Monday, October 22, 2012

Islam in the view of a NON-Muslim

(Don't be distracted by the introduction, this article is a collection of quotes from non-Muslim intellectuals from the 17th century onward. If you don't wish to read my short summary of the origins of Islam's modern image, scroll down a few paragraphs. Enjoy!)

Islam's modern image as a savage religion of terror and oppression is a relatively recent phenomenon. During the nine-year Soviet war in Afghanistan, the American C.I.A. sent aid to the Afghan mujahideen who were fighting the Soviet occupation of their country. As the Cold War drew to a close, and Iraq annexed Kuwait, threatening America's steady supply of oil, America grew ever less isolationist and ever more interventionist, determined to protect 'her' resources at all costs. In order to justify her brutal actions abroad, the American government has claimed many different excuses, including bringing democracy to the Middle East, searching for weapons of mass destruction, protection of economic interests abroad, and last but not least, a 'war on terror'.

To validate this last, the media has resorted to extraordinarily fraudulent tactics, creating a narrative of highly-organized 'jihadists' initiating violence against the west, Muslim suicide-bombers determined to kill as many infidel westerners as possible. America in turn, is the heroic defender of the west, stamping out these murderous Muslims to bring secular democracy and peace to the Middle East. And the West swallows it up. Every new act of murder in the news is labeled Islamic terror, until proven otherwise, and once the aggressor is acquitted of any Islamic connection, he is written off as a mentally-unstable individual (see, for example, the media's initial reaction to Anders Breivik). Few have the audacity to step back and analyze the narrative objectively, to recognize America's true hand in the war, the utter ridiculousness of the vast levels of power, structure, funding, and ammunition attributed to supposed back-woods organizations in under-developed countries (such as alqaeda and the taliban), to grasp the extent of America's wanton slaughter of innocent men, women and children in the Middle East, to ask Muslims what their religious and political views are, to study the Qur'an and find out what it says about terrorism, and to realize that this is nothing but a political war in which weak countries are fighting for their rights against the invasion of a militant superpower. The fact that America is predominantly secular and these countries are Muslim-majority, is irrelevant, yet the media's portrayal of these citizens as militant Islamists has been so successful, that Islam's long-held image as a peaceful, civilized reformer of society has been bulldozed into the ground along with the homes and families of millions of Muslims.

Yet, prior to these events, Islam has long enjoyed a high reputation for many centuries, since its advent in the Arabian peninsula. Non-Muslim intellectuals through the ages have esteemed the prophet Muhammad highly, as one of the world's most successful religious and political leaders of all time, and recognized the Islamic civilization that blossomed throughout both East and West as the first and most impressive renaissance to take place. I've shared a collection of quotes below in hopes that it will encourage readers to set aside their modern misconceptions shaped by a political war and the media's scandalous distortion of it, and view Islam through the lens of Europe's Christian and secular intellectuals whose writings have shaped Western thought for generations.

Edward Gibbon
" 'I believe in One God and Muhammad the apostle of God,' is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honours of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion." ~Simon Ockley (b. 1678), History of the Saracens

"More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of Moses, the religion of Muhammad 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 (b. 1737), The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Napoleon Bonaparte
"Arabia was idolatrous when, six centuries after Jesus, Muhammad introduced the worship of the God of Abraham, of Ishmael, of Moses, and Jesus. The Arians and some other sects had disturbed the tranquility of the east by agitating the question of the nature of the Father, the son, and the Holy Ghost. Muhammad declared that there was none but one God who had no father, no son and that the trinity imported the idea of idolatry." ~Napoleon Bonaparte (b. 1769)

"He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the 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 Muhammad, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports." ~Rev. Benjamin Smith (b. 1784), American bishop and author of Apostolic Succession

Alphonse de Lamartine
"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?" ~Alphonse de Lamartine (b. 1790), Histoire de la Turquie

Thomas Carlyle
"These Arabs, the man Muhammad, and that one century, - is it not as if a spark had fallen, one spark, on a world of what proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Granada! 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 (b. 1795), Scottish historian and essayist, author of The French Revolution: A History

Sir William Muir
"Muhammad brought an end to idol worship. He preached monotheism and infinite Mercy of God, human brotherhood, care of orphans, emancipation of slaves, forbidding of wine - no religion achieved as much success as Islam did." ~Sir William Muir (b. 1819), Scottish orientalist and colonial administrator

"Islam replaced monkishness by manliness. It gives hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind, and recognition of the fundamental facts of human nature." ~Isaac Taylor (b.1829), Anglican canon of York and author of Leaves from an Egyptian Notebook

"I often think that woman is more free in Islam than in Christianity. Woman is more protected by Islam than by the faith which preaches monogamy. In the Qur'an, the law about woman is more just and liberal. It is only in the last twenty years that Christian England has recognized the right of woman to property, while Islam has allowed this right from all times." ~Annie Besant (b. 1847), British socialist, feminist, political activist, author, and president of the India National Congress, The Life and Teaching of Muhammad

George Bernard Shaw
"I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. 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 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." ~George Bernard Shaw (b. 1856), The Genuine Islam

Edward Montet
"Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term, considered etymologically and historically. The teachings of the Prophet, the Qur'an, has invariably kept its place as the fundamental starting point, and the dogma of unity of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur, a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam. A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary understanding, might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvelous power of winning its way into the consciences of men." ~Edward Montet (ca. 1860), La Propagande Chretienne et ses Adversaires Musulmans 

"The Qur'an, its grandeur of form is so sublime that no translation into any European language can allow us to appreciate it." ~Edward Montet

Mohandas Ghandi
 "I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind. I became 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-effacement of the Prophet Muhammad, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the second volume [of the Prophet's biography], I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great life." ~Mohandas Ghandi (b. 1869), Young India

""It was the genius of Muhammad, the spirit that he breathed into the Arabs through the soul of Islam, that exalted them, that raised them out of the lethargy and low level of tribal stagnation up to the high watermark of national unity and empire. It was in the sublimity of Muhammad's deism, the simplicity, the sobriety and purity it inculcated, the fidelity of its founder to his own tenets, that acted on their moral and intellectual fiber with all the magnetism of true inspiration." ~Major Arthur Glyn Leonard (ca. 1870), Islam, Her Moral and Spiritual Values

Bertrand Russell
"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." ~Bertrand Russell (b. 1872), History of Western Philosophy

"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 myths that historians have ever repeated." ~De Lacy O'Leary (b. 1872), British Arabist and Semitist, University of Bristol professor, and author of Short History of the Fatimid Caliphate

Robert Briffault
"The Renaissance of Europe did not take place in the 15th century. Rather it began when Europe learned from the culture of the Arabs. The cradle of European awakening is not Italy. It is the Muslim Spain." ~Robert Briffault (b. 1876), The Making of Mankind

"Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Qur'an I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic, but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world." ~Sarojini Naidu (b. 1879), Indian independence activist, first woman president of the Indian National Congress, and governor of Uttar Pradesh

"It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy for, in the mosque when the call for prayer is sounded and worshipers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: 'God alone is great.' I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively a brother." ~Sarojini Naidu, The Ideals of Islam

Arnold J. Toynbee
"The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue." ~Arnold J. Toynbee (b. 1889), Civilization on Trial

Hamilton Alexander Gibb
"But Islam has a still further service to render to the cause of humanity. It stands, after all, nearer to the real East than Europe does, and it possesses a magnificent tradition of inter-racial understanding and cooperation. No other society has such a record of success uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavours so many and so various races of mankind … Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of East and West is to be replaced by cooperation, the mediation of  Islam is an indispensable condition. In its hands lies very largely the solution of the problem with which Europe is faced in its relation with East." ~Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb (b. 1895), Whither Islam

"The Qur’an in its original Arabic dress has a seductive beauty and charm of its own. Couched in concise and exalted style, its brief pregnant sentences, often rhymed, possess an expressive force and explosive energy which it is extremely difficult to convey by literal word-for-word translation." ~John Naish M.A., D.D. (ca. 1900), The Wisdom of the Qur'an

 "The doctrine of brotherhood of Islam extends to all human beings, no matter what colour, race or creed. Islam is the only religion which has been able to realize this doctrine in practice. Muslims wherever on the world they are will recognize each other as brothers." ~Dr. R.L. Mellema (ca. 1900), Dutch anthropologist and author of Een Interprtatie van de Islam

James Michener
"No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam. The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts this idea, and the Qur'an is explicit in the support of the freedom of conscience." ~James A. Michener (b. 1907), American author

"That his [Muhammad's] reforms enhanced the status of women in general is universally admitted." ~James A. Michener, Mohammedanism

William Montgomery Watt
"I am not a Muslim in the usual sense, though I hope I am a 'Muslim' as 'one surrendered to God', but I believe that embedded in the Qur'an and other expressions of the Islamic vision are vast stores of divine truth from which I and other occidentals have still much to learn, and Islam is certainly a strong contender for the supplying of the basic framework of the one religion of the  future." ~William Montgomery Watt (b. 1909), Islam and Christianity Today

Bernard Lewis
"Muslims are commanded not to kill women, children, or the aged; not to torture or otherwise ill-treat prisoners; to give fair warning of the opening of hostilities; and to honour agreements." ~Bernard Lewis, British historian, scholar, and Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University

Paul Findley
"Jihad has two meanings: one, non-violent struggling within oneself for a life of virtue; the other, fighting for justice, a supreme goal in Islamic teachings. Islam eulogizes moderation and abhors extremism, terrorism, fanaticism, oppression and subjugation." ~Paul Findley, Silent No More: Confronting America's False Images of Islam

Hermann Eilts
"What to me is equally impressive is that Islam today is the fastest growing monotheistic religion. This is something we have to take into account. Something is right about Islam. It is attracting a good many people." ~Hermann Eilts, American ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, U.S. Foreign Service Officer, and U.S. Near Eastern Affairs Diplomat

Hans Küng
"The same church must, in my opinion, also respect that the one whose name is absent from the same declaration out of embarrassment, although he and he alone led Muslims to pray to this one God, so that once again through him, Muhammad, the prophet, this God has spoken to mankind." ~Hans Küng, Swiss theologian and author

Michael H. Hart
"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 level." ~Michael H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History

"Medieval Islam was technologically advanced and open to innovation. It achieved far higher literacy rates than in contemporary Europe; it assimilated the legacy of classical Greek civilization to such a degree that many classical books are now known to us only through Arabic copies.  It invented windmills, trigonometry, lateen sails and made major advances in metallurgy, mechanical and chemical engineering and irrigation methods. In the middle-ages the flow of technology was overwhelmingly from Islam to Europe rather from Europe to Islam." ~Jared Diamond, Professor of Physiology at UCLA School of Medicine, Guns, Germs, and Steel - The Fates of Human Societies

"Jim Jones, David Koresh and Meir Kahane do not typify Christianity and Judaism in the eyes of the 'civilized' West, but those same eyes are prone to see Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar as typifying Islam." ~Richard Bulliet, Professor of History at Columbia University

"Prophet Muhammad bequeathed to humanity a scripture that has helped millions of human beings to make sense of their lives. To have such a combination of very strong spiritual genius with political genius is extraordinary." ~Karen Armstrong, British author and commentator on comparative religion, author of A History of God

"Islam is part of our past and our present, in all fields of human endeavor. It has helped to create modern Europe. It is part of our own inheritance, not a thing apart." ~Prince Charles, Islam and the West

"Islam's appeal, wherever it has triumphed, has been in its simplicity. It requires submission to some basic, straightforward rules which are easily kept, and in return it offers that most wonderful and rare commodity, peace of mind." ~Peter Hitchens, British columnist, foreign correspondent, and author

"The Qur'an often urges believers to fight, yet it also commands that enemies be shown mercy when they surrender. Some frightful portions of the Bible, by contrast, go much further in ordering the total extermination of enemies, of whole families and races - of men, women, and children, and even their livestock, with no quarter granted." ~Prof. Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University, and Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University

"Muslim scripture counsels respect for these communities (Jews & Christians), and indeed, in the history of Islam, within Islamic societies Jews and Christians have fared FAR better than non-Christians in Christendom." ~Gary Leupp, Professor of History at Tufts University and author of Challenging Ignorance on Islam: A Ten-Point Primer for Americans

(taken from


  1. Aww masha'Allah, thanks for the kind words and for sharing!! Gotta get that message out there insha'Allah! <3

  2. Salams
    JazakAllah khair for all your work
    A brother I know wrote a short article (less than a page) on the proof of Islam, and wanted it to be translated into Chinese.
    Could you be able to translate it into Chinese please? If so, please contact me at

    This is the article:

    1. assalamualaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatu.

      sorry. I do not know Chinese. there is a blog called islam in China. I think it's run by a brother i'm not sure though.

      I do things for sisters only and communicate to sisters only but brothers are more than welcome to browse my blog.

      JazakAllah Kheyr


Assalamualaikum, please be mindful about what you are about to write. Think about it before writing and make sure it is something positive and beneficial, otherwise it will be deleted and ignored. JazakiAllah kheyr ! Sisters ONLY! xo