Delivered at the Interfaith Banquet at the 54th ISNA Convention in Chicago, Illinois, on Sunday, July 2, 2017, in the presence of over two hundred interfaith and government leaders from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities.
A‘udhu billahi min al-Shaytan al-rajim. Bismillah al-Rahim al-Rahim. Alhamdulillahi rabb al-‘alamin. Salawatu wa salaam ‘ala al-nabi al-karim, Muhammad al-Amin, wa ‘ala alihi wa sahbibi ajma‘in.
I take refuge in Allah from Satan, the Rejected. In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessings be upon the noble prophet, Muhammad, the Truthful and the Trustworthy, as well as all of Family and Companions.
WA QUL: JA’A AL-HAQQU WA ZAHAQA AL-BATILU; INNA AL-BATILU KANA ZAHUQAN
AND SAY: “TRUTH HATH COME AND FALSEDHOOD HATH VANISHED AWAY. LO! FALSEHOOD IS EVER BOUND TO VANISH.” (17:81)
I begin with words of thanks and gratitude to Almighty Allah, glorified and exalted be He, to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, to Dr. Kareem Irfan, to President Azhar Azeez, to Dr. Mohamed El-Sanousi, to Sayyidah Catherine Osborne, to Sidi Farooq Kathwari, to Sayyidah Katherine Lohre, to Bishop Jake, to Bishop Burkat, to Bishop Miller, to Imam Anwar, to Bishop Eaton, to Dr. Sayyid Syeed, and to all our friends and supporters for the amazing work that they have done, and continue to do, in the path of Humanity and the Divinity. Congratulations to you all for your accomplishments. Please give them a round of applause.
I have been invited to comment upon the Covenants Initiative, an international movement of Muslims committed to spreading the letters, treaties, and covenants of the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and his faithful companions.
The Covenants of the Prophet are found in Jewish, Samaritan, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Muslim sources. They are found in books of hadith, books of Qur’anic commentary, books of Islamic jurisprudence, and books of history. They also survive in ancient manuscripts that were passed down over the past 1400 years. They are like gold nuggets in a sandy river. They are like diamonds among stones.
The first scholar to compile the letters, treaties, and covenants of the Prophet into a single source was Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah in Majmu‘ah al-Watha’iq al-Siyasiyyah fi al-‘ahd al-nabawi. The second scholar to study these documents in detail was Ayatullah Ahmadi Minyaji in his Matakib al-Rasul. These works were published in the middle of the 20th century. They were familiar to some scholars and specialists; however, most were unfamiliar with them and virtually no lay Muslims had ever heard of them.
It was only with the publication of The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World in 2013 that knowledge of the letters, treaties, and covenants of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, truly became widespread throughout the world. Thanks to the Covenants Initiative, and all its partners, the foremost of which is ISNA, the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the People of the Book came out of scholarly obscurity and have now become a powerful global force with serious socio-political and spiritual consequences. The Covenants are now available in English, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic, as well as a dozen other major world languages. We are spearheading a dozen different initiatives to disseminate them.
Since its publication, this book and the movement it sparked has been the subject of over 600 articles, including one in Forbes magazine in May of this year, as well as numerous video, radio, and television speeches and interviews. The Covenants Initiative has been signed by prominent Muslim scholars and leaders from many parts of the world, including influential figures from al-Azhar University.
The Covenants of the Prophet with the Christians of the World has been featured on the website of Ayatullah Khamenei, the Leader of Iran, and garnered support from Francis, Pope of Rome; Bartholomew, the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch; Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem; the Holy Fathers from Mount Sinai and Simonopetras, along with many other religious leaders, including Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad were invoked in the House of Lords in London in the summer of 2014. In Autumn of 2015, the Covenants Initiative sponsored a petition, the Genocide Initiative, to have the actions of ISIS declared “genocide” and “war crimes,” which -- as confirmed by an article in Stars and Stripes -- was one of the factors leading to the unanimous passage by the House of Representatives of the Fortenberry Resolution, and the subsequent statement to the same effect by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The Covenants of the Prophet, which includes the Covenant of Medina, were factors that contributed to the Marrakesh Declaration in January of 2016, reaffirming the traditional rights of religious minorities in Muslim lands. They are being used by Muslim and non-Muslim groups across planet Earth for interfaith work and counter-radicalization.
In April of 2016, I was honored to receive an Interfaith Leadership Award from the Islamic Society of North America and was part of a delegation of Muslim leaders who met with senior administrators in the Obama White House. The Covenants Initiative has advised the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. The Covenants Initiative has advised religious and political leaders from dozens of different countries. The Covenants Initiative has advised the Obama administration and admonished the Trump administration. Yes, you heard me, admonished the Trump administration. We are doing our very best to share the concerns of the Muslim Community with the current President of the United States. As Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “Indeed, We have sent you, [O Muhammad], with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a warner, and you will not be asked about the companions of Hellfire” (2:119). Our duty is to warn. We are obliged to engage. We must speak truth to power. Come what may.
To sum up, since its inception, the movement begun by The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World has become an international phenomenon in the Muslim world. There is no better sign of its global influence than the fact that, after the recent Takfiri attack on the Catholic Cathedral in the Philippines, the Covenants of the Prophet were immediately cited by no fewer than seven news outlets on the island of Mindanao as proof that the attack was un-Islamic. Muslim leaders from Mindanao, both political and religious, all invoked the Covenants of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
Alhamdulillah, praise be to Allah, the Covenants of the Prophet have become common knowledge. Let us honor them for as Almighty Allah warns in the Glorious Qur’an: “And those who break the covenant of Allah after ratifying it, and sever that which Allah hath commanded should be joined, and make mischief in the earth: theirs is the curse and theirs the ill abode” (13:25).
I send you greetings of peace from a man of peace, a religion of peace, and a people of peace: and social justice: Al-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you all.