Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, the grand teacher of Quranic exegesis and a prominent historian, has reported in one of his famous books; “Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk” (History of Nations and Kings) about an important historical pact of the agreement made and signed by the Caliph Umar bin Khattab to assure safety of Christians in Jerusalem.
The document is known as “Mu’ahada Aelia” or Pact of Aelia, because it was declared in Elijah, or Aelia, the ancient name of Jerusalem, in the year 15 Hijriyya / 636 AD. The texts of document as follows:
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، هَذَا مَا أَعْطَى عَبْـدُ اللهِ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤمِنِينَ عُمَر، أَهْلَ إِيلِيَا مِنَ الْأَمَـانِ، أَعْطَـاهُمْ أَمَـانـاً لِأَنْفُسِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَلِكَنَائِسِهِمْ وَلِصُلْبَانِهِمْ وَمُقِيمِهَا وَبَرِيئِهَا وَسَائِرِ مِلَّتِهَا، إِنَّهَا لَا تُسْكَنُ كَنَائِسُهُمْ وَلَا تُهْدَمُ وَلَا يَنْتَقَصُ مِنْهَا وَلَا مِنْ حَدِّهَا وَلَا مِنْ حِيَّزِهَا وَلَا مِنْ صلْبَانِهِمْ، وَلَا شَيْء مِنْ أمْوَالِهم، وَلَا يُكْـرهُـون عَلى دِينِهم، ولَا يُضَارُّ أَحدٌ مِنهم،…. شَهِـدَ عَلى ذلـك خَالِـدُ بن الـوليد، وعمرو بن العـاص، وعبد الرحمن بن عوف، ومعاوية بن أبي سفيان. كتب وحضر سنه خمس عشرة .
“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful. This is the assurance of safety (Aman) which the servant of God, Umar, the servant of the believers, has given to the inhabitants of Elijah. He has given them assurance of security/protection for the right to life, property rights, church buildings, their crosses, the weak and free people and all sects. Their churches will not be occupied, may not be destroyed by Muslims. There are nothing reduced from what is in the church or taken from its land; not their crosses, not their property, the inhabitants are not forced to convert and none of them can be harmed..”.
The signatory to this pact was witnessed by Khalid ibn al-Walid, Amr ibn ‘Ash, Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Auf, Mu’awiya ibn Abi Sufyan and was set in 15 Hijriyya. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al -Muluk, Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1997, vol. II, p. 449).
In respond to the document, an Indonesian Muslim scholar, Nurcholis Madjid, wrote in his work “Islam Agama Peradaban” (Islam Religion of Civilization):
Bernard Lewis, a prominent orientalist who is Jewish, frankly acknowledges this peaceful mission of Islam. He commented:
“In the early days, there was a lot of smooth social interaction between Muslims, Christians and Jews. While adhering to their respective religions, they form a society in which personal friendship, business collaboration between teacher-student relations in science and other forms of joint activities run normally and truly, everywhere. Such cultural collaboration is proven in many ways “.
The document by Umar ibn Khattab above illustrates his very deep view of the mercy of Islam which is not only given to his own nation and people, but to all human beings regardless of their religion. Thus prove that Islam was meant to spread peaceful messages, instead of terror and violence as portrayed nowadays.
Translated from the original version “Perjanjian Elia: Kesepakatan antara Umar dengan Nasrani di Yerussalem”
Written by Dr. Husein Muhammad (Founder of Fahmina Institute Cirebon, West Java. Recently awarded Doctor Honoris Causa on Quranic exegesis from State Islamic University Walisongo Semarang Indonesia)