In the last few days, we have read about attacks on Christians in Iraq, Egypt and Nigeria. It seems that lessons of co-existence and pluralism are lost on the those perpetrating these horrific crimes. Furthermore, their actions are contrary to the instructions of Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
The Charter of Freedom which Muhammad granted to St. Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai in 628, the 6th year of Hegira, is, perhaps, the best illustration of his desire for inter-religious peace. This monumental document is unprecedented in the history of mankind. It states:
“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 the Christians of the East and 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 places of worship, I will repel his enemies withmy 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 or 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 poll 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 to 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 Judgement Day.”
(Signed: Muhammad, the Messenger of God. ([Letters of the Messenger])
As a member of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I categorically condemn all violence and attacks on innocent Christians and their places of worship. The actions of these extremists are anti-Islamic and anti-humanitarian. Lets hope and pray that this year will be better than the last.