The Story of Jesus and the Third Loaf of Bread

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful…

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 authenticly preserved source books of Islaam. And Allaah knows best.

Written by: Moosaa Richardson

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 (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) found in the hadeeth collection of at-Tirmithee! (see this)

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18 thoughts on “The Story of Jesus and the Third Loaf of Bread

  1. Assalamu Alaykum. Brother, correct me if I’m wrong, but by Yusuf Estes saying that he saw this story in the Hadith collection of at-Tirmidhi, does it necessarily mean that he attributed it to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ? Because aren’t some of the narrations in the collections of Hadith not Marfoo’ to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)? So, while it’s absolutely wrong and unacceptable for him to give the wrong reference, is it fair to say that he attributed this story to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself just because he said that he read it as a Hadith in At-Tirmidhi? Again, I don’t know it what I’ve written here is correct, so please correct me if I’m wrong.

      • Jazak Allahu khairan brother. The reason I asked was because on the screenshot you provided, he said that he “came across this Hadith in the collection of Imam Tirmidhi some years ago” and he didn’t say the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said it. Did he say that before, in another instance?

        • In the beginning and the end of the story he states it clearly. The story is called “Jesus and the Third Loaf of Bread” and its all over the internet. You should not find any difficulty in finding it.

          • Yes I found it online and he clearly attributed the story to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). We seek refuge in Allah from fabricating! May Allah guide Yusuf Estes to repent.

          • Only Allah who juge people, to my opinion, he Yusuf state was just chairing a beautiful story. What is important was the moral of that story… (comment abridged by admin)

          • Sure, its a beautiful story. It was never criticized as a bad story. Muslims are just not free to attribute whatever they like to the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace). Lying on him is one of the greatest sins, and Allaah preserves his message for humanity to benefit from, which means there will always be someone coming along to separate fake invented hadeeths from the authentic ones. If this did not happen, then essentially Allaah’s Religion would not actually be preserved.

  2. BaarakAllaahu feek, Ustaadh. Just to be clear: is that Layth ibn Abee Sulaym, despite being unreliable, never himself claimed the story to be a hadeeth from the Prophet – sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam? JazaakAllaahu khayraa.

    • Yes, that’s correct, Saadiq. Layth just told a story about Jesus from himself, and never claimed it was from the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), if the chain to him is even authentic.

  3. asalamu aleykum to u all then i would like to tell my dear brothers to stop coming back ward just move forward this is not the time to critsize muslim scholars rather its the time to do dawas to non muslims muslims should not be bussy to each other we are in a dangerous situation so plz and plz dont be useless who always talk about muslimscholars and analayses what they say

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaam. Dear Brother Abdul-Aziz, thank you for visiting and commenting. I understand you are concerned, but please re-think your advice carefully. Honest concern and sincere love, without the proper method of correcting things, is not enough to speak about these kinds of matters and guide our brothers and sisters to solutions. If we were to remain silent as people add things and take away things from our religion as they choose, without clarifying that, we would end up like the Christians, with a mere shell of a former religion, no clue about what the original message really was. I invite you to have jealousy and the utmost concern for the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace), who is having things falsely attributed to him.

  4. You should fear Allah! I asked a brother who is a student of knowledge of hadith about this issue. He said if you truly knew hadith sciences you would have known this story was narrated by Laith ibn Sa’d, NOT Laith ibn Abi Sulaim! He said this makes a big difference because Laith ibn Sa’d was a big imam, not a weak narrator like Laith ibn Abi Sulaim. He said the chain has only the name “Laith” just like that with no last name and you chose to understand he was: Ibn Abi Sulaim, the weak narrator, but when just “Laith” is in a chain, the first person you should think of is Laith ibn Sa’d, because he was a big imam, known by his first name alone… [comment abridged by admin]

    • I appreciate your words of advice, based on what you believe is an important correction. Abaa Muhammad, is there any way we could know the identity of this student of knowledge? Baarak Allaahu feek!

    • Indeed I should fear Allaah. Please give the student of knowledge my salaams, and ask him to review the issue, taking into consideration that the chain is Jareer ibn ‘Abdil-Hameed narrating from Layth. There are hundreds of examples of Jareer reporting from Layth ibn Abee Sulaym, where Layth’s father or family name is not mentioned. For examples, you can do a computer search in the Musannaf of Ibn Abee Shaybah for (جرير عن ليث). However I am not sure there exists a chain anywhere with Jareer narrating from Layth ibn Sa’d. According to al-Mizzee in Tah-theeb al-Kamaal, there is no mention of any connection between Jareer ibn ‘Abdil-Hameed and Layth ibn Sa’d, at least in the six main compilations of Hadeeth. A student of knowledge who “truly knows hadeeth sciences” should easily recognize why we would need an example of a chain with Jareer narrating from Layth ibn Sa’d in order to begin considering it as a possibility for this chain. And Allaah knows best.

      • Of course it is important to be precise in the names of the chain, and this issue should definitely be looked into. However, whether it was Layth bin Saad or Layth bin Abi Sulaym, the fact here remains that the story cannot be attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), which was the main point of the article.

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