Prophet Muhammad's Promise to Christians


Muslims and Christians together constitute over fifty percent of the world and if they lived in peace, we will be half way to world peace. One small step that we can take towards fostering Muslim-Christian harmony is to tell and retell positive stories and abstain from mutual demonization.
In this article I propose to remind both Muslims and Christians about a promise that Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) made to Christians. The knowledge of this promise can have enormous impact on Muslim conduct towards Christians. Muslims generally respect the precedent of their Prophet and try to practice it in their lives. 

In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine's Monastery came to Prophet Muhammed and requested his protection. He responded by granting them a charter of rights, which I reproduce below in its entirety. St. Catherine's Monastery is located at the foot of Mt. Sinai and is the world's oldest monastery. It possess a huge collection of Christian manuscripts, second only to the Vatican, and is a world heritage site. It also boasts the oldest collection of Christian icons. It is a treasure house of Christian history that has remained safe for 1400 years under Muslim protection. 

The Promise to St. Catherine:

"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 first and the final sentence of the charter are critical. They make the promise eternal and universal. Muhammed asserts that Muslims are with Christians near and far straight away rejecting any future attempts to limit the promise to St. Catherine alone. By ordering Muslims to obey it until the Day of Judgment the charter again undermines any future attempts to revoke the privileges. These rights are inalienable. Muhammed declared Christians, all of them, as his allies and he equated ill treatment of Christians with violating God's covenant.
A remarkable aspect of the charter is that it imposes no conditions on Christians for enjoying its privileges. It is enough that they are Christians. They are not required to alter their beliefs, they do not have to make any payments and they do not have any obligations. This is a charter of rights without any duties!

The document is not a modern human rights treaty but even thought it was penned in 628 A.D. it clearly protects the right to property, freedom of religion, freedom of work, and security of the person.

I know most readers, must be thinking so what? Well the answer is simple. Those who seek to foster discord among Muslims and Christians focus on issues that divide and emphasize areas of conflict. But when resources such as Muhammad's promise to Christians is invoked and highlighted it builds bridges. It inspires Muslims to rise above communal intolerance and engenders good will in Christians who might be nursing fear of Islam or Muslims.

When I look at Islamic sources, I find in them unprecedented examples of religious tolerance and inclusiveness. They make me want to become a better person. I think the capacity to seek good and do good inheres in all of us. When we subdue this predisposition towards the good, we deny our fundamental humanity. In this holiday season, I hope all of us can find time to look for something positive and worthy of appreciation in the values, cultures and histories of other peoples.

Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and a fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding., www.ijtihad.org


Related posts from similar topics:


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.

  18 Comments   Comment

  1. Kim from USA

    I LOVE this article...reinforces for me what I know to be true. We are all God's people and we need to treat eachother as such with respect, kindness and tolerance.

  2. Saahir from Philippines

    i'am for peace that's why i believe that'if these two Abrahamic faith will unite' trully it is a miracle' a world peace Inshallah

  3. Roger Smith from Canada

    Dr Khan's example of St Catherine's letter is misleading and unfortunate. Dr Khan must surely be aware that scholarly opinion does not regard this document as genuine. It is almost certainly a forgery, created to bolster the security of the Christian monks of the Mount Sinai Monastry. This is why the document no longer exists in its original form: there never was an original letter. In reality the very existence of this document is evidence of the fear under which the monks have lived, as are the impregnable walls of the monastery building itself.

    Dr Khan must also be aware that this letter is in conflict at several points with classical Islamic sources, including the Koran.

    Dr Khan asserts, on the basis of the Mt Sinai letter, that Christians 'do not have to make any payments' for living in peace with Muslims. However he does not mention that the Koran commands the imposition of a tax (known as jizya) upon conquered non-Muslims (Sura 9:29), and this was incorporated into Islamic law. Also, although the letter states that Christians were to be allowed to repair their churches, the orthodox Islamic position was that churches were not allowed to be repaired after conquest. This was based upon the Pact of Umar, which has been relied upon by many great Muslim commentators and jurists. Dr Khan's evident good will and positive story, it is the authority of the Koran and accepted sources such as the Pact of Umar which have shaped Islamic law and affected the destiny.

  4. Roger Smith from Canada

    Why Islamicity does not provide the source of this information. This is urgent. Is it Islamicity is compromising her traditional neutral base to justify thing to please others or what? Please provide the source say Sorry to readers for midguiding us. The Almighty One knows the truth.

  5. Imran Khan S from india

    In your article you have mentioned "...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..." this message. Do you know that muslims cannot marry jews or christians? Dont spread wrong messages. Knowning one hadith will not make you noble. Learn from good Aalim and sequences of hadiths. But I accept that, christians and all have their own religious rights.

  6. farooke from singapore

    all our prophets words been recorded as hadiths in texts such as bhuhari , muslim, thimithi, ahmad etc.. can you pls tell me where did such a promise was made by our beloved prophet pls? which text? which verse? which vol?

  7. halim from malaysia

    Muslims must limit the tolorence to others. Do not over doing it. The west also limit their tolerence towards Muslims. In Swisszerland muslims must not be allowed to build the minerats for azan call. In Malaysia Christians are now trying to use the word Allah SWT as the god in Churches. The Christians feel Jesus no longer fit to be mentioned. Muslims are thinking about tolerence, Christians are fowarding provocations...

  8. Dawood Haq from USA

    Clifford, it is because they are bisobedient to their own religion. In a lot of places,tribal and political affiliation is their religion but they put up a false facade that fools no one, let alone Allah.

  9. Teslim Alghali from Sierra Leone

    Assalamualaikum,

    The article is good to promote interfaith dialogue which is vital in today's age. I do know that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) lived amicably with the jews and christians in the Medina society so why cant we interact today.

    Is such a message found in any hadiths by the reporters?

  10. Juan from USA

    This writer cant provide where he got this idea from? I will appreaciate if you can provide source(s). I have been reading Ahadith for years and have never came across such thing as prophet Muhammad(saw) claimed to allegiance to christianity or ally with them. This statement contradicts Quran in all respect. Please provide the source of this so called "Prophet Muhammad's Propmise to Christians".

    I will truly appreciate that. This article is a form of compromise

    Wasalam Alaikun

  11. Yohan from Bhutan

    II have concluded that my Christianity is much the same in physical look to that of Islam. My Christianity is not just confessing sins and continuing therein but forsaking them and practicing to live in obedience to the divine commands of our Lord and Savior God. And so is Islam, I suppose. It is easy task to list similarities between Christianity and Islam. Simply that we do not have to profess a prophet in Christianity!! It is enough to observe the ordinances of the men of God.

    Few contrasts at the fundamental level relating to the person of Jesus Christ make the two people suspicious against each other, for corrupting each other. But even in this, agreement to the source of revealed Scriptures brings the full settlement of suspicion and disputes arising thereby so that one is not made to look at the other as defender and savior but each is neighbor to the other with obligation to one another to live in harmony and peace. Peace.

  12. Yohan from Bhutan

    I have concluded that my Christianity is much the same in physical look to that of Islam. My Christianity is not just confessing sins and continuing therein but forsaking them and practicing to live in obedience to the divine commands of our Lord and Savior God. And so is Islam, I suppose. It is easy task to list similarities between Christianity and Islam.

    Few contrasts at the fundamental level relating to the person of Jesus Christ make the two suspicious against each other. But even in this, agreement to the source of revealed Scriptures brings the full settlement of suspicion and disputes arising thereby so that one is not made to look at the other as defender and savior but each is a neighbor to the other with obligation to one another to live in peace. Peace.

  13. Clifford Ishii from USA

    Why are Christians attacked by Muslims in Muslim countries for practicing their religion?

  14. Khalid from US

    I have one request for Dr. Muqtedar Khan, whenever you write the name of Prophet Muhammed Peace be upon him, please just don't write Muhammed. please write it with the prefix of Prophet and suffix of Peace be upon him. Give him his due respect.

  15. cherif from uk

    Assalamu aleikum and thank you for the article.

    Something fundamental is glaringly missing here:

    references of the charter sources. Where does the

    author find this incident and charter? I have been

    reading the hadith and islamic history but have

    never come across this saying of the prophet peace

    be upon him. Besides, mount Sinai was not under

    muslim control at the time of the prophet pbuh.

    This calls for a clear and comprehensive

    explanation.

    Jazaka Allah kheir

    Cherif

  16. Kashif from Canada

    Assalamua'aikum,

    I would love to get emailed([email protected])the Arabic or directed to an online Arabic copy of this letter. It would be great for Interfaith Dialogue and respect promoting purposes.

    A wonderful article.

  17. Mairaj Khan from United States

    As Muslims, we need to be at the forefront of religious tolerance, it

    is our example that should trigger the curiosity of others and

    encourage them to seek the truth about our beautiful religion.