a community of lovers
The recent scholarship of The Covenants Initiative highlights how the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sought to protect Christian communities, not only in his own lifetime but for perpetuity.
The Initiative is based around the research of Dr John Andrew Morrow, whom some at Rumi’s Circle had the pleasure of meeting not long ago. Dr Morrow has rediscovered (and often translated afresh) texts authored by the Prophet Muhammad that state that Muslims should defend peaceful Christian communities ‘until the End of the World’. In his book, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World, we discover that the Prophet made the following promise to Christians:
I grant security to them, their churches, their businesses, their houses of worship, 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 faith, and their religion, 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, and the People of my Community among the Muslims.
I place them under my protection, my security, and my trust at every moment. I defend them from any damage, harm or retribution. I am behind them, protecting them from every enemy or anyone who wishes them harm. I sacrifice myself for them by means of my helpers, my followers, and the People of my Community because they are my flock and the people under my protection. I extend my authority, my care, and my protection over them from every harm so that it does not reach them. No harm will reach them unless it reaches my Companions who [are there to] protect them…
With the help of poet and author, Charles Upton, Dr Morrow has gathered support from many international organisations and the list of Christian and Muslim groups giving their whole-hearted backing is growing steadily. The Initiative’s European tour last summer was sponsored by the Canadian government and the Radical Middle Way, and Dr Morrow has spoken in Paris before ministers of the French government, in Brussels before officials of the European Union, and in London before the House of Lords. Pope Francis has received a copy of Dr Morrow’s book and blessed the Initiative. In the UK, Dr Morrow has spoken at Oxford and Cambridge, to interfaith groups, and even to Scotland Yard. He has also been asked to provide a statement to be read at the Welsh Senedd.
You can discover more about the Initiative (and become a signatory to it) here: www.covenantsoftheprophet.com
We would also like to offer some accounts from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) which indicate his belief in meeting insult and hurt with forgiveness and forbearance.
Take to forgiveness, enjoin good, and turn aside from the ignorant [Quran 7:199]. Muhammad said that when this verse was revealed to Him, Gabriel said “O Muhammad, it means you should be forbearing with the man who has insulted you, forgive the man who has wronged you, and give to the man who has denied you something”1
A man once came to the Prophet anxious to learn and follow the teachings of Islam. “He said to him, ‘Teach me something brief and to the point, so that I can easily understand and follow it. The Prophet said, ‘Do not become angry and furious.’ The man asked the same again and again, and each time the Prophet replied, ‘Do not become angry and furious.’2
An old woman had a habit of throwing rubbish on Muhammad whenever he passed by her house. When this happened, he would pass by silently without showing any anger or annoyance. This happened on a regular basis. One day, the woman was not there to throw rubbish because she was ill. The Prophet asked permission to visit her. The woman thought that he had come to take his revenge while she was unable to defend herself. But the Prophet assured her that he had only come to look after her needs, as it is the command of Allah that Muslims should visit and help anyone who is sick.3
Finally, some words from the Mevlevi Wird (the litany of daily prayers read by Mevlevi dervishes, those who follow Rumi’s path):
O our Sustainer, You are Peace and from You comes all Peace and our ultimate return is to You, to Peace.
 Helminski, The Book of Character: Writings on Character and Virtue from Islamic and Other Sources, p. 63
 Al-‘Anani, Freedom and Responsibility in Quranic Perspective, p. 206
 These events are often cited by Muslims as an example of the Prophet’s forbearance but it hasn’t been possible to find the source. We feel however, the fact that it is cited so often in Muslim circles, says something about how Muslims feel about tolerance and forgiveness.