The following sayings of Jesus (peace be
upon him) from
traditional Arabic sources are excerpted from
Walk on Water, a forthcoming book by
According to Ahmad, Jesus peace be upon him 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
According to Malik b. Anas, 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." (Muwatta of Malik)
According to Hilal b. Yusuf, Jesus, the
son of Mary, said, "If a day of fasting
comes upon one of you, let him oil his
hair and beard; let him moisten his lips
lest others know he is fasting. If he gives
alms with his right hand, let him conceal
that from his left; should he pray, let him
draw the curtain across his door. Surely,
God apportions praise to people just as
provision is apportioned."
( Ibn al -Mubarak )
According to Salim b. Abi al-Ja'd, Jesus,
the son of Mary, said, "Work for God
and not for your stomachs. Look at the birds: they rise up at dawn and enter into
the evening having neither planted nor harvested, yet God provides for them.
Now if you say to me, 'Our stomachs are
so much larger than those of birds,' look
then at the oxen, the wild beasts and the donkeys; they neither plow nor harvest the
earth, yet God provides for them as well.
Beware of the luxuries of this world, and
fear them, for the luxuries of this world are filth in the sight of God."
( Ibn Al -Mubarak )
It is related that Jesus, the son of
Mary, 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." (Ahmad )
Once someone asked Jesus e ,"How are
you able to walk on water?"
Jesus replied, "With certainty."
Then someone said, "But we also have
Jesus then asked them, "Are stone, clay,
and gold equal in your eyes?"
They replied, "Certainly not!"
Jesus responded, "They are in mine." (Ahmad )
Jesus, the son of Mary, was known to
have said, "Love of this world is the source
of every wrong action, and there is much
harm in wealth."
They asked, "What is its harm?"
Jesus replied, "Its possessor is never safe
from pride and arrogance."
They said, "What if he is free of those two? Is there still harm?"
Jesus responded, "Yes, for by nurturing
his wealth, he is diverted from the
remembrance of God." (Ahmad )
Once Jesus and his disciples were outside
the temple of Solomon, and the disciples said, "O Messiah of God, look at the House
of God! What could be ﬁner?"
Jesus replied, "Amen. Amen. But I say to
you that God will not leave one stone of this
House standing. Indeed, God will destroy
it because of the misdeeds of its people.
God does not build anything of worth with
gold or silver, nor even with these stones.
Righteous hearts are more beloved to God
than these stones. For God cultivates the
earth with righteous hearts; and, in their absence, the earth is destroyed."
Jesus, the son of Mary, was accustomed
to say, "O my God, surely I have entered
into the morning unable to neither
forestall what I fear nor hasten what I hope for. The whole affair is in another
I have arisen bound to my deeds. There
is no one poorer than me. Do not make
me the cause of my enemies being cursed,
nor make me the reason any harm should
come to a friend. Do not place tribulation
in my spiritual path, nor empower anyone
over me who shows me no mercy." (Ibn Abi Al-Dunaya)
Once Jesus met Iblis [Satan ]and Iblis said, "Is it not true that only what has been
decreed will happen?"
Jesus replied, "That is true."
Then Iblis said, "So throw yourself down
from the top of this mountain, and let us
see if you live or not!"
Jesus answered, "The servant does not
test his master; rather, it is the master who
tests his servant." (Abu Na 'im )
Some people once said to Jesus e ,"O
Spirit of God inform us about the nature
He answered, "The possessor of wealth
always has one of three qualities: he either
gains it by unlawful means, obstructs it
from reaching the one who deserves it,
or by accumulating it is distracted from
worship of his Lord." (Ibn Abd Al-Barr)
Sufyan al- Thawwri relates that Jesus,
son of Mary, said, "Love of this world
and love of the next world can never reside
in the heart of a believer simultaneously,
just as ﬁre and water cannot be contained
in a single vessel at the same time." (Ibn Kathir )
Ubayd Allah b. Muslim relates that Jesus once said,
"Woe to the possessor of this world, since he must die and leave the
world behind. He places his hope in it and
is deceived. He trusts it and is forsaken.
Woe to the deluded ,for this world shows
them what they detest. In the end, they
must abandon what they love, and depart
for that which they were promised. Woe
to the one whose constant preoccupation
is this world and whose grave mistakes are
his very actions. What shame they will cause
him soon enough!" (Ibn Abi Al Dunya)
Jesus said, "You will never obtain what
you desire except through patience with
what you despise." (Al Ghazzali)
According to Salam, Yazid al Dabi reported
that once a woman said to Jesus, son of Mary, as he was working, "Blessed be the
womb that bore you, and blessed be the
breast that suckled you."
Approaching her, Jesus said, "And
blessed be someone who, having read the
Book of God, acted in accordance with
what was in it." (Ahmad )
Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "God has
given me the power to give life to the dead,
sight to the blind, sound to the deaf; but
He did not give me the power to heal the
fool of his foolishness." (Al- Razi)
(The names in parentheses indicate the hadith
scholar in whose collection the hadith is
Hamza Yusuf is an American convert to Islam who studied for several years under leading scholars in the Muslim world. He is the co-founder of the Zaytuna Institute in California and has translated into modern English several classical Arabic texts and poems, including the latest rendering of the thirteenth-century devotional poem, The Burda: The Poem of the Cloak (2002). His most recent works include The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi (2007), the first text in the Zaytuna Curriculum Series; The Content of Character (2005), a collection of sayings from the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, regarding the essence of character and behavior; and Purification of the Heart (2004), a translation with commentary of a nineteenth-century text that examines the spiritual conditions and treatments of the heart.