In the quotations below, Western
writers have used the word Muhammadanism for Islam. The word Muhammadanism
connotes worship of Muhammad, an absolutely unworthy statement for any
learned man to use. Prophet Muhammad's mission was to propagate the worship
of the One and Only God (in Arabic Allah),
the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. His mission was essentially
the same as that of earlier Prophets of God. In
the historical context, many such terminologies about Muhammad, Islam,
and Muslims were borrowed from earlier European writings of the Eleventh
to the Nineteenth century, a time when ignorance and prejudice prevailed.
The quotations below attest to the facts.
Thomas Carlyle in 'Heroes
and Hero Worship and the Heroic in History,' 1840
"The lies (Western slander) which well-meaning
zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammad) are disgraceful to ourselves only."
"A silent great soul, one of that who cannot but
be earnest. He was to kindle the world, the world’s Maker had ordered so."
A. S. Tritton in 'Islam,'
The picture of the Muslim soldier
advancing with a sword in one hand and the Qur'an in the other is quite
De Lacy O'Leary in 'Islam
at the Crossroads,' London, 1923.
History makes it clear, however, that
the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing
Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically
absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.
Gibbon in 'The Decline and
Fall of the Roman Empire' 1823
The good sense of Muhammad despised the
pomp of royalty. The Apostle of God submitted to the menial offices of
the family; he kindled the fire; swept the floor; milked the ewes; and
mended with his own hands his shoes and garments. Disdaining the penance
and merit of a hermit, he observed without effort of vanity the abstemious
diet of an Arab.
Edward Gibbon and Simon
Oakley in ‘History of the Saracen Empire,’ London, 1870
"The greatest success of Mohammad’s life was
effected by sheer moral force."
“It is not the propagation but the permanency
of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression
which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved after the revolutions
of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes
of the Koran....The Mahometans have uniformly withstood the temptation
of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with the
senses and imagination of man. ‘I believe in One God and Mahomet the Apostle
of God’ is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual
image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honors
of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and
his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within
the bounds of reason and religion.”
Lane-Poole in 'Speeches and
Table Talk of the Prophet Muhammad'
He was the most faithful protector of
those he protected, the sweetest and most agreeable in conversation. Those
who saw him were suddenly filled with reverence; those who came near him
loved him; they who described him would say, "I have never seen his like
either before or after." He was of great taciturnity, but when he spoke
it was with emphasis and deliberation, and no one could forget what he
Annie Besant in 'The Life
and Teachings of Mohammad,' Madras, 1932.
It is impossible for anyone who studies
the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knew how he
taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty
Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what
I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet
I myself feel, whenever I reread them, a new way of admiration, a new sense
of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.
W.C. Taylor in 'The History
of Muhammadanism and its Sects'
So great was his liberality to the poor
that he often left his household unprovided, nor did he content himself
with relieving their wants, he entered into conversation with them, and
expressed a warm sympathy for their sufferings. He was a firm friend and
a faithful ally.
Reverend Bosworth Smith in
'Muhammad and Muhammadanism,' London, 1874.
"Head of the State as well as the Church,
he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Pope's pretensions,
and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without a
bodyguard, without a police force, without a fixed revenue. If ever a man
ruled by a right divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the powers without
their supports. He cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his
private life was in keeping with his public life."
"In Mohammadanism every thing is different here.
Instead of the shadowy and the mysterious, we have history....We know of
the external history of Muhammad....while for his internal history after
his mission had been proclaimed, we have a book absolutely unique in its
origin, in its preservation....on the Substantial authority of which no
one has ever been able to cast a serious doubt."
Edward Montet, 'La Propagande
Chretienne et ses Adversaries Musulmans,' Paris 1890. (Also in T.W. Arnold
in 'The Preaching of Islam,' London 1913.)
"Islam is a religion that is essentially
rationalistic in the widest sense of this term considered etymologically
and historically....the teachings of the Prophet, the Qur'an has invariably
kept its place as the fundamental starting point, and the dogma of unity
of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur a majesty, an
invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is hard
to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam....A creed so precise, so stripped
of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary
understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvelous
power of winning its way into the consciences of men."
Dr. Gustav Weil in 'History
of the Islamic Peoples'
Muhammad was a shining example to his
people. His character was pure and stainless. His house, his dress, his
food - they were characterized by a rare simplicity. So unpretentious was
he that he would receive from his companions no special mark of reverence,
nor would he accept any service from his slave which he could do for himself.
He was accessible to all and at all times. He visited the sick and was
full of sympathy for all. Unlimited was his benevolence and generosity
as also was his anxious care for the welfare of the community.
Alphonse de LaMartaine
in 'Historie de la Turquie,' Paris, 1854.
"Never has a man set for himself, voluntarily
or involuntarily, a more sublime aim, since this aim was superhuman; to subvert
superstitions which had been imposed between man and his Creator, to render
God unto man and man unto God; to restore the rational and sacred idea of
divinity amidst the chaos of the material and disfigured gods of idolatry, then
existing. Never has a man undertaken a work so far beyond human power with
so feeble means, for he (Muhammad) had in the conception as well as in the execution
of such a great design, no other instrument than himself and no other aid except
a handful of men living in a corner of the desert. Finally, never has a man
accomplished such a huge and lasting revolution in the world, because in less
than two centuries after its appearance, Islam, in faith and in arms, reigned
over the whole of Arabia, and conquered, in God's name, Persia Khorasan, Transoxania,
Western India, Syria, Egypt, Abyssinia, all the known continent of Northern
Africa, numerous islands of the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, and part of Gaul.
"If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and
astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare
compare any great man in history with Muhammad? The most famous men created
arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than
material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved
not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of
men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved
the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls.
"On the basis of a Book, every letter which has become
law, he created a spiritual nationality which blend together peoples of every
tongue and race. He has left the indelible characteristic of this Muslim nationality
the hatred of false gods and the passion for the One and Immaterial God. This
avenging patriotism against the profanation of Heaven formed the virtue of
the followers of Muhammad; the conquest of one-third the earth to the dogma
was his miracle; or rather it was not the miracle of man but that of reason.
"The idea of the unity of God, proclaimed amidst
the exhaustion of the fabulous theogonies, was in itself such a miracle that
upon it's utterance from his lips it destroyed all the ancient temples of
idols and set on fire one-third of the world. His life, his meditations, his
heroic revelings against the superstitions of his country, and his boldness
in defying the furies of idolatry, his firmness in enduring them for fifteen
years in Mecca, his acceptance of the role of public scorn and almost of being
a victim of his fellow countrymen: all these and finally, his flight his incessant
preaching, his wars against odds, his faith in his success and his superhuman
security in misfortune, his forbearance in victory, his ambition, which was
entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; his
endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph
after death; all these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction
which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was twofold the unity
of God and the immateriality of God: the former telling what God is, the latter
telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the
other starting an idea with words.
"Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator,
Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of Rational beliefs.... The founder of twenty
terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire that is Muhammad. As regards
all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask,
is there any man greater than he?"
Mahatma Gandhi, statement
published in 'Young India,'1924.
I wanted to know the best of the life
of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of
mankind.... I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword
that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was
the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous
regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers,
his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his
own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and
surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the second volume (of the Prophet's
biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great
Sir George Bernard Shaw in
'The Genuine Islam,' Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936.
"If any religion had the chance of ruling
over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam."
“I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high
estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which
appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase
of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him
- the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must
be called the Savior of Humanity."
"I believe that if a man like him were to assume
the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems
in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have
prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the
Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of
Michael Hart in 'The 100, A
Ranking of the Most Influential Persons In History,' New York, 1978.
My choice of Muhammad to lead the list
of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may
be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely
successful on both the secular and religious level. ...It is probable that
the relative influence of Muhammad on Islam has been larger than the combined
influence of Jesus Christ and St. Paul on Christianity. ...It is this unparalleled
combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad
to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.
Dr. William Draper in 'History
of Intellectual Development of Europe'
Four years after the death of Justinian,
A.D. 569, was born in Mecca, in Arabia, the man who, of all men, has exercised
the greatest influence upon the human race... To be the religious head
of many empires, to guide the daily life of one-third of the human race,
may perhaps justify the title of a Messenger of God.
J.W.H. Stab in 'Islam and its
Judged by the smallness of the means
at his disposal, and the extent and permanence of the work that he accomplished,
his name in world's history shines with a more specious lustre than that
of the Prophet of Makkah. To the impulse which he gave numberless dynasties
have owed their existence, fair cities and stately palaces and temples
have arisen, and wide provinces became obedient to the Faith. And beyond
all this, his words have governed the belief of generations, been accepted
as their rule of life, and their certain guide to the world to come. At
a thousand shrines the voices of the faithful invoke blessings on him,
whom they esteem the very Prophet of God, the seal of the Apostles....
Judged by the standards to human renown, the glory of what mortal can
compare with his?
Washington Irving in 'Life
of Muhammad,' New York, 1920.
His military triumphs awakened no pride
nor vain glory as they would have done had they been effected by selfish
purposes. In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity
of manner and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting
regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonial
of respect was shown to him.
Arthur Glyn Leonard in 'Islam,
Her Moral and Spiritual Values'
It was the genius of Muhammad, the spirit
that he breathed into the Arabs through the soul of Islam that exalted
them. That raised them out of the lethargy and low level of tribal stagnation
up to the high watermark of national unity and empire. It was in the sublimity
of Muhammad's deism, the simplicity, the sobriety and purity it inculcated
the fidelity of its founder to his own tenets, that acted on their moral
and intellectual fiber with all the magnetism of true inspiration.
Charles Stuart Mills in 'History
Deeply read in the volume of nature,
though extremely ignorant of letters, his mind could expand into controversy
with the wisest of his enemies or contract itself to the apprehension of
meanest of his disciples. His simple eloquence was rendered impressive
by a manner of mixed dignity and elegance, by the expression of a countenance
where the awfulness of his majesty was so well tempered by an amiable sweetness,
that it exerted emotions of veneration and love. He was gifted with that
authoritative air or genius which alike influences the learned and commands
Philip K. Hitti in 'History
of the Arabs'
Within a brief span of mortal life, Muhammad
called forth of unpromising material, a nation, never welded before; in
a country that was hitherto but a geographical expression he established
a religion which in vast areas suppressed Christianity and Judaism, and
laid the basis of an empire that was soon to embrace within its far flung
boundaries the fairest provinces the then civilized world.
Stanley Lane-Poole in 'Studies
in a Mosque'
He was one of those happy few who have
attained the supreme joy of making one great truth their very life spring.
He was the messenger of One God, and never to his life's end did he forget
who he was or the message which was the marrow of his being. He brought
his tidings to his people with a grand dignity sprung from the consciousness
of his high office, together with a most sweet humility.
Rodwell in the Preface to
his translation of the Holy Qur'an
Mohammad's career is a wonderful instance
of the force and life that resides in him who possesses an intense faith
in God and in the unseen world. He will always be regarded as one of those
who have had that influence over the faith, morals and whole earthly life
of their fellow men, which none but a really great man ever did, or can
exercise; and whose efforts to propagate a great verity will prosper.
W. Montgomery Watt in 'Muhammad
at Mecca,' Oxford, 1953.
His readiness to undergo persecution
for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him
and looked up to him as a leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement
- all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor
raises more problems that it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures
of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad.... Thus, not
merely must we credit Muhammad with essential honesty and integrity of
purpose, if we are to understand him at all; if we are to correct the errors
we have inherited from the past, we must not forget the conclusive proof
is a much stricter requirement than a show of plausibility, and in a matter
such as this only to be attained with difficulty.
D. G. Hogarth in 'Arabia'
Serious or trivial, his daily behavior
has instituted a canon which millions observe this day with conscious memory.
No one regarded by any section of the human race as Perfect Man has ever
been imitated so minutely. The conduct of the founder of Christianity has
not governed the ordinary life of his followers. Moreover, no founder of
a religion has left on so solitary an eminence as the Muslim apostle.
Washington Irving 'Mahomet
and His Successors'
He was sober and abstemious in his diet and
a rigorous observer of fasts. He indulged in no magnificence of apparel, the
ostentation of a petty mind; neither was his simplicity in dress affected but
a result of real disregard for distinction from so trivial a source.
In his private dealings he was just. He treated friends
and strangers, the rich and poor, the powerful and weak, with equity, and
was beloved by the common people for the affability with which he received
them, and listened to their complaints.
His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vain
glory, as they would have done had they been effected for selfish purposes.
In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of
manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting
a regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonials
of respect were shown to him. If he aimed at a universal dominion, it was
the dominion of faith; as to the temporal rule which grew up in his hands,
as he used it without ostentation, so he took no step to perpetuate it
in his family.
James Michener in ‘Islam:
The Misunderstood Religion,’ Reader’s Digest, May 1955, pp. 68-70.
"No other religion in history spread so rapidly
as Islam. The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made
possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts this idea, and the Qur’an
is explicit in the support of the freedom of conscience."
"Muhammad, the inspired man who founded Islam, was
born about A.D. 570 into an Arabian tribe that worshiped idols. Orphaned at
birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor and needy, the widow
and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden. At twenty he was already a
successful businessman, and soon became director of camel caravans for a wealthy
widow. When he reached twenty-five his employer recognizing his merit, proposed
marriage. Even though she was fifteen years older, he married her and as long
as she lived remained a devoted husband."
“Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad
fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God’s word sensing his own inadequacy.
But the Angel commanded ‘Read’. So far as we know, Muhammad was unable to
read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon
revolutionize a large segment of the earth: "There is one God"."
“In all things Muhammad was profoundly practical. When
his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred and rumors of God 's personal
condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad is said to have announced, ‘An
eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things
to the death or birth of a human being'."
“At Muhammad's own death an attempt was made to
deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed
the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: ‘If
there are any among you who worshiped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is
God you Worshiped, He lives for ever'.”
Lawrence E. Browne in ‘The
Prospects of Islam,’ 1944
Incidentally these well-established facts
dispose of the idea so widely fostered in Christian writings that the Muslims,
wherever they went, forced people to accept Islam at the point of the sword.
K. S. Ramakrishna Rao in 'Mohammed:
The Prophet of Islam,' 1989
My problem to write this monograph is
easier, because we are not generally fed now on that (distorted) kind of
history and much time need not be spent on pointing out our misrepresentations
of Islam. The theory of Islam and sword, for instance, is not heard now
in any quarter worth the name. The principle of Islam that “there is no
compulsion in religion” is well known.
Jules Masserman in 'Who Were
Histories Great Leaders?' in TIME Magazine, July 15, 1974
Perhaps the greatest leader of all times
was Mohammad, who combined all the three functions. To a lesser degree
Moses did the same.