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Study: Freedom of religion, civic rights were important components of a ‘Muslim nation’

Prophet Muhammad believed that freedom of religion and civic rights were important components of a ‘Muslim nation,’ according to a Rice University analysis of the prophet’s covenants with Christians. The researcher argues that the covenants can be used to develop a stronger democratic partnership between Muslims and Christians in the Islamic world and elsewhere.

“Religious Pluralism and Civic Rights in a ‘Muslim Nation’: An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians” appeared in the February edition of the journalReligions. The paper’s author, Craig Considine, a lecturer in Rice’s Department of Sociology, studied “The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with Christians” and found that these agreements established freedom of religion and civic rights for Christians living within the “ummah” (Arabic for “community”).

“These covenants were designed to protect and even defend peaceful Christian communities, not attack them,” Considine said. “The research clearly shows that contemporary Islamic states that mistreat and discriminate against Christians cannot be justified in light of Prophet Muhammad’s covenants.”

The covenants were written between 622 and 632 A.D. Considine said it is assumed they were written because of Prophet Muhammad’s desire to build alliances to bolster his new community and because of his positive interactions with members of the Christian faith.

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