Delivered at the United Nations on September 19, 2017
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “He who does not thank people does not thank Allah.” So, let me begin by thanking people. To his excellency, President Hassan Rouhani; to the honorable Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo; to the distinguished Manuchehr Ja-farzadeh: thank you for organizing this meeting with American Muslim leaders and thank you all for attending.
For those who know me, I need no introduction. For those who do not know me, and perhaps should know me, I am Dr. John Andrew Morrow, also known as al-Ustadh al-Duktur Ilyas Islam. I am a western academic and a full professor. I am also a traditionally trained alim.
I am the author of over 30 scholarly books, the most influential of which is The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World, a work that follows in the scholarly footsteps of Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah’s al-Watha’iq, Ayatullah Ahmadi Miyanji’s Makatib al-Rasul, and Zafar Bangash’s Power Manifestations of the Sirah.
Many educated Muslims are familiar with the Covenant of Madinah, the Treaty of Najran, and perhaps, the Ashtinameh, the Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Monks of Mount Sinai, namely, with the Monastery of St. Catherine. These documents, however, merely scratch the surface. There are dozens upon dozens of covenants that the Prophet (pbuh) concluded with the People of the Book.
The principles enshrined in the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad and Imam ‘Ali (a) are simply astonishing. They are like a Universal Declaration of Islamic Human Rights and an Islamic Bill of Rights dating back to the 7th century. They have both theoretical and practical applications.
The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad have inspired a movement, the Covenants Initiative, which calls upon all Muslims to respect the rights that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) granted to the People of the Book.
The Covenants of the Prophet are backed by hundreds of Sunni, Shi‘i, and Sufi scholars. They are backed by al-Azhar. They are backed by the Grand Muftis of the Muslim world.
Imam Khamenei and Ayatullah Araki received copies of this book in 2013. They invited me to meet with them in Iran and to lecture on the Covenants of the Prophet in the Hawzah ‘Ilmiyyah. Unfortunately, due to conflicts in our schedules, I was unable to visit. Since then, I have been invited to Iran on numerous other occasions. Once again, due to my obligations, these trips did not come to pass.
Allah (swt) however, works in wonderful ways. Since 2013, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World has been translated into Spanish, Italian, and Arabic. The Arabic translation is being published in Beirut, Lebanon, by Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, under the name ‘Uhud al-Nabi li-Masihiyyi al-‘Alam.
I would like to invite you, Mr. President, as head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to lend your support to the Covenants Initiative, to help disseminate The Covenants of the Prophet, and to stimulate more studies on this critically important subject.
Let us be interfaith ambassadors and not warmongers. Let us extend the olive branch to others as opposed to threaten to blow them off the face of the earth as we just heard someone do.
We are the people of truth. We are the people of justice. And we are the people of love. This is the need of the hour and the issue of the age. Thank you.