A few more sayings about Jesus in the Muslim tradition reveal once again how Jesus was appropriated for specific concerns as Islam developed. A politically quietist attitude on Jesus’ part can be seen in this saying: “Just as kings left wisdom to you [Jesus’ disciples], so you should leave the world to them” (#8).
That is, kings hand the wisdom business over to the followers of Jesus while the followers of Jesus are to let the kings run the world. This division of labor is noticeable.
In #10 I see a significant distortion of the thrust of the Jesus tradition, and it comes from the hand of Malik ibn Mighwal (c. 775-6 AD): “Jesus said, ‘O disciples, seek the love of God by your hatred of sinners; seek to be near Him by [doing] that which distances you from them; and seek His favor by being angry with them.’ ”
The love of enemies tradition, the love your neighbor as yourself, the Golden Rule, and Jesus’ table fellowship reveals, to me (what do you think?), that this saying takes Jesus into new territory.
#14: Here’s an interesting typical piece of Muslim understanding of Jesus: Jesus passed by ruins and said, “Ruin of ruins!” or else he said, “O ruin that has been ruined, where are your people?” Something from the ruins answered him, “Spirit of God [typical label for Jesus] they perished, so exert yourself [is this the jihad term in its more primal sense?] for God,” or else the voice said, “The decree of God was in earnest, so you must seek Him in earnest.” And then #15 has: Jesus said, “Strive [jihad again?] for the sake of God and not for the sake of your bellies.”
Again, some things consistent with Jesus and some things not consistent with the Christian gospel. In #15 Matthew 6:25-34 has been Islamicized.
Once again the same title for Jesus: Jesus was asked, “Spirit and Word of God, who is the most seditious of men?” He answered, “The scholar who is in error.”
This text, #17, comes from a period when scholar status was rising and the challenge was to remain faithful.
The Jesus of Muslim gospel is ascetic, lives for the future, is scholarly, and sits athwart Islamic cultural developments with a keen eye for sin and hypocrisy. “Do not,” the Muslim Jesus says (#16), “make your living from [teaching] the Book of God. If you refrain from doing so, God will seat you [I add: in heaven] upon pulpits a single stone of which is better than the world and all that is therein.”