A brief text on what certain renowned non-Muslims have said about Islam.
Those who listen to the word and follow the best of it; those are the ones whom God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding (Holy Qur'an 39:18)
This is a collection of short quotations from a wide variety of Non-Muslim notables, including academics, writers, philosophers, poets, politicians, and activists belonging to the East and the West. To our knowledge none of them ever became Muslim. These words, therefore, reflect their personal views on various aspects of the religion of Islam.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel laureate, whose emphasis on logical analysis greatly influenced the course of 20th-century philosophy.
• "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… To us it seems that West-European civilization is civilization; but this is a narrow view." [History of Western Philosophy, London, 1948, p. 419]
Hamilton Alexander Roskeen Gibb (1895-1971) A leading orientalist scholar of his time.
• "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."[Whither Islam, London, 1932, p. 379.]
• "That his (Muhammad's) reforms enhanced the status of women in general is universally admitted." [Mohammedanism, London, 1953, p. 33]
James A. Michener (1907-1997) Leading American writer; recipient of honorary doctorates in five fields from thirty leading universities and decorated with the Presidential Medal of freedom, America's highest civilian award.
• "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 that idea, and the Qur'an is explicit in support of the freedom of conscience." [Islam - The Misunderstood Religion, Readers' Digest (American Edition) May 1955]
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794). Considered the greatest British historian of his time.
• "'I believe in One God and Mohammed 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."[History Of The Saracen Empire, London, 1870, p. 54.]
• "More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of Moses, the religion of Mahomet might seem less inconsistent with reason than the creed of mystery and superstition which, in the seventh century, disgraced the simplicity of the gospels." [The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 5. p. 487]
Jared Diamond Professor of Physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine; recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1998.
• "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. Only after the 1500's did the net direction of flow begin to reverse."[Guns, Germs, and Steel - The Fates of Human Societies, 1997, p. 253]
Annie Besant (1847-1933) British theosophist and nationalist leader in India. President of the Indian National Congress in 1917.
• "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 Al-Quran 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." [The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, Madras, 1932, pp. 25, 26]
Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) A writer, poetess and one of the most visible leaders of pre-Independent India. President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman governor of free India.
• "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."
• "It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy for, in the mosque when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers 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."
[Lectures on "The Ideals of Islam;" see Speeches And Writings Of Sarojini Naidu, Madras, 1918, pp. 167-9]
Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975) British historian, Lecturer at Oxford University.
• "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." [Civilization On Trial, New York, 1948, p. 205]
William Montgomery Watt (1909- ) Professor (Emeritus) of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh.
• "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.'" [Islam And Christianity Today, London, 1983, p. ix.]