Muhammad  

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"Charlemagne, without Mohammet, would be inconceivable."[...]


"Mahomet indulged the appetites of a man, and abused the claims of a prophet. A special revelation dispensed him from the laws which he had imposed on his nation: the female sex, without reserve, was abandoned to his desires; and this singular prerogative excited the envy, rather than the scandal, the veneration, rather than the envy, of the devout Mussulmans. If we remember the seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines of the wise Solomon, we shall applaud the modesty of the Arabian, who espoused no more than seventeen or fifteen wives; eleven are enumerated who occupied at Medina their separate apartments round the house of the apostle, and enjoyed in their turns the favor of his conjugal society. What is singular enough, they were all widows, excepting only Ayesha, the daughter of Abubeker. She was doubtless a virgin, since Mahomet consummated his nuptials (such is the premature ripeness of the climate) when she was only nine years of age." --The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim (c. 570 – c. 8 June 632), also transliterated as Muhammad, was a religious, political, and military leader from Mecca who unified Arabia into a single religious polity under Islam. He is believed by Muslims and Bahá'ís to be a messenger and prophet of God. Muhammad is almost universally considered by Muslims as the last prophet sent by God for mankind. While non-Muslims regard Muhammad to have been the founder of Islam, Muslims consider him to have been the restorer of an unaltered original monotheistic faith of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets.

Contents

Legacy

Emergence of positive views in Europe

Guillaume Postel was among the first to present a more positive view of Muhammad. Gottfried Leibniz praised Muhammad because "he did not deviate from the natural religion". Henri de Boulainvilliers, in his Vie de Mahomed which was published posthumously in 1730, described Muhammad as a gifted political leader and a just lawmaker. He presents him as a divinely inspired messenger whom God employed to confound the bickering Oriental Christians, to liberate the Orient from the despotic rule of the Romans and Persians, and to spread the knowledge of the unity of God from India to Spain. Voltaire had a somewhat mixed opinion on Muhammad: in his play Le fanatisme, ou Mahomet le Prophète he vilifies Muhammad as a symbol of fanaticism, and in a published essay in 1748 he calls him "a sublime and hearty charlatan", but in his historical survey Essai sur les mœurs, he presents him as legislator and a conqueror and calls him an "enthusiast." Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his The Social Contract (1762), brushing aside hostile legends of Muhammad as a trickster and impostor, presents him as a sage legislator who wisely fused religious and political powers.

Emmanuel Pastoret published in 1787 his Zoroaster, Confucius and Muhammad, in which he presents the lives of these three "great men", "the greatest legislators of the universe", and compares their careers as religious reformers and lawgivers. He rejects the common view that Muhammad is an impostor and argues that the Quran proffers "the most sublime truths of cult and morals"; it defines the unity of God with an "admirable concision." Pastoret writes that the common accusations of his immorality are unfounded: on the contrary, his law enjoins sobriety, generosity, and compassion on his followers: the "legislator of Arabia" was "a great man." Napoleon Bonaparte admired Muhammad and Islam, and described him as a model lawmaker and a great man. Thomas Carlyle in his book Heroes and Hero Worship and the Heroic in History (1840) describes Muhammad as "[a] silent great soul; [...] one of those who cannot but be in earnest". Carlyle's interpretation has been widely cited by Muslim scholars as a demonstration that Western scholarship validates Muhammad's status as a great man in history.


Views by modern historians

Recent writers such as William Montgomery Watt and Richard Bell dismiss the idea that Muhammad deliberately deceived his followers, arguing that Muhammad "was absolutely sincere and acted in complete good faith" and Muhammad's readiness to endure hardship for his cause, with what seemed to be no rational basis for hope, shows his sincerity. Watt says that sincerity does not directly imply correctness: In contemporary terms, Muhammad might have mistaken his subconscious for divine revelation. Watt and Bernard Lewis argue that viewing Muhammad as a self-seeking impostor makes it impossible to understand Islam's development. Alford T. Welch holds that Muhammad was able to be so influential and successful because of his firm belief in his vocation.

Criticism

As early as the 7th century Muhammad was attacked by non-Muslim Arab contemporaries for preaching monotheism. In modern times, criticism has also dealt with Muhammad's sincerity in claiming to be a prophet, his morality, warfare, and his marriages.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Muhammad" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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