Annie Besant
Annie Besant, prominent Theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer and orator wrote in ‘The Life and Teachings of Mohammad’:

“It is impossible for anyone who studies the personality of the great Prophet of the Arabs, and come to know how this prophet he used to live, and how he taught the people, but to feel respect towards this honorable prophet; one of the great messengers whom Allah sent”
Leo Tolstoy
“Please regard me as a Mohammedan…”

The great Russian writer and thinker who contributed a lot to the Russian literature and history is more famous as a writer, his philosophical views and works that reflect his ideas of God, soul, knowledge, love, the meaning of life, etc. are much less known.

The continuing quest for the meaning of life, the moral ideal, the covert general regularities of existence as well as his spiritual and social criticism run through all his creative work. Since the 1870-ies he pays more and more attention to the subjects of death, sin, penance, and moral revival.

His extraordinary way of thinking was in most cases incomprehensible to the Russian society of those days.

He was excommunicated and committed to anathema, his friends and acquaintances turned away from him. In 1910, at the age of 81, Lev Tolstoy left home and died on the way to the station “Astapovo”.

Why was the end of his life so sad and where was he going after leaving home? Perhaps, some of his letters will throw light upon it.

Here is what he wrote about the Church:

“The world was doing what it wished to do and was letting the Church keep pace with it providing as good explanations of the meaning of life as it could possibly think of. The world was setting its own mode of life which was entirely different form the teaching of Christ, and the Church was inventing allegories which would suggest that people who violated the law of Christ lived in keeping with it. As a result, the world started living the life which was worse than that of pagans, and the Church came to approve of it. Moreover, it claimed that such life was what the teaching of Christ consists in”.

Yasnaya Polyana, March, 1909

The Russian woman who married the Muslim E. Vekilov, wrote to Tolstoy that her sons wanted to convert to Islam, and asked for his advice. This is what the writer answered her:

“As far as the preference of Mohammedanism to Orthodoxy is concerned…, I can fully sympathize with such conversion. To say this might be strange for me who values the Christian ideals and the teaching of Christ in their pure sense more that anything else, I do not doubt that Islam in its outer form stands higher than the Orthodox Church. Therefore, if a person is given only two choices: to adhere to the Orthodox Church or Islam, any sensible person will not hesitate about his choice, and anyone will prefer Islam with its acceptance of one tenet, single God and His Prophet instead such complex and incomprehensible things in theology as the Trinity, redemption, sacraments, the saints and their images, and complicated services…”

Yasnaya Polyana, March, 15th, 1909

We can adduce another letter of his which explains his world outlook which formed as a result of his long painful search for the truth.

“I would be very glad if you were of the same faith with me. Just try to understand what my life is. Any success in life- wealth, honour, glory- I don’t have these. My friends, even my family are turning away from me.

Some- liberals and aesthetes- consider me to be mad or weak- minded like Gogol; others- revolutionaries and radicals- consider me to be a mystic and a man who talks too much; the officials consider me to be a malicious revolutionary; the Orthodox consider me to be a devil.

I confess that it is hard for me… And therefore, please, regard me as a kind Mohammedan, and all will be fine”.

Yasnaya Polyana, April, 1884
Sir George Bernard Shaw
Sir George Bernard Shaw in 'The Genuine Islam,' Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936.

"If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam."

"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 Savior 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."
Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle in ‘Heroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History,’ Lecture 2, Friday, 8th May 1840.

"These Arabs, the man Mahomet, 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..."
Lamartine a French historian, writes in his book, History of Turkey, p. 276:

Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, 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 ask, is there any man greater than he?

I“f greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and outstanding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, and empires only. They founded, if any at all, no more than material power which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man merged not only armies, legislation, empires, peoples and dynasties but millions of men in one third of the inhabited world, and more than that, moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls on the basis of a Book, every letter of which has become law. He created a spiritual nationality of every tongue and of every race.” (Historie de la Turqu,, Vol. 2, page 76-77)
De Lacy O'Leary

 De Lacy O'Leary in 'Islam at the Crossroads,' London, 1923

The picture of the Muslim soldier advancing with a sword in one hand and the Qur'an in the other is quite false

Michael H. Hart
The following extract has been taken from the book "The 100 - a Ranking of the Most Influential Person in History" by Michael H. Hart, a Christian American, an astronomer, a mathematician, a chess master, and a scientist. After extensive research, he rated prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as number one and to be considered as the most influential single figure in human history.

"My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential person 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. 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. Furthermore, Muhammad (unlike Jesus) was a secular as well as 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. 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."

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The author of the book "Islam and Modern Age" a Hindu professor wrote the following about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

"The personality of Muhammad! It is most difficult to get into the truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes. There is Muhammad the Prophet, there is Muhammad the General; Mohammad the King; Muhammad the Warrior; Muhammad the Businessman; Mohammad the Preacher; Mohammad the Philosopher; Mohammad the Statesman; Mohammad the Spokesperson; Mohammad the reformer; Muhammad the Refuge for orphans; Muhammad the Protector of slaves; Mohammad the Emancipator of woman; Muhammad the husband; Muhammad the father; Muhammad the educator; Muhammad the Law-giver; Muhammad the Judge; Muhammad the Saint and etc. In all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is like a hero! Orphan hood is an extreme form of helplessness and his life upon this earth began with it; Kingship is the height of material power and it ended with it! From an orphan boy to a persecuted refugee and then to an overlord, spiritual as well as temporal, of a whole nation and arbiter of its destinies, with all its trials and temptations, with all its vicissitudes and changes, its lights and shades, its ups and downs, its terror and splendor, he has withstood the fire of the world and came out unscathed to serve as a model in every face of life. His achievements are not limited to one aspect of life, but cover the whole field of human conditions."
"....a mass of details in the early sources show that he was an honest and upright man who had gained the respect and loyalty of others who were like-wise honest and upright men." (Vol. 12)
Mahatma Gandhi, speaking on the character of Muhammad, (pbuh) says in YOUNG INDIA:

"I wanted to know the best of one who holds today's undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind....I became more than 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, the scrupulous regard for his 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”
Prof. Ramakrishna Rao, an Indian Professor of Philosophy in his booklet, "Muhammad, The Prophet of Islam," calls him the "PERFECT MODEL FOR HUMAN LIFE."

Prof. Ramakrishna Rao explains his point by saying:

"The personality of Muhammad, it is most difficult to get into the whole truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes! There is Muhammad, the Prophet. There is Muhammad, the Warrior; Muhammad, the Businessman; Muhammad, the Statesman; Muhammad, the Orator; Muhammad, the Reformer; Muhammad, the Refuge of Orphans; Muhammad, the Protector of Slaves; Muhammad, the Emancipator of Women; Muhammad, the Judge; Muhammad, the Saint.

All in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is alike a hero."

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