MUHAMMAD IN NON-MUSLIMS' EYES
Michael H. Hart was a mathematician, historian and astronomer. In 1978 he listed 100 influential men throughout history and he singled out Prophet Muhammad as the most influential among them! In his book, The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History, he wrote, "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 religious and secular levels. Of humble origins, Muhammad founded and promulgated one of the world's great religions, and became an immensely effective political leader. Today, thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive."
Stanley Lane Pool, an eminent historian especially in oriental history, had these to say about the Prophet in The Speeches and Table Talk of Prophet Muhammad, "There is something so tender and womanly, and withal so heroic, about the man, that one is in peril of finding the judgement unconsciously blinded by the feeling of reverence and well-nigh love that such a nature inspire. He who, standing alone, braved for years the hatred of his people, is the same man 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 kind words for them, sounding all the kinder in that sweet-toned voice. The frank friendship, the noble generosity, the dauntless courage and hope of the man, all tend to melt criticism into admiration."
George Bernard Shaw, a Nobel Laureate in Literature in 1925, believed that Prophet Muhammad was indeed a great man and a deliverer and benefactor of mankind. In Letter to Najmi Sahib, he said, "The Christians and their missionaries have presented a horrible picture of Islam. Not only that, they also carried out an organized and planned propaganda against the personality of Prophet Mohammad and the religion he preached. I have very carefully studied Islam and the life of its Prophet. I have done so both as a student of history and as a critic. And I have come to the conclusion that Mohammad was indeed a great man and a deliverer and a benefactor of mankind which was till then writhing under a most agonising pain."
In The Genuine Islam, he went on to say that, given the chance, the Prophet would succeed in solving the problems of the modern world, "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."
Thomas Carlyle, a famous historian, thinker, writer and social activist from Scotland, called Prophet Muhammad a veritable hero that was hard to emulate. In On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, he wrote, "Mahomet himself, after all that can be said about him, was not a sensual man....His household was of the most frugal; his common diet barley-bread and water; sometimes for months there was not a fire once lighted on his hearth. They record with just pride that he would mend his own shoes, patch his own cloak......careless of what vulgar men toll for..........or these wild Arab men, fighting and jostling three-and-twenty years at his hand in close contact with him always, would not have reverenced him so! They were wild men, bursting ever and anon with quarrel with all kind of fierce sincerity; without right worth and manhood, no man could have commanded them.....No emperor with his tiaras was obeyed as this man in cloak of his own clouting. During three-and-twenty years of rough actual trial, I find something of a veritable hero necessary for that myself."
Professor Laura Veccia Vaglieri was impressed that Prophet Muhammad, in his missionary work, used methods that can be comprehended by the mind and intellect. He did not deceive people with supernatural feats and ability. In her Apologia dell Islamismo, the professor said, "In his missionary work towards the correct belief in Allah, the One, the Unique, Muhammad did not use methods which stunted human ability for thought and reflection. Nor did he deceive them or dupe them with supernatural phenomena, or what would be called miracles. Nor did he excessively admonish them with heavenly threats. What did he do? He simply called them to contemplate and reflect upon the creation of the universe and the natural laws; as opposed to detaching them from the reality of their environment. He called them with the utmost simplicity to read " the book of life " and to contemplate on life and creation in order to gain complete certainty about the Oneness and The Uniqueness of Allah, whom they can never do without."
For Professor K.S. Ramakrishna Rao, a dean at the School of Philosophy, University of Mysore, Prophet Muhammad was simply the greatest in every aspect of life. In Islam and Modern Age, he said, "There is Mohammad the Prophet, there is Mohammad the General; Mohammad the King; Mohammad the Warrior; Mohammad the Businessman; Mohammad the Preacher; Mohammad the Philosopher; Mohammad the Statesman; Mohammad the Orator; Mohammad the reformer; Mohammad the Refuge of orphans; Mohammad the Protector of slaves; Mohammad the Emancipator of women; Mohammad the Law-giver; Mohammad the Judge; Mohammad the Saint...If for instance, greatness consist in the purification of a nation steeped in barbarism and immersed in absolute moral darkness, that dynamic personality who has transformed, refined and uplifted an entire nation, and made them the torch-bearers of civilization and learning, has every claim to greatness. If greatness lies in unifying the discordant elements of society by ties of brotherhood and charity, the prophet of the desert has got every title to this distinction. If greatness consists in reforming (people) warped in blind superstition and pernicious practices of every kind, the prophet of Islam has wiped out superstitions and irrational fear from the hearts of millions. If it lies in displaying high morals, Mohammad has been admitted by friends and foe as Al-Amin, or the faithful. If a conqueror is a great man, here is a person who rose from a helpless orphan to be the ruler of Arabia, equal to Chosroes and Caesars, one who founded a great empire that has survived all these 14 centuries. If the devotion that a leader commands is the criterion of greatness, the prophet's name, even today, exerts a magic charm over millions of souls, spread all over the world."
Venkata Ratnam in his book, An Essay on Islam, try to compare Prophet Muhammad with Jesus Christ. He wrote, "If now we compare Muhammad's character with Jesus Christ's we find it is infinitely better than his. Muhammad never made himself equal with God. He always professed himself to be only a messenger of God, teaching His will to men.. The Islam of Muhammad with its stern discipline and stern morality proved itself the only practical religion. Muhammad the Prophet of God, has done more good to the world than any other man."
By Dr. Danial bin Zainal Abidin (M.B.Ch.B., University of Alexandria)