The Prophet Muhammad Intended to Defend Rather Than Destroy Churches

church bombed

One of the destroyed churches in Sri Lanka.  The Muslim Times has the best collection about the prophet Muhammad, interfaith tolerance and counter terrorism

Source: Newsweek


By Craig Considine, Dept of Sociology, Rice University

The Sri Lankan government has identified the National Tawheed Jamath, a local extremist outfit, as the group behind the devastating bombings on Easter Sunday. The deadly series of blasts ended over 300 lives and destroyed several churches.

The National Tawheed Jamath is a relatively unknown organization, but documents shown to various news agencies noted that Sri Lanka’s police chief issued a warning on April 11, stating that a “foreign intelligence agency” had reported that the group was planning attacks on Christians, particularly their churches. Rajitha Senaratne, a Sri Lankan government spokesperson, also said that investigators were exploring whether the group had “international support.”

The violent targeting of Christians and their sacred places of worship brings into focus the Covenants of Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. This set of treaties between Muhammad, the early Muslim community, and the Christians in their midst highlight an approach that is inarguably the polar opposite of the deadly actions carried out by the National Tawheed Jamath.

One of the Covenants between Muhammad and the Christians of his time, the Covenant with the Christian Monks of Mount Sinai, has been featured by 60 Minutes in its visit to Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. The Covenant with the Sinai Monks explicitly mentions that “no building from among their churches shall be destroyed… Whoever does such a thing violates Allah’s covenant and dissents from the Messenger of Allah.”

The Covenant with the Christians of Najran is also critical in light of the attacks on Christians and their churches in Sri Lanka. Like the Covenant with the Sinai Monks, the agreement with the Christians of Najran reflects Prophet Muhammad’s pluralistic views towards Christians and Christianity as a whole. Muhammad made it clear to the Christian Najrans that he will commit himself “to support them, to place their persons under [his] protection, as well as their churches, chapels, oratories, the monasteries of their monks, the residences of the anchorites, wherever they are found, be they in the mountains or the valleys, caves or inhabited regions, in the plains or in the desert.”

Prophet Muhammad’s direct interactions with the Christian Najrans also show why the National Tawheed Jamat’s actions are the antithesis of Muhammad’s vision for Christians living in a predominantly Muslim community. Muhammad had invited the Christians of Najran, a town located in southern Saudi Arabia, to visit his mosque in Medina. Upon their arrival Muhammad, his companions, and the Christian delegation from Najran discussed various matters including Muhammad’s leadership, the structure of the first “Muslim state,” as well as the similarities and differences between the Islamic and Christian faiths. The Muslims and Christians did not agree on the theological premises of their respective religious traditions, but the two communities engaged with each other in a civil and constructive manner. Once their dialogue was completed, Muhammad did something quite remarkable.

The Christians of Najran had requested permission to exit the door of Muhammad’s mosque in Medina to carry out their prayers. When Muhammad had noticed that the Christians were leaving the mosque to pray outside, he had cordially requested that they come back inside the mosque to pray to the God of Abraham. The Christians accepted the invitation. The Najrans praying inside the Prophet’s mosque in Medina is recognized by scholars as one of the first examples of Christian-Muslim bridge building.

By inviting the Christians of Najran to pray inside the Medina mosque, Muhammad had transcended mere religious tolerance of Christians. He had entered into the realm of religious pluralism, or the energetic engagement of religious diversity that is based on the principles of interfaith dialogue, genuine education across religious communities, interreligious civic commitments, and interfaith community building.

Put another way, the grotesque actions by the National Tawheed Jamath are the opposite of Muhammad’s vision for Muslims living in a diverse world. Christians that believe Islam is inherently intolerant of Christianity would also be wise to review the Covenants in the hope of building a more pluralistic and peaceful world.


Suggested reading about the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him:

Video: What Does a Catholic Find in the Prophet Muhammad?

What is Common between the Holy Prophet Muhammad and President Abraham Lincoln

Muhammad: the Light for the Dark Ages of Europe!

What Can We Learn From the Treaty of Hudaibiyya: Flexibility of Thought?

Did Jesus Predict Muhammad? A Biblical Portal Between Christianity and Islam

Muhammad as Spirit of Truth: A Christian Testimony Against Islamophobia

Book Review: The Prophet of Love: A Catholic’s Note on Prophet Muhammad

Video and Book Review: The Leadership of Muhammad by Prof. John Adair

Book Review: Muhammad: An anticlerical hero of the European Enlightenment


4 replies

  1. n Islam there is no commandment to kill people by making such allegations against them. The cartoonists had exercised their freedom of expression, and freedom of expression is totally allowed in Islam. Even during the Prophet’s time there were several instances of ridicule, however the Prophet and his Companions neither punished such persons nor asked anyone to do so. On every occasion of this kind, the Prophet’s Companions always tried to positively disseminate the message of Islam. They never tried to punish these people. The killing of those people who had published the cartoons is a gravely un-Islamic act in the name of Islam.

    Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances. Terrorism goes against every principle in Islam. If a Muslim engages in terrorism, he is not following Islam. He may be wrongly using the name of Islam for political or financial gain. The Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Do not kill women or children or non-combatants and do not kill old people or religious people….Muslims Against Terrorism requests media not use phrases such as “Islamic Fundamentalists” or “Muslim Terrorists” regarding terrorist attacks “Because such things do not exist. Islam is the religion of peace, love and mutual respect. Islam is the religion of moderation. Islam is the religion of human value and dignity.” They ask that religious affiliation not be mentioned in terrorist attacks.

    Just think and ask yourself who is responsible for all these attacks terrorism. if we are blaming Muslims for terrorism who created this term terrorist for Muslims only ?

    Remember lass Vegas shooting but it was not terrorist attack according to your propaganda government because attacker was not a Muslim guy .

    When US UK RUSSIA ISRAEL KILLED thousands and thousands of innocents in Iraq ,Afghanistan ,Libya ,Palestine, Pakistan Chechnya ,so don’t we think one of those man who lost everything in air strikes and firing by all these countries will not take revenge ?

    Its human nature if we any one don’t get justice he will move for other options .

    People crying for western countries but they never cried for all those innocent peoples of victim countries.

    JUST STOP INVADING AND OTHER COUNTRIES .we all know that all these countries were developed and were living peacefully before the invasion of US .

    Please tell me the difference between a bunch of Muslims killing innocent civilians, and drones sent by the West massacring entire families in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When ‘they’ kill, it’s terrorism, when ‘we’ kill, it’s necessary in order to ‘protect our way of life’. Blatant hypocrisy.

  2. So why do muslims all justify the seizure of Haga Sophia which is being turned into a mosque . Haga Sophiawas looted and it’s worshippers enslaved and Turks seized it. Wasn’t this in violation of islam?

    • The issue is a bit more complicated. Not all Muslims justify the turning of Haga Sophia back into a Mosque. I personally would not mind if it would have reverted to a church. There are many mosques in Istanbul already and turning it into a church would have given a good hint at tolerance.

      Anyway, it was not turned NOW from a Church into a Mosque. It was a mosque already I think from 1453 until Ata Turk turned it into a Museum. And I read somewhere that in 1453 the conquering Ottoman Sultan actually paid for it and reimbursed the church.

      Anyway, most of those now complaining are not going to church on Sundays anyway. Greece has ‘ulterior motives’, they do not care all that much about the church. Their rivalry with Turkey is on the exploration of gas in the Mediterranean.

Leave a Reply