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Traditional Stories

CHAPTER II

TRADITIONAL STORIES

   Th., p. 243.--Ka`b al Ahbâr said: Jesus, son of Mary, 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 till the morning came. He was curing the blind from birth and the leper and raising the dead by God's permission and was telling his people what they were eating in their houses and what they were storing up for the morrow [cf. Korân III, 43], 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 God. He was a pilgrim in the earth till the Jews sought him and desired to kill him. Then God raised him up to heaven; and God knows best.

   Th., pp. 241, 242. [The following is a version of the story of the Wise Men from the East.]--That night people went out repairing to him p. 30 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 said, "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 (God bless him and grant him peace!) is the lord of the people of his time; and because what is broken and wounded is put right with myrrh, similarly God will heal by this prophet (God bless him and grant him peace!) all who are infirm and ill; and because the smoke of frankincense and no other smoke enters heaven, similarly God will raise this prophet (God bless him and grant him peace!) 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 and gave her (Peace be upon 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 p. 31 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.

   Th., pp. 243, 244.--Wahb said: The first sign which the people saw from Jesus 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 was grieved over the affliction of that headman. When Jesus saw his mother's grief over her host's affliction he said to 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 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 said to him, "How were you strong enough for it yesterday?" When they heard him saying that, they beat the blind man till he arose, and when he stood up the lame man reached to the window of the treasury. Then Jesus said to the headman, p. 32"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 God! " 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 till they arrived, and 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 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 came to the last of them. And at that time he was twelve years old.

   Another sign. As Sadî said: When Jesus (Peace be upon him!) was in the school, he used to tell the boys what their fathers were doing; and he would say to a boy, "Go [home], for p. 33 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 till they gave him that thing. Then they would say to 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 said to them, "Then what is in this house?" They replied, "Swine." He said, "Let them be swine." So when they opened the door for them, lo! 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.

   Th., p. 244.--`Atâ´ said: When Mary had taken Jesus from the school, she handed him over to various trades, and the last to which she entrusted him was to the dyers; so 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, "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 p. 34colour with which it is to be dyed, so I want you to be finished with them when I return." Then he went out. Jesus (Peace be upon him!) prepared one receptacle with one colour and put all the clothes in it and said to them, "Be, by God's permission, according to what is expected of you." Then the dyer came, and all the clothes were in one receptacle, so he said, "O Jesus, what have you done?" He replied, "I have finished them." He said, "Where are they?" He replied, "In the receptacle." He said, "All of them?" He replied, "Yes." He said, "How are they all in one receptacle? You have spoiled those clothes." He replied, "Rise and look." So he arose, and Jesus took out a yellow garment and a green garment and a red garment until he had taken them out according to the colours which he desired. Then the dyer began to wonder, and he knew that that was from God (Great and glorious is He!). Then the dyer said to the people, "Come and look at what Jesus (Peace be upon him!) has done." So he and his companions, and they were the disciples, believed on him; and God (Great and glorious is He!) knows best.

   Th., p. 245.--His prayer by which he was curing the sick and bringing the dead to life was: O God, Thou art the God of those who are in heaven and of those who are on earth; there is no god in them other than Thee. And Thou art p. 35 the almighty One of those who are in the heavens and the almighty One of those who are on earth; there is no almighty one in them other than Thee. And Thou art 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 Thee. And Thou art the Judge of those who are in the heavens and of those who are on earth; there is no judge in them other than Thee. Thy power on earth is like Thy power in heaven, and Thy authority on earth is like Thy authority in heaven. I ask Thee by Thy noble names. Verily Thou art omnipotent.

   Th., p. 245.--Ibn `Abbâs said: They [the disciples] were fishermen who were catching fish, and Jesus passed them and said to them, "What are you doing?" They replied, "We are catching fish." He said to them, "Will you not come with me that you may catch men?" They replied to him, "How do you mean?" He said, "We will summon men to God." They replied, "And who are you?" He said, "I am Jesus, son of Mary, God's servant and apostle." They asked, "Is 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. As Sadî said: They were sailors. Ibn Artât said: They were fullers and were called that [Hawârîyûn] because they made clothes white.

p. 36

   Ibn Fathawaih told us in his tradition from Mus`ab as follows: The disciples were twelve men who followed Jesus; 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." The narrator said: So they began to make clothes for wages.

   Th., p. 246.--It is related that Jesus (Peace be upon him!) passed a monastery in which were two blind men and said, "What are these?" The reply was given to him, "These are people who sought death and blinded themselves with their hands." So he said to them, "What urged you to this?" They replied, "We feared the punishment of death, so we did what you see ourselves." Then he said, "You are the learned and the wise and the monks and the excellent p. 37 ones. Rub your eyes with your hands and say, 'In the name of God.'" So they did that, and lo! they were both standing seeing.

   Th., p. 247.--Al Kalbî said, "Jesus was raising the dead by means of "O Living One! O Eternal One!"

   Th., p. 247.--It is related that he went out one day in his wandering accompanied by one of his companions who was a short man who attached himself greatly to Jesus. Then when Jesus came to the sea he said, "In the name of God, with health and certainty;" then he walked on the surface of the water. Then the short man said, "In the name of God, with health and certainty;" and he walked on the surface of the water. Then wonder entered him and he said, "This is Jesus, the Spirit of God, walking on the water, and I am walking on the water." The narrator said: Then he sank in the water and appealed to Jesus, so Jesus reached out to him from the water and took him out and said to him, "What did you say, O short one?" He told him what had pervaded his mind and Jesus said to him, "You have put yourself in a place other than that in which God put you and God abhorred you on account of what you said; so turn to God in repentance for what you said." So the man repented and returned to the rank in which God had placed him. So fear God and do not envy one another.

p. 38

   Th., pp. 247, 248.--The imâm Abû Mansûr al Khamshâwî told us in his tradition from Ma`âdh, son of Jabal, that the apostle of God--i.e. Mohammad (God bless him and grant him peace!)--said, "If you really knew God you would have learned the knowledge after which there is no ignorance, but no one has ever attained to that." They said, "Not even you, O apostle of God?" He replied, "Not even I." They said, "O apostle of God, 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 God, we were not thinking that the apostles came short." He replied, "Verily God (Exalted is He!) has too high a rank for anyone to reach His rank."

   A.F., pp. 58-62. [After mentioning the names of the disciples.]--These are they who asked him for the descent of the table. So Jesus asked his Lord (Great and glorious is He!) and He sent down to him a red tray covered with a napkin in which was a broiled fish surrounded by vegetables with the exception of the leek, with salt at its head and vinegar at its tail; and along with it were five loaves on some of which were olives and on the others pomegranates and dates. A great number of people ate of them and they did not diminish; and whenever a diseased person ate of them he was cured. And it was p. 39 coming down one day and disappearing the next for the space of forty nights.

   Ibn Sa`îd said: And when God 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 to-night, 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 God that my end may be delayed." But when they wished to do that, God cast sleep on 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 God! 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 p. 40 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 dirhems, and he took them and guided them to him. Then God (Exalted is He!) raised the Messiah to Himself and cast his likeness on him who led them to him.

   Ibn al Athîr said in the Kâmil: 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, God 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 (Exalted is He!), "Verily I will cause you to die and will raise you to Myself." [Korân III, 48.]

   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 p. 41Joseph had prepared for himself. Then God sent down the Messiah from heaven to his mother, Mary, when she was weeping for him, and he said to her, "Verily God 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 God and he ordered them to convey from him [the message which] God had commanded him. Then God raised him to Himself and the disciples scattered where he commanded them. The Messiah's raising up was three hundred and thirty-six years after Alexander's conquest of Darius.

   Al Shahrastânî said: 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."