By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, MMNS
The pope, the most revered figure in the Catholic world, infallible to his followers and the representative of God to his co religionists, quoted a 14 th century monarch in his argument about jihad. The quote of the emperor was a political statement heavily influenced by his ongoing conflict with the Ottoms, not worthy of giving any credibility. Yet, the pope chose to repeat it.
The speech writers of the pope should be better-educated when making references to other religions. If they had looked at the book The Spread of Islam in the World: A History of Peaceful Preaching, written by 19th century historian Thomas Arnold, they might not have quoted the passage of the emperor.
Stronger than the book are the words of Prophet Muhammad (s) himself with regard to Christians.
In 628 CE, Prophet (s) sent a charter of freedom to St. Catherineâ€™s Monastery in Mt. Sinai–in which we see the true magnificent nature of the Holy Prophet (s).
This is a message from Muhammad bin Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily, the servants, the helpers, my followers, and I defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion is to be on them.
Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslimsâ€™ houses.
Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil Godâ€™s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).
Does this letter leave anything out to counter the claim of the Byzantine emperor that Prophet Muhammad (s) preached his faith with sword? I leave it to the pope to judge for himself.