In 628, the holy prophet Muhammad granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine monastery in Mt. Sinai. This document is known as the Ashtiname of Muhammad, also known as the Covenant or Testament (Testamentum). The document promised religious equality, security, and justice. It has the imprint of prophet Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) hand. The letter was granted in 626 C.E.
The document was translated by Ashtiname by Anton F. Haddad in English:
” This is a letter which was issued by Mohammed, Ibn Abdullah, the Messenger, the Prophet, the Faithful, who is sent to all the people as a trust on the part of God to all His creatures, that they may have no plea against God hereafter. Verily God is Omnipotent, the Wise. This letter is directed to the embracers of Islam, as a covenant given to the followers of Jesus the Nazarene in the East and West, the far and near, the Arabs and foreigners, the known and the unknown. This letter contains the oath given unto them, and he who disobeys that which is therein will be considered a disbeliever and a transgressor to that whereunto he is commanded. He will be regarded as one who has corrupted the oath of God, disbelieved His Testament, rejected His Authority, despised His Religion, and made himself deserving of His Curse, whether he is a Sultan or any other believer of Islam.
Whenever Christian monks, devotees and pilgrims gather together, whether in a mountain or valley, or den, or frequented place, or plain, or church, or in houses of worship, verily we are [at the] back of them and shall protect them, and their properties and their morals, by Myself, by My Friends and by My Assistants, for they are of My Subjects and under My Protection.
I shall exempt them from that which may disturb them; of the burdens which are paid by others as an oath of allegiance. They must not give anything of their income but that which pleases themâ€”they must not be offended, or disturbed, or coerced or compelled. Their judges should not be changed or prevented from accomplishing their offices, nor the monks disturbed in exercising their religious order, or the people of seclusion be stopped from dwelling in their cells. No one is allowed to plunder these Christians, or destroy or spoil any of their churches, or houses of worship, or take any of the things contained within these houses and bring it to the houses of Islam. And he who takes away anything therefrom, will be one who has corrupted the oath of God, and, in truth, disobeyed His Messenger.
Jizya should not be put upon their judges, monks, and those whose occupation is the worship of God; nor is any other thing to be taken from them, whether it be a fine, a tax or any unjust right. Verily I shall keep their compact, wherever they may be, in the sea or on the land, in the East or West, in the North or South, for they are under My Protection and the testament of My Safety, against all things which they abhor.
No taxes or tithes should be received from those who devote themselves to the worship of God in the mountains, or from those who cultivate the Holy Lands. No one has the right to interfere with their affairs or bring any action against them.
Verily this is for aught else and not for them; rather, in the seasons of crops, they should be given a Kadah for each Ardab of wheat (about five bushels and a half) as provision for them, and no one has the right to say to them this is too much, or ask them to pay any tax. As to those who possess properties, the wealthy and merchants, the poll-tax to be taken from them must not exceed twelve drachmas a head per year (i.e. about 200 modern day US dollars). They shall not be imposed upon by anyone to undertake a journey, or to be forced to go to wars or to carry arms; for the Muslims have to fight for them. Do no dispute or argue with them, but deal according to the verse recorded in the Quran, to wit:
Do not dispute or argue with the People of the Book but in that which is best [29:46].
Thus they will live favored and protected from everything which may offend them by the Callers to religion (Islam), wherever they may be and in any place, they may dwell. Should any Christian woman be married to a Muslim, such marriage must not take place except after her consent, and she must not be prevented from going to her church for prayer. Their churches must be honored and they must not be withheld from building churches or repairing convents. They must not be forced to carry arms or stones, but the Muslims must protect them and defend them against others. It is positively incumbent upon every one of the followers of Islam not to contradict or disobey this oath until the Day of Resurrection and the end of the world.
According to the Monks, the prophet would frequent the monastery and had a great relationship with Sinai’s fathers. The monastery was situated on mount Sinai in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt. Mount Sinai is the same mountain that Moses climbed to receive the ten commandments. During the Ottoman Mamluk War (1516-17) in Egypt, the document was seized by Ottoman soldiers for safekeeping in Istanbul. In order to compensate for the absence of the covenant, they produced a replica to the monastery to put at the display. The manuscript copies are still at Saint Catherine Monastery and Simonopetra. There were several other documents that were granted to other religious minorities. One of them was the letter sent by Prophet Muhammad to the Christians of Najar. The letter was discovered in 878 in a monastery of Iraq. Its text is preserved in the Text of Seerat.
Unfortunately, the original copy of the document was lost but replicas of this document are found everywhere. This authenticity of this document is verified by many scholars (Christians, Jews, and Muslims). Also, a similar kind of document was signed by the last Caliph of Islam when he captured Jerusalem. The document still is hanging in the mosque next to the Church. The document is produced here for information purposes and may be used for information purposes.