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From Islamic History, Lessons on Religious Freedom

Rice Magazine (Summer, 2016: p. 19) wrote a short piece on my research paper on Prophet Muhammad’s covenants with Christians. Author Amy McCaig wrote:

“Prophet Muhammad believed that freedom of religion and civic rights were important components of a ‘Muslim nation,’ according to a new analysis of the prophet’s covenants with Christians. Research by Rice sociology lecturer Craig Considine – published recently in the journal Religions – shows how the agreements emphasized tolerance. ‘These covenants were designed to protect and even defend peaceful Christian communities, not attack them,’ Considine said.

Considine studied covenants written between 622 and 632 A.D. Scholars have found the documents in obscure monasteries around the world and in books that have been out of print for centuries. All four covenants examined in the paper include an emphatic paragraph on the issue of religious freedom.

‘And even as they honor and respect me, so shall Muslims care for that people as being under our protection and whensoever any distress or discomfort shall overtake (Christians), Muslims shall hold themselves in duty bound to aid and care for them, for they are a people subject to my Nation, obedient to their word, whose helpers also they are,’ Muhammad wrote.

Considine said that as violence against Christians continues in countries such as Iraq and Syria, scholars and believers can point to the covenants as evidence that Islamic teaching cannot justify violence. ‘Prophet Muhammad’s covenants with Christians can be viewed as a kind of medicine to cure the diseases of Islamic extremism and Islamophobia,’ he said. ‘His message radiates compassion and peace.'”


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