The Higher Learning.com – 30/11/15
Prophet Muhammad ‘s Letter to the Monks of St. Catherine in Mt. Sinai offering protection religious freedom and peace.
Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, lived from 570-632 AD. Muslims believe that he is the final prophet of the monotheistic Abrahamic tradition, which includes Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.
So although it may come as a shock to many, it’s really not that surprising that Muhammad frequently visited the Christian monks of Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt.
For those who aren’t aware, Mt. Sinai is the mountain that Moses climbed to retrieve the 10 Commandments in the Exodus chapter of the Bible.
Muhammad had a great relationship with the monks, engaging them in discussions about science, philosophy and spirituality, among other topics. Their teachings had a great influence on the Muslim prophet.
In the year 622, Muhammad fled his hometown of Mecca in Saudi Arabia after hearing of an assassination attempt on his life. He and his followers (who left the city with him) settled in the city of Medina, where they officially established the religion of Islam. This pilgrimage is known in Islamic tradition as the Hijra.
In 626 (according to the current copy in St. Catherine’s Monastery), Muhammad personally granted a charter to the monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery to protect the rights of Christians and other non-Muslims “far and near” who were living in predominantly-Muslim areas.
In the letter, Muhammad made it known to his followers that Christians had the right to freedom of religion and movement within Muslim communities.
He decreed that they had the freedom to appoint their own judges and handle their own property, as well as exempting them from any taxes mandated by Islam or an Islamic government:
“They [Christians] must not give anything of their income but that which pleases them—they must not be offended, or disturbed, or coerced or compelled. Their judges should not be changed or prevented from accomplishing their offices, nor the monks disturbed in exercising their religious order…
No taxes or tithes should be received from those who devote themselves to the worship of God in the mountains, or from those who cultivate the Holy Lands.”