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The Covenants of the Prophet: Read an Excerpt
The fifth item promised by the Prophet was freedom of movement, a right taken for granted by many people in the world today. Yet, even in recent times, freedom of movement was not granted in most Communist countries. Even non-Communist countries, like Saudi Arabia, require its citizens to obtain permits to travel within their own homeland. In the kingdom in question, women cannot even drive much less travel without the permission of their father, husband, or senior male relatives. In Morocco, a grand taxi needs a special authorization simply to leave the outskirts of a city. Papers are routinely checked at check-points throughout the country. All entrances and exits to towns in certain regions are blocked by military check-points and barracks. One has to permanently carry identification at the risk of immediate imprisonment. The movement of people in many nations is controlled at all times. However, before the dawn of Islam, and in its early years, there was no freedom of travel or, more specifically, little assumption of safety with regard to travel. The lands were overrun with highwaymen, robbers, thieves, rapists, pillagers, murderers, and human traffickers. Consequently, the Arabs always had to be armed and travel in large groups for the purpose of protection. In lands under the rule of Islam, the Muslim State promised, and provided, protection for travelers along the vast trade and travel routes. Whether they were Jews, Christians, Muslims, or members of other faiths, the Prophet promised that "No one shall molest them when they are travelling on the road."
In item six, the Prophet provided protection to all religious establishments. "Whatever churches they are possessed of, no one is to deprive them of them." In most Communist countries, religious communities had few or no rights. In the Soviet Union and China, for example, tens of thousands of mosques were destroyed. Muslims in France are denied places of worship through deliberate governmental policies. Even in the 21st century United States, Muslims in certain areas face almost insurmountable obstacles when they apply to build mosques. In many Western countries, even those which purport to uphold "human rights" and "religious liberty," mosques have been vandalized and set ablaze while authorities turn a blind eye. The Prophet, however, personally promised to protect all places of worship. Consequently, the building of synagogues and churches actually flourished during the Golden Age of Islam. This is not to say that an Islamic State can allow prosyletization within its midst. While non-Muslims are allowed freedom of religious practice; they are not allowed to engage in missionary activity among Muslims. Nothing prevents them, however, to spread the Gospel among pagans and polytheists.
In the manner of a great teacher, the Prophet regularly repeated his most important points. Item seven is not a right: it is the repetition of his initial warning: "Whosoever shall annul any of one of these my decrees, let him know positively that he annuls the ordinance of God." As for those who pretend to be ahl al-Qur'an and yet reject the Sunnah, they should know that they stand in opposition to both. As we read in the Holy Qur'an, Muslims are obliged to obey both Allah and His Messenger (2:285; 3:32; 4:13; 4:14; 8:1; 8:20; 8:24; 8:46; 9:71; 24:51; 24:52; 33:33; 33:66; 33:71; 48:17; 49:14; 58:13; 64:12; 72:23). While the Qur'an takes precedence, and though the Sunnah must be subjected to the highest degree of scientific scrutiny, it is an obligation to follow the true traditions of the Messenger of Allah. While a majority of Muslims meticulously follow the teachings of the Prophet on a myriad of issues, many, if not most of them, have neglected his instructions concerning tolerance towards religious minorities living in their midst. If mosques were historically open to anyone interested in Islam, they are now closed to non-Muslims in many countries. If "Allah" is merely the name of the One God in Arabic, the Malaysians seek to prohibit Christians from employing it when they should be encouraging it. Rather than honor their Jewish and Christian minorities, many Muslim countries have oppressed them and expelled them. While "Islam has traditionally been tolerant of religious minorities," writes William Dalrymple, "that Islamic tradition of tolerance is today wearing distinctly thin" (19). "After centuries of generally peaceful co-existence with their Muslim neighbors," he laments, "things are suddenly becoming difficult for the last Christians of the Middle East" (19).