The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World (II)

The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World (II)

(Rediscovered by Dr. Morrow and first published in 2013 from a manuscript which dates to 1538 CE)

[By the Prophet Muhammad]

[Translated by John Andrew Morrow in 2013]

In the Name of Allah, the Creator [al-Khaliq], the Living [al-Hayy], the Speaking [al-Natiq], the One who Remains after the Annihilation of Creation [al-Baqi ba‘d fana’ al-khaliq].

This is a copy [nushah] of the covenant [‘ahd] which was written by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib for all the Christians [nasara].

Copy [nuskhah] of the Covenant [kitab al-‘ahd]

This covenant of Allah [‘ahd Allah] was ordered to be written by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him and his family [alihi], to all the Christians and all the monks, to guard and protect them, because they are Allah’s trust among His Creations [wadi‘at Allah fi khalqihi] in order for the covenant to be a proof [hujjah] against them and there would be no claim against Allah after the Messenger. He made this a protection [dhimmah] from him and a protection for them by the authority of Allah, for Allah is All-Mighty [‘Aziz] and All-Wise [Hakim]. It was written by the Lion [asad] and the People of His Vocation [ahl al-millati] to all those who profess the Christian religion [da‘wat al-nasraniyyah] in the Eastern lands and its West, near and far, be they Arabs or non-Arabs [‘ajami], known or unknown, as a covenant [‘ahd] from him, a justice and tradition to be preserved.

He who observes it holds to his Islam and is worthy of his religion [din]. He who breaks it [nakatha] and jeopardizes the covenant [‘ahd] which was ordered by the Messenger of Allah, and changes it, and transgresses what has been commanded, has rejected the Covenant of Allah [‘ahd Allah], denies the Oath of Allah [mithaq Allah], disdains his religion, and merits His Maledictions, whether he is a Sultan or anyone else among the believers [mu’minin] and the Muslims.

I started by committing myself to the covenant, granted alliances [uhud] and pledges [mawathiq] to those who requested them from me and from all of my Muslim Community [millati min al-muslimin]. I gave them the Covenant of Allah [ahd Allah] and His Pledge [mithaq] and I placed them under the safeguard of His Prophets, His Chosen Ones [asfiya], His Friends [awliyyah] from among all the Believers [mu’minin] and the Muslims over time. My protection [dhimmati] and my security [mithaqi] represent the most solid covenant that Allah, the Most Exalted, has given a prophet sent in truth to demand obedience, to give obligations [farida], and to respect the covenant [‘ahd].

The covenant of Allah [‘ahd Allah] is that I should protect their land [‘ard], their monasteries [al-diyar], with my power [qudrah], my horses, my men, my weapons [silahi], my strength [quwwati], and my Muslim followers [atba] in any region, far away or close by, and that I should protect their businesses. I grant security to them, their churches, their businesses, their houses of worship [buyut salawatihim], the places of their monks, the places of their pilgrims, wherever they may be found, be they in the mountains or the valleys, caves or inhabited regions, the plains or the desert and that I should protect their dhimmah, their faith [millah], and their religion [din], wherever they may be found in the East or West, in the sea or on land, the same way that I protect myself, my entourage [khasati], and the People of my Community [ahl al-millati] among the Muslims.

I place them under my protection [dhimmah], my security [mithaq], and my trust [aman] at every moment. I defend them from any damage, harm [makruh] or retribution [tabi‘a]. I am behind them, protecting them from every enemy or anyone who wishes them harm [muhdi]. I sacrifice myself for them by means of my helpers [a‘wani], my followers [atbai], and the People of my Community [ahl al-millah] because they are my flock [ra‘iyyah] and the people under my protection [ahl al-dhimmati], I extend [amudu] my authority [sulta], my care [ri‘ayyah], and my protection over them from every harm [makruh] so that it does not reach them. No harm will reach them unless it reaches my Companions [ashab] who [are there to] protect them and assist Islam [nusrat].

I remove from them the harm from taxes and loan in the supplies borne to the People of the Pact [ahl al-ahd] except what they themselves consent to give. They should not be compelled or unfairly treated in this matter.

It is not permitted to remove a bishop from his bishopric, a monk from his monastic life, a Christian from his Christianity, an ascetic [zahid] from his tower, or a pilgrim from his pilgrimage. Nor is it permitted to destroy any part of their churches or their businesses or to take parts of their buildings to construct mosques or the homes of believing Muslims [mu’minin al-muslimin]. Whoever does such a thing will have violated the covenant of Allah [‘ahd Allah], disobeyed [khalafa] his Messenger, and deviated [hadha] from His Divine Alliance.

It is not permitted to impose a capitation [jizyah] or any kind of land tribute [kharaj] on monks, bishops or those who are worshippers among them, who, by devotion, wear woolen clothing [al-suf] or live alone in the mountains or in other regions secluded from human presence.

The capitation [jizyah] will be applied to those Christians who are not clerics [man la yattabad] with the exception of the monk and the pilgrim in the amount of four dirhams per year or an inexpensive cloak [tawb]. He who does not have the money or the food with which to feed himself, the Muslims will help him by means of the savings stored in the Treasury [bayt al-mal]. If they find difficulties in securing food, the Muslims will also help them, provided they willingly accept.

May the land tribute [jizyah al-kharaj] on big business by land or sea, pearl-diving, mining for precious stones, gold and silver, or those who are wealthy among those who profess the Christian faith, not exceed twelve dirhams [fiddah] per year, so long as they are inhabitants and residents in these countries.

May nothing similar be demanded of travelers, who are not residents of the country or wayfarers whose country of residence is unknown. There shall be no land tax with capitation for others than those who own land as will the other occupants of lands over which the ruler has a right. They will pay taxes as others pay them without, however, the charges unjustly exceeding the measure of their means. As for the labor force which the owners spend upon to cultivate these lands, to render them fertile, and to harvest them, they are not to be taxed excessively. Let them pay in the same fashion and justly that which was imposed on other similar tributaries.

The people under our protection [ahl al-dhimmah] will not be obliged to go to war with the Muslims in order to combat their enemies and to attack them. Indeed, the people under our protection [ahl al-dhimmah] are not to engage in war. It is precisely to discharge them of this obligation that this pact has been granted to them as well as to assure them the help and protection of the Muslims. They will not be constrained to provide equipment to any of the Muslims, in arms or horses, in the event of a war in which the Muslims attack their enemies, unless they contribute to the cause freely. And what the Muslims have borrowed will be guaranteed by the [State] Treasury [bayt al-mal] until it is returned to them. If they die or are damaged, the [State] Treasury [bayt al-mal] will provide monetary compensation.

No one who practices the Christian religion will be forced to enter into Islam. And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better [29:46]. They must be covered by the wing of mercy and all harm that could reach them, wherever they may find themselves and wherever they may be, must be repelled.

If a Christian were to commit a crime or an offense, Muslims must provide him with help, defense, and protection, as well as pay his penalty for him. They should encourage reconciliation between him and the victim, to help or save him.

The Muslims must not abandon him or leave him without help and assistance because I have given them a covenant of Allah which is binding upon the Muslims.

In virtue of this pact, they have obtained inviolable rights to enjoy our protection, to be protected from any infringement of their rights, and they are not to be disputed, rejected, or ignored so that they will be bound to the Muslims both in good and bad fortune.

The girls of the Christians must not be subject to suffer, by abuse, on the subject of marriages which they do not desire. Muslims should not take Christian girls in marriage against the will of their parents nor should they oppress their families in the event that they refused their offers of engagement and marriage. Such marriages should not take place without their desire and agreement and without their approval and consent.

If a Muslim takes a Christian woman as a wife, he must respect her Christian beliefs. He will give her freedom to listen to her [clerical] superiors as she desires and to follow the path of her own religion. Whoever, despite this order, forces his [Christian] wife to act contrary to her religion, he will have broken the alliance of Allah and broken the promise [mithaq] of His Messenger and he will be counted, by us, among the liars [kadhibin].

If the Christians approach you seeking the help and assistance of the Muslims in order to repair their churches and their convents, or to arrange matters pertaining to their affairs and religion, these [Muslims] must help and support them. However, they must not do so with the aim of receiving any reward or debt. On the contrary, they should do so to restore that religion, out of faithfulness to the pact of the Messenger of Allah, by pure donation, and as a meritorious act before Allah and His Messenger.

In matters of war between them and their enemies, the Muslims will not employ any Christian as a messenger, scout, guide, to show power, or for any other duty of war. Whoever obliges one of them to do such a thing will be unjust [zaliman] towards Allah, disobedient [‘asiyan] to His Messenger, and will be cast out [mutakhaliyan] from his religion. Nothing is permitted to a Muslim [with regards to the Christians] outside of obeying these edicts which Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah, the Messenger of Allah, has passed in favor of the religion of the Christians.

I am also placing conditions [upon the Christians] and I demand that they promise to fulfill and satisfy them as commands their religion. Among other things, none of them may act as a scout, spy, either overtly or covertly, on behalf of an enemy of war, against a Muslim. None of them will shelter the enemies of the Muslims in their homes from which they could await the moment to launch an attack. May these enemies [of the Muslims] never be allowed to halt in their regions, be it in their villages, their oratories, or in any other place belonging to their co-religionists. They must not provide any support to the war enemies of the Muslims by furnishing them with weapons, horses, men or call for unnecessary things. They must not annoy them and they should be honored as long as they persist in their religion and their care for their pact. They must grant Muslims three days and three nights when they halt among them. They must offer them, wherever they are found, and wherever they are going, the same food with which they live themselves, without, however, being obliged to endure other annoying or onerous burdens.

If a Muslim needs to hide in one of their homes or oratories, they must grant him hospitality, give him help, and provide him with their food during the entire time he will be among them, making every effort to keep him concealed and to prevent the enemy from finding him, while providing to all of his needs.

Whoever contravenes or alters the ordinances of this edict will be cast out of the alliance between Allah and His Messenger.

May everyone abide by the treaties and alliances which have been contracted with the monks, and which I have contracted myself, wherever they may be.

The Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, must respect what he has granted, on his authority and all the Muslims, to guard them and have mercy on them until the end, until the Hour of [Resurrection] arrives, and the world comes to an end.

Whoever is unjust after this towards a [Christian] subject [dhimmi], breaks the covenant and rejects it, I will be his enemy on the Day of Judgment among all the Muslims.

As witness to this covenant [kitab]–which was written by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah, the Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, to all the Christians [jami‘] to whom he put conditions in it, and for whom he wrote the following covenant [‘ahd]–there are thirty witnesses:

Abu Bakr al-Siddiq

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab

‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan

‘Ali ibn Abi Talib

Abu Dharr

Abu al-Darda

Abu Hurayrah

‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud

al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Malik

Fadl ibn al-‘Abbas al-Zahri

Talhah ibn ‘Abd Allah

Sa‘id ibn Mu‘azz

Sa‘id ibn Ubadah

Thabit ibn Qays

Yazid ibn Talit

‘Abd Allah ibn Yazid

Farsus ibn Qasim ibn Badr ibn Ibrahim

Amir ibn Yazid [Imam ibn Yazid?]

Sahl ibn Tamim

‘Abd al-‘Azim ibn al-Najashi


[different handwriting]

‘Abd al-‘Azim ibn Husayn

‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As

‘Amr ibn Yasir

Mu‘azim ibn Musa

Hassan ibn Thabit

Abu Hanifah

‘Ubayd ibn Mansur

Hashim ibn ‘Abd Allah

Abu al-‘Azar

Hisham ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib

‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, wrote this covenant, and the manuscript [sijl] was written on a piece of leather [jild] that was not small. It remained at the Sultan’s authority and was sealed by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. All praise be to Allah.

This blessed book [kitab al-mubarak] was completed on the holy day of Monday, in the last month of Ba‘una, the blessed, in the year of our Masters the Martyrs, the Pure Ones, the Felicitous, the Satisfied [abrar], may Allah grant us their intercession and may their intercession be with us. Amen!

This corresponds to the 27th of the sacred [haram] month of Muharram of the year 945 of the Arabic hijrah. May Allah make its end good! Amen!

This blessed book [kitab al-mubarak] belongs to the great soul [al-mubajjal], the master [al-mawla], the leader [al-ra’is], the elder [al-shaykh], the scholar [al-‘alim], Sum‘an, the son of [najl], the source of greatness [al-mu‘azzam] Fadl Allah, may Allah rest his soul in peace [nayaha allah nafsahu], known as [al-ma‘ruf] al-Barallusi.

The writer of these words is the humble [miskin], full of faults and sins [khataya wa al-dunub], asking the brothers who read these words [lit. letters] to mention them in their prayers [salawat] and the Messiah [masih] will reward them one hundred and sixty three times.


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