- "The Promise of Prophet Muhammad (pbh) to St. Catherine"
- " The Letter from Prophet Muhammad (pbh) to the Assyrian Christians"
Dr. Muqtedar Khan
( Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and a fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.)
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.
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 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to Prophet Muhammed and requested his protection.
The Prophet responded by granting them a charter of rights, which I reproduce below in its entirety.
The Monastery of St. Catherine
St. Catherine’s Monastery has survived 1,400 years largely undisturbed by winning protection from the leaders of the day.
Recognizing the site’s significance to monotheism, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) issued a written promise granting protected status to the monks under Muslim rule, as did the Crusaders, several Ottoman emperors, and, more recently, Napoleon Bonaparte.
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 are 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.
(B) A Letter from the Prophet Muhammad To The Assyrian Christians
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From Marina Mahathir
Read here for more
- A confident Muslim is unfazed by the issue of God's name. God speaks to all of humankind in the Quran and never said that only Muslims could call him by the name Allah.
- A confident Muslim has 99 names to choose from to describe that One God. My favourites are Ar-Rahman (The All-Compassionate) and Ar-Rahim (The All-Merciful).
- A confident Muslim never gets confused over which is his/her religion and which is other people's. For instance, a confident Muslim knows exactly what the first chapter of the Quran is. And it's not the Lord's Prayer.
- A confident Muslim will not walk into a church, hear a liturgy in Malay or Arabic where they use the word 'Allah' and then think that he or she is in a mosque. A confident Muslim knows the difference.
- A confident Muslim is generous, inclusive and doesn't think that his or her brethren is made exclusive through the use of a single language. The confident Muslim is well aware that in the Middle East, all services of ANY religion are in Arabic because that's what they all speak.
- A confident Muslim knows the basis of his/her faith are the five pillars of Islam and will not be shaken just because other people call God by the same name.
- A Muslim believes in only One God. Therefore it makes sense that other people should call God by the same name because there is no other God.
ART THOU NOT aware that it is God whose limitless glory all [creatures] that are in the heavens and on earth extol, even the birds as they spread out their wings? Each [of them] knows indeed how to pray unto Him and to glorify Him; and God has full knowledge of all that they do:(Surah Nour, Verse 41) (Asad)
In 2007, the Majlis Agama Negeri Perlis, which is a large majlis filled with people very learned in Islamic religious knowledge, discussed the question of the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims.
Their unanimous decision?
They issued a fatwa to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with non-Muslims using the word at all.(This was told to me by Dr. Asri but I cannot find the fatwa anywhere online because all the religious departments' websites are so useless.)