By Charles Upton
8 December 2015
When Dalia Mogahed recently told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that Muslims should not continually be challenged to condemn terrorism—especially in light of recent statements by Donald Trump and others—she was right. No government, no president and no presidential candidate has the right to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism; if the federal government or any agency thereof were to make such a demand, a demand based entirely on religious affiliation, that would be a great blow to freedom of religion in this country—and anyone who thinks that such a precedent would not be turned against other religions, probably beginning with Christianity, is politically naïve and has not been paying attention. If the U.S. government can demand that Muslims take what amounts to a loyalty oath, it can certainly demand that Christian churches support this or that social agenda or lose their non-profit status.
No government, no candidate for office, no non-Muslim entity or individual has the right to demand that Muslims, specifically as Muslims, perform this or that action, or adhere to this or that belief. U.S. Muslims are bound by the Shari’ah, by same the civil laws that apply to all U.S. citizens, by their conscience, and by nothing else. But there is one group who has not only the right but the duty to demand that Muslims renounce terrorism, and that group is—Muslims themselves. The Holy Qur’an, through many Aayat; the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, in many Hadiths and through his covenants with the Christians and Jews of his time; and the holy Shari’ah as well, absolutely prohibit terrorist actions against any group, just as they prohibit making any sort of war against, or misappropriating the property of, peaceful Christians, peaceful Jews, and law-abiding Muslims. Groups such as ISIL have violated every one of these laws, rulings and commands, slaughtering Muslims as heartlessly as they have killed Christians, Yazidis and members of other religions and in doing so have put themselves outside the Muslim fold. Consequently it is the duty of Muslims not only to renounce the methods of these bands of terrorist mad dogs who have falsely appropriated and viciously soiled the name of Islam and the reputation of our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, but to actively oppose them by any means necessary, doing all we can to see that they are exposed, defeated, and brought to justice—as if merely making excuses for ourselves, tremulously protesting that we are “not all terrorists”, were in any way an adequate or an honorable response. Donald Trump or Barack Hussein Obama may accuse us or defend us, may flatter us or slander us, but to us their words mean nothing; they are ash in the wind. As Americans we are bound by the civil laws of the nation in which we live, but as Muslims, the words of presidents and presidential hopefuls can in no way bind us: our loyalty is pledged to the Prophet, to the Holy Qur’an, to Almighty and All-Just Allah, and to no-one else.
How are Muslims to answer the demand of our tradition, our law, our Prophet and our Holy Book to renounce the crimes committed in their name? How are we to combat the criminals who continue to commit them? How are we to renew our pledge of loyalty to our Prophet in the face of the atrocities? As one possible course of action, we recommend that Muslims sign the Covenants Initiative.
In October of 2013 a book by Prof. John Andrew Morrow—Imam Ilyas ‘Abd al-‘Alim Islam—appeared entitled The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World [Angelico/Sophia Perennis, 2013]. The covenants of the Prophet with various Christian communities, which Prof. Morrow has rediscovered in obscure monasteries and collections and sometimes newly translated, also providing powerful arguments for their validity, uniformly state that Muslims are not to attack peaceful Christian communities, rob them, stop churches from being repaired, tear down churches to build mosques, prevent their Christian wives from going to church and taking spiritual direction from Christian priests and elders, etc. On the contrary, the Prophet commands Muslims to actively defend these communities, with military action if necessary, “until the End of the World.” Based on Dr. Morrow’s research we have started an initiative—the Covenants Initiative—which invites Muslims to subscribe to the theory that these covenants are legally binding upon them today. The heart of the Covenants Initiative is the following Declaration:
We the undersigned hold ourselves bound by the spirit and the letter of the covenants of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) with the Christians of the world, in the understanding that these covenants, if accepted as genuine, have the force of law in the Shari’ah today and that nothing in the Shari’ah, as traditionally and correctly interpreted, has ever contradicted them. As fellow victims of the terror and godlessness, the spirit of militant secularism and false religiosity now abroad in the world, we understand your suffering as Christians through our suffering as Muslims, and gain greater insight into our own suffering through the contemplation of your suffering. May the Most Merciful of the Merciful regard the sufferings of the righteous and the innocent; may He strengthen us, in full submission to His will, to follow the spirit and the letter of the covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the world in all our dealings with them. In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds.
Any Muslim who wants to sign this Declaration or learn more about the Covenants Initiative may go to http://www.covenantsoftheprophet.com/ . And Dr. Morrow’s website may be accessed at: http://johnandrewmorrow.com/ . Time is short. The covenants of the Prophet Muhammad must be inserted as quickly as possible into the dialogue about how to deal with global terror. For God’s sake, why not? Is there any man or woman of intelligence and good will, Muslim or non-Muslim, in or out of the media, who thinks it would be a good idea to conceal the recorded words of the Prophet Muhammad himself condemning terrorism and commanding all Muslims, till the end of time, to live peacefully and justly with those of other religions? Exactly what good purpose would be served by such concealment?
And since some are apparently thinking of issuing demands to and placing restrictions upon U.S. Muslims based on their religion alone, we respectfully announce a counter-request—one which will only become a full-fledged counter-demand if the U.S. government or any of its agencies attempt to enforce laws or rules upon Muslims which are not equally binding upon all Americans or all persons seeking entry into the United States. Our request is that an adequate answer be made—and by “adequate” we mean convincing—to the following question:
“Why did the United States veto the resolution introduced by Russia before the U.N. Security Council in September of this year to have ISIL declared an independent terrorist organization on the Council’s sanctions list, seeing that ISIL is now operating independently of al-Qaeda, and in view of the fact that al-Qaeda has declared itself an enemy of ISIL on at least one occasion?” This would seem at the very least to indicate a lack of resolution on the part of the Obama administration to vigorously prosecute the war against terror.
We Muslims have all we need from our own religion and tradition to brand ISIL and the other Takfiris as the devil-worshippers they are. Instead trying to meet some mark that secular culture sets for us—a culture that can only play the less-than-convincing role of guardian of human rights and civic virtue when matched against the worst criminals on earth—we need to recover, hopefully with the help an interested and open-minded media, our own supremely humane and civilized standard of what it is to be a human being. All we need to do then is act on it.