Jesus Christ in the Traditions of Islam

I. Introduction

1. The Word "Hadith"

The Arabic word Hadith, which in European languages is most often translated as "traditions," means message or story. Hadith are not only information about religious life but also historical narratives, whether sacred or profane, whether referring to a time far-removed or more recent (1). This is the literal meaning of the word Hadith. Every traditional text which, in accordance with certain rules, can be directly attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, is an approved Hadith - a binding report about his sayings or actions.

Every Hadith consists of a statement about the chain of tradition (isnad) and the actual text. As an example:

Ismail b. Ibrahim spoke with us. He said: "Abu Haiyani't-Taimi told us about Abu Zar'a who commented from Abu Hurayra who said: `The Prophet - Allah bless him and grant him salvation - was among the people one day. Then Gabriel came and asked him about the Faith'" (2).

From this example, it follows that the authenticity of an Islamic tradition depends upon the succession and reliable character of the commentators. Out of necessity, its authority is connected with those who passed it down.

Sunna, a word which is frequently used as a synonym for Hadith, means "path, lifestyle, and manners." It is concerned primarily with the deeds and habits of Muhammad. Every Muslim is obliged legally to adopt (to copy) the lifestyle of his Prophet - a lifestyle which has been thoroughly described in the traditions. Muslims endeavoured to preserve reports about this lifestyle (3).

A very large part of these Hadith-sayings, attributed to the Prophet, deal with ahkam ("the legal requirements and religious duties") and define halal or haram; that is, "what is allowed or forbidden." They describe ritual purity, dietary laws, penalties, and civil rights. They also deal with courtesy and good manners. Furthermore, they comment on dogma, retribution on the Day of Judgement, and explain Hell, Paradise, angels, the Creation, revelation, the earlier prophets, and everything concerning the relationship between God and man. Many traditions also include encouraging sayings and ethical instruction in the name of the Prophet.

2. The Place of the Hadith in Islamic Law (the Sharia)

The Hadith is the second of four sources of Islamic law, and therefore the second authority of Islam. The first sources is the Qur'an itself. The third is the final analogy in questions of law - based on the Qur'an and Sunna among Sunnis and reason among Shiites. The fourth and last sources is the agreement or consensus of all Islamic scholars. Special reasons make the Hadith synonymous with the Qur'an, and, in folk Islam, sometimes more important than the Qur'an itself. Many Islamic scholars consider the everyday words of Muhammad to be actual revelations, for it is written in the Qur'an (Sura The Star 53:2-4): "Your comrade (Muhammad) is not astray, neither errs, nor speaks he out of caprice. This is nothing but a revelation revealed" (4). Some exegetes understand the word this to be everything that Muhammad said, while others limit this to what was said in the Qur'an only. Another Qur'anic verse (Sura The House of Imran 3:42) is also considered a pointer to the meaning of the Hadith; for the word wisdom, which in this and other verses is found next to the term The Book, is believed to mean Muhammad's sayings: "And he(Allah) will teach him (Jesus) the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel" (5).

However, the most important reason for the Hadith being esteemed so highly is that the Qur'an gives no detailed information about essential orders for faith and life; therefore the Qur'an demands tradition as an indispensable supplement. A clear example is found in ritual prayer. Although the Qur'an obliges believers to exercise this practice, it gives practically no rule as to how and when one should pray. Without the traditions, which describe the prayer duty of the Prophet in detail or in which the Prophet instructed his congregation, one could determine neither the number of daily prayers nor how to perform them (6).

The influence of the Hadith is particularly far-reaching in the area of Islamic law, the Sharia, as we can see in this famous rule from the Sunnis: "If a Qur'anic verse is found to contradict a tradition of the Prophet, it (the Qur'anic verse) may be abrogated, provided the tradition came from him" (7).

No one can know exactly which (and how many) traditions are really traceable to the Prophet, because these held a powerful position from the beginning, were based almost exclusively on oral traditions when collected in Muhammad's time, and were not actually written down until a decade after Muhammad's death. Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafite school of law in Turkey (and among the predominantly Turkic peoples) is believed to have regarded only 17 traditions as reliable. Abu Dawud (d. AD 888), one of the main collectors of traditions whose Sunanu Abi Dawud is one of six reliable Hadith collections, re-ports in the Forward of his work, that out of 500,000 traditions, he could only accept 4,800 as reliable.

Most traditions cannot be viewed as actual, believable, historical accounts of the Sunna of the Prophet. Much more, they express what leading Muslim circles deemed authoritative in the first centuries after Muhammad's death, and were only attributed to the Prophet then.

From the approximately one thousand collections of traditions, the Sunnis consider only six to be approved. They all originated in the third century after Muhammad's death. They are collections from:

  1. Al-Bukhari (d. AD 870)
  2. Muslim (d. AD 875)
  3. Abu Dawud (d. AD 888)
  4. Al-Tirmidhi (d. AD 892)
  5. Al-Nasa'i (d. AD 915)
  6. Ibn Madja (d. AD 886)

These works are most commonly and conveniently called "The Six Books" (al-kutubu's-sitta) - the six accurate, reliable collections. They are regarded as Holy Books in addition to the Qur'an. The collections of al-Bukhari and Muslim hold a particularly lofty position.

The Shiites have developed their own Hadith collection. They view the traditions in the Sunni collection with suspicion if one link in the chain of commentators did not belong to Ali's group. The most important Hadith collection of the Shiites is Al-Kafi fi usuli'd-din.

3. Traditions Dealing with Christianity

Since our Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation constitute the essence of the Gospel, this booklet concentrates on traditions that deal with His person. Many detailed reports are found in the collection of Hadith, covering everything one could possibly imagine about Christianity. Most of the time, odd accounts are dealt with, to which one should give no serious thought. However, the traditions that will be touched on first - those dealing almost exclusively with Christ - can at least be found in one of the six reliable Hadith collections; that is, they are of major importance for the majority of Muslims, regardless of the conflicts of scholars over their worth.

Lastly, the Sufi-influenced view of Christ in folk Islam will be described. Although the stories presented are fictitious and appear even a bit humorous without exception, one needs to realise that through them the masses in Islam are strongly influenced. As was already mentioned: The approved traditions are not available to the majority of believers; these surface only when talking with Muslims who really understand their religion.

II. Christ in the Approved Traditions

1. The Distorted Picture

The distorted picture of Christ and Christianity in the Qur'an can also be found in the traditions. Some of these accounts, which feature interesting dialogues between Muhammad and indigenous Christians, are of special importance, for they show us who the Prophet's sources were and what their theology was like. Thus, one can trust Ali b. Abi Talib, Muhammad's son-in-law and the fourth Caliph, when he made the following claim in reference to the Christian tribe, Banu Taghlib: "The Taghlib clan are no Christians. Drinking wine is all they have appropriated from Christianity" (8).

Rabi' comments on one verse in the Qur'an: "There is no god but [Allah], the All-mighty, the All-wise" (9):

The Christians came to Muhammad and argued with him about Jesus, son of Mary. They asked him who his father was and uttered many lies and slanderous things about Allah - he is the only god; he has neither wife nor child. Muhammad said to them: "Do you not know that our lord is living and that he will not die? Jesus, however, was exposed to mortality." They said, "Yes." He asked them, "Was there a reason for Jesus being different?" They said, "No." He said, "Do you not know that nothing is hidden from Allah, whether on earth or in heaven?" They said, "Yes." He said to them, "Did Jesus know more than Allah taught him?" They said, "No." He said: "Our Lord fashioned Jesus as he pleased, in his mother's womb. Do you not know that our Lord neither eats nor drinks nor eliminates anything unclean?" They answered, "Yes." He said: "Do you not know that Jesus' mother was pregnant with him and bore him as every mother does her child; that he was nourished like every child, and that he ate, drank, and relieved himself of impurities?" They said, "Yes." He said, "How can what you claim be true?" (10)

Ibn Abbas relates from Umar that the Prophet of Allah said:

Do not praise me as much as the Christians glorify Jesus, son of Mary. I am only a servant. Therefore, call me a slave and a Messenger of Allah (11).

In The Life of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq we read the following disputation between Muhammad and a Christian delegation:

A deputation from the Christians of Najran came to the Apostle. There were sixty riders, fourteen of them from their nobles of whom three were in control of affairs, namely (a) al-Aqib, the leader of the people, a man of affairs, and their chief adviser whose opinion governed their policy, Abdul Masih by name; (b) al-Sayyid, their administrator who saw to the transport and general arrangements, whose name was al-Ayham; and (c) their Bishop, scholar, and religious leader who controlled their schools, Abu Haritha b. Alqama, one of Banu Bakr b. Wa'il... When they came to Medina they came into the Apostle's mosque as he prayed the afternoon prayer, clad in Yamani garments, cloaks, and mantles, with the elegance of men of Banu al-Harith b. Ka'b. The Prophet's companions who saw them that day said that they never saw their like in any deputation that came afterwards. Abdul-Masih al-Aqib, al-Ayham al-Sayyid, and Abu Haritha b. Alqama... spoke to the Apostle. They were Christians according to the Byzantine rite, though they differed among themselves in some points, saying he is God; and he is the Son of God; and he is the same person of the Trinity, which is the doctrine of Christianity. They argue that he is God because he used to raise the dead, and heal the sick, and declare the unseen; and make clay birds and then breathe into them so that they flew away; and all this was by the command of God Almighty: "We will make him a sign to men." They argue that he is the third of three in that God says: We have done, We have commanded, We have created and We have decreed, and they say, If he were one he would have said I have done, I have created, and soon, but he is he and Jesus and Mary... When the two divines spoke to him the Apostle said to them, "Submit yourselves." They said, "We have submitted." He said: "You have not submitted, so submit." They said, "Nay, but we submitted before you." He said: "You lie. Your assertion that Allah has a son, your worship of the cross, and your eating pork hold you back from submission." They said, "But who is his father, Muhammad?" The Apostle was silent and did not answer them. So Allah sent down concerning their words and their incoherence the beginning of the sura, The Family of Imran, up to more than eighty verses, and he said: "Alif Lam Mim" (12).

There is a series of traditions that provides addition-al information about what Jesus will do at His Second Coming as Messiah. These traditions, which are contested by Hadith scholars, allow Jesus to act in a manner that agrees with their view, and in a way that supports the eschatological demands of Islam.

Abu Huraira claims the Messenger of Allah said: "I swear by him who holds my soul in His hand, that the son of Mary will come down to you as a just judge. He will break all crosses, kill all swine, abolish taxes, and distribute the wealth so bountifully that a single prostration during the ritual prayer will be seen as a blessed one, as the whole world and what it contains" (13).

Abdullah b. Amr reports that the Prophet of Allah said: "Jesus, son of Mary, will come down to earth, marry, and father children. He will live 45 years and then die, so as to be buried next to me in my grave. Then we - Jesus and I - will resurrect between Abu Bakr and Umar" (14).

A rather small part of the approved traditions, called The Book of Interpretation, deals with the interpretation of Qur'anic verses. The traditions of this category are very important in the area of the Hadith and of Qur'anic exegesis, because scholars of both fields regard them as the surest way to understanding the Qur'an. This is valid also for the following Hadith:

Adi b. Hatam said that the Prophet explains the last part of the Fatiha (the prologue in the Qur'an) thus: "Those who fall under your wrath are the Jews, and those who go astray are the Christians" (15).

But the belief that Jesus is the word of Allah and a spirit from him is, in some traditions, called a requirement for admission into Paradise:

Ubade b. Samit comments that the Prophet said, "Whoever attests that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is his slave and ambassador, that Jesus is his slave, prophet, and word which he placed in Mary - and that he is a spirit from him - and whoever confesses that heaven and hell exist, him will Allah allow to enter Paradise according to his deeds" (16).

One tradition claims that Jesus will one day be so thrilled about what Muhammad's congregation (Ummah) achieved through war, that he will refuse to be a prayer leader for them, for there will be no more difference between him and them. That is "Allah's reward for this congregation"! (17)

Similarly, Jabir says that the Prophet of Allah said:

A part of my congregation (Ummah) will fight unceasingly until the Day of Judgement. Eventually, the son of Mary will come, and they will call upon him to be their leader, saying, "Come, be a prayer leader for us in prayer." But he will reply: "No, you are all prayer leaders for one another; that is the reward of Allah for this congregation" (18).

2. The Antichrist and Christ's Return

The Antichrist will make his appearance at the cessation of religion and the expiration of knowledge; he will travel throughout the earth for forty nights. During this trip, many a day will be like a year, another like a month, and some like a Friday; his remaining days are like these your days. He will have a donkey upon which to ride. Between the ears of the donkey will be a distance of forty ziras (a zira being 0.68 of a metre). He will say to the people, "I am your lord!"

The Prophet said: "He is one-eyed, but your Lord is not; between his eyes will be written, `Unbeliever,' which every believer (Muslim) can read, whether literate or not. He will come to every spring of water, besides Mecca and Medina whose entry Allah has forbidden him and at whose gates the angels stand watch. He will make mountains from bread and the people will be distressed, except those who follow him. During his stay on the earth, there will be two rivers... I know about them more than he - he will name one Paradise and the other, Hell. Whomever he grants entrance into Paradise, that person will be in Hell; whomever he grants entrance into Hell, that person will be in Paradise. Demons who speak to the people will be called forth with him, and it will be a great temptation. He will order the heavens, and it will rain in accordance with what the people see. Likewise, he will kill a soul and revive it, according to what the people perceive. Thereupon he will speak: `O people! Can anyone but the Lord bring forth something such as this?' Then the people will flee to Djabalu'd-dukhan (`The Mountain of Smoke') by Damascus. He will lay siege to them, and the siege will afflict them with increasing intensity. Thereafter the Messiah - Allah bless him and grant him salvation - will come. His arrival will take place at daybreak. He will say to the (afflicted) people, `O people, what hinders you from facing this wretched liar?' They will abandon their positions and, see there, they will stand before Jesus. The ritual prayer will be performed. One will say to Jesus, `O spirit of Allah, come forward! (that is, be our prayer leader)' But he will reply: `Your imam should step forward and lead you in prayer.' After they have performed the morning prayer together, they will line up against him (the Antichrist). When `the liar' sees him, he will dissolve like salt in water, and he will kill him. Even the trees and stones will call to him (the Messiah): `O spirit of Allah, there is a Jew (who hides himself from you)!' He will not leave one of them alive who followed him (the Antichrist)" (19).

Among the vague reports concerning the events of pre-Islamic times, one finds some that describe the destiny of Christians:

Ibnu Mas'ud says, the Messenger of Allah said to him: "O Ibnu Mas'ud!" "Here I am, Messenger of Allah!" he replied. He said to him: "Do you know that the sons of Israel have divided themselves into 72 sects? From them, only three sects after Christ are left among the kings and potentates. They encouraged the people to believe in the religion of God and in Christ, son of Mary. For this reason they were fought by the rulers. Some were killed and some were left; for this reason, they could be saved. Later, another group arose which possessed no power to fight. Among kings and potentates, they themselves encouraged belief in the religion of God and in Jesus, son of Mary. But they were killed - sawed with saws and burned with fire. Nevertheless, they endured and were saved. Later, another group arose which possessed neither the power to fight nor the ability to behave properly. They took refuge in the mountains, prayed to God, and devoted themselves to live as monks" (20).

Abdullah reports that the Messenger of Allah said: "As the sons of Israel committed all sorts of sins, their scholars forbid them that. But they did not stop sinning. Later, the scribes began to sin along with them. Then Allah cursed them in the names of David and Jesus, son of Mary" (21).

Muhammad often boasted that he occupies a position next to Jesus, son of Mary:

Abu Huraira reports that the Companions said to Muhammad, "O Prophet, tell us about yourself!" The Prophet said: "I spread the message of my father, Abraham, and the Good News (the Gospel) of Jesus. When my mother was pregnant with me, she believed that a light came forth from her, illuminating the castles of Bosra and Damascus" (22).

In addition to that, there are several traditions in the Hadith collections that have been dealt with carefully by theologians in order to reject every possible impression that Jesus has a higher position in Islam than Muhammad. Such traditions, which must be resisted, are weak and without substance in contrast to others that describe Jesus as an almost divine person:

Abu Huraira narrates that the Messenger of Allah said: "A higher position than the other prophets was granted me in six respects. Purity of speech and eloquence were given me; I triumphed by terror over the enemies; the right to plunder was granted me; the whole earth was left for me like a mosque and a pure place of worship; I was sent to all people, and the prophets were confirmed through me as a seal (that is, I am the final prophet)" (23).

One of the important traditions, which contradicts the Qur'an and also the Islamic teachings on God, portrays Jesus with a characteristic that no one else had ever had:

Abu Huraira says: "Satan touches every child which is born, and when he has done so, the child raises its voice and screams. This is what happened with all children except Jesus, son of Mary (according to another tradition, `Mary and Jesus'). Read the word of Allah: `I will protect her and her offspring from every cursed satan'" (24).

The contradictory verdict of the Qur'an, concerning the people of the Book, is also reflected in the traditions. Thus, the statements of Muhammad cursing Christians are found next to other verses that declare them almost holy, placing them on a level higher than Muslims. In order to present this bewildering picture, the following three are mentioned, without commentary:

Bukhari and Muslim declare that the Messenger of Allah, during the illness that caused his death, said, "The curse of Allah remain upon the Jews and Christians who have made the graves of their prophets into places of worship" (25).

Iyad b. Hammad narrates that the Prophet said, "Allah glanced upon the inhabitants of the earth and hated them - also upon the Arabs and other strangers, except a remnant of the people of the Book." This remnant, according to the observation of Ibn Taimiya, are said be those who persevered in the true way until the coming of Muhammad and those who perished shortly before (26).

Anas narrates: "When the negus (king of Ethiopia) died, Muhammad said to his Companions, `Ask Allah to forgive your brother.' Then someone said, `Are you ordering us to ask forgiveness for this simpleton who died in Ethiopia?' Then it was revealed to him: `And some are of the People of the Book who believe in God, and what has been sent down unto you, and what has been sent down unto them, men humble to God, not selling the signs of God for a small price'" (Sura Al Imran 3:199) (27).

The problem regarding the most honourable of all the prophets has, on account of the somewhat contradictory traditions, become unsolvable. Therefore, the following tradition has a special meaning for us:

Anas relates that the Prophet said: "On the Day of Judgement, the believers will be locked up. They will be troubled about this and say, `Let us look to Allah for intercession.' Then they will come to Adam and say to him: `Adam, you are the father of all people. Allah created you with his own hand, placed you in Paradise, has ordered the angels to honour you, and has taught you the names of all things. Be a prayer leader for us by Allah, so that it will be more bearable for us in this place!' But he will say, `I am not authorised to do that.' And he will tell of his sin - that he once asked Allah a foolish question. He will say to them, `Go to Abraham, the friend of Allah.' So they will go to Abraham. He also will say, `I am not authorised to do this.' He will tell them of three lies that he had uttered. `Go,' he will say to them, `to Moses, the servant to whom Allah gave the Torah. Allah spoke to him personally and nourished him through his trustworthy speech.' So they will come to Moses. But he will tell them, `For this I am not authorised.' He will tell of his sin - that he had murdered someone. `Go to Jesus,' he will say to them, `the Servant, Spirit, and Word of Allah.' So they will come to him. Jesus will tell them: `I am not authorised to do this. Go to Muhammad, because Allah forgave him all his sins - the former and latter ones.' So they will eventually come to me. I will ask Allah for permission, and it will be granted me. When I see Allah, I will throw myself to the floor. He will let me lie there as long as he so desires. Then he will say to me: `Muhammad, stand up, speak; then you will be heard. Bring forth your intercession, and it will be accepted...'" (28).

What is noticeable in this tradition, which is found with its different varieties in many Hadith collections - and what the Hadith collectors probably did not pay attention to - is the alleged answer of Jesus. In contrast to Adam, Abraham, Moses, and even Muhammad, one notices easily that Muhammad or the discoverer of the tradition did not succeed in ascribing one sin to Jesus. That Muhammad, a sinner, should be the only intercessor for the believers before Allah is not consistent with this fact.

III. The View of Christ in Folk Islam

1. The Unapproved Traditions

Now that we have become acquainted with some of the recognised, approved traditions about Christ and Christianity, we would also like to concern ourselves with the unapproved and fictitious sayings of Muhammad that deal with the same subject. Within the sphere of Islam, there are numerous collections of such stories which are dearly loved, especially in Sufi circles.

Because the approved traditions deal mostly with legal themes, being available only to a minority of jurists and scholars, owing to their linguistic peculiarity, this fictitious Hadith literature has gained influence down the centuries and has contributed toward the making of so-called "folk Islam." In contrast to the "genuine" collections of traditions, these collections consist of innumerable legends about Christ and can be traced back either to Muhammad or Jesus himself, proceeding always with an educational aim.

What distinguishes these questionable traditions from the others is their Sufic-ascetic nature which betrays their authors. As the model ascetic, Jesus surpasses Muhammad in these legends, appearing next to him, the seal of the prophets, as "The seal of holiness," always performing unconventional, god- like feats. We find the following story from Damiri:

Anas relates that the Messenger of Allah said: "Two sisters came to Jesus and asked him to resurrect their father who had died two days earlier. Deeply moved, Jesus said to them: `Let us go to the cemetery; I will bring him back to life.' When they came to the cemetery, Jesus asked them where the grave of their father was to be found. They showed him a grave; Jesus drew near and called out, `O you who have died, come forth!' Then someone came out from the grave. But the two sisters said to him, `Lord (or Sir), this is not our father.' Jesus bid the man to go back again into his grave. Then they showed him another grave where the same thing happened. At the third grave, Jesus called out with a loud voice, `O you dead man, come out!' Then the father of the two sisters came up out of the grave. But after he had stood awhile before the sisters, Jesus bid him again to go back into his grave - an action causing the sisters extreme shock. They asked Jesus what that meant. Jesus answered: `Be comforted! The span of life has been determined for every person. When this time is passed, death is unavoidable. Therefore, your father shall not live any longer'" (29).

The Sufi scholar, Hallaj (b. AD 858), who represents the acme of Islamic mysticism, agrees to Jesus' divine nature, for his second main teaching is:

Everyone who denies the world and humbles himself through fasting and worship changes into a spiritual being. He who steadfastly continues in this manner until the end of his life will ultimately be permeated by the Spirit of Holiness and receive immortality. From then on he is no longer a mortal son of Adam but a part of God, in the same way as Jesus (30).

In one tradition, we find that not only Jesus but also his disciples are semi-divine saints who, "since the days of their Lord," are regarded as having no longer sinned. Sahl b. Abdullah met one of the disciples of Christ:

He wore a wool coat (sufi) that appeared entirely new. But he said to me, "I have worn this coat since the days of Christ." As I pondered this surprising statement, he said, "It is not the body that wears out clothing, but rather the stench of sin and forbidden sustenances" (31).

The Christ of Sufism is first and foremost the great ascetic, the archetypal saint, freed from all earthly necessities and constraints, roaming and sleeping under an open sky, with a stone for a pillow:

Jesus never kept the remains from an evening meal until morning, nor the rest of a morning meal until evening. He ate of the leaves of trees and drank rainwater, clothed himself with sackcloth or animal skins, and spent the night at the place where He happened to be when the sun set. Then he remained standing and prayed until dawn (32).

Jesus always acknowledged the good in those whom others treated with contempt:

Jesus and his disciples went past a dead dog. The disciples said, "It stinks repulsively." But Jesus said, "Its teeth are so white." In this way, He taught them never to say anything bad about anyone (33).

Above all, Jesus in Sufism is merciful to sinners:

Someone once saw him coming out from the house of a prostitute and said to him, "O you Spirit of Allah, what are you doing with such a woman?" But He said, "The doctor must visit the sick!" (34)

For Jesus, humility is the most important virtue:

He said to the children of Israel, "Where does the seed grow?" They answered, "In the dust." He said, "Truly I say to you, `Truth can only grow in the heart that has been crushed like dust'" (35).

Jesus does not pay back evil with evil:

Jesus, son of Mary, once passed some people who reviled him. He continued on His way and met others who also treated him with reproach. But every time he heard bad words, he answered with good ones. Then, one of His disciples said to him: "The more bad that someone says to you, the more good you answer in return. It is as if you yourself wanted to incite and rouse the people against you, to revile you." But Jesus answered, "A person gives to others that which he has in himself" (36).

One also finds the basic Arabic-Islamic views about Jesus in numerous popular stories. For example:

Jesus went past a woman who said, "Blessed, blessed is the womb that bore you and the breast that stilled you." But Jesus said, "No, blessed is he who reads the Qur'an and follows what is written therein" (37).

A word of judgement from Jesus to the Jews is almost a literal quote from Matthew 23:

...You filter and strain insects out of your draught but swallow mountains of that which Allah has forbidden. You make religion heavy like stones for the people and then refuse to lift a finger to help them. You make your prayers long and your clothing white, in order to gain the possessions of widows and orphans. I swear by my omnipotence, I will allow a visitation of affliction to come upon you which will confound the intellect of the intelligent and the wisdom of the wise (38).

Finally, we will quote the following, showing how some Muslims imagine Jesus' form:

He was a man of moderate stature, reddish with a touch of white. His hair was smooth, and he held his head tilted (39).

Now that some of the traditions in folk Islam - not directly traceable to Muhammad - have been mentioned, it still needs to be said that more Muslims know and love these fictitious accounts about Jesus than the reliable ones from Muhammad. Many unschooled Muslims think that the Bible has been falsified and that the traditions they cherish have been removed from it. For that reason, these are highly honoured as genuine accounts, whereas educated Muslims from all schools of law reject these false episodes as human inventions. Official Islam classifies these stories as Jewish attempts to falsify the original truth about Jesus and to make Islam appear ridiculous.

One notices that many splinters of truth are included in the different traditions, but also that through them the account of Jesus has been fundamentally altered. The traditions add many supplementary and conflicting statements to the Qur'anic texts that mention Jesus; yet in the end they too remain bound in their Islamic spirit and reject the crucified Son of God.


  1. Goldziher, Ignaz, Mohammedan Studies, Halle, 1888, Vol. 1, p. 1.
  2. al-Bukhari, Sahih Abi Abdillah Muhammad b. Ismail b. al-Mughira b. Bardizbah al-Bukhari, Bulaq 1311, Vol. 1,19.
  3. Schaltut, Mahmud, al-Islam aqida wa sharia, Cairo 1987, p. 494.
  4. Qur'an, al-Najm 53:4.
  5. Qur'an, Al Imran 3:38.
  6. Al-Khuli, Muhammad Abdulaziz, Miftahu's-sunna, Cairo 1921, pp. 8-10.
  7. Az-Zarkashi, al-Burhan fi ulumi'l-qur'an, Cairo 1957, Vol. 2, p. 32.
  8. Tabari, in his Quran commentary on Sura al-Maida 5:2.
  9. Qur'an, Al Imran 3:2.
  10. Ibn Hisham, as-Siratu'n-nabawiyya, Cairo 1955, Vol. 1, pp. 224-225.
  11. Al-Bukhari, hiyal: 10, salat: 31, mazalim: 16, ahkam: 20.
  12. Ibn Hisham, Vol. 2, pp. 222-224.
  13. Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, p. 343; Muslim, Vol. 2, pp. 189-192.
  14. Al-Hindi, Muntakhabu kanzi'l-ummal, Vol. 6, p. 57.
  15. At-Tirmidhi, Abu Isa Muhammad b. Isa b. Sawra, al-Jamiu's-sahih, Medina 1966, Vol. 4, p. 271.
  16. Al-Bukhari, anbiya, Commentary on Sura 17 (al-Isra); Muslim, iman 46; At-Tirmidhi, qiyama 10; al-Musnad, Vol. 2, p. 436, Vol. 5, pp. 292,314.
  17. Al-Bukhari, i'tisam 10; Muslim, Abu'l-Hussain Muslim b. al-Hajjajil-Ku-shairiyyi'n-Nisaburi, al-Jamiu's-sahih, Istanbul 1321, imara 173, 175, 176.
  18. Muslim, Vol. 1, p. 95.
  19. Partially by Muslim, Vol. 8, p. 188; Hanbal, Ahmad
  20. b., al-Musnad, Vol. 3, p. 367.
  21. Tibrizi, Mishkatul'l-masabih, Vol. 4, p. 234; a similar tradition by Muslim, Kitabu'z-zuhd wa'r-raqaiq, Nr. 3005, see also Quran al-Buruj 85:10.
  22. At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 5, p. 218.
  23. Mishkatu'l-masabih, Vol. 4, p. 210.
  24. Al-Bukhari, Kitabu's-salat 56.
  25. Al-Bukhari, Hadith Nr. 3081 (Cairo edition, 1971); Muslim, Kitabu'l-fadail, 96; Hanbal, Ahmad b. al-Musnad, Vol. 2, p. 222.
  26. At-Tirmidhi, Kitabu's-salat.
  27. Ibn Taimiya, Taqiyuddin Ahmad b. Taimiya'l-Harraniyyi'd-Dimashqi, Al-Jawabu's-sahih li-man baddala dina'l-masih, Cairo (no year) Vol. 2, p. 8. Muslim, Kitabu's-salat.
  28. Al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, pp. 210-211; 8, p. 162.
  29. Ad-Damiri, Hayatu'l-hayawani'l-kubra, Cairo (no year) Vol. 1, pp. 222-223.
  30. Ibnu'l-Arabi, al-Futuhatu'l-makkiyya, Vol. 2, p. 34.
  31. As-Isbahani, Abu Nuiam Ahmad b. Abdillah, Hiyatu'l-awliya, Cairo 1351, Vol. 6, p. 121 (quoted by Tor Andrae, Islamic Mystics, Stuttgart 1960, p. 21).
  32. Tor Andrae, p. 23.
  33. Hilyatu'l-awliya, Vol. 2, p. 283.
  34. Al-Jahiz, Amr b. Bahr, Kitabu'l-bayan wa't-tabyin, Bulaq 1313, Vol. 2, p. 90.
  35. Abu Talib, Atiyya'l-Harisiyyul-Waizu'l-Makki, Qutu'l-qulub fi muamalati'l-mahbub wa wasfi tariqi'l-murid ila maqami't-tawhid, Cairo (no year) Vol. 2, p. 74.
  36. Al-Jahiz, Vol. 2, p. 74.
  37. Hilyatu'l-awliya, Vol. 4, p. 119.
  38. Hilyatu'l-awliya, Vol. 4, p. 38.
  39. Ath-Tha'alabi, Abu Ishaq, Kitabu araisi'l-ma-jalis fi qisasi'l-anbiya, Cairo 1303, p. 272.
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