by Charles Upton
April 3, 2020
Now that so many Muslims are in forced khalwa due to the coronavirus pandemic, and with Ramadan fast approaching, we have a suggestion as to how we might dedicate this unexpected period of free time to the restoration of social and religious life and renewal of Islam: by taking what we are calling the Covenants of the Prophet Training Course. If we are now being forced by hard necessity into “social distancing,” one positive response would to begin to envision a greater social solidarity for the time when the pandemic is past—and there is no better field for our initial expansion into this greater solidarity than the territory of the Peoples of the Book, our fellow Abrahamic faiths.
It’s a fairly easy course. It doesn’t require you to read any complete books, only the texts that appear on The Covenants of the Prophet Foundation website, plus 33 articles posted on the web and 11 YouTube videos. Also, it’s entirely free—though if you would like to be certified by the Covenants of the Prophet Foundation you will need to pass a test and make a donation to the Foundation, in any amount, no matter how small; the names of certified graduates will be posted on the Foundation website.
If you are in a leadership position in a masjid, or a college professor, or associated with an interfaith group or other relevant organization, and do not have the time to take the Training Course yourself, perhaps you could put out a call for one or more volunteers from among your staff or students or fellow worshippers who might be willing to take it, and then report back to you on their experience.
The Training Course is a concentrated summary of what is known about the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Peoples of the Book, including the texts of a number of them in English translation, plus the story of their re-discovery in our own time and their influence on world events. But it is also more than that, since it provides a tentative though fairly detailed plan for how the Prophetic Covenants can be used as an organizing tool by Muslim interfaith activists.
So if any of this appeals to you, we invite you to take the Covenants of the Prophet Training Course, and provide feedback (if you wish) to the Foundation on your experience, positive or negative. This, however, is in no way a requirement: we have made the Training Course a tool that you are free to use in your own context and for your own purposes.
Calls are now coming in from all points of the compass for a renewal of Islam; the Covenants of the Prophet Training Course is our contribution to this global effort. And unlike some more innovative and/or radical proposals, it is based on the actual words and practice of the Prophet Muhammad himself, peace and blessings be upon him, as revealed in his Covenants with the Peoples of the Book, in the Constitution of Medina, and in the Qur’an and hadith as re-evaluated in light of them—seeing that there is no greater tafsir [Quranic exegesis] or fiqh [the process of establishing rulings in Islamic law] than the actual, historical practice of the Prophet Muhammad himself—as exemplified by his establishment, by the Covenants and the Medina Constitution, of an interfaith alliance against common enemies.
The Covenants of the Prophet Training Course is available on the Foundation website at https://covenantsoftheprophet.org/the-covenants-course/ Feel free to make it yours.