed, I humbled myself only so that you may humble yourselves among the people after me, even as I have humbled myself among you. Then Jesus (‘a) said: Wisdom is developed by humility, not by pride, and likewise plants only grow in soft soil, not in rocks.” (Bihar al-anwar, ii, 62; Al-Kafi, vi, 37)
- Al-Sayyid ibn Tawus, may Allah have mercy on him, said: I read in the Gospel that Jesus (‘a) said: I tell you, do not worry about what you will eat or what you will drink or with what you will clothe your bodies. Is not the soul more excellent than food, and the body more excellent than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor store away, yet your heavenly Lord provides for them. Are you not more excellent than they’? Who among you by worrying can add a single measure to his stature’? Then why do you worry about your clothes?” (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 317)
29 It is reported by Mufaddal, one of the companions of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), from Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, Peace be upon him, in a long hadith, that he said: Jesus the son of Mary, Peace be upon our Prophet and upon him, used to spend some time with the disciples and advise them, and he used to say: ‘He does not know me who knows not his soul, and he who does not know the soul between his two sides, does not know the soul between my two sides. And he who knows his soul which is between his sides, he knows me. And he who knows me knows He Who sent me.’ (Adab al-nafs, ii, 213)
On Prayer and Worship:
- Jesus (‘a) said to a worshipper, What do you do? He answered, I worship. He (‘a) said, Then who provides for you? He said, My brother. He (‘a) said, Your brother is more of a worshipper than you are! (Adab al-nafs, i, 215)
- I asked Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq (‘a)] about the best thing by which the servant may draw near to his Lord and what is most beloved by Allah, the Almighty and Glorious. He said: I know of nothing, after knowledge (ma’rifah), better than the ritual prayer (salat). Do you not see that the good servant Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) said: ‘And He enjoined on me the ritual prayer (salat) and the alms tax (zakat) for as long as I live.’? (Al-Kafi, iii, 264)
- It is reported that Imam Sadiq (‘a) said: Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) passed by a group of people who were crying. He asked why they were crying. It was said to him that they were crying for their sins. He said, they should pray about them and they will be forgiven. (Bihar al-anwar, vi, 20)
Pride of the Sanctimonious:
- Jesus (‘a) said: O group of Apostles! How many lamps the wind has put out, and how many worshippers pride has corrupted.! (Bihar al-anwar, lxxii, 322)
- Imam Sadiq (‘a) said: The Apostles met with Jesus (‘a) and said to him: ‘O teacher of the good! Guide us!’ He said to them: ‘Verily Moses the interlocutor of Allah (‘a) commanded you not to swear by Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, falsely, and I command you not to swear by Allah falsely or truly.’ They said: ‘O Spirit of Allah! Guide us more!’ Then he said: ‘Verily Moses the prophet of Allah (‘a) commanded you not to commit adultery, and I command you not to talk to yourselves about adultery, let alone to commit adultery. Verily one who talks to himself about adultery is like one who sets fire to a house that is decorated so the smoke damages the decor, even though the house is not burnt.’ (Al-Kafi, v, 542)
- Jesus (a) said: Never stare at that which is not for you. If you restrain your eyes you will never commit adultery; and if you are able to avoid looking at the garments of women who are not permitted for you, then do so. (Majmu’at al-Warram, i, 62)
- It is reported that Imam Sadiq (‘a) said: Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) said, ‘When one of you sits in his house, he should have clothes on. Verily, Allah has allotted modesty for you, just as He has allotted your sustenance. (Bihar al-anwar, lxxi, 334)
Looking at the Bright Side:
- It is reported that he [Jesus (‘a)] passed by a carcass with his disciples. Then the disciples said: How putrid the smell of this dog is! Then Jesus (‘a) said: How intense is the whiteness of his teeth! (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 327)
Hope and Fear:
- It is reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq] (‘a) said: Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) sent two of his companions on an errand. Then one of them returned thin and afflicted and the other fat and chubby. He said to the one who was thin: what did this to you, that I see you this way?’ He said: ‘The fear of Allah.’ And he said to the other who was fat: ‘What did this to you, that I see you this way?’ He said: ‘A good opinion of Allah.’ (Bihar al-anwar, lxx. 400)
- It is reported from Imam Sadiq, Peace be upon him, from his father that he said: Jesus, Peace be upon him, used to say: ‘Regarding the terror which you do not know when you will encounter [i.e. death], what prevents you from preparing for it before it comes upon you suddenly?’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 330)
About Advice and Advisers:
- And he (Jesus (‘a)) said: How long will you be advised without taking any advice? Certainly you have become a burden to the advisors. (Adab al-nafs, i, 175)
- [Imam] al-Sadiq, Peace be upon him, said: Verily, a man came to Jesus the son of Mary, Peace be upon him, and said to him: ‘O Spirit of Allah! I have committed fornication [or adultery, sex between a man and woman not married to each other, in Arabic: zina] so purify me.’ Then Jesus ordered the people to be called so that none should be left behind for the purification of so-and-so. Then when the people had been gathered together and the man had entered into a hole, so as to be stoned, the man in the hole called out: ‘Anyone for whom Allah, the Supreme, has a punishment should not punish me.’ Then all the people left except for John and Jesus, Peace be upon them. Then John, Peace be upon him, approached him and said to him: ‘O sinner! Advise me!’ Then he said to him: ‘Do not leave your self alone with its desires or you will perish.’ John, Peace be upon him, said: ‘Say more.’ He said: ‘Verily, do not humiliate the wrongdoer for his fault.’ John, Peace be upon him, said: ‘Say more. He said: ‘Do not become angry.’ John, Peace be upon him, said: ‘That is enough for me.’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 188)
- Jesus (‘a) said to his companions: Accord great regard for the thing which is not eaten by the fire. They said: ”What is that? He said: That which is good (al-ma’ruf). (Bihar al-anwar. xiv, 330)
- Imam Sadiq (‘a) said: ”Verily, when Jesus the son of Mary ( ‘a) passed along the shore of a sea, he threw a piece of his bread into the water, Then some of the disciples said: ‘O Spirit of Allah and His Word! Why did you do this when that was your food.’ He said: I did this in order that some animal among the animals of the sea may eat it, and the reward of Allah for this is great.’ (Tahdhib, iv, 105)
Moderation in Food and Sleep:
- Jesus (‘a) said: O Children of Israel! Do not be excessive in eating, for those who are excessive in eating are excessive in sleeping, and those who are excessive in sleeping are deficient in praying, and of those who are deficient in praying, it is written that they are negligent. (Sharh Nahj al-balaghah, xix, 188; Adab al-nafs. i, 189)
- Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) stood up among the Children of Israel to preach. He said. ‘O Children of Israel! Do not eat before you become hungry and when you become hungry eat but do not eat your fill, because when you eat your fill your necks become thick and your sides grow fat and you forget your Lord (Bihar al-anwar lxvi, 337)
The blessed and the wretched:
46 It is reported that [Imam] Ali (a) said: Jesus the son of Mary (a) said: ”Blessed is he whose silence is contemplation (fikr). whose glance is an admonition, whose house suffices him and who cries over his mistakes and from whose hand and tongue the people are safe.’ ” (Bihar a1-anwar xiv, 319)
47 Jesus said: How can someone benefit himself while he trades himself for all that is in this world, then he abandons that which he has traded as inheritance to others and destroys himself. But blessed is the man who purifies himself and prefers his soul to everything of this world.” (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 329)
- I heard Imam Sadiq ( ‘a) say: ”Christ ( ‘a) said to his disciples: ‘If you are not lovers and my brothers, you must accustom yourself to the enmity and hatred of the people, otherwise you will not be my brothers. I teach you this that you may learn it; I do not teach you so that you may become proud. Verily, you will not achieve that which you seek unless you give up that which you desire, and by enduring patiently that which you detest. And guard your gaze for it plants lust in the heart, and it is sufficient to tempt one. Happy are they who see that which they desire with their eyes, but who commit no disobedience in their hearts. How far is that which is in the past, and how near is that which is to come. Woe to those who have been deluded when what they loathe approaches them, and what they love abandons them, and there comes that which they were promised. There is lesson in the creation of these nights and days. Woe to those whose efforts are for the sake of this world, and whose achievements are errors. How he will be disgraced before his Lord! And do not speak much about anything other than the remembrance of God. Those who talk much about things other than God have their hearts hardened, but they do not know it. Do not look at the faults of others as if you have been appointed to spy over them, but attend to the emancipation of your own selves, for you are slaves, possessed. How much water flows in a mountain without its becoming soft, and how much wisdom you are taught without your hearts becoming soft. You are bad slaves, not pious slaves, nor of those who are noble and free. Indeed you are like unto the oleander: all who see it wonder at its flowers, but when they eat from it they die. Peace be unto you.’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 324)
On wealth and Property:
- It is reported that Jesus (‘a) found fault with property and said: ”It has three characteristics.” It was said: ”And what are they’, O Spirit of Allah.”’ He said: ”One acquires it illegitimately, and if it is acquired legitimately, it keeps one from spending it in its right place, and if one spends it in its right place, its management keeps one from worshiping one’s Lord. (Bihar al-anwar xiv 329)
50). It is reported that the Commander of the faithful [Imam Ali], peace be upon him, said: Jesus the son of Mary, Peace he upon him, said: ‘The dinar is the illness of religion, and the scholar (al-‘alim) is the physician of religion. So if you see that the physician brings illness upon himself, distrust him, and know that he is not to advise others.’ (Bihar al-anwar. xiv, 319)
51 Imam Ali (‘a) said: Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) said: ‘Verily the evil doer is infectious, and the associate of the wicked is brought down. So beware of those with whom you associate.’ (Al-Kafi, ii, 640)
- It is reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq], Peace he upon him, said: The Apostle of Allah, may the Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, said: ‘The Apostles said to Jesus, Peace he upon him: O Spirit of Allah! With whom should we keep company? He said: He the sight of whom reminds you of Allah, the speech of whom increases your knowledge, and the works of whom make you desirous of the other world. ‘ (Al-Kafi, i, 39)
The Incorrigible Fool:
- It has been reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq], Peace be upon him, said: ‘Verily, Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) said: ‘I treated the sick, then I healed them by the permission of Allah, and I cured those born blind and the lepers by the permission of Allah, and I treated the dead and revived them by the permission of Allah, and I treated the fool, but I could not correct him’ Then it was said: ‘O spirit of Allah. What is a fool?’ He said ‘He is one who is admirable in his own view to himself, He who considers all merit to be for him and not against him, and who finds all rights to be for himself and does not find against himself any right. Such is the fool for whom there is no way to cure him.’ (Bihar al anwar, xiv, 323)
The Heart’s Sickness:
54 And Jesus the son of Mary said: There is no sickness of the heart more severe than callousness, and no soul is more severely affected than the one that goes without hunger, and these two are the halters of expulsion [from divine mercy] and abandonment. (Bihar al-anwar, lxvi, 337)
- Verily, Jesus (‘a) said: Why do you come to me clothed in the garments of monks while your hearts are those of ferocious wolves? Wear the clothes of kings, but soften your hearts with fear. (Bihar al-anwar, lxxiii, 208)
Anger and Its Source:
- It is reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq] (‘a) said The disciples said to Jesus the son of Mary (‘a): ‘O teacher of the good! Teach us what is the most severe of things.’ Then he said: the most severe of things is the wrath of Allah.’ They said: ‘Then what prevents the wrath of Allah?’ He said: ‘That you not be wrathful.’ They said: ‘What is the source of wrath?’ He said: ‘Pride, haughtiness and contempt for the people.’ ” (Bihar al-anwar, xvi, 257)
- It is reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah, [Imam Sadiq], Peace be upon him, said: The Messiah, Peace be upon him, used to say: ‘He who has many worries, his body becomes sick; he who is ill-tempered, his self becomes his torment; he who often talks, often stumbles; he who often lies, loses his worth; he who quarrels with men, loses his manliness.’ (Bihar al-anwar. xiv. 318)
- Imam Sadiq (‘a) said: Jesus the son of Mary, Peace be upon our Prophet and his progeny and with him. said: Woe unto the evil scholars! How the fire inflames them!’ (Al-Kafi, i, 47)
- Jesus (‘a) met Iblis who was driving five donkeys. Loads were upon them. Jesus (‘a) asked him about the loads. Iblis said, They are for trade, and I am looking for buyers. Jesus (‘a) said, What is the merchandise? Iblis said, One of them is injustice. He (‘a) asked, Who buys it? He said, Rulers. And the second is pride. He asked, Who buys it? He said, Village chiefs. And the third is envy. He asked, Who buys it? He said, The learned. And the fourth is treason. He asked, Who buys it? He said, Those who work for merchants. And the fifth is trickery. He said, Who buys it? He said, Women. (Bihar al-anwar, lxiv, 196)
The Richest of All Men:
- Jesus, Peace be upon him, said: My hands ‘are my servant and my feet are my mount; the earth is my bed, a stone my pillow; my blanket in the winter is the east of the earth and my lamp in the night is the moon; my stew is hunger and my motto is fear; my garment is wool and my fruit and my basil what grows from the earth for wild beasts and cattle. I sleep while I have nothing and I rise while I have nothing, and yet there is no one on earth wealthier than I (Bihar al-anwar, xvii, 239)
Seeking God’s Pleasure:
- And Jesus (‘a) used to say: O apostles, love God through hatred of the ‘disobedient, and approach God by distancing [yourselves] from them, and seek pleasure by their displeasure. (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 330)
Criterion of Mutual Relations:
- It is reported that Imam Sadiq, Peace be upon him, said: Jesus the son of Mary, Peace be upon them, said to some of his companions: ‘Do not do to others what you do not like others to do to you, and if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him your left cheek too. (Bihar al-anwar, x, 287).
Others Opinion of Oneself:
- The Messenger of God (s) said: Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) said to John the son of Zachariah, ‘If something is said of you which is true, then know that it was a sin that you had committed, so ask God’s forgiveness for it, and if something is said of you which is not true, then know that a good deed will be recorded for you for this, for which you did not have to labor.’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 287).
On Having a Good Opinion of God:
- Al-Sayyid ibn Tawus, may God have mercy on him, said: I read in the Gospel that Jesus (‘a) said: ‘Who among you gives his son a stone when he asks for bread? Or who hands out a snake when asked for a cloak? If despite the fact that your evil is well-known you give good gifts to your sons, then it is more fitting that your Lord should give good things to one who asks. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 318; Sa’d al-su’ud, 56)
- Jesus (‘a) said: You heard what was said to the people of yore, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ but I tell you, he who looks at a woman and desires her has committed adultery in his heart. If your right eye betrays you, then take it out and cast it away, for it is better for you that you destroy one of your organs than cast your entire body into the fire of hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it away, for it is better for you to destroy one of your organs than that your entire body should go to hell. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 3l7)
The Life and Acts of Jesus (‘a)
- It is reported that Imam ‘Ali (‘a) said in one of his sermons: If you like, I will tell you about Jesus the son of Mary, Peace he upon him. He used a stone as his pillow, wore course clothing and ate rough food. His stew was hunger and his lamp in the night was the moon. His cover in the winter was the east of the earth and its west. His fruit and his basil is that which grows from the earth for the cattle. He had no wife to try him, and no son to grieve him. He had no wealth to distract him, nor greed to abase him. His mount was his feet and his servant was his hands. (Nahj al-balaghah, Sermon 158)
- Imam Musa al-Kazim (‘a) said: John the son of Zachariah (‘a) cried and did not laugh, and Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) laughed and cried; and what Jesus did was more excellent than what John did. (Al-Kafi, ii, 665)
- Jesus, Peace he upon him, served a meal to the Apostles, and when they had eaten it, he himself washed their hands. They said: O Spirit of God! It would have been more proper for us to wash yours! He said: I did this only that you would do this for those whom you teach. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 326)
- It is reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq], Peace he upon him, said: Verily, Jesus the son of Mary, Peace be upon him, came to the tomb of John the son of Zachariah, Peace he upon him, and he asked his Lord to revive him. Then he called him, and he answered him and he came out from the grave and said to him: ‘What do you want from me?’ And he said to him: ‘I want you to be friends with me as you were in this world’ Then he said to him: ‘O Jesus! The heat of death has not yet subsided, and you want me to return to the world and the heat of death would return to me. So he Jesus left him, and he returned to his grave.’ (Al-Kafi iii, 260)
- Jesus, Peace he upon him, passed by a grave whose occupant was being chastised. Then he passed it the following year when he was not being chastised. He said: O Lord! I passed through this town last year and he was being chastised, and I passed through it this year while he is not being chastised. Then God revealed to him: O Spirit of God! Verily one of his children matured and removed obstacles from a road and sheltered an orphan. Then I forgave him for the deeds of his child. (Al-Kafi. vi, 3)
- Imam Sadiq (‘a) was asked: Did Jesus the son of Mary raise anyone from the dead, so that he ate and had a livelihood, and continued his life for a term and had off spring? He said: Yes, he had a friend who was a brother to him in God. And when Jesus passed by, he would go to visit him. And Jesus (‘a) would spend a while with him. Then he would leave with salutations of Peace unto him. Once his mother came out to him [Jesus] and she said to him: ‘He died, O Apostle of God!’ He said to her: ‘Would you like to see him?’ She said: ‘Yes.’ He said to her: ‘I will come tomorrow to raise him with the permission of God. The next day he came and said to her: ‘Accompany me to his grave.’ So they went to his grave. Jesus (‘a) stopped and then he called on God. Then the grave opened and her son came out alive. When his mother saw him and he saw her, they cried. Jesus (‘a) felt compassion for them and said to him: ‘Would you like to remain with your mother in the world?’ He said: ‘O Apostle of God! With eating and a daily bread and a term, or without a term and a daily bread?’ Then Jesus (‘a) said to him: ‘Of course with daily bread and a term. You will live for twenty years, marry and father a child.’ He said: ‘Yes, in that case.’ [Imam Sadiq] said: Then Jesus (‘a) returned him to his mother and he lived for twenty years, married and fathered a child. (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 233).
- Abu al-Layth said in his commentary of the Qur’an: The people asked Jesus (‘a) in ridicule: ‘Create a bat for us and put a soul in it, if you are one of the truthful. Then he took some clay and formed a bat and breathed into it. Then it suddenly flew between the sky and the earth. The clay was molded and breathed into by Jesus, but the creation was by God, the Supreme. And it is said that they asked to create a bat because it is more wonderful than other creatures. (Bihar al-anwar, lxiv, 322)
- Al-Sayyid ibn Tawus, may God have mercy on him, said: I read in the Gospel that Jesus (‘a) boarded a ship and his disciples were with him, when suddenly there was a great confusion in the sea, so that the ship came near to being covered by the waves. And it was as though [Jesus (‘a)] was asleep. Then his disciples came to him and awakened him and said: ‘O master! Save us so that we do not perish.’ He said to them: ‘O you of little faith! What has frightened you?’ Then he stood up and drove away the winds, and there was a great stillness. The people marveled, and said: ‘How is this? Verily the winds and the sea obey him.’ (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 266)
- It is reported that a woman from Canaan brought her invalid son to Jesus, Peace he upon him. She said: O Prophet of God! This my son is an invalid. Pray to God for him. He said: That which I have been commanded is only the healing of the invalids of the Children of Israel. She said: O Spirit of God! Verily the dogs receive the remnants from the tables of their masters after the meal, so, avail us of that which may benefit us of your wisdom. Then he supplicated God, the Supreme, asking for permission. Then He gave His permission, and he made him well. (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 253)
- It is reported that Jesus (‘a) passed by a man who was blind, leprous and paralytic, and Jesus heard him giving thanks and saying: Praised be God Who has protected me from the trials with which He afflicts most of men. Jesus (‘a) said: What trial remains which has not visited you? He said: He protected me from a trial which is the greatest of trials, and that is unbelief Then Jesus (‘a) touched him, and God cured him from his illnesses and beautified his face. Then he became a companion of Jesus (‘a) and worshipped with him. (Bihar al-anwar, lxxi, 33)
God’s Words Addressed to Jesus
- Imam Ja’far Sadiq (‘a) said: Among things with which God, the Blessed and Exalted, exhorted Jesus (‘a) was: ‘O Jesus! I am your Lord, and the Lord of your fathers. My Name is the One (al-Wahid), and I am one (Ahad) and single (Mutafarrid) in creating all things. All things are My handiwork, and all My creations shall return to Me.’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 289)
- It is reported that Abu ‘Abd Allah [Imam Sadiq] (‘a) said: Jesus the son of Mary (‘a) ascended [to heaven] clad in garments of wool spun by Mary, woven by Mary, and sewn by Mary. When he was brought up to heaven it was called: ‘O Jesus! Cast off from yourself the finery of the world.’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 338)
- God confided to Jesus the son of Mary (‘a): O Jesus! Cut yourself off from fatal desires and part with every desire that keeps you away from Me, and know that you are near me at the station of a trusted Apostle (rasul), so beware of Me. (Tuhaf al- ‘uqul, 375).
- It is reported that one day Jesus, Peace be upon him, came upon severe rain and thunder, so he sought a place of shelter. He saw a tent at a distance, and came to it. There he saw a woman in it, so he turned away from it. Suddenly, he saw a cave in a mountain, and when he arrived there he saw a lion in it. So he rested his hand against the cave, and said: My God! Everything has a shelter, but You put no shelter for me. Then God, the Supreme, revealed to him: Your shelter is in the abode of My Mercy. By My Greatness, on the Resurrection Day, verily, I will marry you to a hundred houris created by My hands, and verily for your wedding I will lay out a feast for four thousand years, each day of which is like the lifetime of the entire world. And I will command a crier to cry out: Where are the ascetics of the world? Be present at the wedding of the ascetic Jesus the son of Mary! (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 328)
- One of the Imams [Imam Sadiq or Imam Baqir] said: Verily, a man of the Children of Israel exerted himself for forty nights. Then he called God, but He did not answer him. Then he came to Jesus complaining to him and asking him to pray. So Jesus purified himself and prayed to God, the Supreme. Then God revealed to him: ‘O Jesus! Verily, he came to me by a door other than that by which one should come. Verily, he called Me while there was doubt about you in his heart. So had he called Me until his neck broke or his fingers had fallen off, I would not have answered him.’ (Al-Kafi, ii, 400)
- God said to Jesus: O Jesus! Verily I have granted unto you the poor and made you merciful towards them. You love them and they love you. They are pleased with you as a leader and guide, and you are pleased with them as companions and followers. These are two of My qualities. Whoever meets Me with these [qualities] meets Me with the purest of deeds which are dearest to Me. (Bihar al-anwar lxxii 55)
- God revealed to Jesus (‘a): Be to the people like the ground below in meekness, like the flowing water in generosity, and like the sun and the moon in mercy, which shine on the good and the sinner alike. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 326)
- God revealed to Jesus: Say to the Children of Israel: ‘Do not enter any of My houses without lowered eyes and clean hands. And inform them that, verily, I will not answer the prayer of any of them while any of My creation is oppressed by them.’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 327)
- God the Supreme revealed to Jesus: O Jesus! I have honored nothing in creation like My religion, and I have bestowed nothing on it like My mercy. Wash your exterior by water and cure your interior by good deeds, for verily you shall return to Me. Get ready, for that which is approaching, and let me hear from you the sounds of sorrow. (Al-Kafi)
Of Knowledge and us Seekers:
- Verily God the Supreme said to Jesus: Honor those who possess knowledge and know of their excellence, for verily their excellence over that of all My creation – except for the prophets and messengers – is like that of the sun over the stars, and like that of the Hereafter over this world, and like My excellence over all things. (Bihar al-anwar, ii, 25)
- Verily God revealed to Jesus: Indeed, you must be receptive to exhortation! Or you will be ashamed before Me to exhort the people. (Irshad al-qulub)
- God the Supreme said in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel: Woe unto those who have heard the knowledge but have not sought it. How they will be gathered with the ignorant into the fire! And learn the knowledge and teach it, for even if knowledge does not bring you felicity, it will not bring you wretchedness, and even if it does not raise you, it will not lower you, and even if it does not enrich you, it will not Impoverish you, and even if it does not benefit you, it will not harm you. And do not say, ‘We fear lest we should know but not act’, but say, ‘We hope to know and to act.’ And knowledge intercedes on behalf of one who has it, and it is for God not to disgrace him. Indeed, on the Resurrection day God will say: ‘O assembly of the learned (‘u1ama’)! What is your opinion of our Lord?’ Then they will say: ‘It is our opinion that He will have mercy upon us and forgive us.’ Then the Almighty will say: ‘Indeed, I have done so. Indeed, I have entrusted you with My wisdom not because I wanted evil for you, but because I wanted good for you. So enter among My good servants into My garden (paradise) by My mercy.’ (Bihar al-anwar, i, 186)
The Remembrance of God:
- Imam Rida, Peace be upon him, said: Engraved on the ring of Jesus, Peace be upon him, were two sentences from the Gospel: ‘Blessed is the servant who remembers God for His sake, and woe unto the servant who forgets God for his own sake.’ (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 247)
- God, the Great and Almighty, said to Jesus (‘a): O Jesus! Remember Me within yourself and I will remember you within Myself, and remember Me publicly and I will remember you publicly in a public better than that of men. O Jesus! Soften your heart for Me and remember Me much in solitude, and know that My pleasure is in your fawning over Me, in an animated and not in an impassive manner. (Al-Kafi, ii, 502)
Humility and the Etiquette of Prayer:
- Among things that were revealed by God to Jesus is: Do not call upon Me except by praying humbly to Me and with all your heart. Then verily when you call upon Me thus I will answer you. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 290)
- God revealed to Jesus (‘a): O Jesus! Give Me the tears of your eyes, and the humility of your heart, and stand beside the tombs of the dead, and call to them aloud that you may be advised by them, and say: ‘I will join you with those who join you.’ (Bihar al-anwar, lxxxii, 178)
- God the Supreme revealed to Jesus: When I give you a blessing, receive it with humility, [and] I will complete it for you. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 328)
- [Imam] Ja’far reported that his father (‘a) said: Najashi the king of Habashah [Ethiopia] sent for Ja’far the son of Abu Talib and his companions. When they arrived before him, he was sitting in the dust in his house with worn garments…. Ja’far ibn Abu Talib said to him: ‘O pious king! What is the matter, that I see you sitting in dust in worn garments?’ He said: ‘O Ja’far! We find in that which was revealed to Jesus (‘a): Verily, it is God’s due from His servants that they show humility when they are shown favor. So, when God showed His favor by His prophet, Muhammad (s), I showed this humility to God.’ He [Imam Ja’far] said: When that news reached the prophet (s), he said to his companions: ‘Verily, giving alms brings abundance, so give alms and God will have mercy on you, and humility elevates one’s station, so be humble and God will elevate you, and forgiveness increases dignity, so forgive and God will grant you dignity. (Bihar al-anwar, xviii, 417)
An Advice to Rulers:
- A Christian primate (Jathiliq) visited Mus’ab ibn Zubayr [who was a governor during his brother’s caliphate] and spoke words that angered him. He [Mus’ab] raised a cane against him, then left him until his anger subsided. He [the primate] said: If the emir permits me, I would tell him something revealed by God to Christ (‘a). He (Mus’ab) turned to him, and he (the primate) said: Verily, God revealed to Christ, ‘It is not fitting for a sultan to become angry, for he commands and is obeyed, and it is not fitting for him to be hasty, for nothing eludes him, and it is not fitting for him to be unjust, for injustice is repulsed by him.’ Then Mus’ab became embarrassed and was pleased with him. (Adab al-nafs, ii, 69)
On Lying and Hypocrisy:
95 It is reported from the Gospel: Beware of liars who come to you in sheep’s clothing while in reality they are ravenous wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. It is not possible for a good tree to bear vicious fruit, nor for a vicious tree to bear good fruit. (‘Uddat al-da’i, l52).
- God said to Jesus, Peace be upon him: ‘O Jesus! Yours must be a single tongue in secret and in public, and likewise your heart. Verily, I warn you of yourself, and I suffice as the All-aware. It is not proper that there be two tongues in a single mouth, nor two swords in a single scabbard, nor two hearts in a single breast, and likewise two minds. (Al-Kafi. ii, 343)