Friendship and Mystical Connections between the Prophet Muhammad and the Christian Monks of Mount Sinai:
How Artwork in the Prophet’s Ashtiname Reveals Bonds of Union Between Our Faiths
New discoveries of connections between Islam and Christianity are occurring today. Our two great faiths are deeply united with each other in many ways. These newly-found marvels involve different levels of our shared reality: friendships, Scriptures, and teachings.
These discoveries are important for our world, and for our continued existence and survival. And they discuss the only way in which humanity will achieve an incredibly bright future, which is what Allah-God wants for us.
One of the points of thick intersection among our two faiths resides in a little-known legal document, which is called the “Ashtiname.” This word may have several meanings, and we could think of it as meaning “peace treaty” or “agreement.” According to some, it has its roots in Persian, where we locate modern-day Iran.
Muhammad gave this treaty to Christian monks.
It is a document that guarantees the safety of the Christian monastic community at Mount Sinai in Egypt.
Muhammad, the Qur’an, and Islam are extremely open to dialogue and friendship with other religions. This, of course, has been obvious to anyone who has studied Islam. These new discoveries are centered and move around this reality, which is the friendship in which God wants us to live and evolve.
This document of peace, however, does not merely reveal a friendship and alliance between Christianity and Islam, no—it also reveals a shared knowledge of profound mystical connections between our faiths. These discoveries open radical new ground.
This essay will present some of these important new discoveries. A forthcoming essay, hopefully in a matter of days, shall discuss these finds in greater depth.
THE MYSTICAL PSALM STRUCTURES
There are miraculous Mystical Structures hidden in the Book of Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). None of the many authors of the individual Psalms knew that their individual works would be part of a larger mystical work of art. The final redaction (editing) of the Book of Psalms occurred after the final individual authors of individual Psalms wrote their works. Another essay discusses the Mystical Psalm Structures.
However, the authors of the New Testament (the Scriptures about Jesus Christ, and the early community that formed after him) knew about these mystical realities, which are referred to, frequently yet hiddenly, throughout the New Testament.
What is more, these structures are also entirely prevalent throughout Qur’an.
The fact that our 3 Scriptures share the SAME MYSTICAL STRUCTURES is absolutely amazing. This is proof of the existence of Allah-God. Another essay discusses how these Mystical Structures are present not only in the New Testament, but also in the Qur’an.
Perhaps the one person who knew the Mystical Psalm Structures better than anyone else in Christianity, and in history, is the amazing St. John Climacus. He is universally loved in all of Christendom, and beyond. St. John Climacus (whose name means St. John of the Ladder) was a hermit at Mount Sinai for 40 years before the monks of St. Catherine’s boldly went to his cave and demanded that he be their abbot. Although not wanting to leave his solitude, he made the choice of charity and compassion and became their abbot, their leader. And he was a great leader.
Now, in youth, John had a holy teacher for a few years, and when his master died, John then became a full hermit. (Yet even as a hermit, John did have occasional visitors and made some journeys.) He had the Psalms and the New Testament memorized before he became a hermit. These hermits often chanted all 150 Psalms each day. Possibly, he also had the entire Old Testament memorized before he went into full solitude—if not, then he would have finished memorizing that too in his first year or two of hermit life.
John knew the Mystical Psalm Structures perhaps better than anyone else in history. When he was Abbot of St. Catherine’s, he wrote a book called “The Ladder of Divine Ascent.” On the surface level of the text, the book discusses a ladder of 30 steps that the monks must climb in the course of their spiritual life. This book is one of the most widely read in the Christian East. For centuries, and today, the book is read in its entirety by Eastern Orthodox Christian communities during the Holy Season of Lent. It is beloved to monastics and religious and lay people around the globe. Besides the Bible and the Church liturgy books, it is the most widely read book in the Christian East.
However, at deeper levels of his text, St. John Climacus is doing a profound and much more complex maneuver: he is writing a running hidden commentary on the Mystical Psalm Structures. Secretly.
Again, St. John Climacus is perhaps the one human being who best knows the Mystical Psalm Structures in all of Christendom. His “Ladder of Divine Ascent” is the most complex treatment of the Psalm Structures that I am aware of. Every one of his 30 chapters is in deep, complex, and hidden discussion with the Mystical Psalm Structures. A forthcoming essay shall discuss his book and his hidden treatment of the Mystical Psalm Structures.
The years of the life of St. John Climacus overlapped with the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). And there are reports that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) visited Mount Sinai and St. Catherine’s several times. John Climacus and Muhammad knew each other. They may have been friends. John Climacus taught Muhammad about the Mystical Psalm Structures that are in the Psalms and the New Testament. The Prophet Muhammad then discovered them in the Qur’an, which he received directly from the mighty angel Jibreel (Gabriel). (This paragraph is the central conclusion of this essay.)
Both holy men were told by Allah-God to keep the Psalm Structures secret. While the Mystical Psalm Structures are entirely throughout Climacus’ book, and the Qur’an, they remain hidden, alluded to only by hint, clue, innuendo—neither John nor Muhammad ever speak openly and plainly about them. They intentionally keep them hidden. (This is also true of all the earlier and later holy people (all Christian?) who knew of these marvels.) Allah-God was firm about this. These things amount to a proof of the existence of Allah-God. This is a cause of joy.
THE ASHTINAME’S STAIRCASE
The Ashtiname itself presents evidence that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) knew of the Mystical Psalm Structures. The Ashtiname is a large document, about 30 inches tall by 24 inches wide. One of the Mystical Psalm Structures is a Ladder. This Ladder is perhaps the most important of the Mystical Psalm Structures.
On the Ashtiname, there is a drawing of a winding stairway (ancient words for “ladder,” such as the Hebrew “sulam,” also meant “stairway”) in the upper right corner. This could be a complimentary nod to St. John’s great book on the Ladder. And to the fact that John may have shown these mystical realities to the Prophet. It is difficult to make out the precise number of steps on the ladder. However, there are groups that the steps seem to fall into. If one counts the black and white areas, there are 12 steps, or groups of steps. And the Mystical Psalms Ladder has 12 steps. This is intentional. (The clusters of multiple steps gathered closely together allude to the sophisticated structure of some of the chapters of Climacus’ book.)
Additionally, the only number mentioned in the document’s actual writing is the number 12, further supporting this connection.
The document could have had a picture of Mount Sinai, which is a striking mountain. Instead, it has a picture of a Ladder. That, combined with the Ladder’s 12 steps, and the number 12 in the document’s writing, give strong support to this theory. And this is exactly how mystical clues work in our Scriptures and holy writings.
POWERFUL EVIDENCE IN THE QUR’AN
The Qur’an Speaks of Christian Monks:
It is remarkable that Christian monks are mentioned, favorably, in the Qur’an. For example, at 57:27, the Qur’an says that the monks “invented” it, referring to the monastic way of life, but also perhaps referring to the long work of the monks regarding the Mystical Psalm Structures. This may also be referring specifically to John Climacus’ book on the Ladder. This interpretation is further supported by the fact that an earlier part of this verse says, “We sent Our messengers to follow in their footsteps.” Speaking of “following in footsteps” certainly fits nicely with the language of Ladders and stairways.
In another place (5:82-83), the Qur’an says, “And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection toward those who believe [i.e., the people most like the Muslims] to be those who say, ‘We are Christians.’ That is because among them are priests and monks, and because they are not arrogant. And when they hear that which was SENT DOWN unto the Messenger, thou seest their eyes overflow with tears because of the truth they recognize.” (This and all Qur’an quotations are from the superb new Study Qur’an, which has just been published by Harper One. The editorial team putting this wonderful volume together has been lead by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr. It has been very well-received around the globe.)
I emphasized the phrase “sent down” because it is language that one finds often around discussion of the Mystical Psalm Structures. The Qur’an is here saying that when the Qur’an is read by Christian monks, the monks weep for joy at hearing that the Psalm Structures are also hidden in the Qur’an, in addition to their being hidden the New Testament. The monks then knew that our faiths are united in friendship, sealed by Allah-God’s mystical work. Allah-God is One. (A longer discussion of how the Qur’an discusses Christian monks will be in the forthcoming essay.)
The Qur’an Speaks of Mount Sinai:
Mount Sinai is the only mountain named in the Qur’an. It appears twice by name. The word “mount” appears many more times, and all of the singular appearances of this word can potentially be understood as referring to Mount Sinai.
The Qur’an has 114 Surahs, or chapters. Surah 52 is entitled “The Mount,” which refers to Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai, to Christianity and Islam, is not only the place where Moses mythically received the Torah, BUT IT IS ALSO THE PLACE WHERE ST. JOHN CLIMACUS AND THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD ACTUALLY SHARED MYSTICAL KNOWLEDGE!
And in Surah 52, “The Mount,” there is discussion of a magical Ladder! This happens in verse 38, where the Qur’an is challenging those who deny Divine revelation, humorously asking them if they have a ladder that can reach heaven, enabling them to listen to the dialogues of the angels! Here is the verse, 52:38: “Or do they have a LADDER whereby they listen [to angels in heaven]? Then let their listener bring a clear warrant [proof].”
The verse appears, at first glance, to be a humorous chiding of disbelievers. Underneath the surface level, it is a Divine affirmation of the Mystical Psalms Ladder, which is secretly discussed in both the New Testament and Qur’an, as mentioned above.
The Arabic word for the “verse” in the Qur’an is Ayah (plural Ayat), which means “sign.” All the verses of the Qur’an are signs. In 52:38, this verse is a sign of immense importance. The Surah (chapter) which is named after Mount Sinai discusses the Mystical Ladder, which many of the Christian monks at Sinai knew about. These monks, friends of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), shared with him this knowledge. There may have been especially spiritual conversations between the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and St. John Climacus.
Incidentally, the word “Ladder” never appears in the Christian New Testament, despite the fact that there are scores of allusions to the Mystical Psalms Ladder therein (e.g., John’s Gospel, 1:51).
In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), the word “Ladder” (Hebrew “sulam”) appears only once, in Genesis 28, which presents a mystical ladder that Jacob sees in the night, when he’s dreaming. This ladder is related to the Mystical Psalms Ladder. The ladder that Jacob sees has plural angels ascending and descending upon it, and Allah-God is standing somewhere in the scene. Likewise, Jesus mentions plural angels ascending and descending within a future humanity (John 1:51). Unlike the nondescript ladder of Genesis 28, when the Mystical Psalms Ladder is uncovered and seen, it has a very clear appearance: it has 12 steps, two sides, with heaven at the top and earth at the base. On the ladder are plural angels ascending and descending IN PRECISE CHOREOGRAPHY (The forthcoming book on the Psalm Structures will have a video that shows how the angels are moving so precisely. The reader will be able to understand the basics in 10 seconds.).
And in the Qur’an, there are many references to Ladders, and there are constant discussions of angels flying up and down between heaven and earth, uniting these realms over the course of our evolution. The forthcoming longer article on the Ashtiname will offer more examples of this.
GIFTS OF ISLAM AND THE QUR’AN TO CHRISTIANITY AND THE GLOBE
Now, to this point of the essay, it may seem that Christianity has been giving to Islam, but not the other way, except for the fact that the Prophet promised to protect Mount Sinai and its Christians.
This is not the case. Rather, the help, respect, appreciation, knowledge, and love go both ways. Islam has done very much for Christianity. Our religions are young, but Islam has already done wondrous things for Christianity and the world. Laying aside the enormous contributions that Muslims have made to science, math, philosophy, art, music, and so much more, let us just focus on religion here:
-Islam has shown how a soul can work intricately, and directly, with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Allah. The Qur’an ends with the highly mystical Surah 114, which discusses how we evolve as individuals within our own individual soul. This is of great importance for our Human-wide Evolution and Survival as well.
-While the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a free and liberated person, the way in which he received the Sacred Scripture of Islam, the Qur’an, is very unique. He received direct speech from an angel, one of the mightiest angels. Jibreel (Gabriel) gave the Qur’an to him over a period of 23 years, a long relationship.
By itself, this fact tells us something. If we grow, we will be capable of direct communication with the Divine. This is already happening today.
-Islam continued the discussion of Love that began deeply in the New Testament. This discussion of Love is directly involved in our Human Evolution (discussed here). This Love needs to permeate our societies and our world. An example of this: Islam and Christianity both were the inventors of hospitals, orphanages, and education for poor children. These things that seem so obvious to us today were revolutionary concepts at their birth. Thank you, Islam and Christianity.
-Christianity teaches Love, but so does Islam. And how! Almost every one of the Qur’an’s 114 Surahs begins by praising Allah as the Compassionate, the Merciful.
The New Testament says almost zero about punishing people. (Of course, the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) has lists of punishments for transgressors of all sorts.)
The Qur’an’s stance here is nuanced.
Yes, like the New Testament, Love is the main banner of the Qur’an.
And today, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Allah, is showering the world with Spiritual gifts. This is happening now (the above article speaks of this). The world needs to unify, before we destroy ourselves in frenzied unguided erroneous quests.
The Qur’an fully allows for people of other religions to practice their individual faith, as do the various Ashtiname-like documents of Muhammad and his later followers. Simply recall the halcyon times of Andalusia, when an Islamic civilization ruled over a society where Christianity, Islam, and tiny Judaism flourished together happily.
If there are groups of people who are bent on destroying large areas of humanity, then these groups need to be disciplined, and brought to heel. Their vicious goals need to be curbed.
The Qur’an allows for disciplinary measures to be used against people who are hell-bent on destruction and greed.
This is something for us to discern. The future of Humanity depends on it. Especially at a time when Allah-God is giving us more Spiritual gifts.
If one small group of people threatens to destroy a bright future for everyone, and they cannot be convinced to change their ways through reason, diplomacy, good sense, and proffered friendship, well, maybe it’s time for a different approach to that group.
-Islam is a great teacher of inter-religious tolerance and peace.
-Islam is a great teacher of inter-religious dialogue.
-The Ummah (the people, the community) of Islam is all over the globe. There is no racism in Islam. Love carries the day.
A NOTE ON THE ASHTINAME ITSELF
Some people, doubtless, have never heard of the Ashtiname before. Here is the link to the Wikipedia article on the Ashtiname.
A superb article by Canadian scholar Dr. John Andrew Morrow is here. It discusses the Ashtiname in much more detail, with greater historical perspective.
I am not a scholar of the Ashtiname (And I am still a new student of the Qur’an). However, I know something of the Mystical Psalm Structures and have studied the Bible, although this only makes one realize how much more there is to learn.
Yet the evidence presented here demonstrates that there is something important for our great religions to study with greater precision and hope, regarding this vital topic. The Divine orchestration of our Scriptures to earthly events, the friendships between holy leaders from our religions, and mystical connections between our Scriptures bode well for the future of interreligious dialogue, which is the only way our human race will survive and make our way to a brilliant future.
Islam and Christianity are two profound, mystical, and evolutionary religions. They are two TITANS, brothers and sisters of the faith, co-learners and co-evolvers. They are both very attractive faiths, and millions of people join them each year. Wikipedia reports that as of 2009, 23% of the world population is Muslim, about 1.57 billion human beings. Wikipedia also reports that Christianity comprises 32% of the global population, with 2.4 billion human beings. (As we Muslims and Christians continue learning how to pray together, well, we are making a lot of soul power.) By comparison, there are much fewer than 10 million people who are practicing religious Jews. Tiny Judaism, our remote ancestor, could and should join the conversation as well, and learn about these marvels. What is more, there are connections of these scriptural Mystical Realities to Hinduism, Buddhism, Bahai, Taoism, and more. Allah-God is good.
This essay raises many questions, which the forthcoming essay shall begin to address.
Finally, a fact on the ground, that reaches to the heavens:
To this day, there remains a mosque within the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai. What a beautiful sign of interreligious sharing! The mosque has a minaret, and the minaret is near the bell tower of the monastery. Together, they form 2 parallel lines that rise toward the heavens. That is: they form the two sides of the Ladder, of the Mystical Psalms Ladder!
This is an even deeper sharing between Islam and Christianity.
It is a promise of how Humanity will be the Ladder (John 1:51) when we all realize that our religions should be great friends and co-learners with each other.