We were talking about how people who perpetrate atrocities in the name of their religion are usually ignorant of the tradition. Their ignorance stems from the fact they think they know and are sure they are right. The story was about St Catherine's Monastery in Sinai. It's a Greek Orthodox monastery, commonly called St Catherine's because the relics of St Catherine are there though its official name is the Monastery of the God-trodden Mount Sinai. It's located at the very place where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, at the foot of the mountain where Moses received the 10 commandments so you can imagine what a sacred place it is. It's the oldest inhabited monastery in Christendom but has had to face threats to its existence. one such threat was from Islamic forces in the Middle Ages. It was saved because of a letter from the Prophet Mohammed offering it protection.
According to the tradition preserved at Sinai, Mohammed both knew and visited the monastery and knew the monks there, possibly from his years in charge of his wife's caravans. When the young Muslim community moved from Mecca to Medina a delegation from Sinai asked Mohammed for a letter of protection. This was granted, and authorized by him when he placed his hand upon the document. According to the website In AD 1517, Sultan Selim I confirmed this, saving the monastery from destruction but he took the original letter of protection for safekeeping to the royal treasury in Constantinople. However he gave the monastery certified copies of this document, each depicting the hand print of Mohammed in token of his having touched the original. It was this letter that saved the monastery.
The letter is to be seen in the monastery today. This is what it says:
"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.
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 (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)."
Do the Islamic State know about this? Would they adopt it if they did? Or does the example of their founder not quite come up to their version of Islam - something found in other religions too. I think this chapter of privileges would be a wonderful template for all religions to follow. Then we would be on our way to a humanity that might be able to live in peace and harmony.