By Dr. John Andrew Morrow
The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad will come as a revelation to most Jews, Christians, and Muslims. This is no coincidence. In fact, the Messenger of Allah makes it explicitly clear that the covenants in question were not the product of his own human initiative, not the outcome of divine inspiration, but rather the actual consequence of divine revelation.
The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad, which I have brought to light in this period of darkness, constitutes an entirely new genre in the Islamic canon. While they do not form part of the Qur’an, the divinely-dictated book granted to Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah by means of the Angel Gabriel, they go beyond the narrow sense of sunnah or hadith as they are not simply orally-transmitted sayings or accounts of actions. The Covenants of the Prophet are actually unique in that they are primary sources, in this case copies of original documents which were dictated, signed and sealed by Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, himself, and written down, and witnessed, by his Companions and the scribes of revelation.
According to Islamic scholarship, the Prophet received various forms of revelation: 1) the Qur’an, which was memorized and compiled during his lifetime; 2) sacred sayings or ahadith qudisiyyah, which represents revelations not included in the Qur’an. These typically commence with “the Messenger of Allah said that Allah said.” To these two categories, it appears, we would have to include a third form of revelation: the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad which were revealed to him in the form of visions and revelations.
If this is truly the case, then the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad cannot be dismissed as inauthentic aberrations due to the fact that they do not fit into existing categories. If anything, they break the existing moulds. If they are indeed authentic, in word and spirit, then they would come second only to the Qur’an in importance. The implications, of course, are astounding as the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad require a radical re-envisioning of the Ummah or Muslim Community.
Traditional Sunni, Shi‘ite, and Sufi scholars have generally agreed that the Prophet did not provide for a specific model for an Islamic State. Many models have been proposed. Many models have been tried. All of them have fundamentally failed. If we are to believe the Covenants of the Prophet, Muhammad never attempted to establish an exclusively Muslim State. On the contrary, he strove to create an Ummah or Community, a type of federation of tribes and nations from a multitude of different backgrounds and belief-systems, all operating under the protective banner of Islam.
The brilliance of this design can only have been the product of a mastermind, Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, and not half a dozen different forgers from distinct Christian denominations, operating in different languages, and working in disparate geographic reasons. It is simply implausible that six different falsifiers could have conceived such a sophisticated societal model.
In fact, when confronted with the Covenants and the Constitution of Medina, some scholars have suggested that the Prophet was the founder father of secularism. They come to this conclusion because the Ummah he created was multi-ethnic, lingual, racial, and creedal, with equal protections provided to all. The difference, of course, was that the Ummah was not the product of the division between Church and State: the Ummah was a divinely-inspired socio-economic and political system which was ordained by the Creator of the Universe.
If this was indeed the plan of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, Muslims have seriously veered away from this magnanimous model over the course of the past 1400 years. If the Messenger of Allah were to return to the world today, he would find the systems operating in the Muslim world to be completely and totally unrecognizable, including the so-called Islamist models. Allah was, indeed, the Best of Planners (8:30), and Muslims were, indeed, the worst of heirs and executors.
Learn more about Dr. John Andrew Morrow’s work with the Covenants Initiative and receive news and updates at the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad Facebook page.
July 28, 2014 on the Angelico Press Blog