Rumi’s Garden -By the Grace of God - recently received the Ashtiname of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ which is a beautiful and important of a covenant!
Ashtiname is a Persian means "Book of Peace". This is a word often designated to treaties and covenants. We have obtained the document directly from the Museum of St. Catherine's Monastery - whom in turn are the caretakers of it. At Rumi’s Garden, we strongly feel that this blessed covenant is the most profound message against the oppression faced by minorities in Muslim lands.
A cross-section from the Ashtiname received by Rumi's Garden.
The Ashtiname is an agreement that the Prophet ﷺ personally made with the Christians of St. Catherine's Monastery in Egypt in 4 Hijri (approximately 625 CE). Evidence shows that the original document was written by Sayidna Ali and signed and sealed with our Beloved’s ﷺ blessed palm print.
According to the monks' of St. Catherine's Monastery and their well kept history, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ visited them and had deep relationships and discussions with the Sinai fathers.
Several certified historical copies of the Ashtiname are displayed in the library of St. Catherine’s Monastery to this day, some of which were witnessed by the judges of Islam to affirm historical authenticity.
The monks claim that during the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in the Ottoman–Mamluk War of 1516–17, the original document was seized from the monastery by Ottoman soldiers and taken to Sultan Selim I's palace in Istanbul for safekeeping. A copy was then made to compensate for its loss at the monastery.
The Ashtiname of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is a fascinating oath that he took on behalf of all Muslims. It is a covenant of extreme importance and it gives Muslims very strong directives on how to take care of our non-Muslim brothers and sisters on a personal, social and political level. In the Prophet’s ﷺ own words, he says:
“This is a letter which was issued by Muhammad, Ibn Abdullah, the Messenger, the Prophet, the Faithful, who is sent to all the people as a trust on the part of God to all His creatures, that they may have no plea against God hereafter. Verily God is Omnipotent, the Wise. This letter is directed to the embracers of Islam, as a covenant given to the followers of Jesus the Nazarene in the East and West, the far and near, the Arabs and foreigners, the known and the unknown.
This letter contains the oath given unto them, and he who disobeys that which is therein will be considered a disbeliever and a transgressor to that whereunto he is commanded. He will be regarded as one who has corrupted the oath of God, disbelieved His Testament, rejected His Authority, despised His Religion, and made himself deserving of His Curse, whether he is a Sultan or any other believer of Islam.”
So what is this oath that our Beloved Prophet ﷺ has made which can have repercussions on our own personal afterlife? What is this oath, that if we break it, can lead us to disbelief in God, Islam and The Messenger of God ﷺ?
The following 11 points are a breakdown of the oath that we as Muslims are all bound by, according to the blessed Ashtiname.
11 Point Breakdown of the Ashtiname of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
1) As Muslims, we must protect the wellbeing of Christian monks, devotees and pilgrims. This applies to their physical health, their properties and their morals whether they be in the mountains or valleys, dens of plains or in their houses of worship. The Prophet swears by his own very Self, his Friends, and his Assistants, that the Christians are his subjects and under his Protection.
2) The Prophet ﷺ insists that Christians should absolutely not be disturbed. From their income, they should not give anything except what they are willing to give. They should not be offended, coerced or compelled. Their judges should not be removed or stopped from accomplishing their work, nor should monks or hermits be disturbed from exercising their religion.
3) Plundering the Christians is forbidden. Their churches must not be destroyed or spoiled nor can their houses of worship be plundered. Muslims are not allowed to take what is belongs to the Christians and bring the stolen goods to the houses of Islam. The Prophet says: ‘And he who takes away anything therefrom, will be one who has corrupted the oath of God, and, in truth, disobeyed His Messenger.’
A cross-section from the Ashtiname received by Rumi's Garden containing the names of the witnesses of the signing.
4) The Jizya tax is forbidden to be placed on judges, monks, and those whose vocation is the worship of God. Nothing is to be taken from them whether it be a tax, fine or an unjust right. The Prophet ﷺ says: ‘Verily I shall keep their compact, wherever they may be, in the sea or on the land, in the East or West, in the North or South, for they are under My Protection and the testament of My Safety, against all things which they abhor.’
5) For those who devote themselves to God, no taxes or tithes should be taken and no one should interfere with their affairs or take action against them. Rather, when crops grow, a provision of wheat should be given to them without anyone saying 'this is too much', or imposing payment.
6) No one should impose on the Christians exile and they shouldn’t be forced to carry arms and go to war. It is the Muslims who must fight for them.
7) Muslims must not dispute or argue with Christians, but must deal with them according to the verse in the Holy Quran: ‘Do not dispute or argue with the People of the Book but in that which is best’ [29:46]. They should live well and protected from everything which may offend them, wherever they may be and in any place they may dwell.
8) If any Christian woman is married to a Muslim, the marriage should not occur unless it has her full consent. As a Christian wife, she must not be stopped from going to her church for prayer.
9) Christian churches must be honored and Christians must not be stopped from building churches or repairing convents.
10) The Prophet ends the covenant by stating: ‘It is positively incumbent upon every one of the followers of Islam not to contradict or disobey this oath until the Day of Resurrection and the end of the world.’
11) Besides the handprint of our Beloved Prophet, the covenant lists the witnesses of the signing which includes Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhafah, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, Abu al-Darda, Abu Hurayrah, Abd Allah ibn Masud, Abbas ibn Abd, al-Muttalib, Harith ibn Thabit, Abd al-‘Azim ibn Hasan, Fudayl ibn ‘Abbas, al-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam, Talhah ibn ‘Abd Allah, Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh, Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubadah, Thabit ibn Nafis, Zayd ibn Thabit, Abu Hanifah ibn ‘Ubayyah, Hashim ibn Ubayyah, Mu‘azzam ibn Qurashi, Abd Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As and Amir ibn Yasin.
A cross-section from the Ashtiname received by Rumi's Garden containing the name of Sayidna Ali bin Abi Taleb.
Authenticity of The Ashtiname of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
Authenticity was historically given to the covenant by Caliph al-Mu‘izz (953-974 CE), Caliph al-‘Aziz (975-996 CE), Caliph al-Hakim (996-1021 CE), Caliph al-Zahir (1024 CE), Vizier al-Afdal ibn Badr al-Jamali (1094-1121 CE), Caliph al-Hafiz (1134 CE), as well as by the Decree of Shirkuh (1169 CE). It was authenticated by the Ayyubids Caliphs (1195, 1199, 1201/02, and 1210/11 CE), by the Mamluk Decrees (1259, 1260, 1272, 1268/69, 1280 and 1516 CE), and by all the Ottoman Sultans from 1519 all the way to 1904.
Furthermore, the covenant was a primary source document that was reviewed by the Fatimids, Ayyubids, and Mamluks. It was verified often by the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanbali and Ismaili schools of Islamic jurisprudence. The Monastery of St. Catherine’s has a collection of nearly 2,000 fatwas regarding the Ashtiname, from various scholars ranging from the years of 975 to 1888 CE.
A cross-section from the Ashtiname received by Rumi's Garden.
At the Eve of Ramadan of May 2018 - when most of us are preparing for a month of devotion and inner work - in Surabaya (Indonesia), a wave of suicide bombings occurred against Christians. The attack included two church blasts, killing 13 people and injuring many more. A third attack was foiled, and this saved many lives. What is most disturbing is that the attacks were done by families, including children and teenagers. ISIS claimed these attacks.
How contradictory to the spirit of Islam are these actions against our brothers and sisters of other faiths? What about the atrocities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt against minorities who have lived in these areas for hundreds - if not thousands - of years?
While we should not overlook that more Muslims have been killed by Christians than Christians by Muslims throughout history, we need to understand that murder is not the way of our Beloved Prophet ﷺ. Indeed, it puts us out of the fold of Islam for God calls us to the Abode of Peace. The Bible too, in the Sermon on the Mount states: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’
Atiya, Aziz Suryal (1955). The Arabic Manuscripts of Mount Sinai: A Handlist of the Arabic Manuscripts and Scrolls Microfilmed at the Library of the Monastery of St. Catherine, Mount Sinai. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
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