Muhummed the Greatest
To every Muslim on this planet, irrespective of cultural, geographical and political differences, Muhummed (PBUH), is Allah's greatest creation and was sent as a mercy for all mankind. A thousand million Muslims however, do not require any surveys, lists or research to arrive at this conclusion. It is a non-negotiable article of faith that Muhummed (PBUH) is the greatest.
BUT WHAT OF THE NON-MUSLIMS?
Surprisingly, over the centuries many an eminent non-Muslim has rated Muhummed (PBUH) most highly and given due recognition to his greatness. A selection of their quotations appear on page?* 10 and 11.
Michael H. Hart, a Christian American, astronomer, mathematician, lawyer, chessmaster and scientist, after extensive research, published an incisive biography of the 100 most influential people of all time. The biographical rankings with explanations describes the careers of religious and political leaders, inventors, writers, philosophers, scientists and artists.
From this research, which included illustrious personalities such as Jesus Christ, Moses, Caesar, the Wright brothers, Napoleon, Shakespeare, Columbus and Michelangelo; Michael Hart rated Muhummed (PBUH), as number one. He concluded the biography with the words "It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhummed to be considered the most influential single figure in human history."
By special arrangement, we are privileged to present to sou the entire chapter on Muhummed (PBUH) from Michael Hart's "The 100". We have also included a summary of the Holy Prophet's (PBUH) farewell sermon delivered at Mount Arafat in the 10th year after Hijra (632 CE).
In an era when the world was awash in rivers of blind prejudices and nonsensical ignorance's, the Prophets (PBUH) divine message and glorious teachings became the purging torrents of spiritual enlightenment. The farewell sermon is an embodiment of the dynamics of Islam.
May Allah Muhummed (PBUH), his family, his companions and all the believers. Insha-Allah!
N0 1 MUHAMMAD
From the 100, a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History
by 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 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.
The majority of the persons in this book had the advantage of being born and raised in centers of civilization, highly cultured or politically pivotal nations. Muhammad, however, was born in the year 570, in the city of Mecca, in southern Arabia, at that time a backward area of the world, far from the centers of trade, art, and learning. Orphaned at age six, he was reared in modest surroundings. Islamic tradition tells us that he was illiterate. His economic position improved when, at age twenty-five, he married a wealthy widow. Nevertheless, as he approached forty, there was little outward indication that he was a remarkable person.
Most Arabs at that time were pagans, who believed in many gods. There were, however, in Mecca, a small number of Jews and Christians; it was from them no doubt that Muhammad first learned of a single, omnipotent God who ruled the entire universe. When he was forty years old, Muhammad became convinced that this one true God (Allah) was speaking to him, and had chosen him to spread the true faith.
For three years, Muhammad preached only to close friends and associates. Then, about 613, he began preaching in public. As he slowly gained converts, the Meccan authorities came to consider him a dangerous nuisance. In 622, fearing for his safety, Muhammad fled to Medina (a city some 200 miles north of Mecca), where he had been offered a position of considerable political power.
This flight, called the Hegira, was the turning point of the Prophet's life. In Mecca, he had had few followers. In Medina, he had many more, and he soon acquired an influence that made him a virtual dictator. During the next few years, while Muhammad s following grew rapidly, a series of battles were fought between Medina and Mecca. This was ended in 630 with Muhammad's triumphant return to Mecca as conqueror. The remaining two and one-half years of his life witnessed the rapid conversion of the Arab tribes to the new religion. When Muhammad died, in 632, he was the effective ruler of all of southern Arabia.
The Bedouin tribesmen of Arabia had a reputation as fierce warriors. But their number was small; and plagued by disunity and internecine warfare, they had been no match for the larger armies of the kingdoms in the settled agricultural areas to the north. However, unified by Muhammad for the first time in history, and inspired by their fervent belief in the one true God, these small Arab armies now embarked upon one of the most astonishing series of conquests in human history. To the northeast of Arabia lay the large Neo-Persian Empire of the Sassanids; to the northwest lay the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman Empire, centered in Constantinople. Numerically, the Arabs were no match for their opponents. On the field of battle, though, the inspired Arabs rapidly conquered all of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine. By 642, Egypt had been wrested from the Byzantine Empire, while the Persian armies had been crushed at the key battles of Qadisiya in 637, and Nehavend in 642.
But even these enormous conquests-which were made under the leadership of Muhammad's close friends and immediate successors, Abu Bakr and 'Umar ibn al-Khattab -did not mark the end of the Arab advance. By 711, the Arab armies had swept completely across North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean There they turned north and, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, overwhelmed the Visigothic kingdom in Spain.
For a while, it must have seemed that the Moslems would overwhelm all of Christian Europe. However, in 732, at the famous Battle of Tours, a Moslem army, which had advanced into the center of France, was at last defeated by the Franks. Nevertheless, in a scant century of fighting, these Bedouin tribesmen, inspired by the word of the Prophet, had carved out an empire stretching from the borders of India to the Atlantic Ocean-the largest empire that the world had yet seen. And everywhere that the armies conquered, large-scale conversion to the new faith eventually followed.
Now, not all of these conquests proved permanent. The Persians, though they have remained faithful to the religion of the Prophet, have since regained their independence from the Arabs. And in Spain, more than seven centuries of warfare 5 finally resulted in the Christians reconquering the entire peninsula. However, Mesopotamia and Egypt, the two cradles of ancient civilization, have remained Arab, as has the entire coast of North Africa. The new religion, of course, continued to spread, in the intervening centuries, far beyond the borders of the original Moslem conquests. Currently it has tens of millions of adherents in Africa and Central Asia and even more in Pakistan and northern India, and in Indonesia. In Indonesia, the new faith has been a unifying factor. In the Indian subcontinent, however, the conflict between Moslems and Hindus is still a major obstacle to unity.
How, then, is one to assess the overall impact of Muhammad on human history? Like all religions, Islam exerts an enormous influence upon the lives of its followers. It is for this reason that the founders of the world's great religions all figure prominently in this book . Since there are roughly twice as many Christians as Moslems in the world, it may initially seem strange that Muhammad has been ranked higher than Jesus. There are two principal reasons for that decision. First, Muhammad played a far more important role in the development of Islam than Jesus did in the development of Christianity. Although Jesus was responsible for the main ethical and moral precepts of Christianity (insofar as these differed from Judaism), St. Paul was the main developer of Christian theology, its principal proselytizer, and the author of a large portion of the New Testament.
Muhammad, however, was responsible for both the theology of Islam and its main ethical and moral principles. In addition, he played the key role in proselytizing the new faith, and in establishing the religious practices of Islam. Moreover, he is the author of the Moslem holy scriptures, the Koran, a collection of certain of Muhammad's insights that he believed had been directly revealed to him by Allah. Most of these utterances were copied more or less faithfully during Muhammad's lifetime and were collected together in authoritative form not long after his death. The Koran therefore, closely represents Muhammad's ideas and teachings and to a considerable extent his exact words. No such detailed compilation of the teachings of Christ has survived. Since the Koran is at least as important to Moslems as the Bible is to Christians, the influence of Muhammed through the medium of the Koran has been enormous It is probable that the relative influence of Muhammad on Islam has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus Christ and St. Paul on Christianity. On the purely religious level, then, it seems likely that Muhammad has been as influential in human history as Jesus.
Furthermore, Muhammad (unlike Jesus) was a secular as well as a religious leader. In fact, as the driving force behind the Arab conquests, he may well rank as the most influential political leader of all time.
Of many important historical events, one might say that they were inevitable and would have occurred even without the particular political leader who guided them. For example, the South American colonies would probably have won their independence from Spain even if Simon Bolivar had never lived. But this cannot be said of the Arab conquests. Nothing similar had occurred before Muhammad, and there is no reason to believe that the conquests would have been achieved without him. The only comparable conquests in human history are those of the Mongols in the thirteenth century, which were primarily due to the influence of Genghis Khan. These conquests, however, though more extensive than those of the Arabs, did not prove permanent, and today the only areas occupied by the Mongols are those that they held prior to the time of Genghis Khan.
It is far different with the conquests of the Arabs. From Iraq to Morocco, there extends a whole chain of Arab nations united not merely by their faith in Islam, but also by their Arabic language, history, and culture. The centrality of the Koran in the Moslem religion and the fact that it is written in Arabic have probably prevented the Arab language from breaking up into mutually unintelligible dialects, which might otherwise have occurred in the intervening thirteen centuries. Differences and divisions between these Arab states exist, of course, and they are considerable, but the partial disunity should not blind us to the important elements of unity that have continued to exist. For instance, neither Iran nor Indonesia, both oil-producing states and both Islamic in religion, joined in the oil embargo of the winter of 1973-74. It is no coincidence that all of the Arab states, and only the Arab states, participated in the embargo.
We see, then, that the Arab conquests of the seventh century have continued to play an important role in human history, down to the present day. It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.
The non-Muslim verdict on Muhummed (PBUH)
"lf a man like Muhammed were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness."
George Bernard Shaw
"People like Pasteur and Salk are leaders in the first sense. People like Gandhi and Confucius, on one hand, and Alexander, Caesar and Hitler on the other, are leaders in the second and perhaps the third sense. Jesus and Buddha belong in the third category alone. Perhaps the greatest leader of all times was Mohammed, who combined all three functions. To a lesser degree, Moses did the same."
Professor Jules Masserman
"Head of the State as well as the Church, lie 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. ft ever a man had the right to say that he ruled by a right divine, it was Muhummed. for he had all the powers without their supports. He cared not tor the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.""
Rev. R. Bosworth-Smith
"Muhammad was the soul of kindness, and his influence was felt and never forgotten by those around him."
Diwan Chand Sharma, The Prophets of the East, Calcutta 1935, p. 122.
"Four year after the death of Justinian, A.D. 569, was born at Mecca, in Arabia the man who, of all men exercised the greatest influence upon the human race . . . Mohammed . . . "
John William Draper, M.D., L.L.D., A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, London 1875, Vol. 1, pp 329-330.
"In little more than a year he was actually the spiritual, nominal and temporal ruler of Medina, with his hands on the lever that was to shake the world."
John Austin, "Muhammad the Prophet of Allah," in T.P's and Cassel's Weekly for 24th September 1927.
"Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator. Warrior, Conqueror of ideas, Restorer of rational beliefs, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammed. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?"
Lamartine, Historic de la Turquie, Paris 1854, Vol. 11 pp. 276-2727.
"It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he live,. to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher."
Annie Besant, The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, Madras 1932, p.4
"Muhummed is the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities."
"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."
George Bernard Shaw in "The Genuine Islam"
"By a fortune absolutely unique in history , Mohammed is a threefold founder of a nation, of an empire, and of a religion."
Rev. R. Bosworth-Smith in "Mohammed and Mohammedanism 1946."
No 3. JESUS CHRIST
c. 6 B.C. - c. 30 A.D.
The impact of Jesus on human history is so obvious and so enormous that few people would question his placement near the top of this list. Indeed, the more likely question is why Jesus, who is the inspiration for the most influential religion in history, has not been placed first.
There is no question that Christianity, over the course of time, has had far more adherents than any other religion. However, it is not the relative influence of different religions that is being estimated in this book, but rather the relative influence of individual men. Christianity, unlike Islam, was not founded by a single person but by two people—Jesus and St. Paul—and the principal credit for its development must therefore be apportioned between those two figures.
Jesus formulated the basic ethical ideas of Christianity, as well as its basic spiritual outlook and its main ideas concerning human conduct. Christian theology, however, was shaped principally by the work of St. Paul. Jesus presented a spiritual message; Paul added to that the worship of Christ. Furthermore, St. Paul was the author of a considerable portion of the New Testament, and was the main proselytizing force for Christianity during the first century.
Jesus was still fairly young when he died (unlike Buddha or Muhammad), and he left behind a limited number of disciples. At the time of Jesus' death, his followers simply formed a small Jewish sect. It was due in considerable measure to Paul's writings, and to his tireless proselytizing efforts, that this small sect was transformed into a dynamic and much greater movement, which reached non-Jews as well as Jews, and which eventually grew into one of the great religions of the world.
For these reasons, some people even contend that it is Paul, rather than Jesus, who should really be considered the founder of Christianity. Carried to its logical conclusion, that argument would lead one to place Paul higher on this list than Jesus! However, although it is not clear what Christianity would be like without the influence of St. Paul, it is quite apparent that without Jesus, Christianity would not exist at all.
However, it does not seem reasonable to consider Jesus responsible for all the things which Christian churches or individual Christians later did in his name, particularly since he would obviously disapprove of many of those things. Some of them—for example the religious wars between various Christian sects, and the barbaric massacres and persecutions of the Jews-are in such obvious contradiction to the attitudes and teachings of Jesus that it seems entirely unreasonable to say that Jesus inspired them.
Similarly, even though modern science first arose in the Christian nations of western Europe, it seems inappropriate to think of Jesus as responsible for the rise of science. Certainly, none of the early Christians interpreted the teachings of Jesus as a call for scientific investigation of the physical world. Indeed, the conversion of the Roman world to Christianity was accompanied and followed by a drastic decline in both the general level of technology and the general degree of interest in science.
That science did eventually arise in Europe is indeed an indication that there was something in the European cultural heritage that was favourable to the scientific way of thinking. That something, however, was not the sayings of Jesus, but rather Greek rationalism, as typified by the works of Aristotle and Euclid. It is noteworthy that modern science developed, not during the heyday of church power and of Christian piety, but rather on the heels of the Renaissance, a period during which Europe experienced a renewal of interest in its pre-Christian heritage.
The story of Jesus' life, as it is related in the New Testament, is familiar to most readers and will not be repeated here. However, a few points are worth noting. In the first place, most of the information that we have about Jesus' life is uncertain. We are not even sure what his original name was. Most probably it was the common Jewish name, Yehoshua (Joshua in English). The year of his birth, too, is uncertain, although 6 B.C. is a likely date. Even the year of his death, which must have been well known to his followers, is not definitely known today. Jesus himself left no writings behind, and virtually all our information concerning his life comes from the accounts in the New Testament.
Unfortunately, the Gospels contradict each other on various points. For example, Matthew and Luke give completely different versions of Jesus' last words; both of these versions, incidentally, are direct quotations from the Old Testament.
It was no accident that Jesus was able to quote from the Old Testament; though the progenitor of Christianity, he was himself a devout Jew. It has been frequently pointed out that Jesus was in many ways very similar to the Hebrew prophets of the Old Testament, and was deeply influenced by them. Like the prophets, Jesus had an extraordinarily impressive personality, which made a deep and lasting impression on the people who met him. He was charismatic in the deepest and fullest sense of the word.
However, in sharp contrast to Muhammad, who exercised political as well as religious authority, Jesus had virtually no influence on political developments during his own lifetime, or during the succeeding century. (Both men, of course, have had in enormous indirect influence on long-term political developments.) Jesus made his influence felt entirely as an ethical and spiritual leader.
If it was primarily as an ethical leader that Jesus left his mark, it is surely pertinent to ask to what extent his ethical ideas have influenced the world. One of Jesus' central precepts, certainly, was the Golden Rule. Today, the Golden Rule is accepted by most people, Christians and non-Christians alike, as a reasonable guide to moral conduct. We may not always act in accordance with it, but we usually try to do so. If Jesus had actually originated that almost universally accepted principle, he would surely have been the first man on this list.
In fact, though, the Golden Rule was an accepted precept of Judaism long before Jesus was born. Rabbi Hillel, the leading Jewish rabbi of the first century B.C., explicitly enunciated the Golden Rule and pronounced it the foremost principle of Judaism. Nor was the notion known only to the Western world. The Chinese philosopher Confucius had proposed it in about 500 B.C.., and the saying also appears in the Mahabharata, an ancient Hindu poem. In fact, the philosophy behind the Golden Rule is accepted by almost every major religious group.
Does this mean that Jesus had no original ethical ideas? Not at all! A highly distinctive viewpoint is presented in Matthew 5:43-44:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shall love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
And a few lines earlier: "...resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."
Now, these ideas—which were not a part of the Judaism of Jesus' day, nor of most other religions—are surely among the most remarkable and original ethical ideas ever presented. If they were widely followed, I would have had no hesitation in placing Jesus first in this book.
But the truth is that they are not widely followed. In fact, they are not even generally accepted. Most Christians consider the injunction to "Love your enemy" as—at most—an ideal which might be realized in some perfect world, but one which is not a reasonable guide to conduct in the actual world we live in. We do not normally practice it, do not expect others to practice it, and do not teach our children to practice it. Jesus' most distinctive teaching, therefore, remains an intriguing but basically untried suggestion.
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