Some of the well known scholars who had the blessed fortune of having learned Arabic by socializing with the Bedouins:
- The Swiss Muslim Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in the 1810s.
- The British Muslim Sir Richard Burton in the 1850s.
- The German (openly non-Muslim, confidentially Muslim) Heinrich von Maltzan during 1860s.
- The Austrian Muslim Leopold Weiss (Muhammad Asad) in the 1950s.
- The French surgeon Maurice Buccaille in the 1950s.
Some Translations and Translators of the Quran into European languages:
• 1143 - Latin, [Robertur Tetenensis], MS printed in 1543 by Bibliander
• 1616 - German, [Schweigger]
• 1647 - French, [Du Ryer]
• 1649 - English, [A. Ross]
• 1698 - Latin, [Marchi], complete with Arabic text and commentary
• 1734 - English, [George Sale]
• 1773 - German, [Boyson]
• 1776 - Russian, [Official translation by a committee at St. Petersburg]
• 1783 - French, [Savary]
• 1828 - German, [Wahl]
• 1840 - German, [Ullmann]
• 1840 - French, [Kasimerski]
• 1861 - English, [J.M. Rodwell]
• 1876-1880 - English, [E.H.Palmer]
• 1925 – English, [Muhammad Ali]
• 1930 – English, [Marmaduke Pickthall]
• 1938 – English, [Abdullah Yousuf Ali]
• 1937-1939 English, [Dr. Richard Bell]
• 1953 – English, [A. J. Arberry]
• 2003 – English, [Dr. Shabbir Ahmed]
In the quotations given below, the Western writers have sometimes used the term Muhammadanism for Islam. They were perhaps unaware that, for a Muslim, Muhammadanism conveys the erroneous impression that Islam was founded by Prophet Muhammad, or that the Muslims might be worshiping him.
Muslims believe in the same God as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Jesus believed. Prophet Muhammad obeyed and propagated the Message of the One and Only God (in Arabic, Allah), the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Hence, his Mission was essentially the same as that of the earlier Prophets of God. He was the last Prophet Messenger, and sent for the entire humanity for all times to come.
Let us begin with the greatest social philosopher of Victorian England, Thomas Carlyle.
Thomas Carlyle - Heroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History London 1841:
…. As there is no danger of our becoming, any of us, Mahometans, I mean to say all the good of him I justly can....
When Pococke inquired of Grotius, where the proof was of that story of the pigeon, trained to pick peas from Mahomet’s ear, and pass for an angel dictating to him? Grotius answered that there was no proof! ....
A greater number of God’s creatures believe in Mahomet’s word at this hour than in any other word whatever. Are we to suppose that it was a miserable piece of spiritual legerdemain [trick], this which so many creatures of the almighty have lived by and died by? ....
A poor, hard-toiling, ill-provided man; careless of what vulgar men toil for. Not a bad man, I should say; Something better in him than hunger of any sort, — or these wild Arab men, fighting and jostling three-and-twenty years at his hand, in close contact with him always, would not revere him so! They were wild men bursting ever and anon into quarrel, into all kinds of fierce sincerity; without right worth and manhood, no man could have commanded them. They called him prophet you say? Why he stood there face to face with them; bare, not enshrined in any mystery; visibly clouting his own cloak, cobbling his own shoes; fighting, counseling, ordering in the midst of them: they must have seen what kind of man he was, let him be called what you like! No emperor with his tiaras was obeyed as this man in a cloak of his own clouting. During three-and-twenty years of rough actual trial, I find something of a veritable Hero necessary for that, of itself...
These Arabs, the man Mahomet, and that one century, - is it not as if a spark had fallen, one spark, on a world of what proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Granada! I said the Great man was always as lightning out of Heaven; the rest of men waited for him like fuel, and then they too would flame...
The lies [Western slander] which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man [Muhammad] are disgraceful to ourselves only. He was a great soul, one of that who cannot but be earnest. He was to kindle the world; the world’s Maker had ordered so …. A man of truth and fidelity, true in what he did, in what he spake and thought—this is the only sort of speech worth speaking.
A. S. Tritton - Islam 1951:
The picture of the Muslim soldier advancing with a sword in one hand and the Quran in the other is quite false.
De Lacy O’Leary - 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.
Edward Gibbon - History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire London 1788:
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 …. The creed of Mohammad is free from ambiguity and the Quran is a glorious testimony to the unity of God …. The greatest crime, the greatest “sin” of Mohammad in the eyes of the Christian West is that he did not allow himself to be slaughtered, to be “crucified” by his enemies. He only defended himself, his family and his followers; and finally vanquished his enemies. Mohammad’s success is the Christians’ gall of disappointment …. He did not believe in any vicarious sacrifices for the sins of others.
George Rivorie - Visages de L’ Islam:
He laid the foundation of a universal government. His law was one for all. Equal justice and love for everyone.
Stanley Lane-Poole - Speeches and Table Talk of the
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 said....
Sir William Muir - Life of Mohammad, India 1860:
Mohammad brought an end to idol worship. He preached monotheism and infinite Mercy of God, human brotherhood, care of the orphan, emancipation of slaves, forbidding of wine—No religion achieved as much success as Islam did.
Simon Ockley - History of the Saracen Empire 1823:
A rugged, strife-torn and mountaineering people...were suddenly turned into an indomitable Arab force, which achieved a series of splendid victories unparalleled in the history of nations, for in the short space of ninety years that mighty range of Saracenic [Nomad Arabs] conquest embraced a wider extent of territory than Rome had mastered in the course of eight hundred.
The greatest success of Mohammad’s life was affected 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.
M. H. Hyndman - The Awakening of Asia:
Mohammad never assigned himself a status more than a common man and a messenger of God. People had faith in him when he was surrounded by poverty and adversity and trusted him while he was the ruler of a great Empire …. A man of spotless character who always had confidence in himself and in God’s help …. No aspect of his life remained hidden nor was his death a mysterious event.
Annie Besant - 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.
Pringle Kennedy - Arabian Society at the Time of Mohammad:
The height of human achievement and glory was Mohammad.
W. C. Taylor - 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 - 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 Muhammadanism 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.... Absolutely unique in history, Muhammad is a three-fold founder of a nation, of an empire and of a religion. The unlettered one bestowed upon the world the Book which is a miracle, the eternal miracle and the true miracle.
Rev E. Stephenson - My Reflections:
The message of Mohammad, Islam, is nothing but a blessing for mankind—The usher from darkness to light and from Satan to God.
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 Quran 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 - 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 servant 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.
Tor Andre - Muhammad, the Man and His Faith:
Islam is a forceful spiritual energy. Its true meaning will manifest itself when it will be implemented on large scale.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Letter to Eckermann 1830, Sir Henry Elliott’s collection, 1865:
The teachings of Islam can fail under no circumstances. With all our systems of culture and civilization, we cannot go beyond Islam and, as a matter of fact, no human mind can go beyond the Koran.
Alphonse de LaMartaine - 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….
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 of which has become law, he created a spiritual nationality which blends 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 of 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 accounts of the origin and descent of the gods, was in itself such a miracle that upon its 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 reveling [rebellion] 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?
J. H. Denison - Emotions as the Basis of Civilization:
Muhammad saved the human civilization from extinction. Ponder! Which person is it who taught mankind the way to establish the greatest society; the society in which blessings descend upon every individual.
Mahatma Gandhi - Young India, 1924:
The more I study, the more I discover that the strength of Islam does not lie in the sword. The more I desired 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 more of that great life.
The verified sayings of Muhammad are a treasure of wisdom not only for Muslims but for all mankind - (M. K. Gandhi’s Preface to “The Sayings of Muhammad” by Sohrawardi).
Sir George Bernard Shaw - 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 far 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 today.
Dr. Mawde Royden - The Problem of Palestine:
Mohammad introduced the concept of such Glorious and Omnipotent God in Whose eyes all worldly systems were pieces of straw. Islamic equality of mankind is no fiction as it is in Christianity. No human mind has ever thought of such total freedom as established by Mohammad.
F. J. C. Hearushaw - The Science of History:
The Christian World came to wage crusades against Muslims but eventually knelt before them to gain knowledge. They were spellbound to see that Muslims were owners of a culture that was far superior to their own. The Dark Ages of Europe were illuminated by nothing but the beacon of Muslim civilization.
Michael Hart - 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 - History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, London 1875:
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 justify the title of a Messenger of God…. The towering personality of Muhammad has left bright and indelible imprints on all mankind…. The man who of all men exercised the greatest influence upon the human race…. During the period of the Caliphs the learned men of the Christians and the Jews were not only held in great esteem but were appointed to posts of great responsibility, and were promoted to the high ranking job in the government.... He (Caliph Haroon Rasheed) never considered to which country a learned person belonged nor his faith and belief, but only his excellence in the field of learning.
H. N. Spalding - Civilization in the East and West:
Mohammad was the greatest Executive Officer for implementation of the Divine Will. Like other prophets he knew that time will come when all mankind will become one community …. In Islam the believer is a worshiper and a soldier ever ready to go to the battlefield but only for that battle which is waged to eradicate aggression, the evil.
Robert Briffault - The Making of Humanity:
The Renaissance of Europe did not take place in the 15th century Rome. Rather it began when Europe learned from the culture of the Arabs. The cradle of European awakening is NOT Italy. It is the Muslim Spain.
J. W. H. Stab - Islam and its Founder:
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 luster than that of the Prophet of Mecca. 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. In Islam, science and religion have thrived like twin sisters. Therefore, during the Koranic glory of Islamic civilization, science made incredible progress from which the West was later enlightened… 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?
Arthur Glyn Leonard - 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 - History of Mohammadanism:
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 of genius which alike influences the learned and commands the illiterate.
Philip K. Hitti - 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 of the then civilized world …. Kingdom of God on Earth: God’s messenger serving as the greatest proponent of human brotherhood, His viceroy on earth in the form of Muhammad.
Islam does not set impossible goals. There are no mythological intricacies in this message. No hidden meanings or secrets and absolutely no priesthood.
Encyclopedia Britannica, 4th & 11th editions:
Muhammad was the most successful of all religious personalities.
Stanley Lane-Poole - 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…. Mohammad was an enthusiast in the noblest sense.
Rev. J. M. Rodwell - The Preface to Translation of the Holy Quran:
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 - 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 than 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 - 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.
Ramsey Clark, Former U.S. Attorney General, Our Planet 1994, Lecture:
Islam is the only religion that gives dignity to the poor.
James Michener - 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 wise modern scholar accepts this idea, and the Koran 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 - 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.
Under his influence people became united in one bond which they knew not, the bond of true monotheism. (The Eclipse of Christianity in Islam)
K. S. Ramakrishna Rao - 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 …. In the person of the prophet of Islam we see the rarest phenomenon on earth walking in flesh and blood i.e. the union of the theorist, the organizer and the leader in one man.
P. D. Ouspensky - Tertium organum:
Any science that collides with the Koran will turn out to be false.
Jules Masserman - Who Were History’s Great Leaders? TIME Magazine, July 15, 1974:
The greatest leader of all times was Mohammad, who combined all the three functions; religious, political and moral. To a lesser extent, Moses did the same.
Napoleon Bonaparte as Quoted in Cherfils, Bonaparte et Islam, Paris, France:
Moses has revealed the existence of God to his nation. Jesus Christ to the Roman world, Muhammad to the old continent....
Arabia was idolatrous when, six centuries after Jesus, Muhammad introduced the worship of the God of Abraham, of Ishmael, of Moses, and Jesus. The Ariyans [The Unitarian followers of Father Arius] and some other sects had disturbed the tranquility of the east by agitating the question of the nature of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Muhammad declared that there was none but one God who had no father, no son and that the trinity imported the idea of idolatry....
I hope the time is not far off when I shall be able to unite all the wise and educated men of all the countries and establish a uniform regime based on the principles of Koran which alone are true and which alone can lead men to happiness.
Bertrand Russell - History of Western Philosophy, London, 1948:
Our use of phrase ‘The Dark ages’ to cover the period from 699 to 1,000 marks our undue concentration on Western Europe.... From India to Spain, the brilliant civilization of Islam flourished. What was lost to Christendom at this time was not lost to civilization, but quite the contrary.... To us it seems that West-European civilization is civilization, but this is a narrow view.
Herbert George Wells - Happiness of Mankind, Kent, 1938:
The Islamic teachings have left great traditions for equitable and gentle dealings and behavior, and inspire people with nobility and tolerance. These are human teachings of the highest order and at the same time practicable. These teachings brought into existence a society in which hard-heartedness and collective oppression and injustice were the least as compared with all other societies preceding it .... Islam is replete with gentleness, courtesy, and fraternity.
Diwan Chand Sharma - The Prophets of the East, 1935:
Mohammad was the soul of kindness, and his influence was felt and never forgotten by those around him.
Raymond Lerouge - Life de Mohamet:
The Arabian Prophet Mohammad is the founder of a revolution unparalleled in history. He founded a political state that will ultimately embrace the entire planet. The law of that Government would rest on justice and kindness. His teachings revolve around human equality, mutual cooperation and universal brotherhood.
Dr. Marcus Dods - Mohammad, Buddha and Christ:
Mohammad’s religion reformed all existing dogmas and brought the Arabs ahead of the super powers of the time.
Phillip Hitti - Short History of the Arabs:
During all the first part of the Middle Ages, no other people made as important a contribution to human progress as did the Arabs, if we take this term to mean all those whose mother-tongue was Arabic, and not merely those living in the Arabian peninsula. For centuries, Arabic was the language of learning, culture and intellectual progress for the whole of the civilized world with the exception of the Far East. From the 9th to the 12th century there were more philosophical, medical, historical, religious, astronomical and geographical works written in Arabic than in any other human tongue.
Carra de Vaux - The Philosophers of Islam, Paris, 1921:
Finally how can one forget that at the same time the Mogul Empire of India (1526-1857 CE) was giving the world the Taj-Mahal (completed in 1648 CE) the architectural beauty of which has never been surpassed, and the ‘Akbar Nameh’ of Abul Fazl: That extraordinary work full of life ideas and learning where every aspect of life is examined, listed and classified, and where progress continually dazzles the eye, is a document of which Oriental civilization may justly be proud. The men whose genius finds its expression in this book were far in advance of their age in the practical art of government, and they were perhaps in advance of it in their speculations about religious philosophy. Those poets those philosophers knew how to deal with the world or matter. They observe, classify, calculate and experiment. All the ideas that occur to them are tested against facts. They express them with eloquence but they also support them with statistics.... the principles of tolerance, justice and humanity which prevailed during the long reign of Akbar.
Marcel Clerget - La Turquie, Passe et Pressent, Paris, 1938:
Many proofs of high cultural level of the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent are to be found in the development of science and law; in the flowering of literary works in Arabic, Persian and Turkish; in the contemporary monuments in Istanbul, Bursa, and Edirne; in the boom in luxury industries; in the sumptuous life of the court and high dignitaries, and last but not least, in its religious tolerance. All the various influences - notably Turkish, Byzantine and Italian mingle together and help to make this the most brilliant epoch of the Ottomans.
Thomas Arnold - The Call to Islam:
We have never heard about any attempt to compel Non-Muslim parties to adopt Islam or about any organized persecution aiming at exterminating Christianity. If the Caliphs had chosen one of these plans, they would have wiped out Christianity as easily as what happened to Islam during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella in Spain; by the same method which Louis XIV followed to make Protestantism a creed whose followers were to be sentenced to death; or with the same ease of keeping the Jews away from Britain for a period of three hundred fifty years.
Michael the Elder (Great) as Quoted in Michael the Elder, Chronique de Michael Syrien, Patriarche Jacobite d’ Antioche, J. B. Chabot, Editor, Vol. II, Paris, 1901:
This is why the God of vengeance, who alone is all-powerful, and changes the empire of mortals as He will, giving it to whomsoever He will, and uplifting the humble beholding the wickedness of the Romans who throughout their dominions, cruelly plundered our churches and our monasteries and condemned us without pity, brought from the region of the south the sons of Ishmael, to deliver us through them from the hands of the Romans. And if in truth we have suffered some loss, because the Catholic churches, that had been taken away from us and given to the Chalcedonians, remained in their possession; for when the cities submitted to the Arabs, they assigned to each denomination the churches which they found it to be in possession of (and at that time the great churches of Emessa and that of Harran had been taken away from us); nevertheless it was no slight advantage for us to be delivered from the cruelty of the Romans, their wickedness, their wrath and cruel zeal against us, and to find ourselves at people.
[Michael the Elder, Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch wrote this text in the latter part of the twelfth century, after five centuries of Muslim rule in that region.]
James Addison - The Christian Approach to the Moslem:
Despite the growth of antagonism, Moslem rulers seldom made their Christian subjects suffer for the Crusades. When the Saracens finally resumed the full control of Palestine the Christians were given their former status as citizens. The Coptic Church, too had little cause for complaint under Saladin’s strong government, and during the time of the earlier Mameluke sultans who succeeded him, the Copts experienced more enlightened justice than they had hitherto known. The only effect of the Crusaders upon Egyptian Christians was to keep them for a while from pilgrimage to Jerusalem, for as long as the Frank were in charge heretics were forbidden access to the shrines. Not until the Moslem victories could they enjoy their rights as Christians.
Marmaduke Pickthall - Tolerance in Islam, Lecture, 1927, Madras, India:
In the eyes of history, religious toleration is the highest evidence of culture in a people.... It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance and other evidences of the highest culture. Before the coming of Islam tolerance had never been preached as an essential part of religion....
If Europe had known as much of Islam, as Muslims knew of Christendom, in those days, those mad, adventurous, occasionally chivalrous and heroic, but utterly fanatical outbreaks known as the Crusades could not have taken place, for they were based on a complete misapprehension....
Innumerable monasteries, with a wealth of treasure of which the worth has been calculated at no less than a hundred millions sterling, enjoyed the benefit of the Holy Prophet’s Charter to the monks of Sinai and were religiously respected by the Muslims. The various sects of Christians were represented in the Council of the Empire by their patriarchs, on the provincial and district council by their bishops, in the village council by their priests, whose word was always taken without question on things which were the sole concern of their community....
The tolerance within the body of Islam was, and is, something without parallel in history; class and race and color ceasing altogether to be barriers.
Sir John Bagot Glubb - Reflections on a Great ERA:
The Abbasid Khalifa [Caliph] Al-Ma’mun’s period of rule (813 - 833 CE) may be considered the ‘golden age’ of science and learning. He had always been devoted to books and to learned pursuits. His brilliant mind was interested in every form of intellectual activity. Not only poetry but also philosophy, theology, astronomy, medicine and law all occupied his time.
By Mamun’s time, medical schools were extremely active in Baghdad. The first free public hospital was opened in Baghdad during the Caliphate of Haroon-ar-Rashid. As the system developed, physicians and surgeons were appointed who gave lectures to medical students and issued diplomas to those who were considered qualified to practice. The first hospital in Egypt was opened in 872 AD and thereafter public hospitals sprang up all over the empire from Spain and the Maghrib [Morocco] to Persia.
On the Holocaust of Baghdad (1258 CE) Perpetrated by Hulagu: The city of Haroon and Mamun was systematically looted, destroyed and burnt. Eight hundred thousand persons are said to have been killed. The Khalifa Mustasim was sewn up in a sack and trampled to death under the feet of Mongol horses. For five hundred years, Baghdad had been a city of palaces, mosques, libraries and colleges. Its universities and hospitals were the most up-to-date in the world. Nothing now remained but heaps of rubble and a stench of decaying human flesh.
R. V. C. Bodley - The Messenger, London, 1946:
No man whose external conditions changed so much ever changed himself less to meet them.
James Gavin - Dialogue with a U.S. General:
Among leaders who have made the greatest impact through ages, I would consider Muhammad before Jesus Christ.
Giyani Balbir Singh - Navan Hindustan, 1947:
Those who believe Islam was spread by force are fools who neither know the ways of Islam nor the ways of the world.
W. A. R. Gibb - Whither Islam:
The Message of Mohammad is not a set of metaphysical phenomena. It is a complete civilization.
Rev. B. Margoliouth - Biographies of Mohammad:
The Book revealed to Mohammad is one and unique of its kind. It has left indelible impression on the hearts of humanity. Nothing can overcome its majesty. The Quran has given new dimensions to human thinking. Surprising reforms, stunning success! …. The power that created in Muslims ravenous appetite for knowledge sprung from the Quran.
Sir Richard Gregory - Religion in Science and Civilization:
The Book revealed to Muhammad defines an unalterable guide to individual and collective life of people.
Lewis Mumford - Transformation of Man:
Fellow inhabitants of the planet! Search for the ideal Prophet, who in the 7th century, has shown you the way to total success.
Abraham Maslow: The great American sociologist and thinker of the 20th Century, Abraham Maslow, understood the development of the human ‘self’ beautifully. What the Quran calls Tazkia (derived from Zaku meaning development of the personality 2:232, 4:49), he terms as Self-actualization or fulfillment of the human personality.
[Quran 4:49 Have you seen those who claim that they have purified their souls? Purification or development of the ‘self’ can only be achieved according to the laws of God, by service of humanity and not through rituals or mysticism.]
Sir Arthur S. Eddington 1882-1944 - Science and the Unseen World
In order to make true progress, man must exercise his free will in accordance with the Divine guidance. Man must do this, not to put God under any obligation, but for the evolution of his own SELF.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) - Out of My Later Days
The code of permanent values can only come through Revelation to chosen personalities (messengers) of God. Science can tell what is. It cannot tell what ought to be.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) - On Heroes and Hero Worship
The word of Mohamet is a voice, direct from nature's own heart . . . all else is wind in comparison.
Nicholes Berdyeau - Destiny of Man
If the society is not conducive to the growth of human personality, people would remain slaves even if such a society were perceived to be free. --- Islam offers a beautiful collective system which says Yes to Life. - The Divine and the Human
Hastings Rashdall (1858-1924) – The Theory of Good and Evil
For the development of SELF I need a society where others' benefit feels like my own. --- The real progress entails development of an international social order in which every individual can grow to one’s full potential.
[Quran 76:9 (They do all this selflessly) saying, "We provide for you for the sake of God alone. We want no return from you, not even a word of thanks.]
Immanuel Kant, German philosopher (1724-1804) - Critique of Practical Reason
The ideal society will be one where the wellness of others will feel like my own wellness.
Robert Briffault (1934-1993) - The Making of Humanity
The development of the human personality [NAFS] can take place only collectively with other members of the society.
Prof. A. N. Whitehead (1861-1947) - Adventure of Ideas
The purpose of life is the development of humanity in a collective social order.
Prof. Alfred Cobban - The Crisis of Civilization
A complete way of life which would be universal is neither present in human instinct nor can we devise it through intellect. It can only come through Revelation. [Quran 2:129 “Our Lord! Raise from among them a Messenger who will convey Your messages to them and instruct them in the scripture (by personal example) and the wisdom (behind each command). And also teach them how to grow in goodness. You are Almighty, the Wise.”]
Robert Murray - The Individual and the State
We need a religion that can transcend nationalism and make the world one Nation. [Quran 2:213 Mankind were one single community (but selfishness divided them). So, God sent Prophets as bearers of good news and warnings.]
Professor Hugh Miller - Country and State
It is the sacred duty of our civilization that we revive the true human brotherhood which existed at the beginning of life and after which people divided.
Neveres Emery - The Anatomy of Peace
The solution to humanity's problems lies not in internationalism. It rests in the Kuranic teaching of universal brotherhood of all men.
Arnold Toynbee - The World and the West
Only Islam can transcend the boundaries of nationalism.
W. Chardin - Building of the Earth
The time for nations has already passed. The era of mankind as one community is about to dawn.
Gummer Murdael - Beyond the Welfare State
The world will shortly see a single government without borders in which the affairs of human beings will be a matter of counsel. [Quran 2:27 (Just as there is One Creator, likewise mankind is but one Community.) Those who break this ratified Bond of God and cut asunder the unity of mankind that God has commanded them to uphold, and thus lay the foundation of chaos on earth, those will be the losers in the long run.]
Erich Fromm (1900-1980) - The Sane Society
No tangible forces, no intangible powers, can stop Islam from becoming the universal faith. This is because only Islam can march along with the evolution of human civilization.
The Quran Goes Further: Dear reader, the Quran recognizes these goals but it takes us far beyond.
The believers give preference to the needs of others over their own even when they themselves are needy. (59:9)
And thus, righteous people are those who make their SELF (NAFS) grow by fulfilling the needs of others. And they do so because of IMAN (Conviction) in Allah’s Promise. They know that they will be rewarded manifold in both worlds. Wasn't Goethe right that no human mind and no system could go beyond the Quran?
And, the exalted Messenger said:
“The best among people are those who serve humanity.”
“The best of the works is service of humanity.”
“The only person who exits the circle of Islam is the one who knowingly helps the oppressor.”
If we do not make progress toward self-actualization, the development of our personality stalls. This state of being left behind and cessation of progress is termed by the Quran as JAHEEM (The Insurmountable Barrier, a term repeatedly used in the Book for Hellfire).
"If I march I am, if I don't I am not."
It has been stated before that according to the Quran, the development of the human "SELF" (TAZKIA) can only take place by giving, by serving humanity. If any kind of worship and rituals do not lead a person to that noble end, those acts will turn out to be vain. Accordingly, Sheikh Sa'adi, the renowned Persian poet-philosopher said,
Worship is naught but service of creation
Rosary, rug and robe are not devotion.
The real existence on earth is of the one who benefits mankind (Quran 13:17)
Dear reader, don't these quotations from some of the greatest minds resonate with the Book? According to the Quran, mankind was, and will become, one community (2:213, 9:32-33, 10:19). Based on that authority and on my own reflection, I believe that people will, in the near future, see what the great thinkers are seeing today. People will lay aside their biases and prejudices. Nations in search of solutions to their political and socio-economic problems will turn to the Quran and find the Light. East or West, all people will recognize that THE QURAN IS THE PROPERTY OF NOT ONLY MUSLIMS BUT OF ALL HUMANITY. While the Muslims are badly entangled in trivial disputes, schisms and blind following, the West will probably see the Light first. They will recognize that the downfall of Muslims is despite Islam, and not because of it. It is their abandonment of the Wise Quran. Then, in Sir Iqbal’s words they will say to Muslims:
Your ancestors were honored for being Musalman
And you are miserable for leaving the Quran.
Then, there no longer will be a League of Nations or the United Nations. These manmade organizations have failed, and will continue to fail, in becoming harbingers of peace, security and justice to the world. Instead, it will be the United Mankind. That is what the destiny of humanity is. And that is the direction humanity has been moving in during the last 14 centuries. The Quran predicts the pleasant outcome on three occasions.
All people will recognize that the Quran is the ULTIMATE TRUTH and that the Quranic System will prevail over all other systems of life (9:32-33, 48:28, and 61:9).
A glance at history can easily dispel any doubts about this Quranic claim. Just a few examples will suffice to show that Islam has been marching on through the past fourteen centuries. This has been so despite the Muslims lagging far behind the Quran and even trailing the developed nations. These examples are being presented in the next chapter now.