Forbes just published an article by Melik Kaylan which caught my attention and the attention of some of my colleagues. Kaylan refers to The Covenants Initiative, a body of scholars in the West which is spearheading a movement to promote Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with the Christians of his time. These Covenants have been well documented by scholars, primarily by John Andrew Morrow, who brought them to life back in 2013 with his groundbreaking book.
As Kaylan mentions in his piece, successive Caliphs renewed the Covenants, which can be read here, because they provided explicit declarations of tolerance or, as some have theorized it – religious pluralism.
According to Kaylan, the Covenants demonstrate “incontrovertibly that the basic Wahhabist or Salafist notion of indiscriminate jihad amounts to heresy.” He proceeds:
… in the context of ISIS specifically, which purports to be a Caliphate founded on strict adherence to originalist tenets – [the Covenants are] a bombshell. With Mohammad’s own imprint on them they represent the strictest orthodoxy. There’s nothing mysterious about why people, and governments, forgot about the Covenants in the largely secular twentieth century… As sharia makes a widespread comeback in the Islamic world, the message of the Covenants becomes acutely germaine.
In his interview with Morrow, Kaylan asked several pertinent questions to which Morrow responded with clarity and courage. Morrow states in the writeup: “There’s a lot of money spreading dangerously partial knowledge [of Islam]. Our aim is to turn a scholarly pursuit into a movement to raise awareness worldwide among Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”
The Covenants Initiative, Morrow explains, has dozens of contributors and academics in many countries that are translating the Covenants into many languages. “It’s a pretty young endeavor but we’re gaining ground,” Morrow adds.
Kaylan ends his review of the Covenants Initiative by stating the following: “It’s really astonishing, not to say egregious, that we in the West are not mobilizing this resource with so much at stake. What have we got to lose?”
Indeed, what have we got to lose?