By: Tarif Khalidi
A man once accompanied Jesus, saying to him, “I want to be with you and be your companion.” They set forth and reached the bank of a river; where they sat down to eat. They had with them three loaves. They ate two loaves, and a third remained. Jesus then rose and went to the river to drink. When he returned, he did not find the third loaf, so he asked the man: “Who took the loaf?” “I do not know,” the man replied.
Jesus set forth once more with the man, and he saw a doe [a female deer] with two of her young. Jesus called one of the two, and it came to him. Jesus then slaughtered it, roasted some of it; and ate with his companion. Then he said to the young deer, “Rise, by God’s leave.” The deer rose and left. Jesus then turned to his companion and said, “I ask you in the name of Him who showed you this miracle, who took the loaf?” “I do not know,” the man replied.
The two of them then came to a body of water in a valley. Jesus took the man by the hand and they walked upon the water. When they had crossed over, Jesus said to him, “I ask you in the name of Him who showed you this miracle, who took the loaf?” “I do not know,” the man replied.
They then came to a waterless desert and sat down upon the ground. Jesus began to gather some earth and sand, and then said, “Turn to gold, by God’s leave,” and it did so. Jesus divided the gold into three portions and said, “A third for me, a third for you, and a third for whoever took the loaf.” The man said, “It was I who took the loaf.” Jesus said, “The gold is all yours.”
Jesus then left him. Two men came upon him [Jesus’ companion] in the desert with the gold, and wanted to rob and kill him. He said to them, “Let us divide it into three portions among us, and send one of you to town to buy us some food to eat.” One of them was sent off, and then said to himself, “Why should I divide the gold with those two? Rather, I shall poison the food and have the gold to myself.” He went off and did so.
Meanwhile, the two who stayed behind said to each other, “Why should we give him a third of the gold? Instead, let us kill him when he returns and divide the money between the two of us.” When he returned, they killed him, ate the food, and died; The gold remained in the desert with the three men dead beside it. Jesus passed by, found them in that condition, and said to his companions, “This is the world. Beware of it.”
This story is excerpted from the book “The Muslim Jesus” by Tarif Khalidi. The book presents in English the largest collection of the sayings and stories of Jesus in Islamic literature.
Abu Bakr ibn Abi al-Dunya (d. 281/894), Kitab Dilamm al-Dunya, in Mawsu’at Rasa’il, 2:49, excerpt no. 87. Cf. al-Ghazali, IIIya’, 3:267 (Asin, pp. 383-384, no. 54; Mansur, no. 136; Robson, pp. 97-99); al-Makki, Qut, 1:255 (Asin, pp. 387-388, no. 54 quater; Mansur, no. 26); al-Thriushi, Siraj, pp. 79-80; Ibn ‘Asakir, Sirat, p. 95, no. 82; al-Abshihi, al-Mustatraf 2:263-264 (Asin, p. 385, no. 54 his and pp. 386-387, no. 54 ter; slight variation).