Mercy for All Peoples – Part 1: The Prophet of Islam and Christians
February 26, 2007 § 1 Comment
In Christian circles – and particularly in the West – it is widely believed today that Islam is a threat to Christians, to Christianity and to Christian values. Few men have been more hated, maligned, caricaturised, and misunderstood in the West than the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of God be upon him).
However, Western intellectuals who took the trouble to study, in a dispassionate and unbiased way, the most revered figure of Islam – whom God calls “a Mercy for all peoples” (Qur’an: Chapter 21) – were profoundly touched by the magnanimity and noble character of Muhammad, the Messenger of God.
Annie Wood Besant, that well-known English theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer and orator of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, was moved to write:
“It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.” (Annie Besant, THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF MUHAMMAD)
George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright, critic and political activist requiring no introduction in the West, wrote:
“I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man – and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness…” (George Bernard Shaw, THE GENUINE ISLAM, Volume I)
So what was it that prompted Western intellectuals to write of their admiration for Muhammad (pbuh)? We propose to present a series of posts on some of the aspects of the Prophet’s character and life that are not widely known in the West.
How did Muhammad, that man of whom Western nations are so distrustful, address the peoples of Christianity? The following charter extended to Christians by the Holy Founder of Islam – an amazing document when one considers that it was composed in the 7th Century AD, an age of much savagery and darkness – shows without a shadow of doubt that not only had the Holy Prophet (pbuh) guaranteed Christians of all times and of all parts of the world freedom of expression, of religion and of residence, but he had also given his word of honour that they would be guaranteed assistance and full protection. He ordered all his followers to strictly observe the covenant until the Day of Judgment. Can the like of such a generous document be found at any other point in history?
THE CHARTER OF FREEDOM
Granted to Christians by the Prophet Muhammad
This document is valid until the Day of Judgment
“This is the document which Muhammad, the son of ‘Abdullah, God’s Prophet, Warner and Bearer of glad tidings, has caused to be written so that there should remain no excuse for those coming after. I have caused this document to be written for Christians of the East and the West, for those who live near, and for those of the distant lands, for the Christians living at present and for those who will come after, for those Christians who are known to us and for those as well whom we do not know.
Any Muslim violating or distorting what has been ordained will be considered to be violating God’s Covenant and will be transgressing against His Promise and by doing so, will incur God’s wrath, be he a monarch or an ordinary subject.
I promise that any monk or wayfarer who will seek my help on the mountains, in forests, deserts or habitations, or in places of worship, I will repel his enemies with my friends and helpers, with all my relatives and with all those who profess to follow me and will defend them, because they are my covenant. And I will defend the covenanted against the persecution, injury and embarrassment of their enemies in lieu of the poll tax they have promised to pay. If they prefer to defend their properties and persons themselves, they will be allowed to do so and will not be put to any inconvenience on that account.
No bishop will be expelled from his bishopric, no monk from his monastery, no priest from his place of worship, and no pilgrim will be detained in his pilgrimage. None of their churches and other places of worship will be desolated or destroyed or demolished. No material of their churches will be used to build mosques or houses for the Muslims; any Muslim doing so will be regarded as recalcitrant to God and His Prophet. Monks and Bishops will be subject to no tax or indemnity whether they live in forests or on rivers, in the East or in the West, in the North or in the South. I give them my word of honour. They are on my promise and covenant and will enjoy perfect immunity from all sorts of inconveniences. Every help shall be given them in the repair of their churches. They shall be absolved of wearing arms. They shall be protected by the Muslims. Let this document not be disobeyed till Judgment Day.”
Signed: Muhammad, the Messenger of God
(Quoted from Makâtîb-ur-Rasûl [Letters of the Messenger], printed in Beirut, Lebanon)
If today in certain Muslim countries Christians are not guaranteed some of their basic human rights, justice would require that instead of blaming and maligning the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), they criticize those Muslim leaders guilty of disobeying the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and of not respecting the solemn guarantee he had offered to Christians.