Saint Catherine Monastery
Mount Sinai is a 2,285 metre high mountain near Saint Catherine in the Sinai region in Egypt. The St. Catherine’s Monastery is located on the foot of Mount Sinai. Christian orthodoxies settled upon this mountain in the third century.
The monastery is Greek Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; this monastery is believed to be the oldest working Christian monastery in the world.
The monastery possesses a huge collection of Christian manuscripts and icons. One of the most precious documents of all is the copy of a letter given to Christian monks by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in 628 AD.
With Islam’s rising influence in Arabia by 626 A.D., Prophet Muhammad sent a series of letters to various kings and leaders surrounding the Arab peninsula declaring his intention for peace and cooperation. In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to Prophet Muhammad and requested his protection. He granted them protection and provided them with a letter which is called the “Charter of Privileges.”
St. Catherine Monastery at Mount Sinai proudly commemorates Prophet Muhammad’s letter of protection. The original letter can be found at the royal treasury in Constantinople in Turkey. A copy is preserved and is on display at the St. Catherine Monastery.
The letter reads:
“This is a message from Muhammad, son of 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. 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 Muslims’ houses. 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.
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 of (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”