Lesson 5

LESSON 5: 

The Role of the Spirit and the Letter of the Covenants in Interfaith Action Today

by Charles Upton

As we are all painfully aware—if we’ve been paying attention—the three Abrahamic religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, along with other traditional religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, are under attack in these times. How are we to respond? And what role could the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him, play in this response?

Many courageous responses have already taken place, which together represent an international movement for interfaith mutual defense. Faatimah Knight has solicited contributions from Muslims to repair Christian churches burned in the southern USA by domestic terrorists. Catherine Orsborn of the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign has organized Christian congregations in the U.S. to fight Islamophobia. Muslims have raised funds to help the congregation of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, hit by a mass shooting in 2018; the same synagogue raised money to help the congregations of the Al-Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand, also sites of mass shootings the following year. Muslims around the world have banded together to protect Christian churches from ISIS.

All these actions are perfectly in line with the Prophetic Covenants, even though many of the Muslims involved may never have heard of these documents; this demonstrates that the chivalrous example of the Prophet Muhammad, despite the great damage done by Wahhabism, still lies hidden in the ummah, ready to make its appearance in these times of Fitnah, the Tribulation. The links below to articles and YouTube videos will give the history of some of these actions.

5.1—Video:

Faatimah Knight, “Faatimah Knight Demonstrates Real Interfaith Cooperation in Parliament Keynote”, October 16, 2015: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbxrPjTyCao

5.2—Article:

Carol Kuruvilla, “This Christian Is Fed Up With Islamophobic Rhetoric—And She’s Leading a National Organization to Do Something about it.”  Huffington Post,

March 10, 2016 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/islamophobia-catherine-orsborn-shoulder-to-shoulder_n_56df1424e4b03a40567a44be?guccounter=2

 5.3—Video:

“Interfaith Iftar 2019: Catherine Orsborn”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkxyTwjsRO4

5.4—Article: 

Matthew Haag, “Muslim Groups Raise Thousands for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Victims,” New York Times, October 29, 2018: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/us/muslims-raise-money-pittsburgh-synagogue.html

5.5—Article: 

Alex Horton, “Their fellow congregants died in Pittsburgh. Now Jews are supporting Muslims in New Zealand.” The Washington Post, March 18, 2018

https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/03/18/their-congregants-died-pittsburgh-now-jews-are-supporting-muslims-new-zealand/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.bd5d2b76e23e

5:6—Articles: 

Muslims Defending Christians Around the World 

https://charles-upton.com/2019/10/03/muslims-defending-christians-around-the-world/

5:7—Text: 

The New Era in Interfaith Action: Mutual Aid and Defense

by Charles Upton

It has been undeniably demonstrated to us at the Covenants of the Prophet Foundation that the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad have already become a formidable weapon in the non-violent arsenal of this new generation of interfaith activists, one capable of inspiring a wide spectrum of actions for mutual aid and defense against the enemies of religion, whether these forces are working independently or operating as part of a larger effort co-opt, weaken and terrorize the traditional religions, if not wipe them from the face of the earth. ISIS, who have killed far more Muslims than Christians, itself is part of this effort to destroy not only Christianity but any form of Islam that its leadership does not agree with.

The attacks that the religions have sustained in recent years against their worldviews and their places of worship will not, unfortunately, be the last; ad hoc responses to the latest atrocity, while inspiring, must lead on to a more forward-thinking and organized plan of action. The Interfaith Movement of today is called to move beyond mutual tolerance and understanding toward a serious, thoughtful and well-informed commitment to mutual aid and protection; the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, have much to teach us about how this has been done in the past, and how it is being carried on today.

In the Constitution of Medina and his Covenants with Christians and Jews, Muhammad brought together an alliance of the Peoples of the Book for mutual defense against attacks by the Meccan Quraysh, and later by the Persian and Byzantine Empires. In exactly the same spirit, the Prophetic Covenants challenge Muslims today to work toward new alliances of protection between the Abrahamic religions, against attacks by White Supremacists, Takfiri Jihadists, Anti-Semites, Satanists, militant atheists, and whatever powerful and organized forces might sometimes use such groups as either conscious or unwitting proxies to undermine the traditional religions, create discord between them, and compromise their positive social, moral and spiritual influence on the peoples of the earth.

Since the Covenants specifically command all Muslims to defend any Peoples of the Book who are not at war with Islam or giving aid and comfort to Islam’s enemies, they can be a powerful tool in the hands of Muslim interfaith activists. Armed with the Covenants we can approach the faithful of other religions and make the following commitment to them: “The Prophet Muhammad commands us to undertake interfaith work for mutual defense, specifically to protect Christians, Jews and the followers of other religions based on Divine Revelations; since this obligation is laid by our Prophet on us Muslims alone, we offer you our protection on a unilateral basis, expecting nothing in return.” We believe that this offer is the exactly kind of generous challenge that is most likely to inspire positive responses from people of good will. In Muslim terms, this kind of action is entirely in line with the spirit of futuwwah, “heroic generosity,” a word that’s usually translated as “chivalry.”

5.8—Text:

Muslims Commanded to Protect the People of the Book

[Excerpted from The Messenger of Mercy by Dr. John Andrew Morrow]

Far from persecuting the People of the Book, namely, Jews, Christians, Samaritans, and Zoroastrians, the Prophet Muhammad commanded his followers to protect them by any moral means necessary. Here is a selection of his sayings on this important subject:

The Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever oppresses a Jew or a Christian, I will testify against him on the Day of Judgment.” (Bukhari, Abu Dawud, Mawardi, Abu Nu‘aym, Baladhuri, Jalabi)

The Prophet Muhammad said: “Whosoever kills a Jew or a Christian will not smell the fragrance of Paradise, even though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years.” (Bukhari, Bayhaqi, Ibn Zanjawayh)

The Prophet Muhammad said: “Observe scrupulously the protection accorded by me to non-Muslim subjects. Whoever oppresses the non-Muslim subjects, shall find me to be their advocate on the day of Resurrection (against the oppressing Muslim).” (Suyuti)

The Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever does injustice to a Jew or a Christian, decreases his right, burdens him for that which he cannot afford, or takes something from him unwillingly, I will raise a complaint against him on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Yusuf)

The Prophet Muhammad said: “The blood money for a Jew, a Christian, and every non-Muslim citizen is like that of the Muslim.” (Amr ibn Shu‘ayb)

The Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever kills a Jew or a Christian, God will make Paradise forbidden for him.” (Ibn Zanjawayh)

The Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever mistreats a non-Muslim will be punished on the day of judgment.” (Jalabi)

The Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever hurts a Jew or a Christian hurts me.” (Tabarani and Jalabi)

The Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever causes damage to a Muslim or non-Muslim is to be cursed.” (Abu Yusuf)

The original Arabic terms used in these traditions are dhimmi and mu’ahad, namely, “protected person” or “covenanted person.” They generally apply to Ahl al-Kitab or People of the Book, a category that includes Jews, Samaritans, Christians, and Sabians but which can also include Zoroastrians.

These terms can also apply to the broader category of Ahl al-Dhimmah or “protected people” which could include people of any faith. In Moghul India, the Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists were all treated as Ahl al-Dhimmah. When North African Muslims came across the Vikings, they placed them in the same category as the Magians. Islam, at its best, was inclusive and pluralistic. 

5.9—Text: 

The Covenants Initiative Declaration 

by Charles Upton

Any Muslim from any walk of life who wishes to accept the Prophetic Covenants as legally binding on him or her today may sign the Covenants Initiative Declaration at:

https://covenantsoftheprophet.org/thecovenantsinitiative/

The Declaration is designed as an offering of support from Muslims specifically to Christians, since most of the Covenants—eleven out of the seventeen presented above—were concluded with Christian communities. A few non-Muslims have also signed the Declaration as an expression of solidarity, but we are inviting Muslims first since our Prophet’s commands are directed specifically to us, not to other communities. Here is the text:

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, and the other Peoples of the Book in all our dealings with them.

Any Muslim, no matter what his or her station in life may be, is invited sign the Covenants Initiative. If you do not yet feel certain that signing this declaration is in line with the will of Allah, please feel free to contact the Covenants of the Prophet Foundation at with any questions or observations you may have, at

Charles.Upton@covenantsoftheprophet.org