One evening Jesus lingered in the market-place,
Teaching the people parables of truth and grace,
When in the square remote a crowd was seen to rise
And stop with loathing gestures and abhorring cries,
The Master and His meek disciples went to see
What cause for this commotion and disgust could be,
And found a poor dead dog beside the gutter laid :
Revolting sight! at which each face its hate betrayed.
One held his nose, one shut his eyes, one turned away,
And all among themselves began aloud to say,
'Detested creature! He pollutes the earth and air!'
'His eyes are bleared!'
'His ears are foul!'
'His ribs are bare!'
'In his torn hide there is not a decent shoe-string left!'
'No doubt the execrable cur was hung for theft !'
Then Jesus spake and dropped on him this saving breath:
'Even pearls are dark before the whiteness of his teeth!'
'The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature'
By Tarif Khalidi
This work presents in English translation the largest collection ever assembled of the sayings and stories of Jesus in Arabic Islamic literature. In doing so, it traces a tradition of love and reverence for Jesus that has characterized Islamic thought for more than a thousand years. An invaluable resource for the history of religions, the collection documents how one culture, that of Islam, assimilated the towering religious figure of another, that of Christianity. As such, it is a work of great significance for the understanding of both, and of profound implications for modern-day intersectarian relations and ecumenical dialogue.
Tarif Khalidi's introduction and commentaries place the sayings and stories in their historical context, showing how and why this "gospel" arose and the function it served within Muslim devotion. The Jesus that emerges here is a compelling figure of deep and life-giving spirituality. The sayings and stories, some 300 in number and arranged in chronological order, show us how the image of this Jesus evolved throughout a millennium of Islamic history.