Shamas Nanji: Jesus & Muhammad

Jesus & Muhammad

The setting’s in Baghdad
Early in the tenth century
With a bustling metropolis
It’s a free-market economy

The story’s told by Junayd
About the calling of a Sufi
To the seeker of an upgrade
Spending the life of a softie

He begins with Abraham
Then relates Ismail’s saga
Speaks of Moses, then Job
John and after Zachariah

Jesus, finally Muhammad
Junayd finishes narrating
Gazes at the face opposite
With a look, questioning

“Jesus and Muhammad
In these times so insane
Just loved the two stories
May I hear them again”

Junayd smiles knowingly
Seeing the thoughts’ train
He’s made the connection
And so sets out to explain

Jesus lets go of all things
This world means nothing
He keeps a cup and comb
Anything else is chaining

But sees a man drinking
Using just his own hands
And another with fingers
He combs his own strands

So Jesus discards these two
His detachment’s achieved
Cup and comb are of no use
World and he are cleaved

Muhammad is offered
A life without worries
Key to all the treasures
Luxury and infinite ease

But he decides otherwise
Doesn’t seek that burden
Needs have been fulfilled
Requires a simple ration

And the recipient of grace
Has but a small request
Requests to be fed one day
Be kept hungry the next


Jesus and Muhammad

The poem is based on an aphorism attributed to Junayd al-Baghdadi (died 909), to whom numerous Sufis trace their spiritual lineages. Sufi pedagogy, in this story, is found on eight qualities found in eight of the many prophets commemorated in the Qur’an – Abraham, Ismail, Moses, Job, John, Zachariah, Jesus and Muhammad (upon whose names be peace). More on this Sufi pedagogy can be found in numerous books on the subject including the late Annemarie Schimmel’s Mystical Dimensions of Islam.


Other works of Shamas Nanji published in this website:

Shamas Nanji: “Abraham” and “Abraham’s Land” (includes profile)
Shamas Nanji: Light-Speed Web
Shamas Nanji: Fana and Baqa
Shamas Nanji: Ballad for Bistami