By Editorial Staff
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was the best example in worship and conduct. All good manners and virtues were ideally manifest in him. Indeed, it suffices him that Almighty Allah hails His noble character in the Qur’an:
And indeed, you are of a great moral character. (Al-Qalam 68:4)
Also, he is loved and appreciated by countless numbers of believers. Yet when the testimony for his greatness comes from a non-believer in his message, it has a different meaning. Here we quote what the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine said about him:
“Never has a man set for himself, voluntarily or involuntarily, a more sublime aim, since this aim was superhuman; to subvert superstitions which had been imposed between man and his Creator, to render God unto man and man unto God; to restore the rational and sacred idea of divinity amidst the chaos of the material and disfigured gods of idolatry, then existing. Never has a man undertaken a work so far beyond human power with so feeble means, for he (Muhammad) had in the conception as well as in the execution of such a great design, no other instrument than himself and no other aid except a handful of men living in a corner of the desert. Finally, never has a man accomplished such a huge and lasting revolution in the world, because in less than two centuries after its appearance, Islam, in faith and in arms, reigned over the whole of Arabia, and conquered, in God’s name, Persia Khorasan, Transoxania, Western India, Syria, Egypt, Abyssinia, all the known continent of Northern Africa, numerous islands of the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, and part of Gaul.
“If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls.
“On the basis of a Book, every letter which has become law, he created a spiritual nationality which blend together peoples of every tongue and race. He has left the indelible characteristic of this Muslim nationality the hatred of false gods and the passion for the One and Immaterial God. This avenging patriotism against the profanation of Heaven formed the virtue of the followers of Muhammad; the conquest of one-third the earth to the dogma was his miracle; or rather it was not the miracle of man but that of reason.
“The idea of the unity of God, proclaimed amidst the exhaustion of the fabulous theogonies, was in itself such a miracle that upon it’s utterance from his lips it destroyed all the ancient temples of idols and set on fire one-third of the world. His life, his meditations, his heroic revelings against the superstitions of his country, and his boldness in defying the furies of idolatry, his firmness in enduring them for fifteen years in Mecca, his acceptance of the role of public scorn and almost of being a victim of his fellow countrymen… This dogma was twofold the unity of God and the immateriality of God: the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with words.
“Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator, Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of Rational beliefs…. 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?”
The original text in French:
“Jamais homme ne se proposa volontairement où involontairement un but plus sublime puisque ce but était surhumain : saper les superstitions interposées entre la créature et le Créateur, rendre Dieu à l’homme et l’homme à Dieu, restaurer l’idée rationnelle et sainte de la divinité dans ce chaos de dieux matériels et défigurés de l’idolâtrie.
Jamais homme n’accomplit en moins de temps une si immense et durable révolution dans le monde, puisque moins de deux siècles après sa prédication, l’Islamisme, prêché et armé, régnait sur les trois Arabies, conquérait à l’unité de Dieu, la Perse, le Korassan, la Transoxiane, l’Inde Occidentale, la Syrie, l’Egypte, l’Ethiopie, tout le continent connu de l’Afrique septentrionale, plusieurs îles de la Méditerranée, l’Espagne et une partie de la Gaule.
“Si la grandeur du dessein, la petitesse des moyens, l’immensité de la réussite sont les trois mesures du génie de l’homme, qui osera comparer humainement un grand homme de l’histoire moderne à Mohammad ? Les plus fameux n’ont remué que des armes, des lois, des empires ; ils n’ont fondé (quand ils ont fondé quelque chose) que des puissances matérielles qui s’écroulèrent souvent avant eux. Celui-là a remué des armées, des législations, des empires, des peuples, des dynasties, des millions d’hommes sur un tiers du globe habité mais il a remué de plus des autels, des dieux, des religions, des idées, des croyances, des âmes… Sa patience dans la victoire, son ambition toute d’idée, nullement d’empire, sa prière sans fin, son triomphe après le tombeau attestent plus qu’une imposture, une conviction. Ce fut cette conviction qui lui donna la puissance de restaurer un dogme. ce dogme était double, l’unicité de Dieu et l’immatérialité de Dieu; l’un disant ce que Dieu est, l’autre disant ce qu’il n’est pas: l’un renversant avec le sabre des dieux mensongers, l’autre inaugurant avec la parole une idée ! “Philosophe, orateur, apôtre, législateur, guerrier, conquérant d’idées, restaurateur de dogmes rationnels, d’un culte sans images, fondateur de vingt empires terrestres et d’un empire spirituel, voilà Mohammad !` à toutes les échelles ou l’on mesure la grandeur humaine, quel homme fut le plus grand?” Lamartine, Histoire de la Turquie, Paris, 1854. Tome 1 et Livre 1, p. 280.
Lamartine was born in Mâcon, Burgundy on 21 October 1790. His family was part of the French provincial nobility, and he spent his youth at the family estate at Milly-Lamartine. He is famous for his partly autobiographical poem, “Le Lac” (“The Lake”), which describes in retrospect the fervent love shared by a couple from the point of view of the bereaved man. Lamartine was masterly in his use of French poetic forms. Raised a devout Catholic, Lamartine became a pantheist, writing Jocelyn and La Chute d’un ange. He wrote Histoire des Girondins in 1847 in praise of the Girondists. Lamartine ended his life in poverty, publishing monthly installments of the Cours familier de littérature to support himself. He died in Paris in 1869.