The Qur’an contains certain stories found in Jewish and Christian apocrypha (daif writings). Among the most well known is the narration of the child Jesus turning clay birds into living ones:
"And (appoint him) an apostle to the Children of Israel, (with this message): "'I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave
"…]thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave,"
As suggested earlier, these stories are not found in the Canon of Scripture but in stories that served to fill in the gaps (so to speak) of Jesus’ hidden life (the period of time before His public ministry.) Interestingly enough the narration of Jesus turning clay birds into living ones is found in material that would have been accessible to Muhammad. The infancy “gospel” ascribed to St Thomas was possibly originally written in Syriac, as well as the Arabic infancy “gospel” which is dated to the 6th century. The later infancy account is interesting in that it begins with, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” which may have inspired the “Bismillah…” seen in the beginning of all Surat with the exception of Surah Tawbah (9).
Here are quotes from the apocryphal sources:
Infancy Gospel of Thomas**
“This child Jesus, when five years old, was playing in the ford of a mountain stream; and He collected the flowing waters into pools, and made them clear immediately, and by a word alone He made them obey Him. And having made some soft clay, He fashioned out of it twelve sparrows. And it was the Sabbath when He did these things. And there were also many other children playing with Him. And a certain Jew, seeing what Jesus was doing, playing on the Sabbath, went off immediately, and said to his father Joseph: Behold, your son is at the stream, and has taken clay, and made of it twelve birds, and has profaned the Sabbath. And Joseph, coming to the place and seeing, cried out to Him, saying: Why do you do on the Sabbath what it is not lawful to do? And Jesus clapped His hands, and cried out to the sparrows, and said to them: Off you go! And the sparrows flew, and went off crying. And the Jews seeing this were amazed, and went away and reported to their chief men what they had seen Jesus doing.”
The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour
36. Now, when the Lord Jesus had completed seven years from His birth, on a certain day He was occupied with boys of His own age. For they were playing among clay, from which they were making images of asses, oxen, birds, and other animals; and each one boasting of his skill, was praising his own work. Then the Lord Jesus said to the boys: The images that I have made I will order to walk. The boys asked Him whether then he were the son of the Creator; and the Lord Jesus bade them walk. And they immediately began to leap; and then, when He had given them leave, they again stood still. And He had made figures of birds and sparrows, which flew when He told them to fly, and stood still when He told them to stand, and ate and drank when He handed them food and drink. After the boys had gone away and told this to their parents, their fathers said to them: My sons, take care not to keep company with him again, for he is a wizard: flee from him, therefore, and avoid him, and do not play with him again after this.
The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior**
46. Again, on another day, the Lord Jesus was with the boys at a stream of water, and they had again made little fish-ponds. And the Lord Jesus had made twelve sparrows, and had arranged them round His fish-pond, three on each side. And it was the Sabbath-day. Wherefore a Jew, the son of Hanan, coming up, and seeing them thus engaged, said in anger and great indignation: Do you make figures of clay on the Sabbath-day? And he ran quickly, and destroyed their fish-ponds. But when the Lord Jesus clapped His hands over the sparrows which He had made, they flew away chirping.