This Seems Like a Promising Effort

The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World

Now that Christians are being persecuted in their most ancient lands, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World could not be more timely. The Prophet’s treaties with Christians, which Dr. John Andrew Morrow has rediscovered in obscure collections and often newly translated—providing also powerful arguments for their validity—uniformly state that Muslims are not to attack peaceful Christian communities but defend them “until the End of the World.” The “Covenants Initiative” within the book represents a movement by Muslims, both prominent and unknown, in support of Christians under attack. These treaties, authored by Muhammad himself, desperately need to be better known among Christians, Muslims, and the general public.
(View the Covenants and the Initiative at

“This narrative has the power to unite Muslim and Christian communities. A work of scholarship, its release is timely, and its content critical in fostering mutual respect and religious freedom.”—IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF, Chairman, Cordoba Initiative

“In his indispensable contribution to the study of the Abrahamic faiths, John Andrew Morrow tells the story of how the Prophet Muhammad used his desert experiences of hospitality and protection to bring Muslims and Christians together. Morrow quotes the Prophet’s instruction—as relevant today as in his time: ‘With the People of the Book there is to be no strife.’”—JOSEPH HOBBS, University of Missouri

“These letters from the Prophet Muhammad to Christian communities can serve to inspire both Muslims and Christians about our ability to live together as God’s people, as friends, as neighbors, and as custodians of the same small planet.”—OMID SAFI, University of North Carolina

“A useful source for all those interested in the cultural and religious history of the Muslim world and the cultural relationship between Islam and Christianity. It will be very helpful in strengthening tolerance, goodwill, and better understanding between different civilizations; and it opens new horizons for further studies.”—AIDA GASIMOVA, Baku State University

“With painstaking effort and much dedication invested in this groundbreaking work, Professor Morrow will surely manage to attract the attention of Islamic studies students and specialists. Indeed, the book is a genuine call for reconsidering the relationship among the three revealed Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”—AMAR SELLAM, Mohamed I University

“This book documents what is possibly the third foundational source of Islam: the Prophet’s treaties and covenants among people of the Abrahamic faiths. Dr. Morrow brings forth exceptionally important findings that dictate peaceful coexistence among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and includes multiple translations for comparison of how the Prophet and his followers treated Christians and Jews with respect and care, far beyond a mere tolerance.”—BRIDGET BLOMFIELD, University of Nebraska

“These covenants are not merely historical documents; they remain valid, binding covenants for all Muslims from the moment of their inception until the end of time. Dr. Morrow’s work has illuminated a new horizon of Islamic public international law and promotes further scholarly investigation of the covenants.”—HISHAM M. RAMADAN, S.J.D., Kwantlen Polytechnic University

“The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad is a timely, pioneering, and penetrating study that sheds much light on the thoughts and the policy of the Prophet Muhammad.”
—MOHAMED ELKOUCHE, Mohamed I University

JOHN ANDREW MORROW completed his Honors BA, MA, and PhD at the University of Toronto, as well as post-doctoral studies in Arabic in Morocco and at the University of Utah’s Middle East Center. Besides his academic training, he has also completed the full cycle of traditional Islamic seminary studies. He has served as a faculty member and administrator at numerous colleges and universities, and has authored and edited many books, including the Encyclopedia of Islamic Herbal Medicine (McFarland, 2011), Religion and Revolution: Spiritual and Political Islam in Ernesto Cardenal (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), and Islamic Images and Ideas: Essays on Sacred Symbolism (McFarland, 2013).

Islam is not going away anytime soon. So while I am all for evangelizing Islam (and this is, in fact, happening in unprecedented ways in our time, due to both Christian creativity and to the inevitable mixing of cultures that comes of mass global communications), I am also in favor of whatever intiatives can be taken so that Muslims are put in touch with the more benign features of their own tradition and made less sympathetic to the extreme, crazy, and murderous aspects of it. What Catholics often forget is that we are the weirdo in the larger religious picture of things in that we have an actual Magisterium that says, “This is Catholic, that is not.” Most religious traditions, including the other two Abrahamic religions Judaism and Islam (not to mention the myriad protestantisms) have no Magisterium. They just have whatever the loudest voice, strongest arm, biggest subculture or most money *say* is the essence of their Tradition. And even in a Magisterial Church like ours, powerful sociological and political forces can drive a lot of people to ignore the teaching of the Magisterium when it is inconvenient. Same with Islam. Radical Islam’s main targets are typically *other Muslims*, which means there is a war on for what “Islam” means. On the whole, I’d just as soon have Muslims around me saying “The Prophet said to defend the Christians” than the ones who think they please Allah by acts of mass murder. And one of the best recruiting tools the radical nutjobs have are things like indiscriminate drone strikes on innocent Muslims, aided and abetted by a mentality that says, “They’re all the same!”

No. They are not:

In the name of the compassionate and merciful God,

Ragheed, my brother,

I ask your forgiveness for not being with you when those criminals opened fire against you and your brothers. The bullets that have gone through your pure and innocent body have also gone through my heart and soul.

You were one of the first people I met when I arrived to Rome. We met in the halls of the Angelicum and we would drink our cappuccino in the university’s cafeteria. You impressed me with your innocence, joy, your pure and tender smile that never left you.

I always picture you smiling, joyful and full of zest for life. Ragheed is to me innocence personified; a wise innocence that carries in its heart the sorrows of his unhappy people. I remember the time, in the university’s dining room, when Iraq was under embargo and you told me that the price of a single cappuccino would have satisfied the needs of an Iraqi family for a whole day.

You told me this as if you were feeling guilty for being far away from your persecuted people and unable to share in their sufferings …

In fact, you returned to Iraq, not only to share the suffering and destiny of your people but also to join your blood to the blood of thousands of Iraqis killed each day. I will never forget the day of your ordination [Oct. 13, 2001] in the [Pontifical] Urbanian University … with tears in your eyes, you told me: “Today, I have died to self” … a hard thing to say.

I didn’t understand it right away, or maybe I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. … But today, through your martyrdom, I have understood that phrase. … You have died in your soul and body to be raised up in your beloved, in your teacher, and so that Christ would be raised up in you, despite the sufferings, sorrows, despite the chaos and madness.

In the name of what god of death have they killed you? In the name of which paganism have they crucified you? Did they truly know what they were doing?

O God, we don’t ask you for revenge or retaliation. We ask you for victory, a victory of justice over falsehood, life over death, innocence over treachery, blood over the sword. … Your blood will not have been shed in vain, dear Ragheed, because with it you have blessed the soil of your country. And from heaven, your tender smile will continue to light the darkness of our nights and announce to us a better tomorrow.

I ask your forgiveness, brother, for when the living get together they think they have all the time in the world to talk, visit, and share feelings and thoughts. You had invited me to Iraq … I dreamed of that visit, of visiting your house, your parents, your office. … It never occurred to me that it would be your tomb that one day I would visit or that it would be verses from my Quran that I would recite for the repose of your soul …

One day, before your first trip to Iraq after a prolonged absence, I went with you to buy souvenirs and presents for your family. You spoke with me of your future work: “I would like to preside over the people on the base of charity before justice” — you said.

It was difficult for me to imagine you a “canonical judge” … And today your blood and your martyrdom have spoken for you, a verdict of fidelity and patience, of hope against all suffering, of survival, in spite of death, in spite of everything.

Brother, your blood hasn’t been shed in vain, and your church’s altar wasn’t a masquerade. … You assumed your role with deep seriousness until the end, with a smile that would never be extinguished … ever.

Your loving brother,

Adnam Mokrani
Rome, June 4, 2007
Professor of Islamic Studies in the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture,
Pontifical Gregorian University

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  • Rachel

    This is a good effort. God bless them :). I have had the pleasure of getting to know two Muslim women (who are sisters) and we have been able to share many things about our different religions. I think there is a way for peace but we will have to work hard for it. There are many hateful voices on both sides and sadly they are the loudest. They are the ones who are persecuting Christians and Muslims. This is why we must pray harder for peace and reach out our arms in love to all.

    • HornOrSilk

      Exactly right, we need groups like this, which goes with what the Church teaches:

      “Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.” (Nostra Aetate).

      When I bring this up, many people respond, “Well, Muslims aren’t interested in peace, so why should we be?” I have many answers to this:

      1) Many Muslims DO want to work for peace, and if we neglect them, no peace is possible. There have been great peace makers within Islam, like Badshah Khan, who often put Christians to shame!
      2) We don’t use the example of sinners to justify our own sin and inaction. Even when many Muslims follow radical versions of Islam which are not universal nor as traditional as often supposed, we must return the love of Christ to them as well. We are the salt of the earth, after all; more is required of us because much has been given.

      • Chesire11

        We should be interested in peace because we are disciples of the Prince of Peace.

  • The greatest weapon in undermining the idea that “they are all alike” is to ask and monitor what they are. Islam is a complete system that, a century ago, underwent a radical transformation with the end of the last caliph. Islam without the caliphate headed by the caliph is something like the US without the presidency. It’s a balanced system that is missing an essential component. How could it not be unbalanced after that?

    From a US perspective, Islam was a system with just a judiciary and an executive. The legislature’s work was the Koran and the hadiths, work that was largely if not entirely completed. Now that the executive has lost its head, the only complete structure is the judiciary. We don’t know nearly enough about Islam’s judiciary to judge what parts of it can easily be worked with and what parts are dangerous to us (those would be the ones regularly passing death sentence on us).

    So how many islamic courts are there? I’ve yet to see a reliable global number. You would think this would be known.

    Out of all of those courts what portion are moderate and what part are islamist?

    How many muslims follow the islamist courts? How many follow the moderate ones?

    These should be basic questions answered long ago. After 9/11 woke us all up, they should have been answered during the first 5 years after that tragic event. So yes, this is George Bush’s fault that it wasn’t. But it’s Obama’s fault that we don’t have an answer today.

  • Sophia Perrenis/AngelicoPress

    Thank you, Mark, for sharing, and for putting this book in context. Thank you, Rachel, for your affirmation and support. For those who would like any updates, or to participate in conversations on related topics/ news, the Covenants Facebook page is here: