Recently I read an article in the Star Tribune titled, “Christmas is more a cultural than religious event for one-third of Americans, new survey finds.” This article brought to the fore, the wide ranging attitudes toward Christmas. Come the Christmas season, irrespective of the religious tradition that one follows, one’s attention is invariably drawn toward the central figure in this debate – Jesus (peace be upon him). Often missing from this discourse is what do other religious traditions say about Jesus (peace be upon him). I can say with certainty that Islam has the largest body of texts relating to Jesus (peace be upon him) in any non-Christian literature. Also, Islam is the only non-Christian religion that considers Jesus as the Christ or the Messiah.
My previous blog, “Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus,” essentially provided a Qur’anic view of Jesus (peace be upon him). In this blog post, I would like to present to the readers a glimpse into the writings on Jesus from traditional Arabic sources.
The wisdom in these sayings is universal and very much the need of the hour to heed the wise words of Jesus (peace be upon him).
Jesus was known to have said, "Virtuous action does not consist in doing good to someone who has done good to you - that is merely returning a favor. Virtuous action consists in doing good to those who have wronged you." (Narrated by Ahmad)
Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "Do not speak much without remembering God, for by doing so, you harden your hearts. Surely a hard heart is distant from God though you are unaware. Do not, like lords, look at the faults of others. Rather, like servants, look at your own faults. In truth, humanity is comprised of only two types, the afflicted and the sound. So show mercy to the afflicted, and praise God for well-being." (Narrated by Malik in his Muwatta)
Jesus said to his disciples, “Many a lamp has been extinguished by the wind, and many a devout man has been destroyed by vanity.” (Narrated by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali)
Jesus used to say,” Too much food kills the soul, just as too much water kills a plant.” (Narrated by Abu Sa’d al-Abi)
Jesus said, “ He who lies much loses his beauty; he who constantly quarrels with men loses his sense of honor; he who worries much grows sick in body; and he whose character is nasty tortures himself.” (Narrated by Abu Bakr ibn Abi al-Dunya)
“At the end of time, there will be religious scholars who preach abstinence but do not themselves abstain, who encourage yearning for the afterlife but do not themselves yearn, who forbid visits to rulers but do not themselves desist, who draw near to the rich and distance themselves from the poor, who recoil from the lowly and fawn upon the mighty. They are the tyrants and the enemies of the Merciful God.” (Narrated by Abdallah Ibn Qutayba)
Christ said, “If you desire to devote yourselves entirely to God and to be the light of the children of Adam, forgive those who have done you evil, visit the sick who do not visit you, be kind to those who are unkind to you, and lend to those who do not repay you.” (Narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal)
It is related that Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon them, said, “It is of no use to know something if one does not act upon it. In truth, an abundance of knowledge only increases one in pride if one does not act accordingly.” (Narrated by Ahmad)
I would like to wish Christian readers a joyous Christmas holiday season.