A Story Jesus & Third Loaf by Sheikh Yusuf Estes



A story about ‘Eesaa (Jesus), the son of Mary (Peace be upon him), and a greedy man who stole a loaf of bread, was told by an unreliable mid-second-century narrator, Layth ibn Abee Sulaym.[1] The story goes as follows:
[Allegedly] Jesus and a traveling companion had three loaves of bread. They stopped at a beach to eat, and each one of them had a loaf of bread. When Jesus stood up to wash his hands, he returned to find that the third loaf of bread was missing. He asked his companion about it, and he replied that he did not know about it.
They moved on [allegedly, as the story goes] until they encountered three deer – an adult and two fawns. Jesus called one of the fawns and it came. He then slaughtered it, and so they cooked it and ate part of it. Miraculously, Jesus ordered the fawn back to life by the Permission of Allaah, and so it stood up and left! Jesus then turned to the man and said, “I ask you by the One who has shown you this miracle, who took the third loaf of bread?” He answered, ”I do not know.”
They [allegedly] moved on until they reached a flooded valley. Jesus took the man’s hand and they walked on top of the surface of the water! Jesus then said, “I ask you by the One who has shown you this miracle, who took the third loaf of bread?” He answered, ”I do not know.”
They moved on until they stopped in the middle of a wide plain. Jesus [allegedly] gathered a mound of dirt and ordered it to become gold by the Permission of Allaah. It became gold right in front of the man’s eyes! Then Jesus divided it into three parts, and said, “One part is for me, another for you, and the third part is for the one who took the loaf of bread.”
“I am the one who took the loaf of bread!” admitted the man.
Jesus said, “Then all of it is yours!” and he left him and moved on.
Later, two men came upon this man with his gold. They wanted to take it from him and kill him, yet they agreed to take a third each and leave him with a third. When they became hungry, one of them was chosen on their behalf to go get some food from a nearby village. He poisoned the food, planning to kill them with it and take all the gold for himself. Meanwhile, the other two plotted to kill him when he returned to split his share among themselves. When he returned they attacked and killed him. Afterwards, they ate the poisoned food and died themselves. So there the treasure sat, out in the open, unclaimed, surrounded by three murder victims. Jesus later passed by this scene [allegedly], and said, “Such is the life of this world, so be warned!”
As mentioned, the story was told by Layth ibn Abee Sulaym, a follower of the students of Ibn ‘Abbaas.[2] The story is most likely based on things heard from the Christians and their stories about Jesus. We have no way to confirm this story as being correct or accurate, while there does not seem to be anything inappropriate in it. Thus, we are allowed to tell it as a story told by the Christians, based on the hadeeth:
حدثوا عن بني إسرائيل ولا حرج
“Narrate things from Banee Israa’eel (i.e. the Jews and Christians), and there is no harm in that…” [3]
On the latter end of the chain of narration, in our modern age, in the West, in the English language, we find those who would recklessly claim this to be a hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace)! [4]
While the story may have a basis from the stories told by the Christians, it is absolutely impermissible - in fact a major sin – to attribute it to the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace). The ruling in Islaam on such a story is that we may pass it on, without affirming it, just as a tale that is told and it may be true and maybe not, so long as there is no falsehood in it.
However, the same hadeeth quoted above which allows the passing on of Christian stories also identifies the act of lying on the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) as a serious transgression which leads a person to Hell:

ومن كذب علي متعمدا فليتبوأ مقعده من النار
“…And whoever lies on me intentionally, let him take his seat in the Fire.”
And in the hadeeth collected by Imam Muslim in the Introduction of his Saheeh:
كفى بالمرء كذبا أن يحدث بكل ما سمع
“It is sufficient for a man to be known as a liar that he passes on everything he hears.”
Let it be known: This is not a hadeeth from our Messenger (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace). Those who have narrated it as such are required by their Religion to produce a verifiable source for their claim or to make hasty repentence from attributing things to the Messenger of Allaah falsely, and to refrain from narrating things from him (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) except what they are certain is from him, as found in the authentically preserved source books of Islaam. And Allaah knows best.

FOOTNOTES:
[1] Layth ibn Abee Sulaym [d.141 or 142] was considered highly unreliable by Yahyaa ibn Sa’eed, Aboo Haatim, and Aboo Zur’ah. Other scholars did not abandon him, but they did not rely on his narrations, like Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahyaa ibn Ma’een, and Muslim. Even Yahyaa ibn Ma’een and Ahmad ibn Hanbal were reported to have abandoned him in his later years after he became severely confused in his narrations. Review: Tah-theeb Tah-theeb al-Kamaal (8/466-468) of Ibn Hajr.
[2] The story was reported by Ibn Abee Dunyaa in az-Zuhd (#175) and in Thamm ad-Dunyaa (#79), Ibn al-A’raabee in his Mu’jam (#2232), and Ibn ‘Asaakir in his Taareekh (47/394-396). All of them trace it back to Layth ibn Abee Sulaym. The few scholars after them who mentioned this story in their books likewise attributed it to Layth.
[3] Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (#3461)
[4] He is the preacher known as Yusuf Estes (may Allaah guide him). This is not the case of a scholar erring in a reference to a source book. Rather, this is another case of an ignorant person speaking above his level. Without any meaningful studies of Islaam, Yusuf Estes is unable to quote Islaamic texts from their sources accurately or explain their meanings in accordance to the teachings of Islaam. When confronted and asked for a source of this hadeeth recently, Yusuf Estes claimed it to be a narration of our Prophet.