This study examines a covenant of the Prophet, namely, a treaty, patent of protection or charter of privileges, that was copied by Fāris al-Shidyāq at some time before the middle of the nineteenth century. It provides a biographical sketch of the copyist. It reproduces the Arabic original as found in Majmū‘ fawā’id
along with an English translation. This is followed by a commentary on the covenant and a series of conclusions, namely, that the “Shidyāq Covenant” from 1857 is a copy of the “Rylands Covenant,” which appears to be an Ottoman-issued document dating from the sixteenth or seventeenth century. This “Shidyāq/Rylands Covenant” could represent the missing link between the “Covenant of the Prophet Muḥammad with the Christians of Najrān,” found in the Chronicle of Seert
, and the “Covenant of the Prophet Muḥammad with the Christians of the World,” namely, the Testamentum et Pactiones
made famous by Gabriel Sionita in 1630. The significance of this study resides in the fact that it shares a previously unpublished and unstudied covenant of the Prophet Muḥammad, in both Arabic and English, with the scholarly community, while exploring the problems posed by transmission. The more covenants that are rediscovered, the better we will understand their origin, diffusion, and relationship, allowing us to better assess their authenticity. What is more, if these documents are accepted by Muslims as authentic, either in word or in spirit, they can help counter and prevent radicalization, promote moderation, and help protect minorities.
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