History Islam Muhammad

A Dia­logue on Prophet Muham­mad : Caliph al-Mah­di and Patri­arch Tim­o­thy I of Seleucia-Ctesiphon

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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 itExo­dus 32:27 – 28, so also Muham­mad evinced an ardent zeal towards God, and loved and hon­ored Him more than his own soul, his peo­ple and his relatives.

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.Endmark

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  1. The Abbasid (in Iraq) Caliph al-Mah­di (ca. 781 CE).[]

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