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MUHAMMAD IN THE EYES OF NON-MUSLIM THINKERS AND SCHOLARS

It is a difficult task to describe the versatility of character of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, and it would indeed require volumes to do justice to him, to his sincerity, generosity, frugality, broad-mindedness, firmness and tenacity of purpose, his steadfastness, and calmness in adversity, his meekness in prosperity, his humility in greatness, his modesty in character, his anxious care for animals, his passionate fondness and love for children, his bravery and fortitude, his magnanimity of spirit, his unbending sense of justice and above all his noble mission to save humanity from destruction.

In the face of those who do not understand him and still pour forth torrents of abuse on the Prophet and shamefully scandalise him, what better homage to Prophet Muhammad can we pay than quote the testimony of great Western historians, thinkers and scholars who expressed their views on the greatest of benefactors of humanity.

In his famous book "The Heroes", Thomas Carlyle says the following about Muhammad:

"Muhammad is no longer an imposter, but a great reformer. He is no longer a neurotic patient suffering from epilepsy, but a man of tremendous character and unbending will. He is no longer a self-seeking despot, ministering to his own selfish ends but a beneficent ruler shedding light and love around him. He is no longer an opportunist, but a Prophet with a fixed purpose, a man of strong will, undeviating in his consistency....

"Muhammad was the man of truth and fidelity, true in what he did, in what he spoke, in what he thought; always meant something, a man rather taciturn in speech, silent when there was nothing to be said, but pertinent, wise, sincere, when he did speak, always throwing light on the matter...

"A poor shepherd people roaming unnoticed in the deserts since the creation of the world; a hero Prophet was sent down to them with a word they could believe; see the unnoticed became world noticeable, within one century afterwards Arabia is at Granada on this end; at Delhi on that; glancing with valour and splendour and the light of genius, Arabia shines through long ages over a great section of the world."

George Bernard Shaw said:

"I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capability to the changing phases of existence which can make itself appeal to everyone. I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of today. The medieval ecelesiastics either through ignorance or bigotry painted Islam in the darkest colours. they were, in fact, trained to hate the man Muhammad and his religion. To them, Muhammad was anti-Christ. I have studied him-the wonderful man, and in my opinion, far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the saviour of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume 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. But to proceed, it was in the nineteenth century that honest thinkers like Carlyle, Gibbon and Goethe perceived intrinsic worth in the religion of Muhammad-already, even, at the present time many of our people have gone to his faith , and Islamization of Europe may be said to have begun.

Lamartine, the famous French historian, said:

"Philospoher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of cult without images the founder of twenty terrestrial empires, 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?''

Alfred Martin said in (In Great Religious Teachers of The East):

"Nor is anything in religious history more remarkable than the way in which Muhammad fitted his transfiguring ideas into the existing social system of Arabia. To his everlasting credit, it must be said that in lifting to a higher place of life the communities of his day and place, he achieved that which neither the Judaism nor Christianity of Medievel Arabia could accomplish. Nay more, in the fulfilment of that civilising work Muhammad rendered valuable service, not only to Arabia, but also to the entire world."

J.H. Denison said in (Emotion as the Basis of Civilisation) the following:

"In the fifth and sixth centuries the civilised world stood on the verge of a chaos. The old emotional cultures that had made civilisation possible, since they had given to men a sense of unity and of reverence for their rulers, had broken down and nothing had been found adequate to take their place...

"It seemed that the great civilisation which it had taken four thousand years to construct was on the verge of disintegration and that mankind was likely to return to that condition of barbarism where every tribe and sect was against the next, and law and order was unknown...

"The old tribal sanctions had lost their power. The new sanctions created by Christianity were working division and destruction instead of unity and order. It was a time fraught with tragedy. Civilisation, like a gigantic tree whose foliage had over arched the world and whose branches had borne the golden fruits of art and science and literature, stood tottering... rotted to the core.

"Was there any emotional culture that could be brought in togather mankind once more into unity and to save civilisation? It was among these Arab people that the man Muhammad was born who was to unite the whole known world of the east and south". Sir William Muir said in (The Life of Muhammad):

"For few and simple were the precepts of Muhammad. His teaching had wrought a marvellous and mighty work. Never since the days when the primitive Christianity startled the world from its sleep and waged moral combat with heathenism had men seen the like arousing of spiritual life, the like faith that suffered sacrifices and took joyfully the spoiling of goods for conscience's sake.''

Johnson in (Oriental Religions) also said:

"Muhammad's thoroughly democratic conception of the divine government, the universality of his religious ideal, his simple humanity, all affiliate him with the modern world."

Sir Philip Gibbs said in( the Glory of Muhammad):

"Islam (meaning resignation), as the religion of Muhammad is properly called, has done more for the progress of civilisation and morality than any other faith which has animated the souls of men since the creation of this world. Through many centuries and at the present day it has been, and is, a power for good among hundreds of millions of the human race, and without its high moral code there is no doubt that the blackest barbarism and the most idolatrous worship would reign omnipotent where Allah and faith of nobility lead men to light."

Major A. G. Leonard said:

"If ever a man on this earth found Allah, if ever a man devoted his life to Allah's service with a good and great motive, it is certain that the Prophet of Arabia (Muhammad) is the man. Muhammad was not only the greatest but truest man that humanity has ever produced."

Sadhu T. L. Vasvani said:

"I salute Muhammad as one of the world's mighty heroes. Muhammad has been a world force, a mighty power of the uplift of many peoples."

Mahatma Gandhi said:

" When I closed the second volume of the Prophet's Biography', I was sorry that there was no more for me to read of that great life. I was 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 - efacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in Allah and his own mission."

Bertram Thomas said:

"His moral teachings sprang from a pure and exaltedmind aflame with religious enthusiasm. From being a persecuted preacher exiled to Madina, he rose to political power. This he enjoyed only in the last few years of his life, and this he used for the spiritual and material welfare of Muslims.

Such indeed was the magnificence ol his good works that he died in debt, some of his belongings in pawn with a Jew-among them his only shield for which he obtained three measures of meal.

"He lived in great humility, performing the most menial tasks with his own hands; he kindled the fire, swept the floor, milked the ewes, patched his own garments and cobbled his own shoes.

"He laboured for the amelioration of the slaves' lot, liberating any that were presented to him."

Stanley Lane-Poole said:

"He who, standing alone, braved for years the hatred of his people is the same who was never the first to withdraw his hand from another's clasp; the beloved of children, who never passed a group of little ones without a smile from his wonderful eyes and a kind word for them, sounding all the kinder in that sweet-toned voice. 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 the 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 whose roots lay in the knowledge of his own weakeness."

D. S. Margoliouth said:

"His humanity extended itself to the lower creation. He forbade the employment of living birds as targets for marksmen and remonstrated with those who ill-treated their camels... Foolish acts of cruelty which were connected with old superstitions were swept away by him...

No more was a dead man's camel to be tied to his tomb to perish of thrist and hunger. No more was the evil eye to be propitiated by the bleeding of a certain proportion of the herd. No more was the rain to be conjured by tying burning torches to the tails of oxen;... The manes and tails of horses were not to be cut, nor were asses to be branded."

In (The Ethics of the Great Religions) Gorham said:

"Sleeping one day under a palm-tree, Muhammad awoke suddenly to find an enemy named Du'thur standing over him with drawn sword.

"O, Muhammad, who is there now to save thee?', cried the man. `Allah!', answered Muhammad. Du'thur, while trying to strike, stumbled and dropped his sword. Muhammad seizeit and cried in turn: "O, Du'thur, who is there now to save thee?'. `No one', eplied Du'thur.Then learn to be merciful', said Muhammad, and handed him back his weapon.Du'thur became one of his firmest friends."

Pierre Crabites said:

Muhammad was probably the greatest champion of women's rights the world has ever seen. Islam conferred upon the Muslim wife property rights and juridical status exactly the same as that of her husband. She is free to dispose of and manage her financial assets as she pleases, without let or hindrance from her husband.

 
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