Extract from the book: Among The Dervishes – by O.M. Burke
1973 – Page 111 and 112 of the 1988 pocket book edition
The Followers of Jesus (in Afghanistan)
The followers of Isa, son of Maryam – Jesus the son of Mary – generally call themselves Moslems and inhabit a number of villages scattered througout the Western area of Afghanistan whose centre is Herat. I had heard of them several times, but considered that they were probably people who had been converted by European missionaries from Eastern Persia, or else that they were a relic of the times when Herat had been a flourishing bishoprie of the Nestorian rite, before the Arabs conquered Persia in the seventh and eight centuries.
But, from their own accounts and what I could observe, they seem to come from some much older source.
I found them through one of the deputies of the Mir of Gazarga, the descendant of Mohammed under whose protection they are. Gazarga is the shrine where Abdullah Ansar, a Sufi mystic and great local saint, is buried in a magnificient tomb formerly much visited by the emperors of India and other notables.
There must be about a thousand of these christians. Their chief is the Abba Yahiyya (Father John), who can recite the succession of teachers through nearly sixty generations to – Isa, son of Mary, of ‘Nazara’, the Kashmiri.
According to these people, Jesus escaped from the Cross, was hidden by friends, was helped to flee to India, where he had been before in his youth, and settled in Kashmir, where he is revered as an ancient teacher, Yus Asaf. It is from this period of the supposed life of Jesus that these people claim to have got their message.
I had several conversations with the Abba; though, not unnaturally if his story was true, there were few points of Christian doctrine as we know it today that we could recognise.
The Abba lived on a farm, and like all the ‘Christians’ says that their teacher stipulated that his followers should always have a worldly vocation. Jesus, according to this community, was a carpenter and also a shepherd. He had the power to perform miracles, and he did indeed ‘die for the sake of his people’. This death, astonishingly enough, is not the death generally assumed. The death was a real one, but it took place long before Jesus started his mission, and it was as a result of this experience that he met God and was sent back to mankind to warn them of their possible fate if they did not seek love and truth.
The ‘Traditions of the Masih’ (anointed one) is the holy book of the community. They do not believe in the New Testament, or, rather, they say that these Traditions are the New Testament, and that the Gospels which we have are partly true but generally written by people who did not understand the teachings of the Master.
Abba Yahiyya, a towering figure with the face of a saint, was certainly an erudite man, and he knew his own scriptures, plus a great deal of the Jewish writings, very well indeed. He had heard of the teachings of the ‘heretics’ as he called what we would call the various sects of Christians know to us; and he wanted no part of it.
‘My son’, he said, in his softly accented Persian, ‘these people are reading and repeating a part of the story. They have completely misunderstood the message. We have the story told us by the Master, and through Him we will be saved and made whole. Some of the events in that document which you call the Bible are true, but a great deal is made up or imagined or put in for less than worthy reasons. Isa lived for over thirty years after the materials you have were completed, an He told us what was true.
Saving the above video in the Muslim Times, to ensure it for the posterity: