Relations with Christians according to Muhammad (s) By: Aslam Abdullah Source: IslamiCity Sep 17, 2006 31 Comments Category: Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society Topics: Christians Views: 30332 Under the guidance of Pope John Paul II the Catholic Church provided significant leadership in promoting peace, justice and harmony among religions. Now the new Pope, the most revered figure in the Catholic world, infallible to his followers and the representative of God to his co-religionist is choosing a path of dialogue with Muslims that seems disturbing. In a recent speech he decided to quote a 14 century monarch in his argument about Jihad. The quote of the emperor was a political statement within the context of his relations with the emerging Ottoman dynasty, not worthy of giving any credibility. Yet, the Pope chose to repeat it. If the speech writers of Pope Benedict XVI had looked at a book the "Spread of Islam in the World: A History of Peaceful Preaching", written by a prominent 19th century historian Professor Thomas Arnold, they might not have quoted the passage of the emperor. Stronger than the book are the words of Prophet Muhammad himself with regard to Christianity. In 628 CE he sent a charter of freedom to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. If Pope Benedict XVI or his speech writers had looked at this document they would have found a different image of the Prophet. This document consisted of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians living under Islamic rule, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war. Here is the letter written to the monks. This letter was written at a time when no one was talking about freedom of religion, pluralism or protection of human life. "This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)."* *The English translated text of the Charter of Privileges was extracted from the Book 'Muslim History: 570 - 1950 C.E.' by Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq, ZMD Corporation. P.O. Box 8231 - Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8231 - Copyright Akram Zahoor 2000. P. 167. Saint Catherine Monastery Background Saint Catherine Monastery is located in Egypt's Sani desert. Saint Catherine city is famous for its various sites, e.g. Firon village. Firon is considered a garden rich with the best kinds of fruits of special taste, such as apricots, peach and cantaloupe in addition to the best kind of olives. Furthermore, the city houses Maktab Valleys that is located near Maghara Valleys, besides thousands of unique historical engravings. Saint Catherine area encompasses many significant sites including al-Tarfas site that dates back to more than 30,000 years, and abu-Madis site that dates back to 10,000 years. The latter enjoys a world-wide fame, particularly among specialists, as it witnessed one of the major civilizational transformations from hunting and shooting to agriculture and grazing. In addition, Saint Catherine area is famous for the matchless locations of residential villages, dating back to thousands of years. These villages include Prophet Saleh's (PBUH) site, that is called al-Marwas, Sheikh Mohsens site, and Sheikh Awwads site. Alexandrian Saint. The Monastery was built in the 6th century A.D or the 4th century A.D., according to some sources. It is located at the foot of Mount Sinai on one of Wadi al-Sheikhs branches, and rises about 5012 feet above sea level. In 545 A.D, the Monastery was constructed by King Postilianos as a fortress for Sinai monks. It comprises several monuments that presumably date back to the Christ's era. In addition, the monastery houses a large library that is south of the big Church. It consists of three adjacent rooms and which comprises about 6000 old historical, geographical and philosophic manuscripts, written in Greek, Syriac and Arabic. Many of the monastery manuscripts were written in different languages other than Arabic. As for most of the Christian heritage, it was written in Arabic, especially the copies of the Old Testament and the New Testament (The Bible). With the help of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, a new museum has been recently inaugurated inside Saint Catherine Monastery. The new museum houses distinguished collections of rare books and volumes written in Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Latin and Arabic, and they date back to the first seven centuries A.D. Among the major acquisitions is an important document, dating back to the year 2 A.H. It is al-'Ohda al-Mohamadeyas; a document signed by Prophet Muhammad , to guarantee full protection for the monastery and Egypt's Christians. In 625 AD, the Popes of the old monastery went to Prophet Muhammad in Al-Madina, for discussion. The result of this discussion was this document. Fortunately, all these acquisitions and monumental treasures were kept in a dry clean weather in the heart of Sinai desert for long centuries. Thus, they are still in a good condition. Furthermore, the monastery is notable for being a huge artistic, historic and religious wealth, including Bizantine icons that were painted by the monastery monks, dating back to the period from the 6th to the 9th centuries A.D. In addition, it houses several other historical manuscripts that serve as references about emperors, chief monks, leaders and sultans. All these manuscripts date back to the period from the 4th to the 7th centuries A.D. Among the treasures found in the library is the time-honored Syriac-registers that dates back to the year 400 A.D that was rewritten during the 7th and 8th centuries. Collections of manuscripts that total about 5000 copies are preserved in the library, dating back to the early years after the invention of printing. It goes without saying that the document of al-O'hda al-Mohamadeias, signed by Prophet Muhammad , is one of the most significant acquisitions in the library. Dr. Aslam Abdullah is Editor-in-Chief of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic society of Nevada, Las Vegas and acting president of the Muslim Council of America, a Washington-based newly formed groups of Muslim activists. Related posts from similar topics: Bridge Building Between Christians and Muslims A Forgotten Covenant How is Islam similar to Christianity and Judaism? Jesus Through a Muslim Lens The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World Tolerance in Islam (Lessons from history) Disclaimer The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml If you wish to use any copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. 31 Comments Comment jamal from albania May 15th, 2009 salam alaykum. I just wanted to know if this letter is true, are there facts about this letter that this really is from Muhammad a.s. Please can you send any facts about it. saleem from usa September 28th, 2008 http://www.linktv.org/programs/mek This is how International politics looks like, its an ugly old dirty politics. Fatimah from Canada September 27th, 2008 Ramadan Mubarak! Interesting article, and many should read this. I do agree with Khan whenever he put examples about pope. He basically said exactly what he wanted to say about the Muslims. Yes, I can remember seeing reports about the pope on the bbc news channel, and even some news channels here in Ottawa. I agree that before people say anything about anyone, they need to do research first. What the pope said about our beloved Prophet was uncalled for. If you really listened to his so-called apology, he really did not apologize. He wanted to jump on the band wagon with the rest of the world. I, like many other Muslims, are willing to live in peace with others. But, I am afraid that others are not so willing to live in peace with me. To all my Muslim brothers and sisters from the East to the West, have a Blessed Ramadan. Fatimah T. Ibn Ibrahim from USA November 28th, 2006 Dr. Abdullah's conclusion of Islam's peaceful coexistence with "Christians" based on the charter with the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai is sadly myopic. Muslim historians record that Muhammad had several letters written at that time (ca. 628 CE) to various rulers. I visited Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul,Turkey in 2004 and saw the letter to the Egyptian ruler. Translated: "From Muhammad, the servant and Prophet of Allah, to al-Muqawqis, the leader of the Coptic tribe. There is safety and security for those believers who follow the correct path. Therefore, I invite you to accept Islam. If you accept it, you shall find security, save your throne, gain twice as much reward for having introduced Islam to your followers. If you refuse this invitation, let the sin of the calamity which awaits your followers be upon you. You too are People of the Book; therefore, let us come to a word common between us and you, that we worship none but Allah and shall not associate anyone with Him. Let us not abandon Allah and take others for Lord other than Him. If you do not consent to this invitation, bear witness that we are Muslims." This sentiment against "People of the Book" (Jews & Christians) is consistent with the Quran: "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah...Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!"(9:29-30). Furthermore, "O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust" (5:51). Mohamed Ghabour from USA September 23rd, 2006 I liked the article a lot. I lived in Egypt although I haven't seen Saint Catharine Monastry. If I did I would have loved to have photographed the original covenant. In the last paragraph of the article the author didn't literally mean signed by Prophet Mohammad", did he? The prophet was illiterate. David from USA September 23rd, 2006 You know, all this Christian talk you guys are talking about is a bunch of retoric and non existant. One says the West is afraid of Muslims waging wars on Christians. Where did you learn that from? the President of Iran? You people think west = Christians and east = Muslim. You need to be more educated than that. Have any of you ever been to the States? You should know that America is made up of many people with many different creeds. The majority of USA politicians aren't even Christians, especially the Democrats. So it is irrigant to say that Christians wage war against Muslims, as you think that Christians have invaded Iraq. From what I see, Muslim is Muslim worst enemy. My example, Iraq. So where do you get off believing these propaganda lies that there is some great religious war going on? It makes no sense to me. Abdullah Faizullah from Islamistan September 22nd, 2006 There is no doubt about the fact that the muslims must respect the christian community, as our beloved prophet had told us so. During that time they were christians (ahlal kitab) Times have changed and so has their religion. Most of the people have added new rules and etc. And the bases of their religion have been altered. They have been brainwashed and are commiting/provoking evil towards the muslim generation. Unfortunately many have been misled including their jewish partners. In such cases jihad is necessary and it is sad that muslims like us are sitting here while our brothers in palestine, afghanistan , chechnya are suffering due to their evils. MAY ALLAH GUIDE ALL MANKIND TO THE RIGHT PATH AND HELP US MUSLIMS FROM THE OPRESSION OF THOSE WHO OPRESS. AMEEN Sr. Mariam from USA September 21st, 2006 I would love to see a book (in English) of all the treaties and agreements the Prophet made in the order in which they happened with a parallel timeline of what verses were being revealed. If one exists already, I'd like to know the name. The Prophet's God-given wisdom,knowledge, and fairness in applying Islam to his contemporary circumstances is unmatched by anyone else. His ability to solve complex political problems is unrivaled. It's too bad more leaders don't model themselves after him. Kris from Malaysia September 21st, 2006 Assalamualaikum wrbt. and greetings to all. I have given my various responses to the views of the non Muslim e-mail writers in the other articles particularly the one on " Pope's speech on faith and reason " and I shall give mine here. Of course I don't have to repeat the events that led to anger in the Muslim world. And the Pope has apologises many times, explaining that he has the highest respect for Islam. A lot of water has flown under the bridge these past few weeks, but on the same score I believe that Muslims should accept the pontiff's apology in good faith. On the view that Islam was spread by the sword, I had replied and rebutted these many times earlier in my e-mail responses in the previous article of " Pope's speech on faith and reason ". If we trace back through the pages of the world history, we can see that the emergence of other empires after the Muslim empire which had used equal force as well. There is a saying that " The sun never sets in the British empire ". The British had extended their empires deep in the far East, until the Pacific and the Indian ocean. Along with their system of government, they brought their gospel as well. In fact in some countries, the education system were styled on the Anglican faith, churches and missionaries schols were constructed to meet this end. The Portuguese and the Dutch did the same. And so do the Spanish, when they went on an expansionary mission to South America. They searched for " gold and glory " while spreading their gospel to the Incans and the Mayans as well. Why is it then that it was only the expansion of the Muslim empire that met a bias perception i.e the view that just because Islamic empire expanded then the Islamic faith was said to be spread by force ? I am not saying that Christianity was spread by cannons and guns but if we are to apply the same standards from factual history, then that must be so the case too. I shall write more later. Wassalam, Haroun Ibrahim Aliyu from Nigeria September 21st, 2006 Alhamdullilah for this informative piece. More of this should be tranlated and made available for both the Muslims and non muslims to further indicate the favour of been a muslim and need to properly understand the beauty of islam. May Allah continue to protect and guide us all. massalam Omar from malaysia September 20th, 2006 to Mr.Tom No. it's not actions of Islams now. it's just the reaction for the Pope's wrong Actions. Sonu from US September 20th, 2006 There are so many things not being handled correctly, it's difficult to know where to start. The Pope, representing the entire Catholic faith, should have had more sensibility than to make a statement as condescending and ignorant as he did. At the same time, those who were outraged by his words and used vandalism as an outlet for their anger only made the Pope's statement seem valid to the rest of the world. Although the Pope triggered the uproar, everybody is at fault, in my opinion. This article should be circulated further to spread the awareness of Islam in its true essence: a religion of Peace and Tolerance. SAMRINA from UNITED STATES September 19th, 2006 I definitely feel that the pope should have a higher responsibility in choosing the correct verbage for his speeches. His comments are frightening because they come at a sensitive time period in the world, with the events unfolding in the middle east. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) protected the rights of those of other religions, and if the pope would've read his letter, perhaps he would've had a different opinion. All this does is awakens us to the realization that everyone, including the pope is a victim of ignorance, and sadder yet holds such power and influence. We all need to be better educated about the religions of the world. Butool Saba from USA September 19th, 2006 This is a very informative piece that more non-Muslims and the Pope should read. This article and its contents contain, yet again, more proof of the truth of Islam and it's beloved prophet. Thank you very much. Aslam Abdullah from USA September 19th, 2006 I have recently finished compiling a book in English on letters and treaties of Prophet Muhammad. The book is under print and hopefully, in the first week of Ramadan would be available. Those interested to purchase a copy may contact Islamicity's bazar or [email protected]. aak from USA September 19th, 2006 All of the prophet Muhammad (S) letters written to the emperors during his time should be translated in Italian or the language of the VAtican church and send to the hatred-filled Pope who with his absolutely unchristian like behaviour is bringing hatred instead of peace. Christianity has always preached love and now this Pope is preaching anti-semitism and hatred towards muslims. Tom from Australia September 19th, 2006 Interesting article, however I wish it was true that actions by muslims are wise, however I see that angry muslims in Gaza have tried to burn churches after the Popes speech. The pope did appoligise for for the anger that resulted from his speech. Well part of the Popes speech was he condemed that there are those in the Islamic faith that use violecne to spread its faith. Well I believe that is true if you take Sudan today, with the Goverment waging Jihad against predomically non muslim population of the south. khan from USA September 19th, 2006 I do not think that he is fit for spiritual Catholic leader as Pope, His background and statements should have been checked. 1)He was in Nazi's Hitler's youth army but developed warmth towards Jews lately(shifting his hatred towards Muslims). 2)In his welcome address and ceremony he adrressed by calling Fellow Catholics,other christians and Jews(did not mention Muslims). 3)He made statement that Islam had difficulty in adapting to modern life. 4)he opposed the admission of Turkey into EU saying ,Turkey is secular but muslim and should seek its future in association of Islamic Nations as EU has Christian roots, that its admission would be a grave error against the tide of history. I got all these from reliable western websites (eg.bbc news and other).Just type his name or Nazi Pope and click search) He was purposely elected by western governments- warleader/warlovers looking his past,so he can join neoconservative evangelists and join the war on Islam. He must apolagise and make a statement in mass and in the same place that he said was not true and he takes full responsibilty for reading such quotes. .. Tim from USA September 19th, 2006 I really enjoyed the article. It speaks well for the Islamic faith. However, I do not see the practice of the faith being equal charge contained in the words written. To the contrary, I see a great religion without great leaders. The leaders I see are leading the followers down a road of depair and destruction. Is there no one to stand in the gap? Is there no one to come forth and call the faithful back to commandments charged in this and other writings of Islam. I fear that the radical leaders in the muslim world will get their wish. A war that will result in unthinkable losses. Many in the west do not think those of the Muslim faith are sincere in their condemnation of the radicals. When we see more outrage for something a man says in Italy than than constant killing of women and children on the streets of Bagdad, we think you don't really care about things that really count and are just looking for a reason to fight. Is that true? Words won't convince me! Your deeds will!? You ask others to understand muslim sensibilities. Understand that those from whom you wish understanding have the same desire to be understood. If a person has no intent to offend and apolpgizes for the offense, then they should be forgiven. I believe the failure to forgive is itself an offense. Nasir A from US September 19th, 2006 The Pope should have heard this document before speaking about the Prophet and Islam. Christians beleive that Muslims are againist their religion because the current conflicts that have brought on Muslims. May Allah help us and guidance us. Ahmed from Australia September 19th, 2006 This is superb peice of history and must be published in order the world to know the truth. So it has to be published to all western newspapers who seeks truth and even in the muslim world media, becuase most of us may never know if such history and documenation like this are still available. Jazakalah taji from united States September 19th, 2006 we aneed to have a unified effort to print this great document. and our umma lived by it as well. hanifa from In September 19th, 2006 pope's statment is more than a slander!! slander is more cruel than killing and I am sure if he could have known what Muhammad was and if had a commod sense, he should have been ashamed of what he did. I dont need his apology..but to God..coz he has insulted God's religion. he could erase christians's sins but he is human can error everytime. it doesnt mean he is always right!!! Mohd haneef Yusoff from Malaysia September 19th, 2006 Jihad becomes mandatory when Muslim lives are killed, Muslims wealth are destroyed and Muslims border invaded. This is Allah's law and it applies to all human being. Will a Christian remain silent when Christians are killed, their wealth destroyed and borders invaded? Jihad is perfectly alright in every single sense. Mohd Haneef Yusoff from Malaysia September 19th, 2006 The only question all human being should ask is: Did God sent 124000 messengers and prophets, including Ibrahim, Musa, Isa and Muhammad to preach and invite humanity to 124000 religions each with it's own God? The Quran, true to it's worth, described about all the same religion brought by all the Prophets. I would like to invite every breathing Christians today to listen to this verse from the Quran about what "true" Jesus said. I want every Christian to read it with an open heart and repent. 5:72 They do blaspheme who say: "(Allah) is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. Everything avbout Christianity brought by Jesus is in the Quran. It is documented and proven. Abdul Karim Nasih from Afghanistan September 19th, 2006 Pope must not speech about those things what he doesn't know. He has to say sorry for that. Otherwaise it will heavly affect on them. Babandi A. Gumel from U.K September 18th, 2006 Well it is very unfortunate the sort of either slip of tongue or ranting whatever you may call it coming from the Pope will do no good for religious harmony,but at least now he has realised his mistakes therefore not infallible as he wants his followers to note.No body can dishnour the Prophet whether Jesus,Moses or Muhammad Abraham or any of the chosen Prophets of Allah and went silently without slighting his honour.Hitherto this controversial quotation by his Holiness he was respected by millions of Muslims now that respect is unfortunately dwindling unlike the previous Pope who had good relations with the Muslims.Anyhow is a lesson to all Prophet is Prophet he was Prophet in his time even 1400 years after his demise he remains a Prophet his names is being mentioned millions times everyday in every mosques of the world five times during the call of Azan when every Muazzin bears witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah so no body can take away that respect which Allah has given him.Although they want blot the light of Allah with their mouths but Allah will go with his light even if the rejecters of faith detest it.As far as I am concerned this is the first time a Pope has ever apologised for what he said so therefore we should move forward,forgive and forget,may Allah give him Hidayah he and his followers but at least this incident taught every one a lesson Muslims and non Muslims alike.They say respect begets respect so we must learn to respect one another.Maassalam. Ahmed Alauddin from canada September 18th, 2006 I suggest that this article should be published in TIME msagazine. This and similar articles need to be published in the magazines and websites generally read by non muslims. For now, this article, considering the present situation, is top priority to be published in TIME and other similar magazines. Thanks. saleem from usa September 18th, 2006 Still west is afraid of muslims waging Jihad against Christianity. this will never happen. but there will always be resistance to foreign occupation from the natives. no matter who is who. muslims are waiting for Jesus (PBUH) to come back and will join him and stand with him. Last time Jews gave him lot of suffering and got his buddies killed, but everyone should be confident that when Jesus (PBUH) comes this time 1.3 billion strong muslim world will be with him and will not let anyone hurt him a bit. cheers... Jan from usa September 18th, 2006 To the Westerners - both policy makers and their religious leaders, moral imperatives are no longer important. What is important is empire building for economical and political domination of the world. They really don't care about human rights of the weaker nations - in fact, they play a direct or indirect role in the suppression of democracy. They support the corrupt, secular and authoritarian regimes so long as they enlist as their agents. They practice double standards and by their policies exhibit nothing but sheer hypocrisy. It is futile for Muslims to look up to the West or expect the Westerners to change their ways or approach. We Muslims must work in unison towards getting our act together and getting our religious belief into practice. Our religious and community leaders should stop wasting time and energy on White House Iftar parties and photo-ops at the Interfaith junkets - instead they should speak out for truth and justice. And when moral imperatives are no longer important - it is futile to expect from the West's political or religious leaders to change their outlook towards practicing Muslims in particular and other practicing religious communities in general. Mike from USA September 18th, 2006 The Pope is only infallible on matters of faith an morals in leading the Church. The office of the Pope we believe is directly from the Apostle Peter whom Christ left the Church to and promised the Holy Spirit will guide in "all truth". A Pope is not just "infallible" as in a perfect person. MANY Popes have made serious mistakes and behaved badly. However event he Popes I would call tyrants did NOT change doctrine of teh Catholic Church. There is a HUGE misunderstanding of what infallibility means for the Pope. It is for the holder of the office of Pope not necesarily the person. It is how we can be sure what we are taught is truth and free from doctrinal error.