20 January, 2015
The traditional sources for knowing and understanding the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) include the Qur'an, the Hadith, and to a lesser extent, the Sirah. Dr. John Andrew Morrow has brought attention to what may be considered another foundational set of source material. As the result of research that took him to churches and monasteries across the Middle East, Dr. Morrow has collected a set of written documents ostensibly ratified by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which guarantee protections and certain rights to various Christian communities living in Dar al-Islam. Dr. Morrow has compiled these texts in his recent book, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World, which he discussed with LastProphet.info.
Can you tell us about your own path to Islam and what role the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) played in this journey?
The story of which you speak is the story of my life and would take a lifetime to recount. Even a biography could only catch a glimpse of the path I have walked. My story commences upon Creation and the call that all souls received to acknowledge Divine Unity. It continued throughout my life and the awe of Allah that I always sensed in my soul. While my Maker made me a Muslim, my parents made me a Catholic Christian, and blessed be they for doing so for I could easily have been raised as an animist, a polytheist, an agnostic, a secular-liberal relativist or even an atheist. The path was not perfect but I was indeed well advanced on the path, having been raised as a monotheist who recognized, loved, and followed Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, along with all the other prophets and messengers who came in between. My mother, may God bless her soul, would come to my room, every night, and lead me in prayer, ever since I was an infant. She taught me how to supplicate. She said that one should never go to sleep without having recited the “Our Father,” without asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness, and without praying for ourselves and others. For reasons I cannot comprehend, my mother came to lose faith, a fact that brings tears to my eyes, for she was the very person who cared for my faith, watered it, cultivated it, and helped it to grow and blossom. By the time I was thirteen years of age, I had read the Old and New Testament, the Apocrypha, and the “Lost Books” of the Bible, including Gnostic gospels of all kinds. I came to comprehend that while these scriptures contained a great deal of truth, they did not contain absolute truth; namely, scrolls had been lost, some had been reconstructed, and other had been tampered with. Consequently, I had some misgivings scripturally while, at the same time, I had some objections dogmatically. I could easily accept Jesus as the Spirit of God, the Manifestation of God, the Epiphany of God, and the Son of God, in a purely spiritual sense which conveys the most sublime of status, however, I could not, and would not, attribute divinity to Him. A being that was born and died cannot be eternal. I never, at any point in my life, accepted that Jesus was God, much less that the Holy Spirit was God. To me, God was, and will always be, the Being identified as the Father; namely, the Creator and Sustainer of the Worlds. I did not actively seek out Islam; it was Islam that sought me out. I simply responded to the call. I was never an unbeliever; I was always a believer, namely, I believed in the divine message that had reached me. Likewise, I cannot thank God enough for drawing me closer to His Light. In fact, were the water in the oceans to be turned to ink, my pen would run dry writing words of praise.
You are of mixed Amerindian ancestry and you have done a lot of work with Native American (First Nation) peoples. Can you tell me what these communities know about Islam and how they perceive the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)?
I am pleased that you speak of peoples as opposed to people. While we share some similarities, the Aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas are divided into distinct tribes and nations, speaking a multitude of different languages, and adhering to multifarious worldviews. The stereotype of idol-worshipping, human-sacrificing, polytheistic Indians is slanderous when applied to indigenous people as a whole. I make no apologies for the Aztecs, the Mayas, and other Native people who engaged in such atrocities. However, to paint us all with the same brush is unjust and unfair. Some indigenous groups were polytheists, some were atheists, and others were monotheists. My ancestors, the Indians of the Eastern Woodlands, believed in Manitou, the Great Spirit. The Iroquois also believed in the Great Spirit, whom they called Hawenneyu. To clarify, some also believed in spirits or invisible agents, but Muslims also believe in Angels and Jinn. Our God, the Creator, was very much one, and such was the case with the Lakota who worshipped Wakan-Takan, the Great Mystery. Nezahualcóyotl, the leader of the Acolhua, is also described as a proto-monotheist. The Kogui or Kágaba Indians of the Sierra Nevada practice a primordial form of monotheism. In many ways, they have maintained the ancestral religion of Adam. Many indigenous people believe in a single God, or rather, Goddess, who is manifest in all of Creation. Since they come primarily from patriarchal cultures, many Muslims are taken aback when Indians refer to God as “She.” However, this is perfectly consistent with a deeper understanding of Islam which distinguishes between the Masculine and Feminine Attributes of God and is completely compatible with the root of the name Rahman. Like all other tribes and nations, we received prophets, messengers, and holy men who taught us about the Creator and how to live our lives in balance. As the Prophet Muhammad taught, all human beings were created with a monotheistic nature.
This includes my people, the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, the majority of whom, by force or by choice, eventually embraced the Christian faith which, in some cases, namely those of polytheists, was a positive development theologically, although a catastrophe socially and culturally since so much wickedness came along with it. As for whether indigenous peoples know about Islam, most of them know nothing about Islam, the historical religion, but most of them known a great deal about islam, the perennial state of submission to the One God that predates it. In fact, many indigenous people are closer to the Creator in belief and practice than most Muslims. If an average Muslim would tell a true Indian to embrace Islam, the Indian would tell him to embrace Islam first. If a Muslim Gnostic and an Indian mystic would meet, they would immediately recognize that they walk the same inner path although its outer manifestation would vary. As for ordinary Amerindians, most of them just want to be left alone. Catholicism was forced upon them. Then, a plague of Protestant missionaries afflicted them. Now, they face the onslaught of secular immorality. If they could, many would prefer to shut the Western (and Eastern) world out. Many Indians sympathize with Muslims since they understand suffering and oppression. Hence, there is much solidarity for oppressed, persecuted, and occupied people. However, we are not blind to the faults of Muslims. I can assure you that most Indians do not view most Muslims as worthy of emulation. Muslims would first have to embody Islam if they want to have any credibility in the face of indigenous people. For there to be any possibility of success, the focus should be on Islam and when I speak of Islam, I speak of mainstream Islam, the followers of Ahl al-Sunnah, Ahl al-Tasawwuf, and Ahl al-Bayt.
How does your book, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World, enrich our understanding of the Prophet?
Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah was sent as a guide. The guidance he was given is found in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Unfortunately, most Muslims are unfamiliar with the content of the Qur’an. Consequently, many of them can easily be led astray by misguided militants who corrupt the true sense of the Scripture for paltry political and material gain in this lower life. Besides a few select sayings, the majority of Muslims has no sense of the Sunnah and lack the skills required to distinguish what is acceptable from what is unacceptable. Once again, those with soiled souls can manipulate meaning through disingenuous interpretation and turn something as beautiful as Islam into something as hideously ugly as Takfirism. Muslims are the people of ‘Iqra yet many are illiterate when it comes to true Islam. Muslims are the people of “Seek knowledge,” yet they dwell in the darkness of ignorance. In many ways, the Muslim world is in a state of modern Jahiliyyah. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World provides a perspicacious profile of the life of Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Almighty Allah be upon him. It provides a meticulous overview of major events in Islamic history. It stresses normative socio-political relations and distinguishes them from aberrations. It brings to light and highlights the letters, treaties, charters, and covenants of protection that the Prophet Muhammad granted to the non-Muslim communities of his time. It shows us how the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, interacted with peaceful polytheists, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. It presents him as a man of peace and justice at a time when his honorable name is being slandered incessantly through the words of non-Muslims and the actions of pseudo-Muslim extremists and terrorists. We all need to reacquaint ourselves with Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, and the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad helps us to do this.
Why do you think some of the documents you write about in The Covenants have been largely neglected by Muslim and Western scholarship?
Few of us realize the void in which we found ourselves after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The Caliphate, the chain that connected us back to the Prophet, was broken. The hierarchy of Muslim scholars was destroyed. In many ways, we became disconnected with our own Islamic Tradition. When I commenced to call people to the Covenants of the Prophet, 99.9% of Muslims had never heard of them before. This includes most Muslim clerics. Only a minute number of them had heard about them vaguely and had the sense that they were disputed. One shaykh, who had spent thirty years in the Islamic seminary, asked in astonishment: “Why is it that our teachers never taught us about these covenants?” The sad fact is that most of the high-ranking authorities of Islam have never studied them themselves. Likewise, knowledge of the Covenants of the Prophet is virtually absent among contemporary Europeans. If we flash back one hundred years, virtually every single educated Muslim would have known about the Covenants of the Prophet. They were treated as common fact. In the same fashion, essentially every European intellectual was familiar with them. The reality is that the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad formed the basis of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims for over 1400 years. They regulated relations between Muslims, Jews, and polytheists in Medina, through the form of a Constitution. The Prophet entered into covenants with Christian communities in Arabia, in the Sinai, in Upper Egypt, in Abyssinia, in Jerusalem, in the Levant, in Persia, and even in Armenia. These Covenants of the Prophet were used as models by Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali. Although righteousness left after the four rightly-guided Caliphs, and there were instances of despotic leaders among the dynasties that followed, most of the Umayyads, the ‘Abbasids, the Mamluks, the Ayyubids, and the Safavids adhered to the principles contained in the Covenants of the Prophet, renewed them, and respected them in their dealings with non-Muslims. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad were perfected in their implementation and reached their pinnacle under the Ottoman Empire.
While there were a few ethically-challenged Sultans, most of them followed Islam faithfully. Even when some of the rulers had shortcomings, some of them serious, they were still bound to the law: they were not above it. The Ottoman Sultans provided copies of prophetic covenants to churches and monasteries throughout their vast empire. These were all posted in prominent places in religious establishments as proof of official state protection of the Christian community. The Ottomans actually gave copies of prophetic covenants to monks to use as passports thus allowing them to travel, unfettered, throughout the empire to preach to other Christians and collect religious tithes. The claim that these covenants were forged by Christians is preposterous. They were issued, produced, and distributed by the Ottoman Empire itself. They were all sealed by the Sultan and the leading religious authorities of the time. So, how is it that the Covenants of the Prophet went from common knowledge to oblivion? The answer is clear: the demise of Islam as a political power in the world. Muslims, Christians, Jews, and members of other faiths or no faith, all lived in general harmony in a traditional Islamic system. This system, which in its Ottoman manifestation worked eminently well for nearly one thousand years, collapsed as a result of Western interference. In their famished and ravenous attempt to divide the Muslim world among themselves, European imperialists started to plant the seed of discord among Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian, Jewish, and Arab minorities, presenting the West as a model of freedom, justice, and equality, and the Ottoman Empire as a sick, dying, entity, that practiced discrimination. Both the British and the Germans used Islam as a rallying cry in order to turn Muslims against Muslims, and Muslims against Christians, while--at the same time--planting nationalist, secessionist, and separatist ideas in the heads of Christian ethnic minorities. The Ottoman Empire, like the Ummah of Islam, was based on the sovereignty of God; not the supremacy of Man. All members of the Ummah, regardless of religion, had rights, the first of which was the right to exist. The results of Western meddling were catastrophic. The Arabs, always a tribal people, had been convinced by British spies that they deserved their own nations. The Kurds were promised a homeland as were the Assyrian Christians. The Jews were enticed to abandon Islam and Muslims, their long-time friend, allies, and protectors, in favor of European Christians. In turn, the Armenians were encouraged to annex themselves to Europe, thus depriving the Ottoman Empire of vast territory. The millet system of the Ottomans, which was directly derived from the Covenants of the Prophet, could not resist outside meddling. The fundamental flaw in the Covenant-Based Commonwealth was its tolerance and compassion for minorities, groups that could be manipulated by outside forces and used to destabilize the entire system. The Ottoman Empire collapsed, the Caliphate was abolished, Turkey became a secular republic, and nationalism of all kinds shattered the entire system. The rights promised by the West never materialized. Equality, fraternity, and liberty never manifested themselves. Radical nationalism, hatred, and racism razed the remains of the Ottoman Empire to the ground leaving nothing but conflict and discord in its wake. Muslims are blamed for the horrors that ensued when the destruction of the Ottoman Empire was orchestrated by the West. Excesses and atrocities were committed on all sides. Minorities, protected carefully by the authorities for nearly a millennium, turned treacherously against their guardians. The Turks, who were now secular nationalists as opposed to Muslim traditionalists, simply could not contain the chaos. This is our legacy and explains the loss of the Covenants.
The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World is a book that wants to do more than just present disinterested academic research. What was your higher purpose in writing the book and how is this connected to your understanding of being a Muslim?
I am a man of the people and stand with the people. Unlike some academics, I am not an elitist. I believe that scholars are obliged to share their knowledge with the masses in one form or another. Knowledge is not private property. It is public property. Were I to keep it to myself, it would be a great theft. Scholarship is like the Bayt al-Mal: it belongs to the people and not to the rulers. I am not interested in pointless research. All investigation should serve a Higher Purpose. Although they are called “masters,” scholars are supposed to be “servants.”
I view academic work as an act of ‘ibadah or worship and a desperate attempt to save my soul. Consequently, I am never quenched; I am never satisfied; it is never enough. All praise is due to Allah and my praise is in my publications.
Have you been surprised by any of the reactions to The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World?
I have been both surprised and not surprised. I am always pleasantly surprised when ordinary Muslims see the truth for what it is and embrace it wholeheartedly. Reason can be a veil and some intellectuals get blinded by doubt. However, when addressing average Muslims, good Muslims, with pure hearts, all I have to do is read a Covenant of the Prophet to them. You can see light emanating from their faces and tears come to their eyes. They know that they are hearing the truth. They know for certainty that these teachings and provisions are the product of divine inspiration regardless of how they may have reached us. They have no interest in minute scholarly speculation and the hermeneutics of suspicion. They operate on a universal Muslim principle: if it agrees with the Qur’an, and the authenticated Sunnah, it is in accordance to Islam. I am also pleasantly surprised that so many leading Muslim scholars, academics, intellectuals, and professionals have come forth in support of the Covenants of the Prophet. This is not something that I expected. I also found it quite encouraging that so many diplomats, politicians, and policy-makers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, have expressed such a keen interest in these Covenants, viewing them as legal precedents with modern-day applications.
I have not, however, been surprised one iota by the resounding silence coming from certain sectors. Most Muslim leaders in Canada and the United States turned a deaf ear to the Covenants of the Prophet. Virtually every single mosque in Canada and the United States received word of the Covenants of the Prophet and was asked to sign the Covenants Initiative. Only a few took the initiative to do so. Considering the atrocious image of Islam in the mass media, one would have expected them to take advantage of such an opportunity and make such an important gesture. We never asked them to sign a decree saying that the Covenants of the Prophet are indisputably authentic; we simply asked them to confirm that they agree with the principles they contain. They refused to act. If there are those who wish to remain silent, there are also those who would like to silence us in one fashion or another. As one can imagine, the Covenants of the Prophet pose an “inconvenient truth” to pseudo-Islamist psychopaths. I am equally unsurprised that many factions have attempted to usurp the Covenants of the Prophet for their own ends. They may plot as they please, but Allah is the Best of Planners.
On the face of it, the covenants you deal with in your book were drawn up to protect Christians living in Muslim lands. However, today in Western countries some have noted a steady rise in Islamophobia and acts of discrimination targeting Muslims. How can The Covenants help Muslims living in predominantly Christian countries?
Not only do the Covenants of the Prophet have practical applications in the Muslim world, they also can serve as a model in the former Christian world, namely, the secular West. We believe in the Covenants. We believe in freedom of religion. We believe in protecting religious establishment. We believe in tolerance and compassion. The rights that we demand to be given to non-Muslims in Muslim lands we demand to receive in return in Western lands. In fact, that is exactly how it worked in the past. The Ottomans and the French entered into the Franco-Ottoman Alliance in 1536 which granted Christians special rights in the Muslim lands and Muslims special rights in Christian lands. The French King provided mosques to Muslims in France and the Turks provided churches to the Christians in the Ottoman Empire. The French and the Ottoman Caliphate were friends and allies until 1798 when the French, turned secular imperialists, invaded Egypt. So, when we see that some Europeans prohibit the Muslim headscarf, opposehalal meat, oblige Muslim girls to wear bathing suits in front of boys and men, and slander and defame the Prophet, we have the right and the obligation to object to the imposition of ideas and practices that violate the spirit of monotheistic religions. We protected your religious rights in the past. We ask that you protect our rights us in the present as we would protect your rights.
One of the best ways to correct misperceptions about Islam is by learning about the Prophet Muhammad. Many people of different faiths and even no faith at all who have studied the Prophet’s life have come to admire him and his achievements. However, the force of prejudice is strong and some might not see past the fact that he is the founder of a world religion and one so often associated with violence and oppression in the media. What is the best approach to presenting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to the world?
One of the important benefits of disseminating the Covenants of the Prophet is to show to non-Muslims what Islam really teaches. Who speaks for Islam? Is it ISIS? Is it al-Nusrah? Is it the Taliban? No. The Prophet speaks for Islam and there is no better way than to spread his message than by showcasing his own words. This is one way we can attempt to counter the dominant anti-Islamic narrative coming from certain sectors in the Western world. However, words must also be accompanied by actions. We must strive, to the best of our ability, to emulate the practical acts of solidarity, the ethics, values, and morals of the Messenger of Allah; may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
When ISIS was putting the Arabic letter ‘nun’ on Christian homes in Iraq, as a precursor to stealing their property, looting their possessions, raping, enslaving, and selling their women, and exterminating their men, Muslims should have manifested in front of churches in the West, as a show of strong solidarity with Christian believers for, by failing to do so, due to ignorance, laziness, carelessness, stupidity, cowardliness, fear or worldly interest, they justify the views of those who hold Islam and Muslims in contempt. We need to express the same solidarity that Muhammad showed. The Prophet also commanded us to maintain and repair the religious buildings of the Christians. As he explained, this does not mean that we endorse all of their beliefs: it is meant to open their hearts and to keep them friendly towards Islam and Muslims. Mow the lawn of a monastery. Help paint a Christian church. Shower them with love; not with bullets and bombs. The day may come when they will save the Muslims.
Some Westerners might be surprised to learn that Christian communities still exist today in places such as Iraq and Syria. However, since the time of the Prophet, different religious groups have lived side by side in relative peace across Muslim lands. Even critics of Islam applauded this aspect of it. Starting in the last century, the situation has begun to deteriorate, and we have seen increasing sectarian conflict. Has something fundamentally changed—ideologies, economics, political structures—that make it more difficult to enact coexistence today?
Prior to responding, please allow me to make one point: the Covenants work. They are tried, tested, and true. They are the blue-print for creating the Commonwealth of Islam, a rich mosaic of human beings, composed of various creeds, all united under the sovereignty of God and abiding by a universal code of ethics and morals. The Covenants worked until Western imperialists sprinkled the Ottoman Empire with gunpowder and started to toss matches. If the various ethnic and religious groups of the Ottoman Empire all blew themselves to pieces, who is ultimately to blame? I say, it is those who kindled the fire and doused it with gasoline. Apparently, Western imperialists have learned nothing from the lesson of the past or, perhaps, they learned the lessons perfectly well, and learned that what they did in the past was perfectly efficient. Are Western nations attempting, once again, to bring democracy, liberty, and equality back to the Muslim world as they did over a century ago? Or are they doing the same thing over again: turn Sunnis against Shi‘ites, Kurds against Arabs, Assyrians against Arabs, and Muslims against Christians? Just as Western powers used radical pseudo-Islamists to wage wars for them in centuries past, they continue to do the same thing to this day. With this said, it becomes absolutely clear that there have been profound changes that impede, to a large extent, efforts to recreate conditions of co-existence in present times since those who are materially powerful have come to control almost the entire Muslim world ideologically, economically, and politically. Co-existence can only be achieved if Muslims return to the straight path from which they have strayed. The solution to Muslim problems is not a Western one. The solution to Muslim problems is a Muslim one and that solution is to be found in the Covenants of the Prophet.
It is said European civilizations have had a hard time accepting difference. The Wars of Religion, the Inquisition, and the legacies of nationalism and imperialism are just a few historical examples. As someone who is Native American, you must be keenly aware of this. Yet today, Europe and America are perceived as beacons of tolerance and diversity, whereas Muslim-majority countries are often viewed as embodying just the opposite. How do you explain this?
In order to understand this issue better, I need to digress. World powers, particularly the Western ones, have always been able to bait and switch. Allow me to give you a clear example of the manner in which we must act. Today, in Venezuela, there is an economic war against Chavism. As a result, the country suffers from shortages of toilet paper, potatoes, meat, oil, and sugar. However, as everyone knows, there is no real shortage of such goods. Rather, large firms, who serve the interests of Western powers, have created these artificial shortages in order to soil the image of the government, in order to claim that it is a bad government, and in order to denigrate it. What a coincidence! They did the very same thing to Salvador Allende in Chile in the 1970s, to Perón in 1950, and to other independent leaders as well. Since the current “enemy” of the West is Islam, the same strategy is being used; however, this time, it is not by hoarding commodities to create artificial shortages but by creating groups of mercenaries who do the exact opposite of what the Qur’an teaches in order to get people to hate Islam. There is no limit to the hypocrisy and manipulation of the powers that be. It is in the nature of empires to have others cast stones while they feign to be “good people” who seek peace and harmony. Imperialists always present themselves as “good” while painting everyone else as “bad.”
Returning to your question, I tell such people: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Secular liberals, Christian Dominionists, and neo-Nazis assault Muslims with accusations of oppression, conquest, and genocide. Such people are ignorant of history. They may believe they have the “truth” but they certainly do not have the facts. Their interpretation of Islam is the very same as the one espoused by Takfiri terrorists. Consequently, these Western critics of Islam are much closer to pseudo-Muslim mass murderers than they are to mainstream Muslims who follow the true, tolerant, Islamic Tradition, and reject extremist misinterpretations of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The Muslim-majority countries that exist today were created by the West. They operate according to Western models. They were built upon the ruins of the Ummah of Islam. If Westerners see things they do not like in the Muslim world, they are merely seeing reflections of themselves. They turned Muslims into nationalists and then complain about the inevitable consequences of such a racist ideology. Muslims were organized as Muslims by the Prophet Muhammad. They were not organized on basis of nation or race and they viewed non-Muslims as an integral and protected part of their community. When Muslims started to identify themselves on the basis of race, language, ethnicity, sect, and school of law, they effectively returned to the Days of Ignorance.
As much as I criticize Europe and the Americas, there is much to be praised in the West. In many ways, they are more Muslim than many Muslims. In terms of infrastructure, social and health services, law and justice, and transparency, they rate higher on the Islamicity index than any Muslim-majority nation. They fall short in some areas of morality, both sexually, and militarily; however, Muslims also have some major ethical flaws, including corruption, oppression, exploitation, and sexism. I am not anti-West any more than I an anti-Muslim. As a Muslim, I aim to Muslimize West, East, North and South. I want to bring Europe and the Americas closer to Islam in the same way I want to bring the Muslim world back to Islam.
Can you tell us about some of your future projects?
By the grace of God, I am currently completing several major projects. The first involves a multilingual edition of Forty Sacred Sayings, a literary masterpiece and eloquent exposé of Islamic ethics that is famous in Sufi and Shi‘ite circles but needs to be rediscovered by many Sunnis. Besides the original Arabic, it includes English, French, and Spanish translations along with a commentary by Sidi Akram, also known as Charles Upton, a Sufi faqir.
The second is the first biography ever completed on the enigmatic Wallace Fard Muhammad, the mystery man who founded the Nation of Islam in Detroit in July of 1930 and who vanished several years later. Scholars and lay-people have been puzzled by this mystic from the East who taught intriguing and unusual doctrines to poor African Americans in Paradise Valley. As a result of fervent prayer, the identity of W.D. Fard was revealed to me in a vision, this vision lead me to a quest, and that quest resulted in the discovery of documents that identify the origin of a man who, for good or bad, can be counted as the most important figure in the history of Islam in the United States. Without W.D. Fard, there would not have been Elijah Muhammad. Without Elijah Muhammad, there would not have been Malcolm X. And without Malcolm X there would not be millions of African, Latino, and Caucasian American Muslims.
The third project traces back to research I conducted while completing my doctoral dissertation at the University of Toronto. Initially, my thesis was going to deal with Aljamiado-Morisco literature. Unfortunately, my early mentor, Dr. Ottmar Hegyi, retired. Since there were no other experts in that field in the department, I was required to change my topic. All of my research, however, had been completed. I continued to work on this project for a decade and a half, completing a history of Islam in North Africa and al-Andalus and an in-depth study of Aljamiado literature. Project number four is titled Restoring the Balance: Using the Qur’an and Sunnah to Refute Modern Distortions of Islam. An anthology of articles on a wide variety of timely topics, the work is the follow up to Islamic Insights: Writings and Reviews which appeared in 2010. As of early 2015, projects one through five were all in pre-publication process. Consequently, they should all be released at some point in 2015 or 2016.
By far the most important project I am involved with revolves around the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad. Thanks to the hard work of my colleagues around the world, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World has been translated into Arabic, Spanish, and Italian. This required an enormous amount of energy, time, dedication, devotion, and generosity on the part of Dr. Mohamed Elkouche, Dr. Ammar Sellam, Dr. Anna Maria Martelli, Dr. Said Mentak, and Abu Dharr Manzolillo. We are also preparing to publish Six Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time, a short, 50-page booklet, featuring only the covenants of the Messenger of Allah, and excluding the critical academic analysis, in Arabic, Persian, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Polish, along with any other languages we can muster up. The goal is to distribute these Six Covenants of the Prophet around the world in the hope that they can become the basis for peaceful relations between Muslims, Christians, and other communities.
As a result of the critical acclaim received by The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World, my colleagues and I are currently completing a follow-up volume titled Critical Studies on the Covenants of the Prophet that should be published within the next couple of years. Besides studies by specialists in various fields, the work is also set to include over fifty copies of prophetic covenants that I uncovered in monasteries in Egypt, Syria, and Greece, and which have never been previously published. For reasons I cannot fathom, I have been called upon to convey the Covenants of the Prophet to the world at this current crossroads in Islamic history. The mission is both daunting and humbling and cannot be achieved without the support of scholars and supporters from all sides. Consequently, we call upon supporters and sympathizers to assist us in any and all ways according to their individual capacity. I invite readers to read The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World, available for purchase here, to visit our website, www.covenantsoftheprophet.com, to sign the Covenants Initiative, to view our videos on our YouTube Channel, and to share knowledge of these priceless and praiseworthy covenants to anyone and everyone. As far as I am concerned, a copy of the Covenants of the Prophet should sit side by side with the Qur’an in every mosque and Muslim home.
Dr. John Andrew Morrow is a Full Professor at Ivy Tech. In addition to receiving his PhD from the University of Toronto, he has completed the full cycle of traditional Islamic seminary studies both independently and at the hands of a series of Sunni, Shi'i and Sufi scholars. He has published a number of articles and several books, including The Encyclopedia of Islamic Herbal Medicine, Islamic Images and Ideas: Essays on Sacred Symbolism, and The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. Aside from his academic duties, Dr. John Andrew Morrow (Imam Ilyas Islam) is the Director of the Covenants Foundation, an organization dedicated to disseminating traditional, civilizational, Islam; promoting Islamic unity; protecting persecuted Christians; and improving relations between Muslims and members of other faiths. He regularly travels the world to promote peace and justice. For more information about Dr. Morrow and his work, visitjohnandrewmorrow.com.