1st Edition

The Covenants of the Prophet Muḥammad From Shared Historical Memory to Peaceful Co-existence

    326 Pages
    by Routledge

    326 Pages
    by Routledge

    Through analysis of the Covenants of the Prophet Muḥammad, which pledge protection to diverse faith communities, this book makes a profoundly important contribution to research on early Islam by determining the Covenants’ historicity and textual accuracy.

    The authors focus on the Prophet Muḥammad’s relationship with other faith communities by conducting detailed textual and linguistic analysis of documents which have received little scholarly consideration before. This not only includes decrees of the Prophet Muḥammad, ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, and Mu‘āwiya ibn Abī Sufyān, but also of important Muslim rulers. They present their findings in relation to contemporaneous historical writings, historic testimonies, official recognition, archaeological evidence, historic scribal conventions, date-matching calculations, textual parallelisms, and references in Muslim and non-Muslim sources. They also provide new and revised translations of various Covenants issued by the Prophet Muḥammad which were attested by Muslim authorities after him. The authors argue that the claim of forgery is no longer tenable following the application of rigorous textual and historical analysis.

    This book is essential reading for Muslims, Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Zoroastrians, as well as anyone interested in interfaith relations, Islamophobia, extremist ideologies, security studies, and the relationship between Orthodox and Oriental Christianity with Islam.

    Introduction  1. The Covenants as a Shared Historical Memory  2. The Prophet's Convenant with the Monks of Mount Sinai  3. The Prophet’s Covenant with the Christians of Najrān  4. The Prophet’s Covenants with Other Christian Communities  5. Covenants with the Samaritans, the Jews, and the Magi  6. The Covenants of the Prophet during the Caliphate of ‘Umar  7. Epilogue: Developing a New Criteria for Assessing the Veracity of the Covenants


    Ibrahim Mohamed Zein is a Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion at the College of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (Doha, Qatar). He was previously Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC) at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

    Ahmed El-Wakil is a researcher on the covenants of the Prophet Muḥammad at the College of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (Doha, Qatar).

    An official endorsement was granted to the authors on 24 March 2022, in Doha, on the day that the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates St. Sophronius of Jerusalem by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Qatar:

    "This book has confirmed the stance of the Orthodox Church throughout the centuries as it concerns the authenticity of covenants of Muslim rulers issued mainly to Christian clergy, which had the purpose to protect monasteries, churches, or communities.

    The Patriarch of Jerusalem Sophronius received the covenant from Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, respected also by Ottoman rulers, which explains why a number of copies have been preserved in the official archive of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, including even micro-sized scrolls that were used by the bearers for traveling. This historical memory and experience of co-existence is maintained until today.

    Belonging to the Church of Jerusalem, I have the privilege to be consecrated as the first Archbishop of Qatar by the successor of Patriarch Sophronius, our current Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, witnessing the historical connection between the Church of Jerusalem and Qatar, and at the same time renewing and extending this shared historical memory to peaceful co-existence.

    It is a well-documented and useful book, thanks to the authors’ academic efforts, offering fruitful conclusions and a significant contribution that sheds light on a very important field for understanding the common history of co-existence between Christians and Muslims in the East."

    Archbishop Makarios of Qatar, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

    "Professor Ibrahim Zein and Ahmed El-Wakil’s book, The Covenants of the Prophet Muḥammad: From Shared Historical Memory to Peaceful Co-existence, is particularly important for many reasons. It is a work that delves into the historical sources, with a detailed examination of Islamic historical works concerned with co-existence between Christians and Muslims. These are key to understanding the historical events which took place many centuries later, for there is no Caliph or Sulṭān who did not issue fermāns recognizing the historical and religious value of the Monastery of St. Catherine in Mount Sinai, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and Mount Athos. This study sheds light on the reasons behind this protection and why it was extended over the centuries.

    Living on Mount Athos, a place exclusively dedicated to God with its 20 monasteries and theocratic status, we find the tradition of Muḥammad and the ahdnāme to be very much alive. All monasteries which have copies of the ahdnāme have preserved them with great esteem. In our time, where people can easily succumb to extremism, this book is an important reminder to return to the sources, history, and to tradition. Though there may have been conflicts, these do not define the essence of the relationship between Christians and Muslims, for there was also peace, co-existence, and mutual respect. As the pages of this study show, these are the values that reflect the Will of God. I thank the authors for this wonderful and useful work. May God bless you."

    Father Theophilos Pantokratorinos, Monastery of Pantokratoros, Mount Athos

    "This book is an important and extremely interesting contribution for the study of Islam, its traditional characteristics, its life in its earliest historical context, its relations with people of other religious traditions, especially Christians and Jews, as well as its encounter with various other people. What makes this study particularly distinct is the kind of "sources" it examines and on which it is based; something which makes the discussion about these sources, their very survival, their origin, authenticity, tradition, geography and any kind of information unveiled through them, topics of very important scholarly interest. The material is impressive; so is its treatment."

    Daniel J. Sahas, Professor Emeritus University of Waterloo, Canada

    "For its scholarship and its thoroughness of analysis, this book can open a new era in Muslim/Christian collegiality as Abrahamic Religions. This study of the covenants of the Prophet Muḥammad with Christians and other communities puts into practice and brings into our consciousness the ideals of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together issued by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, the words spoken by the Grand Ayatollah Sistani when the Pope visited him in Najaf – "You are part of us. We are part of you", and the encyclical Fratelli Tutti of Pope Francis.

    The research of Ibrahim Zein and Ahmed El-Wakil confounds intolerant hearsay regarding the beliefs and practices of the Prophet Muḥammad, founder of Islamic faith in the God of Abraham, traditions, both Christian and Muslim, which have not accurately conveyed the deeds of the Prophet with respect to Christians. These mistaken traditions have, over centuries, contributed to unnecessary hostility of some Muslims towards Christians and of some Christians towards Muslims. Now, with the publication of this book, there is no need for such intense suspicion and animosity between the faiths to continue.

    Both Muslims and Christians should read this book and reframe their appreciation of each other.

    Zein and El-Wakil have rigorously brought forward historic references to the covenants of the Prophet, carefully considered and authenticated the texts of such covenants convincingly, and so have given us confidence that the texts we have received of those covenants can be accepted as the testimony and the aspirations of the Prophet himself."

    Dr. Steve Young, Global Executive Director of the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism (CRT), USA

    "The publication of The Covenants of the Prophet Muḥammad: From Shared Historical Memory to Peaceful Co-existence marks a watershed moment in the history of Islam, one that may help provoke a paradigm shift in Muslim-Christian relations on a planetary scale. This monumental scholarly undertaking, rooted in rigorous archival research and groundwork, recenters our understanding of the religious and socio-political philosophy of the Prophet Muḥammad and contributes to realigning relations between Islam and Christianity. God and His Messenger will most certainly be pleased. Blessed be this book, blessed be its authors, and blessed be the peacemakers for they will be called children of God."

    Dr. John Andrew Morrow, author of The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World, The Messenger of Mercy, The Islamic Interfaith Initiative, and Islam and the People of the Book

    "This book merits careful consideration. Full of new research and fresh arguments about the Covenants, Zein and El-Wakil’s work could substantially revise many scholars’ understanding not just of Muḥammad’s relationships to Christians, but of early Islam and other religions. Thought-provoking!"

    Dr. Jason Welle, O.F.M. The Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Rome

    "I am particularly happy with the high-level and outstanding results that accompany The Covenants of the Prophet Muḥammad: From Shared Historical Memory to Peaceful Co-existence, a study conducted by Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion, Dr. Ibrahim Zein, and Ahmed El-Wakil, a distinguished scholar on  Islamic texts of early Islam, both of whom are active researchers at the College of Islamic Studies at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar.

    Anyone who has followed the publications of these two authors will find that this book is a culmination of their previous studies concerning what happened during the first century of Islam. By respectfully treating the sources at their disposal, their new approach contests what has been almost universally established from the post-Crusade period up to our own times by mainstream academia. The authors’ methodology is based on etymology and the semantic study of terms used in early Islamic texts to reveal important historical information not so obvious at first sight. Having studied an extensive number of copies of the ahdnāme, they uncover that Muḥammad, according to the Will of God, established a huge legislative framework during the last ten years of his life orientated at the co-existence of the nations of the Holy Bible and which aimed at restricting all manner of possible conflict between them."

    Dimitrios E. Kalomirakis, Emeritus Director of Christian Antiquities of the Greek Ministry of Culture

    "The Covenants of the Prophet Muḥammad: From Shared Historical Memory to Peaceful Co-Existence sheds new light on documents of protection which the early Muslims granted to the various communities of the Near-East, among which were the Armenian people. The book demonstrates how the Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb extended his protection to the Armenian Apostolic Church when he entered Jerusalem, making a convincing case that this was based on a precedent set by the Prophet Muḥammad. Ever since, the Armenian Apostolic Church’s uninterrupted presence in the Holy Land has been universally acknowledged by Muslim rulers, including Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Ayyūbī in his memorable fermān.

    We thank the authors for their work which we believe will help strengthen the bonds of cooperation and brotherhood between Muslims and the adherents of the Armenian Apostolic Church."

    Father Koryoun Baghdasaryan, Chancellor of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Armenian Apostolic Church