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The Covenants of the Prophet: Read an Excerpt
Doubtless, the promise of protection until the Day of Judgment was contingent upon the Christians upholding their side of the bargain. If they rebelled against Islamic rule, if they aided and abetted the enemies of Islam, such as the Crusaders, or, more recently, European colonizers, and American imperialists, the covenant would no longer apply to them and would be effectively annulled. This is not to suggest that the covenant is currently null and void or that it represents a missed opportunity which cannot be recovered; the fact is, it has been largely adhered to for more than a millennium. Nor does this imply that the Prophet was oblivious to the flaws and devilish nature of men. It remains, as always, a model for relations between Muslims and Christians and the basis on which to build bridges. It is the foundational stepping-stone for all negotiations, treaties, and accords between Muslims and Christians.
Although many Christian communities violated their oaths, the monks of Mount Sinai have always maintained the utmost respect for Muhammad. Not only have they upheld the covenant made with the Prophet, they have cherished it always as their most valued possession. In a recent statement, the Monastery of Saint Catherine had this to say about the Prophet Muhammad, his contacts with the monks of Mount Sinai, and the covenant he concluded with them:
According to the tradition preserved at Sinai, Muhammad (AS) both knew and visited the monastery and the Sinai fathers. The Koran makes mention of the Sinai holy sites. In the second year of the Hegira, corresponding to ad 626, a delegation from Sinai requested a letter of protection from Muhammad (S). This was granted, and authorized by him when he placed his hand upon the document. In AD 1517, Sultan Selim I confirmed the monastery's prerogatives, but took the original letter of protection for safekeeping to the royal treasury in Constantinople. At the same time, he gave the monastery certified copies of this document, each depicting the hand print of Muhammad (S) in token of his having touched the original. (Sinai Monastery)
Considering that the Monastery of Saint Catherine contains the largest collection of Christian documents and codices after the Vatican Library, and is described as a "veritable conservatory of the Christian Orient" (Géhin 163), the library at Mount Sinai is precisely the place where one would expect to find a priceless document like the Patent or Covenant of Muhammad.
While Muslims and Christians may differ on certain issues, they largely agree on the content of the covenant. Besides the monks of Mount Sinai, the authenticity of the Patent of Muhammad has been attested to by John Davenport in his Apology for Mohammed and the Koran (148). For Davenport, "[t]he . . . facts and arguments" contained in the covenant "will, it is presumed, suffice to convince every candid and unprejudiced mind that this second charge against Mohammed," namely, the allegation that Islam was propagated by the sword, causing an enormous waste of human blood, and a vast amount of human misery, "being utterly devoid of foundation, is, therefore, both false and scandalous" (151). In fact, the authenticity of The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Monks of Mount Sinai has been recognized by a long list of Muslim scholars, including, Dr. A. Zahoor, Dr. Z. Haq, Dr. Muqtedar Khan, Dr. Reza Shah-Kazemi, and endorsed by numerous Islamic associations such as the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. Such is the example of true Christian-Muslim relations.