The Prophet Muhammad Wrote in AD 628: "Christians
Are My Citizens: and by Allah! I Hold Out Anything
that Displeases Them."

Book Reviews of Under Siege and Ships of Mercy

by Andrew Leech

Two highly instructive, objective and well written books I read last year - and am now rereading - are ‘Ships of Mercy’ (ISBN13: 978-1-931807-66-1) and ‘Ecumenical Patriarchate of Orthodox Christianity UNDER SIEGE,’ (ISBN13 978-1-452820-26-2) both by Christos Papoutsy (the founder of the Hellenic Communication Services website) and published in English and in Greek
(further details of both US and Greek publishers can be obtained from

Under Siege

The latter book, UNDER SIEGE, apart from giving full details of all the pressures and religious discrimination practised against the Holy Theological School of Halki by the Turkish government (that totally violate the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 which, among other articles, covers free exercise of religion and full protection for religious establishments), absolutely astounded me by publishing a letter from the Prophet Muhammad: the Charter of Privileges to Christians that was given to the Monks of St Catherine’s Monastery in AD 628. It so impressed me that I would like you to share it with you.

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them because

Christians are my citizens: and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.

No compulsion is to be on them.

Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.

No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.

Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.

No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.

The Muslims are to fight for them.

If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.

Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.

No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)

There is also a sentence at the bottom that states: “This charter of privileges has been honoured and faithfully applied by Muslims throughout the centuries in all lands they ruled,” though I cannot say I entirely agree with the statement. However, in fairness, one also has to admit that over the centuries the Muslims have not been well treated by Christians, either (consider the Crusades, the expulsion of the Moors from Spain and the War in Kossovo among others), so there is room for argument on both sides.

What I do believe is that the attention of every Muslim country and every Imam preaching in mosques worldwide should be drawn to this letter from the Prophet Muhammad; and then discussions should take place between the leaders of all Christian Churches and all Muslim Imams as to how this covenant can be properly implemented, and what Christians can offer in return. If done by just and honourable representatives of the faiths concerned it might lead to a better, wider and fairer respect and understanding of the two religions.

Ships of Mercy

Ships of Mercy (the true story of the rescue of the Greeks in Smyrna, in September 1922) is an eye opening book that brings startling and fresh evidence to the fore, dispelling common myths and anecdotes about the evacuation of the refugees, and clearly documenting the real heroes in this tragedy. The name that stands out above all others is that of Asa Jennings, the Smyrna YMCA secretary and a former Methodist preacher; short and nondescript, but with the heart of a lion. After George Horton (US Consul General in Smyrna) asked him to look into rescue options, Jennings’ first act was to persuade the captain of an Italian ship to take 2000 refugees to Mytilene, but he knew that only one rescue ship was the tip of the iceberg: he had thousands of refugees to evacuate. However, the only ships available, locally, were the 20 transports at Mytilene that had evacuated the Greek Army; and their commander, General Frankos, was afraid to give permission in case the vessels were seized by the Turks and used to attack nearby Greek islands.

Maintaining the fiction he was in charge of the American Relief Force, Jennings then went over Frankos’ head and cabled the Greek government direct, requesting that all Greek ships in the area be put at his disposal. Athens demurred, saying this would require the prime minister to get cabinet approval which was not possible at that moment as it was not in session. Jennings then threatened to send the following un-encoded cable that could be freely read by anyone with a radio: “the Turkish authorities had given permission for Greek ships to evacuate refugees from Smyrna, that the American Navy had guaranteed protection for these ships, that I [he, Jennings] had assumed responsibility for directing them to Greek soil , that all we lacked were ships and that the Greek Government would not permit Greek ships to save Greek and Armenian refugees awaiting certain death or worse!”

Within 2 hours Jennings received a wire stating that the Greek government placed all ships in the Aegean at his disposal; in effect creating him a temporary admiral; and the 20 ships sailed for Smyrna 6 hours later, flying US flags and escorted by the US destroyer Lawrence. Other ships followed later.

This ordinary man, Asa Jennings, with a belief that something had to be done, and the supreme conviction he could do it that allowed him to overcome obstacles others might have found insurmountable, undoubtedly saved innumerable Greek citizens from certain death – a truly remarkable feat for this dedicated human being.

In December 1922, the Greek government awarded Jennings 2 honours: the Distinguished Cross of Our Saviour and (Greece’s highest war honour) the Medal for Military Merit, along with the accompanying citation, “ … for saving 300,000 refugees …”. This was the first time both decorations had been awarded simultaneously to the same person.

It is a tribute to Chris Papoutsy’s diligence, tenaciousness and careful sifting of the available evidence that he was able to research and highlight, with indisputable evidence, this important story that other historians appear to have overlooked or ignored; but, yet, was probably one of the most important events that unfolded during the catastrophe at Smyrna.

Nobody interested in the Smyrna Disaster can afford not to read this remarkable book that has been painstakingly based on 10 years of research all over the world. It is a classic work that is sure to eventually take its place along with the other authoritative references on this sad period of history and become often quoted by scholars. Not only well written, well documented and well researched, it is also as gripping a read as any well-crafted thriller.

(Posting date 03 March 2011, with permission author and FELT News.)

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