In 626 Prophet Muhammad PBUH personally granted a charter to the monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery to protect the rights of Christians and other non-Muslims “far and near” who were living in predominantly-Muslim areas. It may come as a shock to many, it’s really not that surprising that Muhammad frequently visited the Christian monks of Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt. . Below is the current day image of the Monastery, which also has a small mosque inside however never used for praying as it does not face Mecca. For those who aren’t aware, Mt. Sinai is the mountain that Moses climbed to retrieve the 10 Commandments in the Exodus chapter of the Bible. Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Horeb) is a mountain in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that is sacred to the three Abrahamic faiths due to its association with Moses. In the Old Testament, Moses is said to have received the Tablets of the Law on that mountain. In Islam, this mountain is known as Jebel Musa (meaning Moses’ Mountain’) The charter is stamped by Prophet's Muhammad name. The golden seal of Sultan Selim I, who had the Covenant authenticated by the greatest scholars from throughout the Ottoman empire in 1517. The english translation of the letter is as follow, This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. 2) No compulsion is to be on them. 3) Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. 4) No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. 5) Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. 6) No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. 7) If a female Christian is married to Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. 8) Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. 9) No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world). This charter of privileges has been honored and faithfully applied by Muslims throughout the centuries in all lands they ruled. The authenticity of letter is challenging, The Achtiname pictured earlier in this post is not the original, but actually a copy of an original from the 16th century, which was likely already a somewhat altered version of the original text written by Muhammad in 626. Dr. Aziz Suryal Atiya was a professor of Medieval History at Farouk University when he took part in The Monastery of St. Catherine and the Mount Sinai Expedition, a research project that looked into the history of the monastery and the authenticity of the Achtiname. Here’s what he had to say: “After the Arab conquest of Egypt in AD 640 , it was said that the Prophet Muhammad granted the monks of Mount Sinai a covenant whereby their lives and property became secure under Muslim rule. The existing tradition is that the original charter was taken from the Monastery by Sultan Selim I after the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The Sultan, however, gave the monks a copy of it and sanctioned its terms.” The copy now in the monastery is a copy of the certified copy given to them by the Sultan after he took the original in 1517 (supposedly for safe keeping at his palace in Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul), prompting some to question its authenticity entirely. However, the basic premise of the letter seems to have been maintained over the years, despite any small changes that may have been made to it as it passed between different hands. Either way, the fact that St. Catherine’s Monastery has lasted for nearly 1500 years, surviving through countless different rulers (both Christian and Muslim) and years of bitter religious conflicts in the Middle East, speaks volumes about the mutual respect of the faiths on this hallowed ground. Some scholars believe that the Achtiname was forged by the monks of St. Catherine’s. While finding definitive scholarly sources for this claim is somewhat difficult. In terms of chains of transmission, the ‘ahd, ahdname or ashtiname granted to the monks of Mount Sinai seems to be the strongest of all of the Covenants of the Prophet. It has been passed down by Muslims and non-Muslims alike for nearly a millennium and a half. From a scholarly standpoint, it reaches the highest degree of certainty that we can expect from a document dating back from the 7thcentury. It would take a dangerous combination of ignorance and arrogance for any scholar to dismiss this document as a forgery when faced with its illustrious lineage of transmission. Not only is its chain of narration solid, so is its content, which is in complete agreement with the Qur’an and trustworthy Sunnah. While some may argue that the Covenant to St. Catherine’s Monastery was an exceptional act limited to a particular place and people and applicable only for a specific time, the Prophet himself stipulated that its provisions applied to all peaceful Christians, who were friends and allies of the Muslims, for all time to come. What is more, the authenticity of the Sinai Covenant can increase the credence of other surviving covenants, whose validity and chain of transmission may not be as well documented and therefore doubted. Where plants prosper and our visual sense sees nothing but green, we know that there must be water. The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Monks of Mount Sinai is not simply supported by a spring, like an oasis; the greenery it produces comes closer to a tropical jungle, fed by sources, rivers, lakes, and an abundance of rain. The achtiname has been a source of life for Christians and Muslims for over a millennium and a half. May this covenant of hope continue to water seeds of peace until the end of time. Authenticity in light of Quran: "I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them" Quran: (2:256) There is no compulsion and coercion in regard to religion. "Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries." Quran: The Non Muslims are free to practice their personal laws in their personal matters. And in Islamic State Jizyah does not apply to women, children, old men and monks. "No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet." Quran: (5:01) O You who have attained to faith! Be true to your covenants. Quran: (6:108) Do not revile those whom they invoke other than Allah, because they will revile Allah in ignorance out of spite. "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." Quran: (5:5) This day all good things have been made lawful to you. The food of the People of the Book is permitted to you, and your food is permitted to them. And permitted to you are chaste women, be they either from among the believers or from among those who have received the Book before you... Disclaimer: I have read the topic in detail and have gathered information from different sources, authenticity of many of them is impossible to verify. However the purpose of writing this is to promote a healthy discussion on the subject. For more read on the topic, I would suggest to read the following book, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World by John A Marrow.