As part of the Great Game that took place toward the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, Western powers plotted to divide and destroy the Muslim Ummah by means of both soft and hard power. A propaganda campaign was commenced, aimed at undermining the Ottoman Sultanate internally and externally.
The goal was to convince Muslims, Christians, and Jews of various ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and tribal origins that the Ottoman world was a source of scientific stagnation while the Western world was the embodiment of progress. What unfolded was very much a war between religion and secularism as well as atheism and theism.
Following the ancient imperial strategy of divide et impera or divide and conquer, the British, French, and Germans convinced the various millets or faith communities that they were oppressed under Ottoman rule and that they were entitled to have their own homogenous nation-states. Arabia for the Arabs! A homeland for Jews in Palestine! A republic for Armenians! And a country for the Kurds!
By the time Western secularist imperialists were done, they had destroyed the Ottoman Sultanate, eradicated Islam as a political power in the world, and divided up the mighty Muslim Ummah into dozens of debilitated nation-states which, since they were not neatly divided along ethnic and religious lines, could be played against one another for generations to come. The Kurds, who actively engaged in exterminating indigenous Christian communities on behalf of Western imperialists, were ultimately deprived of the Kurdistan they had been promised by their infidel masters.
An ancient population of uncertain origins, the nomadic Kurds eventually developed a sense of ethnic identity and solidarity by the 12th and 13th centuries. Although their national aspirations were nurtured by Western imperialists, by the early-20th century the Kurds found themselves divided into numerous nations: Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Azerbaijan.
The decision to splinter the Kurds up was deliberate. Although they were betrayed by their Western lackeys when borders were determined after World War I, the Kurds remained loyal to them, being more secular than Muslim. Their infidel masters, now Zionist and American, cherished the Kurds as a source of internal sedition, division, and discord that could be used to destabilize the Muslim East.
As staunch American and Israeli allies, the Kurds benefit from a positive public relations campaign in the Western world where they are presented as progressive, democratic, secular liberals when, in reality, their Maoist Communist ideology and their criminal behavior can be compared to that of the Shining Path guerrillas who terrorized Peru for decades.
The leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, has the compassion of a cobra, and his fighters have committed war crimes of all kinds. The same applies to the YPG, the People’s Protection Units, who, as allies of the US and Israel, have colluded with ISIS to ethnically cleanse the imaginary homeland of the Kurds of both Arab Muslims and Christian Assyrians.
Most of what is presented on maps as Kurdistan is the traditional territory of the Assyrian Christians which was gradually seized, occupied, and claimed by the Kurds through a process of ethnic cleansing. This commenced in the late-1800s, intensified in the early-1900s, and appears to be approaching completion first decade of the second millennium.
If the imperialists finally have their way, there will be a country for Sunni Arabians in parts of northern Iraq and Syria, a country for Arabian Shi‘is in southern Iraq, and a country for Kurds stolen from segments of Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. Creating Kurdistan on Assyrian lands is the equivalent of creating Israel on Palestinian land. It is a historical injustice of catastrophic proportion.
Rather than live in a false present, Muslims need to relive a fact-based past to comprehend the lies of the age. Who, then, are the Assyrians, and who, then are the Kurds? What connections do Muslims have with Assyrians? And what are our obligations toward them? These questions demand to be asked and answers are obliged to be given.
According to ancient Assyrian and Islamic accounts, a Christian bishop by the name of Sa‘id visited the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) along with a delegation. The bishop accepted to pay tribute to the Prophet with assurances that Assyrian Christians would enjoy the liberty to worship in their own way without being harmed by the Muslims. Since the Assyrians in question came from Hakkari in Mesopotamia, the document was written in the Persian language.
Known as the Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Assyrian Christians, this precious document was passed down from generation to generation by the Shimun family, the hereditary patriarchs of the Assyrian Church of the East. The original letter or firman of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was embossed in letters of gold, on parchment, and was written in circular fashion around the Prophet’s palm-print which was stamped in the middle. Along with the treaty in question, the Prophet had given the patriarchal family a dagger, with a shaft of silver that had a piece of red coral set in the pommel, and an inscription inlaid in gold on the blade.
The provenance of the Covenant of the Prophet with the Assyrian Christians is solidly established according to historical criteria. Attributed to the Prophet (died, 632ce), it was witnessed by his Companions (7th century CE). Its principles were respected by Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali (632–661ce). Its protections were cited by Maris (12th century CE), Bar Hebraeus (1226–1268ce) and Amrus (14th century CE).
Its authenticity was confirmed by Asahel Grant (1841), Horatio Southgate (1856), Adolphe d’Avril (1864), Thomas William Marshall (1865), Bedr Khan Beg (died, 1868), his son, and his grandson, Vital Cuinet (1891), Saturnino Ximénèz (1895), Earl Percy (1901), the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (1904), George David Malech (1910), William Ainger Wigram (1910, 1920, and 1929), Abraham Yohannan (1916), Surma D’Bait Dar Shimun (1920), J.G. Browne (1937), Jeanne Aubert (1938), William Chauncey Emhardt and George M. Lamsa (1970), Carleton Stevens Coon (1972), John Joseph (1983), Gabriele Yonan (1996), Albert Edward Ismail Yelda (2001, 2002, 2004), AM Hamilton (2004), R.S. Stafford (2006), Theodore D’Mar Shimun (2008), Areej Zufari (2012), John Andrew Morrow (2013, 2015, 2017), the hundreds of signatories to the Covenants Initiative (2013–present), as well as Ahmed el-Wakil (2016).
The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Assyrian Christians was housed in the Cathedral of Mar Zaia, the main village in Jilu, in the Hakkari highlands. It was taken out every year, on a special occasion, as part of a formal ceremony, during which an Islamic scholar read publicly to Christians and Muslims. It has remained part of the collective consciousness of the Muslims and Christians of the region from the 7th century until the present.
What happened to the Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Assyrian Christians, a precious relic from the 7th century, directly dictated by the Messenger of Allah to the followers of Christ who inhabited the region of Hakkari? Bedr Khan Beg, the glorious leader of the Kurds, declared war on the Assyrian Christians, the very people who had been promised protection by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), massacring over 10,000 of them, sexually assaulting their girls and women, destroying their homes, and burning down their churches, cathedrals, and monasteries.
What happened to the Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad with the Assyrian Christians? It was destroyed by Bedr Khan Beg (1803–1868), the last Kurdish emir of the Bohtan Emirate, during the Assyrian massacres that took place during the 1840s.
Kurdish nationalism is built upon the blood of Assyrian Christians. Kurdish nationalism is built on stolen land that was appropriated by instruments of irreligious interests. Kurdish nationalism is founded on the sacrilegious desecration and destruction of the Covenant of the Prophet. As Muslims, we must stand by our Prophet (pbuh), as our Prophet stood by the Assyrian Christians. As the Messenger of Allah himself professed:
Allah has told me in a vision what to do, and I confirm His Command by giving my solemn promise to keep this agreement.
To the followers of Islam I say, “Carry out my command, protect and help the Christian nation in this country of ours in their own land.
“Leave their places of worship in peace; help and assist their chief and their priests when in need of help, be it in the mountains, in the desert, on the sea, or at home.
“Leave all their possessions alone, be it houses or other property, do not destroy anything of their belongings, the followers of Islam shall not harm or molest any of this nation, because the Christians are my subjects, pay tribute to me, and will help the Muslims.
“No tribute, but what is agreed upon, shall be collected from them; their church buildings shall be left as they are, they shall not be altered, their priests shall be permitted to teach and worship in their own way — the Christians have full liberty of worship in their churches and homes.
“None of their churches shall be torn down, or altered into a masjid, except by the consent and free will of the Christians. If anyone disobeys this command, the anger of Allah and His Prophet shall be upon him.
“The tribute paid the Christians shall be used to promote the teachings of Islam and shall be deposited at the treasury of Bayt al-Mal. A common man shall pay one dinar, but the merchants and people who own mines of gold and silver and are rich shall pay twelve dinars. Strangers and people who have no houses or other settled property shall not have taxes levied upon them. If a man inherits property he shall pay a settled sum to the Bayt al-Mal treasury.
“The Christians are not obliged to make war on the enemies of Islam, but if an enemy attacks the Christians, the Muslims shall not deny their help, but give them horses and weapons, if they need them, and protect them from evils from outside and keep the peace with them. The Christians are not obliged to become Muslims, until Allah’s will makes them believers.
“The Muslims shall not force Christian women to accept Islam, but if they themselves wish to embrace it, the Muslims shall be kind to them.
“If a Christian woman is married to a Muslim and does not want to embrace Islam, she has the liberty to worship at her own church according to her own religious belief, and her husband must not treat her unkindly on account of her religion.
“If anyone disobeys this command, he disobeys Allah and His prophet and will be guilty of a great offense.
“If the Christians wish to build a church, their Muslim neighbors shall help them. This shall be done, because the Christians have obeyed us and have come to us and pleaded for peace and mercy.
“If there be among the Christians a great and learned man the Muslims shall honor him and not be envious of his greatness.
“If anyone is unjust and unkind to the Christians he will be guilty of disobeying the Prophet of Allah.
“The Christians should not shelter an enemy of Islam or give him horse, weapon, or any other help.
“If a Muslim is in need the Christian shall for three days and nights be his host and shelter him from his
“The Christians shall, furthermore, protect the Muslim women and children and not deliver them up to the enemy or expose them to view.
“If the Christians fail to fulfill these conditions, they have forfeited their right to protection, and the agreement is null and void.
“This document shall be entrusted to the Christian chief and head of their church for safekeeping.”
Dr. John Andrew Morrow (Imam Ilyas Islam) is a proud member of the Métis Nation, one of the three aboriginal peoples recognized by the Canadian government. He embraced Islam at the age of 16 after several years of serious study. He has been a student of the Islamic Sciences for over 30 years and has acquired knowledge from around the world. His teachers have included traditional scholars of Islam from various schools of jurisprudence and spiritual paths as well as Western academics. He received his PhD from the University of Toronto at the age of 29 and reached the rank of Full Professor by the age of 43. He retired from academia in 2016 to devote his time entirely to research, scholarship, and service. Dr. Morrow has authored hundreds of academic articles and over 30 scholarly books, the most influential of which is The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World (2013). He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Islam and the People of the Book, a three-volume encyclopedia on the Muhammadan Covenants, which features critical studies by over 20 leading Muslim scholars, along with translations of the treaties of the Prophet in over a dozen languages. Dr. Morrow received an interfaith leadership award from the Islamic Society of North America in 2016 and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the US House of Representatives in 2017. An award-winning academic, author, and activist, he lectures around the world and acts as an advisor to world leaders.