New Book Sheds Light on Prophet Muhammad’s Interfaith Views

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Mosque of Medina.  The Muslim Times has the best collection for the prophet Muhammad and interfaith tolerance

Source: Huffington Post

By Dr. Craig Considine

This post is from 2013

No other leader in world history has been more scrutinized and ridiculed than Prophet Muhammad. Since the founding of Islam in 632 AD, Christians and Jews have described the Prophet of Allah as a blasphemer, bigot, terrorist, and pedophile, among other slurs. However, according to a new book The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World (published by Angelico Press, 2013), these accusations are found to be dishonest, prejudiced, and not based on sound scholarship.

Dr. John Andrew Morrow, author of The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad, is a scholar who received his PhD from the University of Toronto and completed the full cycle of Islamic seminary studies. He was raised in a multilingual family in Montreal and Toronto, Canada. Morrow is also a Native North American of the Metis nation and proudly identifies himself as an “Aboriginal Person.”

In his book, Morrow applies a documentary analysis of textual and historical research to the covenants created by Muhammad. Notable American poet, Charles Upton, notes in the foreword that these documents — letters, covenants, treaties — which Morrow accesses “have largely been neglected by both traditional Muslim and modern western scholarship, and are practically unknown to the mass of believers.” In reviewing Muslim, Christian, and secular documentary sources, Morrow’s study of the covenants of the Prophet brings “out their light in this period of darkness in which the People of Scripture, Jews, Muslims, and Christians, have strayed from their sacred traditions of tolerance and co-existence.”

The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad provides a detailed account of Muhammad’s character and conduct as seen through his lifelong encounters with Christian hermits, monks, priests, and communities. Morrow states that these experiences confirm that Muhammad had “confidence in his ability to count on the spiritual solidarity of the People of the Book,” or members of the Abrahamic tradition. Morrow also affirmed that Muhammad “had much more in common with the followers of Christ than with the idol-worshippers who surrounded him.”

One of the covenants analyzed by Morrow is the “Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Monks of Mount Sinai.” This agreement championed universal peace and harmony between Christians and Muslims. In the text, Muhammad calls on Muslims to respect Christian judges and churches, and for no Muslim to fight against their Christian brother. As Morrow rightly claims, the Covenant with the Monks of Mount Sinai is:

“a clear rejection of classism, elitism, and racism… all are equal before God for whom the most important thing is not language, skin color, social status or class position, which exclude others, but rather the degree of piety, humanity, love for others (which includes not only human beings but the entire natural order), sincerity of faith, the acceptance of His Commandments, and complete certainty as to the special place occupied by His Prophets, Messengers, and Imams.”

Saint Catherine’s Monastery is considered to be the only monastery in the world to serve both a church and a mosque. Morrow writes that for centuries, “the sound of ringing church bells came from the monastery’s tower while the Muslim call to prayer was emitted from the minaret.” Morrow describes the location of these two religious buildings an “aural manifestation of monotheistic unity [which] would have made the Messenger of Allah [Muhammad] proud.”

In addition to the covenant with the Christians at Mount Sinai, Morrow examines “The Constitution of Medina,” a key document of the Prophet’s concerning the importance of human rights in Islam. According to Morrow, the “Constitution” created a community out of “a unique system which had never existed before and which has never been since despite honest efforts to emulate it.” He adds that through the “Constitution of Medina”:

“[i]dentity and loyalty were no longer to be based on family, tribe, kinship, or even religion: the overriding identity was membership in the ummah of Muhammad. The Constitution of Medina decreed that the citizens of the Islamic state were one and indivisible regardless of religion. Be they heathen, People of the Book, or Muslims, all those who were subject to the Constitution belonged to the same ummah. In doing so, he created a tolerant, pluralistic government which protected religious freedom. The importance of this is so extraordinary that it is often misunderstood.”

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