Some more sayings from Khalidi’s collection of sayings and stories about Jesus that are not found in the Kor’an.
From saying #79 Khalidi includes sayings of Abu ‘Uthman al-Jahiz who is a towering literary figure in the Muslim tradition, and who incorporates Jesus into the spirit of Adab. Jesus hereby becomes more sophisticated and his language more flowery: in short, a gentleman scholar.
#80 is a good example: “Christ passed by a group of Israelites who insulted him. Every time they spoke a word of evil, Christ answered with good. Simon the pure said to him, ‘Will you answer them with good each time they speak evil?’ Christ said, ‘Each person spends of what he owns.’ ”
The saying has a connection to the good tree/good fruit of Matthew 7:15-20.
1. Islamicizing Jesus
Jesus said, ‘You work for this world, where you are provided for without working; whereas you do not work for the afterlife, where you will not be provided for except by working” (#84). Chiastic structure is notable.
#86 contains a lengthy teaching by Jesus in which he discusses the development of a criminal: Stage 1: darkness of the womb (3 darknesses actually); Stage 2: living on the milk of his mother; Stage 3: food provided by parents; Stage 4: on his own, he turns to crime. The point is that in Stage 4 he feels insecure and that God may abandon him, and this leads to crime.
#95: “He who speaks without mentioning God is merely babbling. He who reflects without self-admonition is merely heedless. He who is silent without reflecting is merely wasting time.”
2. An Event Explained differently: Pentecost
Saying #89 contains a new take on Pentecost, only it is anchored in the life of Jesus. Here Jesus sends out his missionaries to the kings of the world and those sent to nearby kings went, but the others did not. Jesus complains to God, who gives the others the ability to speak a new language.
3. Adapting Jesus’ sayings
“If people appoint you as their heads, be like tails” (#90).
Khalidi sees humility here; my first take was that it might refer to a scorpion, in which case it would exhort the disciples to be shrewd and unaccommodating. This saying from ‘Abdallah ibn Qutayba (c. 884 AD).
The most hateful things for a scholar are to be a backbiter, to want public honor, to like feasts, and to have large sacks of food opened for them (#93).
“Blessed is he who sees with his heart but whose heart is not in what he sees” (#98). This is a classy little saying. I’m not entirely sure what it could mean: see with purity but don’t let what you see contaminate your purity?
Here’s another one like the former one: “Be in the middle but walk to the side” (#101). This seems to me to be the intentional pursuit of humility, though Khalidid (who knows more than I about it) sees it to be “in” but not “of” the world.
4. Jesus the Ascetic
“The world is a bridge. Cross this bridge but do not build upon it” (#99).
Maybe as radical as it can get: “I reflected upon creation and found that he who has not been created is, in my view, happier than him who has” (#104). Almost Sartre. From another collector of Jesus’ sayings: Abu Bakr ibn al-Dunya.