According to Jewish and Christian tradition, a thousand years after Abraham, the Jewish people were slaves, locked in perpetual servitude in Egypt before being led to freedom by Moses. On their epic trek to Palestine, Moses broke the journey in the area around Mount Sinai. It was at its peak that Moses received from God a set of covenants, or laws, etched into clay tablets. These 10 Commandments became the foundation for a moral existence.
Over 1000 years later, in 2 AH or 624 CE, the Prophet Muhammad wrote and granted a different covenant to the monks at the Monastery of St. Catherine, a 60-year-old Christian abbey at the base of Mount Sinai. Though not commanding the recipients to honor their mother and father or desist in the creation of idols, the covenant from the Prophet Muhammad did something unheard of in the annals of history — it promised to protect the Christian monks and residents of the region from any incursions, attacks, or efforts to take over the Christian pilgrimage site. It swore to protect the monks singularly and as a group wherever they were. Further, the contract vowed to allow all inhabitants to keep the religion of their choice. The handwritten words on parchment, signed with the Prophet’s hand-print bound the Islamic nation to honor these promises “for all time, even unto the Day of Judgment and the end of the world.”
Dr. John A. Morrow, academic, researcher, scholar, teacher, a member of the Canadian Métis community, and an activist, converted to Islam at the age of 16, while a high school student in his native Canada. Still a teen, Morrow continued to research Islam through dozens of texts, and he came across an 18th-century text written by Richard Pococke which described and translated parts of the treaty the Prophet Muhammad had initiated with the Monks of Mount Sinai.
In one section of the document, the text reads, “That whenever any of the monks in his travels shall happen to settle upon any mountain, hill, village, or other habitable place, on the sea, or in deserts, or in any convent, church, or house of prayer, I shall be in the midst of them, as the preserver and protector of them, their goods and effects, with my soul, aid, and protection…” These sentiments and others like them anchored Morrow’s attachment to the demonstrated compassion and teachings of Islam.
Thirty years, several academic degrees, and dozens of publications later, Dr. Morrow’s most recent work, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time, is shaking up both the Islamic and Christian worlds. Whether intentionally or circumstantially, the treaty with the monks of Mt. Sinai and over a dozen other, similar documents, had receded from religious consciousness over the centuries and were squirreled away amid thousands of other papers in libraries scattered around Europe and the Middle East. With their virtual burial, a message of peace, inclusiveness, and tolerance was lost.
“No fear shall be upon them, nor shall they grieve.” This verse from the Holy Qur’an (2:62) refers to all the monotheists of the Prophet’s time, Jews, Christians, and Sabeans, and promises that these groups, being righteous in action, and aligned with Muslims in their belief in one God, would be protected. The above divine revelation, an edict transmitted to the Prophet Muhammad from God, guaranteed a future of unity and safety. Nevertheless, as an essential feature of his nation-building efforts, the Prophet Muhammad went even further, creating documents meant to serve vast populations living under Islamic rule as long as “the sea wets the shells on the shore.”
Due to those covenants, newly explored by Dr. Morrow, Muslims now have an additional rigorously authenticated religious resource — the detailed Ashtiname — peace letters or covenants spoken by the Prophet and written down verbatim. Through dictation and diplomacy, the Muhammad formulated treaties with most of the religious communities on the Arabian Peninsula and beyond. Some of the major covenants include:
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Monks of Mount Sinai
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of Najran
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World I
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World II
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Assyrian Christians
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of Persia
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Armenian Christians
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Jews of Maqna
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Yemenite Jews
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Zoroastrians
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Coptic Christians of Egypt
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Syriac Orthodox Christians
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Samaritans
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Zoroastrians.