An Offering of the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad to the Christians of the World in the Twenty-First Century

Dr. John Morrow and Charles Upton, two leading American Muslim intellectuals, are working to help end Christian-vs.-Muslim strife by publicizing the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad to the Christians of the World. These remarkable documents, drafted and signed by the Prophet himself, enshrine Muslims’ duty to protect Christians “until the end of the world.”

Charles Upton and Dr. Morrow ask that you forward this article to “Christian leaders or activists, or anyone else, who might be able to get these resources to Christian congregations living under threat from the Jihadists in any part of the world.” They are also looking for publishers in Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Persian, Turkish, Dutch, Indonesian, Tamil, Russian, and Urdu. (Translations into those languages have already been completed.)

Kevin BarrettVeterans Today Editor

An Offering of the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad to the Christians of the World

in the Twenty-First Century

by Charles Upton and John Andrew Morrow

In October of 2013 a book by Prof. John Andrew Morrow was published in the United States, entitled The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World [Angelico/Sophia Perennis, 2013]. The covenants of the Prophet with various Christian communities, which Prof. Morrow re‐discovered in obscure monasteries and collections and sometimes newly translated, also providing powerful arguments for their validity, uniformly state that Muslims are not to attack peaceful Christian communities, rob them, stop churches from being repaired, tear down churches to build mosques, prevent their Christian wives from going to church and taking spiritual direction from Christian priests and elders, etc. On the contrary, the Prophet commands Muslims to actively defend these communities “until the coming of the Hour”—the end of the world. In order to publicize this book I conceived of an initiative—the Covenants Initiative—which invites Muslims to subscribe to the theory that these covenants are legally binding upon them today. The heart of the Covenants Initiative is the following Declaration, addressed by Muslims to Christians:

We the undersigned hold ourselves bound by the spirit and letter of the covenants of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) with the Christians of the world, in the understanding that these covenants, if accepted as genuine, have the force of law in the shari‘ah and that nothing in the shari‘ah, as traditionally and correctly interpreted, has ever contradicted them. As fellow victims of the terror and godlessness, the spirit of militant secularism and false religiosity now abroad in the world, we understand your suffering as Christians through our suffering as Muslims, and gain greater insight into our own suffering through the contemplation of your suffering. May the Most Merciful of the Merciful regard the sufferings of the righteous and the innocent; may He strengthen us, in full submission to His will, to follow the spirit and letter of the covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the world in all our dealings with them.

Since 2013, the Covenants Initiative has become an international movement in the Muslim world. Many Muslims from all walks of life, as well as a number of respected Islamic scholars—including Dr. Mohammed Gameaha of Al-Azhar University, which is the premier religious authority in Sunni Islam—have signed the Initiative. An interview with Dr. Morrow also appeared on the website of Ayatullah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran.

On the Christian side, we have received letters of support from Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Theophilus II, Patriarch of Jerusalem; The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World has also been presented to Pope Francis. In 2016, in response to an appeal from Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat, Eparch of the Chaldean Catholic Church (of Iraq) now in exile in Detroit, Michigan, the Covenants Initiative launched a project called the Genocide Initiative, which was a call to “all political players” to declare the actions of ISIS war crimes and genocide; it took the form of a petition posted on The Genocide Initiative formed part of the push that led to the unanimous passage of the (unbinding) Fortenberry resolution in the House of Representatives, in March of 2016, affirming our position on ISIS; soon afterwards, Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry felt it necessary to make a public statement to the same effect: that the actions of ISIS constitute genocide. The Genocide Initiative was commended in an article in the foremost U.S. armed forces publication, Stars and Stripes (reprinted from the Fort Wayne Herald.

Most of our energy over the last four years has been directed toward the Muslim world, since we felt that the first order of business was to inform Muslims of the existence and the crucial import of these documents authored by the Prophet Muhammad himself, documents that most Muslims, and many Muslim scholars, had never heard of. One powerful sign of our success in this effort appeared in May of 2017: when ISIS burned St. Mary’s Cathedral in Mindanao, the Philippines, the Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao immediately invoked the Covenants of the Prophet to prove that this action of ISIS was “un-Islamic”. It was this, among other indications, that resolved us to turn more of our rather slim resources toward Christian outreach. In line with this decision, the present article should be understood as a formal offering of the Covenants of Muhammad to the Christians of the world, particularly those under siege by ISIS and other Takfiri terrorists, or who have reason to believe that they might be in the future, as shields of protection in the name of the Prophet Muhammad. (The word “Takfiri” denotes a pseudo-Muslim extremist who holds that any non-Muslim, and any Muslim not part of his or her particular sect, is a heretic who can legally be killed.)

This is entirely in line with Muhammad’s original intent. The Prophet foresaw that the expanding Muslim state would eventually come to blows with the Byzantine Empire, and knew that if this were to happen, some zealous but ignorant Muslims would simply consider this as inaugurating an “open season” on all Christians. Several passages of the Holy Qur’an, various rulings of the Prophet which have come down to us in the hadith literature, and most especially his Covenants with the Christian communities of his time, were explicitly designed to nip this tendency in the bud. Certainly these declarations were not entirely successful in preventing various excesses in later years, but they did exercise a powerful influence in the direction of tolerance and mutual respect among Muslims and Christians, an influence which lasted at least until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922—the Covenants having formed the basis of state policy toward religious minorities under the Ottomans—and which has been resurrected in our own time largely through the ground-breaking scholarship of Dr. John Andrew Morrow.

It is of course important for those Christians who are considering how they might use the Covenants of the Prophet as documents of protection against various Takfiri terrorist groups to satisfy themselves that these documents are valid; a sampling of our exhaustive case for their genuineness appears below. To make a thorough study of our arguments would be time- consuming, even if the reader did not attempt to assimilate the approx. 550 published reviews favorable to The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World, or become familiar with the objections of our critics—many of which appear, so as to be refuted, in that book, as well as in our three-volume anthology of critical studies on The Covenants, Islam, and the People of the Book, which includes articles by Dr. Morrow and 17 other scholars, both Muslim and Christian.

On the other hand, the Covenants have the potential for saving lives—and when lives hang in the balance, long deliberations and delays can have serious consequences. In this sense the Covenants are like a new and potentially lifesaving drug that’s undergoing clinical trials. If the drug is released too soon there could be unintended negative effects; if the release is delayed too long, lives will be lost. The goal of this article is to provide a “fast-track” for the acceptance of the Covenants by Christians, while directing them to more exhaustive research if they still have lingering questions. Meanwhile, the reader can refer to the May 2017 article “The Hidden Documents of Islam that can Defang Islamic Terror” by Melik Kaylan in Forbes magazine, to get some idea of the profound import of the Covenants for our time.

The following section, by Dr. Morrow, contains his list of authenticating authorities for five of the six Prophetic Covenants contained in The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World and Six Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time, a shorter work which contains only the texts of the Covenants themselves. This list provides solid evidence for their ultimate authorship—despite the vicissitudes of history undergone by the texts that we possess—by the Prophet Muhammad himself:

The Covenants contained in The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World and Six Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time were treated as trustworthy by the Companions and their Followers along with the Caliphs, the Sultans, and the Shahs of Islam from the 7th century until the early 20th century.

They were regularly renewed by Muslim rulers over the course of the past 1400 years and consistently authenticated by leading Islamic authorities from all schools of jurisprudence throughout the ages.

The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad were certified as genuine or sahih by Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid II, the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the Last Caliph of Islam, who passed away in 1918.

As primary documents of prophetic provenance, they come second only to the Qur’an.

As the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, attested, they are binding upon all believers until the end of times.


The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Monks of Mount Sinai

Authenticated by
The Prophet Muhammad (d. 632 CE)
The Companions of the Prophet (7th century CE)
Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali (632-661 CE)
The Monks of Mount Sinai (7th century CE to the present)
The Jabaliyyah Arabs of the Sinai (7th century CE to the present)
Honored by Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali (632-661 CE)
Honored by the Ummayads and ‘Abassids (661-750; 750-1258 CE)
Ibn Sa‘d cites Treaty of Najran / St. Catherine (d. 845 CE)
Fatimid Decrees (965, 1024, 1109, 1110, 1135, 1154, and 1156 CE)
Fatimid Caliph al-Mu‘izz (953-974 CE)
Fatimid Caliph al-‘Aziz (975-996 CE)
Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim (996-1021 CE)
Fatimid Caliph al-Zahir (1024 CE)
Fatimid Vizier al-Afdal ibn Badr al-Jamali (1094-1121 CE)
al-Hafiz (1134 CE)
Decree of Shirkuh (1169 CE)
Ayyubids Decrees (1195, 1199, 1201/02, and 1210/11 CE)
Mamluk Decrees (1259, 1260, 1272, 1268/69, 1280 and 1516 CE)
Ibn Kathir reportedly paraphrases the complete list of privileges granted to St. Catherine’s Monastery (d. 1373 CE)
Treaty of the Sultan of Egypt with the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (1403 CE) Fatwas: Nearly 2000 Edicts from Five Schools of Jurisprudence (975 CE-1888) Ottoman Decrees (1519 to 1904)
Jean Thenaud (1512 CE)
Copies of the Covenant (Undated, 1517 CE, 1561 CE, 1683 CE, 1737/38 CE, 1800/01 CE) Tsernotabey (1517 CE)
Firman of Selim I (1517 CE)
Copies of Achtiname (1517-1858 CE)
Greffin Affagart (1533 CE)
Feridun Bey (d. 1583 CE)
Franciscus Quaresmius (1639)
Balthsar de Monconys (1646-1647)
Nektarios of Sinai (1660)
Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustapha Pasha (1663-1666)
Joannes Caramuel de Lobkowitz (1672)
Henry Stubbe (1632-1676 CE)
M.L.M.D.C. (1697)
Eusèbe Renaudot (1713)
Bernard Picard (1736)
Johann Lorenz von Mosheim (1693-1755) (apocryphal but authentic in content) Richard Pococke (1743)
Thomas Salmon (1744)
J.A. Van Egmont and J. Heyman (1759)
George Psalmanazar (1764 CE) (apocryphal or limited to the Sinai Monks)
Jean Michel de Venture de Paradis (1798)

Napoléon Bonaparte (1798)
Jean-Joseph Marcel (1798)
Commission des Sciences et des Arts (1798)
Charles Thomson (1798)
Edward Wells (1809)
J.N. Fazakerley (1811)
Abraham Salamé (1819)
Félix Mengin (1823)
Thomas Clarke (1823)
John Carne (1826)
Abbé Grand and Adrien Egron (1827)
John Gibson Lockhart (1835)
National Geographic Society (1835)
Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall and J.-J. Hellert (1837) Ministers of Various Evangelical Denominations (1839)
C.B. Ḥoury (1840)
Maria Giuseppe de Géramb (1840)
Pietro della Valle (1843)
A. Oumanetz (1843)
Louis de Tesson (1844)
Père Joguet (1844)
Léon Gingras (1847)
Austen Henry Layard (1850)
Amable Regnault (1855) (authentic in content)
Henry Day (1857)
J.G. Pitzipios-Bey (1858)
Joseph Wolff (1861)
Antonio Figari Bey (1865)
John Davenport (1869)
Samuel Sullivan Cox (1887)
R. Accademia dei Lini (1888)
Philippe Gelât (1888/1889)
Nawfal Effendi Nawfal (late 19th century CE)
Syed Ameer ‘Ali (1891)
R.P. Jullien (1893) (authentic with reservations)
Dean Arthur Stanley (1894)
L’Union islamique / al-Ittihad al-Islami (1898) Bessarione (1898)
Échos d’Orient (1898)
Anton F. Haddad (1902)
‘Abdullah al-Ma’mun al-Suhrawardy (1904 and 1905) Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid II (1904)
Sésostris Sidarouss (1907)
Jurji Zaydan (1907) (apocryphal but based on authentic covenants) Na‘um Shuqayr (1916)
Alberto M. Candioti (1925)

Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall (1927)
Essad Bey (1936)
Porphyrios III (1937)
Jeanne Aubert (1938)
Edmond Poupe (1938)
Islamic Review (1940)
Joan Meredyth Chichele Plowden (1940) (not impossible)
Joaquim Pedro Oliveira Martins (1946)
‘Aziz Suryal Atiya (1955)
Albert Champdor (1963)
Alfred Nawrath (1963)
Hasan al-Shirazi (1967)
Stuart E. Rosenberg (1970) (cannot be proven or disproven)
Oleg V. Volkoff (1972) (neutral)
Robin Waterfield (1973)
Criton George Tornaritis (1980)
Le Figaro (1986)
Akram Zahoor and Z. Haq (1990)
Nikolaos Tomadakis (1990)
Konstantinos A. Manafis (1990)
Hieromonk Demetrios Digbassanis (1990)
Edwin Bernbaum (1990) (according to tradition; dating back at least to early Fatimid times) Nicole Levallois (1992)
Giovanna Magi (1993)

Joseph J. Hobbs (1995) (neutral)
Jacqueline Lafontaine-Dosogne (1996)
LaMar C. Berrett and D. Kelly Ogden (1996) Gawdat Gabra and Morsi Saad el-Din (1998)
Ansar Hussain (1999)
Hüseyn Hilmi Işik (2000)
Yusuf Islam [Cat Stevens] (2001)
Giovanni Magnani (2001)
Harun Yahya (2002)
Frederick Quinn (2002)
Let’s Go Inc. (2003)
Bruce Merry (2004)
J. Gordon Melton (2004)
Brian Paciotti (2004)
Reza Shah-Kazemi (2005)
R.W. McColl (2005)
Elizabeth A. Zachariadou (2005)
Martin Gray and Graham Hancock (2007) Jean-Pierre Isbouts (2007) (authentic according to tradition) K. Staikos (2007) (authentic according to tradition) David Douglas (2007)
Andrew Eames (2008)

National Geographic (2008) (authentic according to tradition)
‘Abdurrahman Wahid (2009)
David Dakake (2009)
Muqtedar Khan (2009)
Peer-Jada Qureshi (2009)
Mohamed el Hebeishy (2010)
J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann (2010)
Zia Shah (2011)
Raj Bhala (2011)
Hedieh Mirahmadi (2011)
Farhad Malekian (2011)
Ahmed Shams (2011)
Altaf Hussain (2011)
Zora O’Neill (2012)
Judy Hall (2012)
Areej Zufari (2012)
Kyriacos C. Markides (2012)
James Emery White (2012)
Helen C. Evans (2012)
Father Justin of Sinai (2012)
Pave the Way Foundation (2012)
Shemeem Burney Abbas (2013)
Nikos Kazantzakis (2013)
Timothy Wright (2013)
John Andrew Morrow (1990, 2012, 2013, 2015)
Scores of scholars and signatories to the Covenants Initiative too numerous to mention (since 2013)
John Watson (2014) (authentic according to tradition)
Brad Tyndall (2014)
Qasim Rashid (2014)
Muhammad Quraish Shihab (2014)
Zaid Shakir (2015)
Hamza Yusuf (2015)
Ronald H. Stone (2015)
Calum Samuelson (2015)
Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel (2015)
Sayyid ‘Ali Asghar (2015)
‘Azizah al-Hibri (2016)
Ahmed El-Wakil (2016)

The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of Najran

Authenticated by
The Prophet Muhammad (d. 632 CE)
The Companions of the Prophet (7th century CE) Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali (632-661 CE)

Waqidi (745-822 CE)
Ibn Ishaq (d. 761 or 770 CE) / Ibn Hisham (d. 833 CE)
Muqatil ibn Sulayman al-Balkhi (d. 767)
Abu Yusuf (d. 798 CE)
Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani (d. 805 CE)
Yahya ibn Adam (d. 818 CE)
Abu ‘Ubayd (728-825 CE)
Ibn Zanjawayh (d. 865 CE)
Abu Dawud (817-889 CE)
Habib the Monk (878-879 CE)
Baladhuri (d. 892 CE)
Ya‘qubi (897-898 CE)
Chronicle of Seert (9th century CE)
Shaykh al-Mufid (11th century CE)
Abu al-Futuh al-Razi (1078-1157 or 1161 CE)
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (1149-1209 CE)
Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286 CE)
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (1292–1350 CE)
Ibn Kathir (1301–1373)
Maris (12th century CE)
Qalqashandi (1355 or 1356-1418 CE)
Amrus (14th century CE)
Giuseppe Simonio Assemani (1721)
‘Abdullah al-Ma’mun al-Suhrawardy (1904 and 1905)
Muhammad Siddique Qureshi (1991)
Abu Muhammad Ordoni (1992)
Muhammad ‘Amarah (2002)
Harun Yahya (2002)
‘Adil Salahi (2002)
Milka Levy-Rubin (2011)
John Andrew Morrow (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Scores of scholars and signatories to the Covenants Initiative too numerous to mention (since 2013)
Yasin T. al-Jibouri (2014)
Ahmed El-Wakil (2016)

The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World

Authenticated by
The Prophet Muhammad (d. 632 CE)
The Companions of the Prophet (7th century CE) Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali (632-661 CE) Tabari (838-923 CE)
Mas‘udi (896-956 CE CE)
Caliph Muqtafi II of Baghdad (1138 CE)
Ibn al-Athir (1160–1233 CE)

Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286 CE)
Maris (12th century CE)
Amrus (14th century CE)
Father Pacifique Scaliger (found in 1629; dated 1538 CE) René de l’Escale Pacifique de Provins Scaliger (1627) Louis XIII, King of France (1601-1643)

André Du Ryer (c. 1580-1660)
Jacobo Nagy de Harsany (b. 1615)
Gabriel Sionita (1630)
Antoine Vitray (1630)
M.J. Fabricius (1638)
Claudius Salmasius (d. 1653)
Johann Georg Nissel (1655; 1661)
L. Addison (1679)
Giovani Paolo Marana (1642-1693)
Des grossen Propheten und Apostels Muhammad’s Testament… (1664) Pierre Briot and Paul Ricaut (1668 CE)
Abraham Hinckleman (1690)
Henri Basnage de Beauval (1657-1710)
Eusѐbe Renaudot (1646-1720)
A.C. Zeller R. Abrah. b. Dior (1724)
Claude-Pierre Goujet (1758)
Edward Gibbon (1776)
Comité d’instruction publique de la Convention Nationale (1795) Jean-Baptiste Lefebvre de Villebrune (1795)
Societe d’Amis de la Religion et de la Patrie (1797)
Asiatic Annual Register (1801)
Ministers from various Evangelical Denominations (1839)
C.B. Houry (1840)

Henry Layard (1850)
Jakobs Georgios Pitzipios-Bey (1858) Sir Travers Twiss (1809-1897) Pedro de Madrazo (1816-1898) Edward Rehatsek (1819-1891)
M. Grassi (Alfio) (1826) Alexandre de Miltitz (1838) Alphonse de Lamartine (1862) Edward Van Dyke (1881)

Henry Layard (1850)
‘Abdullah al-Suhrawardy (1904 and 1905) James Thayer Addison (1887-1953) Sésostris Sidarouss (1907) Meletius IV (1922)
Ibrahim Auwad (1933)
Jeanne Aubert (1938)
Edmond Poupe (1938)

Nikēphoros Moschopoulos (1956)
Joseph Hajjar (1962)
Abdullah Alladin (1971)
Josée Balagna (1984)
Mithoo Coorlawala (2011)
John Andrew Morrow (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Scores of scholars and signatories to the Covenants Initiative too numerous to mention (since 2013)

Ahmed El-Wakil (2016)

The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Assyrian Christians

Authenticated by
The Prophet Muhammad (d. 632 CE)
The Companions of the Prophet (7th century CE)
Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali (632-661 CE)
Maris (12th century CE)
Bar Hebraeus (1226-1268 CE)
Amrus (14th century CE)
Asahel Grant (1841)
Horatio Southgate (1856)
Adolphe d’Avril (1864)
Thomas William Marshall (1865)
Bedr Khan Beg (d. 1868), his son, and his grandson
Vital Cuinet (1891)
Saturnino Ximénèz (1895)
Earl Percy (1902)
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (1904)
William Ainser Wigram (1910, 1920 and 1929)
Abraham Yohannan (1916)
Surma D’Bait Dar Shimun (1920)
J.G. Browne (1937)
Jeanne Aubert (1938)
George David Malech (1910)
William Chauncey Emhardt and George M. Lamsa (1970)
Carleton Stevens Coon (1972)
John Joseph (1983)
Gabriele Yonan (1996)
A.M. Hamilton (2004)
R.S. Stafford (2006)
Theodore D’Mar Shimun (2008)
Albert Edward Ismail Yelda (2001, 2002, 2004)
Areej Zufari (2012)
John Andrew Morrow (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Scores of scholars and signatories to the Covenants Initiative too numerous to mention (since 2013)

Ahmed El-Wakil (2016)

The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of Persia

Authenticated by
The Prophet Muhammad (d. 632 CE)
Witnessed by the Companions of the Prophet (7th century CE)
Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali (632-661 CE)
Sebēos (660 CE)
Ja‘far al-Sadiq (8th century CE)
Maris (12th century)
Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286 CE)
Amrus (14th century CE)
Shah ‘Abbas and Safavid Shi‘ite scholars (1606)
Leon Arpee (1948)
John Andrew Morrow (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Scores of scholars and signatories to the Covenants Initiative too numerous to mention (since 2013 CE)
Ahmed El-Wakil (2016 CE)

N.B. For a complete study of the sources that support the genuine nature of the Covenants of the Prophet, kindly refer to “The Provenance of the Prophet’s Covenants” in Islam and the People of the Book (Cambridge Scholars, 2017).

In addition to the bare question of authorship, I have identified what I believe are two “hurdles” to Christian acceptance of the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad. The first is the notion that the intent behind our work in disseminating these documents is simply to “whitewash” Islam, to give it a better public relations image. Nothing could be further from the truth. While some Muslims may believe that the Covenants can be used for this purpose, in reality they represent a powerful challenge to Muslims to renounce both active terrorism (which, as we will see, actually excludes those who practice it from the Muslim fold) and their half- conscious, passive acceptance of terrorists as “people whose methods we abhor, but who are still ‘our guys’”, and follow the explicit commands of our Prophet. [See my article “The Covenants of the Prophet: A Call to Repentance” at covenants-of-the-prophet-a-call-to-repentance/ ] Far from “making Islam look good”, the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad make those Muslims who are still reluctant to treat Christians and other non-Muslim religious groups with simple human decency look decidedly bad. While the vast majority of Muslims, an estimated 93%, reject jihadism, a certain reluctance to come out strongly against it is still apparent in some population groups. This is due to a mixture of shame at the bad name the jihadists are giving Islam around the world, a very real fear of terrorist reprisals if they are openly condemned, and the general passivity of human nature, irrespective of race or religion. Some Muslims still see groups like ISIS as the “black sheep” of the Muslim family, lowlife relatives whose shameful actions must be hushed up. The Covenants, however, have begun to give some of us the courage to go beyond passive shame and actively break identification with these mad dogs, based on an understanding that that they are in open violation of the Qur’an, the Islamic doctrine of just war, and the explicit commands of the Prophet—not to mention the fact that their Muslim victims far outnumber their Christian ones. This excommunication of the jihadists as intrinsically un-Islamic was formalized in August, 2016 at a conference in Grozny, Chechnnya, sponsored by Russia, which included Grand Shaykh of Al-Azhar and a number of Grand Muftis. The conference issued a group fatwa, explicitly declaring that “Salafi-takfirists, Daesh (so-called ‘Islamic State’) and similar extremist groups” are not Muslims. The fatwa was seconded by a similar statement from the Russian Council of Muftis. [See For the full text of the Grozny Declaration.] In addition to the Declaration, the turn against Takfiri terrorism in the Muslim world has resulted in literally hundreds of other declarations and campaigns against the jihadists; links to thirty of the most important of these can be found here:

The second hurdle is the suspicion among certain Christians that the Covenants may be a kind of subtle Muslim plot, concealed under a show of false friendship, to return them to a state of second-class citizenship under the dhimmi system. If they will think for a minute, however, they will realize just how unlikely this is. Outside the short-lived and bogus “Caliphate” of ISIS, which is now in the process of being painfully de-constructed, and other efforts by Takfiri jihadists, nowhere in the world are Christians in danger of falling under Muslim rule outside of those nations long-considered to be part of Dar al-Islam. And if ISIS would grant dhimmi status to the Christians who have temporarily fallen under their yoke rather than massacring them wholesale, the lot of Christians under their regime would be greatly improved. This is not likely, however: ISIS and the other Takfiri terrorists hate the Covenants of the Prophet since these documents explicitly define them as laboring under the curse of Allah and his Prophet; there is even some indication that Da’esh may be searching for whatever Prophetic Covenants might remain in their conquered territories, possibly housed in ancient monasteries, in order to destroy them. As for the situation of Christians in Muslim-majority nations, no nation that is not officially Muslim could conceivably have the authority to enforce the provisions of the Covenants after a century-long hiatus, which in any case would require renewed negotiations between Christians and Muslims, like those that took place in the Prophet’s time, before both parties agreed to the terms of any particular new treaty based on the Covenants model. The rights granted to Christians under the Covenants, which lay both duties and rights on Muslims as well as Christians, if they could be renewed today would certainly represent an improvement in the status of Christians in some Muslim-majority nations—Turkey for example, where an enforcement the provision that Christians must not be prohibited from repairing their buildings would represent a real gain for the Christian population. Such a development, however, seems highly unlikely from many points of view.

It is the position of the Covenants Initiative that, in the absence of a Muslim political entity like the Ottoman Empire, or a viable plan to renew the Covenants within an officially Muslim nation such as Iran—which would require equitable negotiations between Christians and Muslims involving a detailed revision and updating of the terms of the original agreements, thus doing away with their status as actual Covenants of the Prophet—another approach is required. Muslims, whether or not they are part of the ulama (the religious authorities), need to discern the basic intent of the Prophet Muhammad in drafting these documents, and make it their own. Muslims must embrace the spirit of the Covenants as individuals, and then try their best to prevail upon their governments to embrace that spirit as well—because the Prophet did not declare the Covenants binding upon all Muslims only until the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but until the end of time. Anyone who reads the texts of the Prophetic Covenants will necessarily be struck with the great respect and admiration Muhammad felt toward the followers of Jesus, expressed in terms of a noble and chivalrous pledge to defend them from all who would menace them, non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

It is also necessary to mention that, while groups like ISIS certainly seek membership among Muslims with Wahhabi or Takfiri/Salafi beliefs, plenty of evidence is now emerging that ISIS itself was formed with help from the West as part of its geopolitical brinksmanship against Syria, Russia and Iran; see the article in the Guardian by Seumas Milne, “Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq” at

It only remains to say that, as soon as Christian leaders have satisfied themselves as to the validity of the Covenants of the Prophet, their existence should be widely publicized, and no effort spared in getting them into the hands of the Christian communities who need them. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World is quite a hefty volume; it contains exhaustive arguments, both textual and historical, for the validity of the Covenants, and provides a great deal of background. More appropriate for bulk distribution is the pamphlet-sized Six Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time which contains only the actual texts of these documents. This book has already been translated into 14 languages: English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Persian, Turkish, Dutch, Indonesian, Tamil, Russian, Azeri and Urdu. The English and Azeri editions have already appeared. As soon as various arrangements for publication of the rest have been finalized, we intend to make them available in bulk, free of change, to any Christian leader who can show us a viable plan for their distribution to Christian communities presently under terrorist threat, or possibly vulnerable to such threat in the future.

As opposed to the more usual interfaith initiatives, where religious dignitaries meet and smile at each other in various “safe spaces”, in contexts that exert a subtle but constant pressure upon them to soft-pedal any “divisive” doctrines, the Covenants Initiative neither requires nor encourages any degree of doctrinal agreement between Christians and Muslims. Rather, it is an example of what I call “united front ecumenism”: the will to make alliances between the faiths in the face of common enemies. Christians need not accept Muhammad as rasul Allah, a Messenger sent by God. All that’s required is that they accept him as a religious leader with a great respect and veneration for the followers of Jesus, one sworn to defend them against all comers. As for how the Six Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time and our other documents might be used by Christian communities in danger of attack, it’s pretty obvious that showing them to the Takfiris themselves would be worse than useless; the Takfiris care nothing about the commands and prohibitions of the Prophet Muhammad, and often react with violence against those who do. However, this book could be of great help to Christians in establishing ties with local Muslims who, while in no way supporting terrorism, may be uncertain as to how to respond in a situation where armed Takfiris claiming to be Muslims are beginning to issue threats, or have already appeared in force. We would be glad to provide any interested Christian leader with single copies of The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World and Six Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time, free of charge. In return we hope that these leaders will begin to consider how the books could best be distributed to local Christian communities in various parts of the world. Upon submission of viable plans for such distribution, we will to provide additional copies of Six Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time, also free of charge, so they can be forwarded to Christians in need of the kind of protection they could potentially provide.

Let any Christian leader or activist who is interested in receiving one copy of each of The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World (now available in English and Italian, and hopefully soon in Arabic) and Six Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time, free of charge, place his or her order via the contact form at As already noted, only the English and the Azeri versions of the Six Covenants are presently available; please feel free, however, to request a copy in Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Persian, Turkish, Dutch, Indonesian, Tamil, Russian or Urdu; we will provide one, again free of charge, as soon as it is published in the language you’ve requested.

In conclusion, please don’t take too long to decide whether or not to participate; these documents can save lives.

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Dr. John Andrew Morrow is a senior scholar specializing in Islamic, Indigenous, and Hispanic Studies.