The Characteristics of Jesus

1. The Apostle of Allah (S) said, “I saw Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Moses was a tall man, and his hair was hanging down, like the men of the Zut, and like the men of the Shanu’ah.1 Jesus was a ruddy faced man with curly hair and medium height.” Then he was silent. They said to him, “O Apostle of Allah! What about Abraham?” He said, “Look at your companion [me].”2

2. Aminah [the mother of the Prophet] said, “When the birth of the Apostle of Allah became near I would hear a sound, ‘Bring Muhammad (S) around the East and West and show him to the jinn, people, birds and wild animals and give him the clarity of Adam, the tenderness of Noah, the loveliness of Abraham, the tongue of Isma‘il, the perfection of Joseph, the good news of Ya‘qub, the voice of David, the asceticism of John and the nobility of Jesus.’ Then he appeared [i.e., the Prophet (S) was born]. So, I faced him....”3

3. The Apostle of Allah (S) said, “Everyone who wants to look at Adam in his knowledge, Noah in his piety, Abraham in his perseverance (hilm), Moses in his awe and Jesus in his worship should look at ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.”4

4. It is reported from Abu al-Hamra’ that the Prophet (S) said, “Everyone who wants to look at Adam in his dignity, Moses in the intensity of his grip,5 and Jesus in his asceticism, should look at the one coming.” Then ‘Ali (‘a) came.6

5. It is reported that Abu Dharrr al-Ghifari said, “One day we were before the Apostle of Allah (S) when he stood, bowed, and prostrated in thanks to Allah, the Exalted.

Then he said, ‘O Jundab! Whoever wants to look at Adam in his knowledge, Noah in his understanding, Abraham in his friendship, Moses in his intimate prayers, and Jesus in his journeying, Job in his patience and calamity, look at the man coming who is like the sun and the moon in radiance, and stars shining bright, whose heart is bravest of all people, and whose hand is more generous, so that may the curse of Allah, the angels and the people be upon those who hate him.’ He said, ‘The people turned to see who was coming when ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (‘a) came.”7

6. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Gabriel was near the Prophet at the right side of him, then the Commander of the Faithful came. Gabriel laughed and said, ‘… O Muhammad! If you yearn for the face of Jesus and his worship, the asceticism of John and his obedience, the inheritnce of Solomon and his generosity, look at the face of ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib.’ Then Allah the Exalted sent:

And when the example of the son of Mary is given, they laughed and exclaimed their surprise) (43:57),

that is, the son of Mary is like ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib and ‘Ali is like Jesus.8

7. When a comparison was made before the Apostle of Allah, in his loudest voice he said, “O servants of Allah! Whoever wants to look at Adam in his majesty, to look at Seth in his wisdom, to look at Idris in his nobility and dignity, to look at Noah in his thanks to his Lord and his worship, to look at Abraham in his friendship and loyalty, to look at Moses in his hatred to every enemy of Allah and his opposing them, and to look at Jesus in his love of every believer and his good relations, look at ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib, here.”9

8. The Apostle of Allah (S) said, “He who wants to look at the asceticism of Jesus the son of Mary, look at Abu Dharr.”10

9. It is reported that the Apostle of Allah said, “The imams after me are twelve, the number of the months of the year, and from us is the Mahdi of this community who will have the awesomeness of Moses, the magnificence of Jesus, the judgment of David and the patience of Job.”11

10. Zayd al-Kunasi said, “I heard that Abu Ja‘far would say, ‘In the Sahib hadha al-’amr [the twelfth Imam] there is an attribute (sunnah) of Joseph, an attribute of Moses, an attribute of Jesus and an attribute of Muhammad. As though his likeness to Joseph is that his brothers acknowledge him as a leader and address him while they do not know him. His likeness to Moses is that he is fearful. His likeness to Jesus is journeying and his likeness to Muhammad is the sword12.’”13

11. Sa‘id ibn Jubayr reported, “I heard the saying of ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn, ‘There are many attributes (sunnah) of six prophets in our al-Qaim: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Job and Muhammad. As for the attribute from Noah, it is long life, from Abraham, it is having a hidden birth and being separated from the people, from Moses, it is fear and absence, from Jesus, it is the disagreement of people about him, from Job, it is release after suffering and from Muhammad (S), it is going out with the sword. 14

12. Jabir reported that Abu Ja‘far (‘a) said, “Verily the Lord, the blessed and almighty, says, ‘Enter into heaven by my mercy, save yourselves from the Fire by my pardon and divide the heaven according to your deeds. By My glory! I will send you down in the everlasting and noble dwelling.’

When they enter it they will become like Adam with his height…, like Jesus, with the youth of thirty- three years, like Muhammad with the Arabic language, like Joseph, with a beautiful figure shining with light, and like Job, with a heart of purity from hatred.”15

13. Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) said, “…Then Noah took the Ark (of the covenant) and buried it in al-Ghari, the part of the mountain on which Allah talked with Moses, on which He sanctified Jesus, on which He took Abraham as a friend, took Muhammad as a beloved, and made it a dwelling for the prophets….”16

14. Among the intimate conversations between Allah and Moses ibn Imran is, “O Moses! I recommend to you as One Who is kind and compassionate to you Ibn Batul, Jesus the son of Mary, who has a donkey and a burnoose, olive oil and olives and a prayer niche.”17

15. The Prophet (S) said, “Whoever says the prayer of Tuesday night with thirty rak‘a and in each rak‘a he reads Sura Hamd and the verse al-Kursi one time and Sura Tawhid seven times, Allah will give him the reward of Job, the patient, John the son of Zachariah and Jesus the son of Mary….”18

  • 1. The Zut are a tribe from India, with wide faces with little facial hair, and the Shanwah are like the Qahtaniyah of the Arabs. -Majlisi
  • 2. Bihar 12, 10, 24
  • 3. Bihar, 15, 272, 17
  • 4. Bihar, 39, 39
  • 5. Compare the language in (85:12).
  • 6. Bihar, 40, 78
  • 7. Bihar, 39, 38, 9
  • 8. Bihar, 35, 47
  • 9. Tafsir al-Imam al-‘Askari, 498
  • 10. Bihar, 22, 343
  • 11. Bihar, 36, 303, 141
  • 12. The sword is used as a symbol of authority, not as a symbol of war or violence
  • 13. Dala’il al-Imamah, 291
  • 14. Al-Sirat al-Mustaqim, 2, 238
  • 15. Bihar, 8, 218, 207
  • 16. Jami‘ al-Akhbar, 21
  • 17. Bihar 13, 332, 13
  • 18. Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, 6, 370, 7014