By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
29 March, 2015
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
There is an old adage, when the elephant falls in the poodle, the crow picks at its head. So, with Islam, now probably in its worse phase in its history, it has become fashionable to criticize and revile it and demonize its Prophet – thanks to the tacit or unwitting unholy alliance of its twin enemies, the atavistic Ulema and the radical intellectuals – one clinging to a Medieval version of Islam, petrified over time and the other cherry-picking all that appears evil in it in isolation or disregarding historical relativism.
This article attempts to summarily capture the role of Islam in human history and the greatness of its Prophet.
As the words of a Muslim writer will carry no weight for the latter will only have good words for his faith and his Prophet, this article puts together the positive remarks of some of the most outstanding and iconic figures of history and learned scholars of the Arabic Qur’an from the Christian West to enlighten the others that the evil side of Islam (as practiced, claimed or propagated) that their eye meets on the TV and media reports is nothing but the fallouts of the perversion of the Islamic faith and the distortion of the character of the Prophet by none but the Muslims themselves, led by its twin enemies as mentioned above and expounded in another essay .
Historical Role of Islam:
“Islam, which is only half a dozen centuries younger than Christianity, created a long and brilliant civilization, which is responsible for much of the way we are today. … When a few medieval monks were desperately trying to preserve what little they knew of Greco-Roman civilization, academies and universities flourished in the splendid cities of the Muslim lands” [Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair, Islam, Empire of Faith, BBC Series, UK 2001, p. 11.]
“The Eastern thinkers of the ninth century laid down on the basis of their theology, the principle of the Rights of Man, ....of which the humane and chivalrous prescriptions would have put to blush certain belligerents in the Great War; expounded a doctrine of toleration of non-Muslim creeds so liberal that our West had to wait a thousand years before seeing equivalent principles adopted.” [Count Leon Ostrorog, quoted by Asaf A.A. Fyzee, Outlines of Mohammedan Law, 5th Edition, New Delhi 2005, p. 53/54.]
“Concepts of prophesy, inspiration and revelation must be re-examined in view of the undoubted revelation of God in Muhammad and the Qur’an. Then much more real charity and generous understanding must be shown to members of other faiths. The example of Islam towards other People of the Book often put us to shame.” [Geoffery Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, One world Publications, U.S.A., 196, p.173.]
“What happens in the Qur’an is deeply related to the travail of our time, and we need the Qur’anic word in the face of it. This would be true, of course, if only for the reason that multitudes of mankind, to be guided or persuaded about modernity at all, will need to be guided and persuaded Qur’anically.....Even where secularism has gone far among them or irreligion presses, their judgments and their sanity, their priorities and their ideals, will always be in large measure within the mind of the Qur’an.” [Rev. Kenneth Cragg, The Event of the Qur’an, One world Publications, USA 1974, p. 22/23.]
“….the Muslim faith enjoins toleration and freedom of religious life for all those followers of other faiths who pay tribute in return for protection …, The very existence of so many Christian sects and communities in countries that have been for centuries under Mohammadan rule is an abiding testimony to the toleration they have enjoyed, and shows that the persecutions, they have from time to time been called upon to endure at the hands of bigots and fanatics, have been excited by some special and local circumstances, rather than inspired by a settled principal of intolerance."[Thomas W. Arnold, Preaching of Islam, 2nd revised edition, 1913, reprinted Delhi 1990, p. 419/420.]
The Greatness of the Prophet Muhammad
“No great religious leader has been so maligned as Muhammad. Attacked in the past as a heretic, an impostor, or a sensualist, it is still possible to find him referred to as ‘the false Prophet.’” - Geoffery Parrinder [extracted from John L. Esposito’s Islam the Straight Path, New York 1994, p. 18.]
“It seems incredible now that so much of what was said of Muhammad was believed in good faith. But not only audiences, but authors believed whatever tended to show that Muhammad could not really have been the Messenger of God.” Norman Daniel [Islam and the West, The Making of an Image, London 1992.]
“Part of the Western problem is that for centuries Muhammad has been seen as the antithesis of the religious spirit and the enemy of the decent civilization. Instead perhaps we should try to see him as a man of the spirit, who managed to bring peace and civilization to his people.” Karen Armstrong Karen Armstrong [Muhammad, London 1991, p. 44.]
“Even in the height of his glory Muhammad led, as in his days of obscurity, an unpretentious life in one of those clay houses consisting, as do all old-fashioned houses of present day Arabia and Syria, of a few rooms opening into a courtyard and accessible only from there. He was often seen mending his own clothes and was all times within the reach of his people.” - Philip Hitti [History of the Arabs, 1937, 10th edition; London 1993, p. 120]
“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 the standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask IS THERE ANY MAN GREATER THAN HE?” - Alphonse de LaMartaine ['History of Turkey:
“A poor shepherd people, roaming unnoticed in its deserts since the creation of the world: a Hero-Prophet was sent down to them with a word they could believe ... 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 men waited for him like fuel, and then they too would flame.” – Thomas Carlyle [http://www.scribd.com/doc/12685866/Hero-as-a-Prophet-by-Thomas-Carlyle]
“My choice of Muhammad to lead the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level” -Michael Harts [Michael H. Hart, The 100. A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Hart Publishing Company Inc. New York, USA 1978, p. 33.]
"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." Reverend Bosworth Smith [Reverend Bosworth Smith in 'Muhammad and Muhammadanism,' London, 1874.]
“Four years after the death of Justinian in A.D. 569, was born at Mecca, in Arabia, the man (Muhammad) who, of all men, exercised the greatest influence on world history….” – John William Draper [A history of the intellectual development of Europe, London 1875.]
“I have studied him - the wonderful man, and in my opinion – far from being an antichrist, he must be called the saviour of humanity.”  – George Bernard Shaw [Genius Islam: Vol. 1, No. 81936].
One may quote ten, a hundred, a thousand or a million writers saying just the opposite things about Islam and its Prophet, but the truth of history is understood far more accurately by the most learned and the most scholarly who spend all their life in pursuit of knowledge and pen down what they learnt in scholarly publications that receive world recognition and shine without fading like a beacon in the night-sky. The authors quoted above are all like beacons of night-sky and not flashes in the pans of history as those clinging to pre-conceived notions and dedicating their scholarship to establish what they want to establish, like the oxen of the traditional oil mill who remain in the same position even after taking a thousand rounds of their circular path or the proverbial ass of the Prophet Jesus, who remained an ass even after crossing the seven seas.
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.