The following is an extract from the allocution of Patriarch Timothy I before the Caliph al-Mahdi on how he viewed the Prophet Muhammad(P). I guess Christians back then were not as intolerant of other faiths as how it might appear from their polemical websites such as Answering Islam. It is entitled: Timothy’s Apology for Christianity, English translation made from the Syriac by Alphonse Mingana, in: Woodbrooke Studies, Vol. ii, pp. 61-62, Heffer, Cambridge, 1928.
And our gracious and wise King1 said to me:
“What do you say about Muhammad?”
“And I replied to his Majesty:
“Muhammad is worthy of all praise, by all reasonable people, O my Sovereign. He walked in the path of the prophets, and trod in the track of the lovers of God. All the prophets taught the doctrine of one God, and since Muhammad taught the doctrine of the unity of God, he walked, therefore, in the path of the prophets.
Further, all the prophets drove men away from bad works, and brought them nearer to good works, and since Muhammad drove his people away from bad works and brought them nearer to the good ones, he walked, therefore, in the path of the prophets.
Again, all the prophets separated men from idolatry and polytheism, and attached them to God and to His cult, and since Muhammad separated his people from idolatry and polytheism, and attached them to the cult and the knowledge of one God, beside whom there is no other God, it is obvious that he walked in the paths of the prophets.
Finally Muhammad taught about God, His Word and His Spirit, and since all the prophets had prophesied about God, His Word and His Spirit, Muhammad walked, therefore, in the path of all the prophets.
Who will no praise, honor and exalt the one who not only fought for God in words, but showed also his zeal for Him in the sword? As Moses did with the Children of Israel when he saw that they had fashioned a golden calf which they worshipped, and killed all of those who were worshipping it
He praised, honored and exalted those who worshipped God with him, and promised them kingdom, praise and honor from God, both in this world and in the world to come in the Garden. But those who worshipped idols and not God he fought and opposed, and showed to them the torments of hell and of the fire which is never quenched and in which all evildoers burn eternally.
And what Abraham, that friend and beloved of God, did in turning his face from idols and from his kinsmen, and looking only towards one God and becoming the preacher of one God to other peoples, this also Muhammad did. He turned his face from idols and their worshippers, whether those idols were those of his own kinsmen or of strangers, and he honored and worshipped only one God. Because of this God honored him exceedingly and brought low before his feet two powerful kingdoms which roared in the world like a lion and made the voice of their authority heard in all the earth that is below heaven like thunder, viz: the Kingdom of the Persians and that of the Romans.
The former kingdom, that is to say the Kingdom of the Persians, worshipped the creatures instead of the Creator, and the latter, that is to say the Kingdom of the Romans, attributed suffering and death in the flesh to the one who cannot suffer and die in any way and through any process.
He further extended the power of his authority through the Commander of the Faithful and his children from east to west, and from north to south. Who will not praise, O our victorious king, the one whom God has praised, and will not weave a crown of glory and majesty to the one whom God has glorified and exalted?
These and similar things I and all God-lovers utter about Muhammad, O my sovereign.”
In summary, the dialogue between Patriarch Timothy I and Caliph al-Mahdi sheds light on a compelling perspective from interfaith history where a Christian patriarch acknowledged Muhammad as a true prophet of God. While this view doesn’t encapsulate all Christian perspectives, it offers a profound testament to the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings and his role as a guide towards monotheism. Through Timothy’s words, we perceive Muhammad not just as a prophet for the Muslims but as a beacon of divine light for all who believe in one God. His exemplary life and teachings, echoing the messages of prophets before him, resonate with the core principles of Christianity.
- The Abbasid (in Iraq) Caliph al-Mahdi (ca. 781 CE).