tisdag 28 juli 2015
Muhammad’s letter of protection for a Christian Monastery
Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai as it also is called is the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God which you can read about in Exodus 20:1-17. Moses is considered to be a important Prophet for all the three Religions and the place is sacred to the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims visited the summit of mount Horeb to worship God, Allah or Yahweh and to see the marvelous view and sunrise from the top. There is an Greek Orthodox Chapel as well as a small Mosque on the summit of mount Horeb. Thousands of tourists who belong to other religions or are non believers also visited mount Horeb to see the sunrise and to feel the wings of history surrounding the mountain.
Saint Catherine's Monastery and mount Horeb are located in an area of the Sinai peninsula which is controlled by a terrorist organization that has close bonds with the Islamic state (IS). Tourists are strongly recommended to stay out of the area since the Egyptian regime can't guarantee for their security. There's a immediate risk of being kidnapped or even worse There's been a drastic drop of tourist in the area during the last years. Bedouins and native Egyptians that was dependent on tourism to get an income has lost that possibility. They now have to struggle hard to provide for their children.
There are not yet confirmed rumors that the monks at the Monastery are forced to pay the Islamic jizya tax, which is applied to non-Muslims in areas controlled by IS or their collaborators. What is known is that the monks recently asked for financial aid and that is something that is very rare since they live their lifes in seclusion.
Some of Christianities most priceless treasures are kept inside the Monastery. The collection of rare books and manuscripts in Greek, Arabic, Syrian, Georgian and Slavonic can easy compete with the collection in the Vatican. It also contains a unique collection of more than 2000 icons from 1500 years. And what is said to be the burning bush that God used when he spoke with Moses.
Saint Catherine monastery was completed in 557. It has not been without enemies since then, but it has never been conquered. The tradition says that earlier in his career Prophet Muhammed used to stay at the monastery when he travelled with caravans on his way from Egypt to Arabia. In 628 travelled a delegation from Saint Catherine's to Prophet Muhammed and made a request for his protection of the Monastery. Muhammed issued a letter of protection for the monastery and stamped the document with the imprint of his hand, since he couldn't read or write. You can read more about the letter of protection here.
The original letter of protection are kept in an museum in Istanbul, and a copy of it is on display in the monastery's museum. Even if muslims has respected the letter of protection from Muhammed through centuries. The monks don't rely that IS will respect it. They are afraid that IS will eventually attack and plunder the Monastery and destroy or scatter all the priceless books, icons and artifacts.
It's important that we pray for Gods protection for the monks and the people in the area. So that they can continue their important work and be a bridge between religions and cultures. It's also important that we pray for the terrorist that they shall meet the loving and caring Father that God is and start to worship Him. There's only one way to God! Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
Click the following link if you want to see some more photos from Mount Horeb and Saint Catherine: www.flickr.com/photos/chasid68
Text and photo: Mikael Good