By Héctor Manzolillo
Dhu al-Qa’dah 08, 1438
Considering the collective amnesia of most of the Muslim community over the course of the past century, the resurrection and revival of the Covenants of the Prophet (pbuh) is a phenomenon of considerable importance. Consequently, when a self-proclaimed counter-terrorist expert like Humera Khan publishes a statement saying that “We don’t need these documents,” we are obliged to ask an essential question: Who is We? In other words, who is it that does not need these documents?
Humera Khan is the Executive Director of Muflehun which her bio describes as “a think tank specializing in preventing radicalization and countering violent extremism (CVE).” Her areas of expertise include “Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), Social Media in CVE, Security Strategies, Islamic Studies, Ideology of Violent Extremism, Women in Security, Youth CVE Programs, Online Radicalization, Women CVE Programs.” She also “contributes in an advisory capacity to the US government (including FBI, DHS, DOJ, DNI, DOS, NCTC, NSC and TSA) and law enforcement agencies in several European countries.” In recognition for her services, she was awarded the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award in 2012.
“We,” of course, could be “We Muslims,” namely, “We Muslims do not need these documents.” Why any Muslim leader would dismiss documents with such profound socio-political prospects is incomprehensible. The Covenants of the Prophet (pbuh) are powerful proponents of tolerance, inclusivity, and peaceful co-existence between members of all faiths. To claim that Muslims do not need the Covenants of the Prophet (pbuh) is like saying Americans do not need the Constitution or human beings do not need the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“We” could also have a broader meaning as in “We, human beings, do not need these documents.” The prophetic pledges might be of interest to Muslims; however, they are of no consequence to non-Muslims. This is a perilous proposition for there are no documents in Islam that address the rights of non-Muslims more completely and comprehensively than the Prophet’s Covenants. What is more, the documents in question have been cherished by Jews, Samaritans, Christians, and Magians as veritable insurance policies responsible for protecting their lives, religious rights, property, and liberties. To state that “We, human beings, do not need these documents” is to deprive non-Muslims of identity and existence in the Islamic world.
The mysterious “We,” however, could have more sinister connotations and convey the sense of “We, the FBI or the State Department, do not need these documents.” Rather than represent a benefit, they are a liability. They interfere directly with the imposed dichotomy between “good Muslims” who support Western plans and lifestyles and “bad Muslims” who support sovereignty and defend Islamic values. What is more, most Western governments, including that of the United States, have embraced the principles of CVE or Combating Violent Extremism.
While nobody sane of mind and soul opposes the struggle against violent extremism, Peter Romaniuk concludes in “Does CVE work? Lessons Learned from the Global Effort to Counter Violent Extremism” that “…the achievements of CVE in practice are not yet proportional to its prominence in the public discourse.” The fact that CVE focuses on the rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders is the very manifestation of liberal nonsense. We are not dealing with wayward youth who smoke pot, sleep around too much, and consume excessive amounts of alcohol. We are dealing with mass rapists, mass torturers, and mass murderers. We should not baby them. We should behead them.
Herein lies the fundamental difference between the proponents of CVE and the supporters of the Covenants Initiative. The Covenants of the Prophet (pbuh) are clear: they demand justice. Serious crimes such as sexual assault, human trafficking, war crimes, and genocide should not go unpunished. Otherwise, the Throne of Majesty trembles with anger.
Who is “we”? and “We” is who? If one thing is clear, the “we” is not “who” we think. The “we” could not conceivably consist of the Muslim collective. The argument that the Qur’an is all that Muslims need is Qur’anically inadmissible. As Almighty Allah (swt) says Himself, “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger” (3:31, 4:59, 5:92, 24:54, 64:12). As the Qur’an states explicitly, “He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah” (4:80). It is also definitively established that “Anyone who disobeys Allah and His Messenger is clearly misguided” (33:36).
If the Qur’an is all that Muslims need, why not burn all the books of traditions? Why not place books of jurisprudence, exegesis, theology, history, and philosophy on the funeral pyre? The Ahl al-Qur’an, who accept only the revealed text, are certainly not Sunnis, Shi‘is or Sufis. Mainstream, orthodox Muslims, all accept the authenticated Sunnah. Muslims are divided into myriad sects, schools, and movements yet all of them claim to follow the same Qur’an.
Factually speaking, the Qur’an has not been used as a source of unity and uniformity in the Muslim community for as the saying goes “God unites but human beings divide.” We have had the Qur’an for approximately 1,500 years but Muslims have continued to slaughter both Muslims and non-Muslims. Why? Because they disobeyed a key, transcendental, command of the Prophet (pbuh) directed to all Muslims. They disobeyed the universally recognized mutawatir hadith of Ghadir Khumm. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) foretold that Muslims would become misguided as a result of deviant and malevolent interpretations of the Qur’an,
There will soon come upon the people a time in which nothing of the Qur’an remains save its trace and nothing of Islam remains save its name; their masjids will be full, though they are devoid of guidance. Their scholars are the worst people under the sky, from them strife emerges and spreads.
Muslims, however, could return to the straight path and set aside strife by simply applying the Covenants of the Prophet (pbuh).
Regardless of whether one believes that the Covenants of the Prophet (pbuh) that were passed down by Jews, Samaritans, Christians, and Magians are authentic, they contain the same core components as the Covenants of the Prophet (pbuh) that have survived, piecemeal, in censored Muslim sources. Even if one asserted that all the letters, treaties, and covenants of the Prophet (pbuh) in all sources are forgeries, one could not, in good faith, be a Muslim, and be a believer, if one rejects the principles that they espouse: the right to life, the right to human dignity, the right to believe, the right to worship, the right to property, and the right to protection.
“We don’t need these documents?” Really? Almighty Allah (swt) believes that we need them; otherwise, He would not have revealed them to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Messenger of Allah believes that we need them; otherwise, he would not have entered into them in the first place, would not have committed them to writing in numerous copies, would not have had them witnessed by dozens upon dozens of his companions; and would not have provided them to religious communities throughout the Muslim East.
Let’s be honest. Muslims need the Covenants of the Prophet (pbuh). The People of the Book need the Covenants of the Prophet. Human beings need the Covenants of the Prophet. We all need them now more than ever.
Editor’s note: for more on the subject, readers are referred to Power Manifestations of the Sirah: Examining the Letters and Treaties of the Messenger of Allah (2011) by Zafar Bangash, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World (2013) by John Andrew Morrow, and Islam and the People of the Book: Critical Studies on the Covenants of the Prophet (2017), authored by Dr. Morrow and a dozen leading Muslim scholars.
Héctor Horacio Manzolillo is a leading political activist who was imprisoned several times as a result of his social commitment with the oppressed and exploited. An active participant in the socio-political work spearheaded by the “Movement of Priests for the Third World,” he was expelled from Argentina by the military dictatorship in 1976 after over a year of imprisonment. Manzolillo is a political analyst who, for many years, published articles in two newspapers in the province of Corrientes in Argentina. The author of hundreds of articles, he is also the translator of over 60 Islamic books from English into Spanish, including The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. He continues, to this day, in the same line of work.