- Condition of Arabia and the state of Christianity:
” The grossest idolatry had usurped the place of the simple worship instituted by Jesus-that of an all-wise, almighty, and all-beneficent Being, without equal and without similitude; a new Olympus had been imagined, peopled with a crowd of martyrs, saints, and angels, in lieu of the ancient gods of paganism. […] Relics and carved and painted images were objects of the most fervid worship on the part of those whom the word of Christ commanded to address their prayers to the living God alone. […] At the time of Mohammad’s advent all had abandoned the principles of their religion to indulge in never-ending wranglings upon dogmas of a secondary importance, and the Arabian people could not but see that they had lost sight of the most essential point of the religious doctrine-the pure and true worship of God-and that, as regards the most disgraceful and the grossest superstition, they were upon a par with their pagan contemporaries.”
John Davenport: An Apology for Mohammad and the Koran, London, 1869, p. 4.
- Muhammad’s personality and Character:
“He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope’s pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar. Without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue, if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammad, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports. He rose superior to the title and ceremonies, the solemn trifling, and the proud humility of court etiquette. To hereditary kings, to princes born in the purple, these things are naturally enough as the breath of life; but those who ought to have known better, even self-made rulers, and those the foremost in the files of time-a Caesar, a Cromwell, a Napoleon, have been unable to resist their tinsel attractions. Mohammad was content with the reality; he cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life. ‘God’, says Al-Bokhari, ‘offered him the keys of the treasures of the earth, but he would not accept them’.”
Bosworth Smith: Mohammad and Mohammadanism, p. 92.
“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 interposed 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, 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, Spain, and a part of Gaul.
If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern 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 and 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 blended together peoples of every tongue and of every race.
He has left for us as 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 his dogma was his miracle; or rather it was not the miracle of a man, but that of reason.
The idea of the Unity of God 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 revilings against the superstitions of his country, and his boldness in defying the furies of idolatry, his firmness in enduring them for fifteen years at 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 the words.
Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images, 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-“
Lamartine: Historie de la Turquie, Pari 1854, vol. 2, pp. 276-277. (Italics are the present writer’s).
“… 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 seemed black unnoticeable sand: but lo! The sand proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Grenada: I said the Great Man was always as lightning out of heaven: the, rest of the men waited for him like fuel, and then they too would aflame.”
Thomas Carlyle: op. cit., p. 311.
- Devotion to God and to Righteousness in Conduct:
“The ignorance displayed by most Christians regarding the Muslim religion is appalling… Mohammad alone, among the nations at that time, believed in one God to the exclusion of all others. He insisted on righteousness as the source of conduct, of filial duty, and on frequent prayers to, the Ever-living God, and of respect to all other peoples, and of justice and mercy to and moderation in all things, and to hold in great respect learning of every kind… Most of the absurdities which Christians would have us believe to exist in the Quran were never uttered by Mohammad himself, nor are they to be found in a correct translation of the work.”
G. Lindsay Johnson, F.R.C.S.: The Two Worlds, Manchester, 9th August 1940.
“The nobility and broad tolerance of this creed, which accepts as God-inspired all the real religions of the world will always be a glorious heritage for mankind. On it could indeed be built a perfect world religion.”
Duncan Greenless: The Gospel of Islam, Adyar, 1948, p. 27.
“More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of Moses, the religion of Mahomet might seem less inconsistent with reason than the creed of mystery and superstition which, in the seventh century, disgraced the simplicity of the gospels.”
Edward Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 5. p. 487.
“Islam had the power of peacefully conquering souls by the simplicity of its theology, the clearness of its dogma and principles, and the definite number of the practices which it demands. In contrast to Christianity which has been undergoing continual transformation since its origin, Islam has remained identical with itself.”
Jean L’heureux, Etude sur L’Islamisme, p. 35.
- Contribution to Science and Civilization:
“It is to Mussulman science, to Mussulman art, and to Mussulman literature that Europe has been in a great measure indebted for its extrication from the darkness of the Middle Ages.”
Marquis of Dufferin and Ava: Speeches Delivered in India, London 1890, p. 24.
“Europe was darkened at sunset, Cordova shone with public lamps: Europe was dirty, Cordova built a thousand baths: Europe was covered with vermin, Cordova changed its undergarments daily: Europe lay in mud, Cordova’s streets were paved; Europe’s palaces bad smoke-holes in the ceiling, Cordova’s arabesques were exquisite; Europe’s nobility could not sign its name, Cordova’s children went to school; Europe’s monks could not read the baptismal service, Cordova’s teachers created a library of Alexandrian dimensions.”
Victor Robinson: The Story of Medicine, p. 164.
“Our use of the 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.”
Bertrand Russell: History of Western Philosophy, London 1948, p. 419.
“… From a new angle and with a fresh vigor it (the Arab mind) took up that systematic development of positive knowledge which the Greeks had begun and relinquished… Through the Arabs it was and not by the Latin route that the modern world received that gift of light and power.”
H. G. Wills: The outline of History, p. 327.
- Peaceful Proselytization:
“History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd my have ever repeated.”
De Lacy O’Leary: Islam at the Crossroads, London 1923, p. 8.
“In their wars of conquest, however, the Muslims exhibited a degree of toleration which puts many Christian nations to shame.”
E. Alexander Powell: The Struggle for Power in Moslem Asia, New York 1923, p. 48.
- The Rise of Islam:
“They (Arabs) were no blood thirsty savages, bent solely on loot and destruction. On the contrary, they were an innately gifted race, eager to learn and appreciative of the cultural gifts, which older civilizations had to bestow. Intermarrying freely and professing a common belief, conquerors and conquered rapidly fused, and from this fusion arose a new civilization – the Saracenic civilization, in which the ancient cultures of Greece, Rome and Persia were revitalized by the Arab genius and the Islamic spirit. For the first three centuries of its existence (circ. C.E. 650-1000) the realm of Islam was the most civilized and progressive portion of the world.
Studded with splendid cities, gracious mosques, and quiet universities where the wisdom of the ancient world was preserved and appreciated, the Moslem world offered a striking contrast to the Christian West, then sunk in the night of the Dark Ages.”
A. M. Lothrop Stoddard: The New World of Islam, London 1932, pp. 1-3.