The glorious Quran and Sunnah were revealed to Imam al-Anbia (The leader of all the Prophets and the messengers) Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). As Imam Tahawi said about him:
Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is undoubtedly Allah's most exalted creature, His most beloved Messenger and a chosen Prophet. He is the last of the Prophets, Imam of all pious people, the Master of all the Messengers and the most beloved to the Creator of this universe.
Such were the qualities due to which Quran was revealed to him. Ibn Masud beautifully mentioned the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) when he said,
'Indeed Allah looked into the hearts of the servants and found the heart of the heart of the Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) to be the best of the hearts of His servants and so He chose him for himself and sent him as a messenger….. '
STATEMENTS OF NONMUSLIMS REGARDING PROPHET MUHAMMAD
Timothy, Nestorian Christian and an eighth-century patriarch of the Assyrian Church stated:
Muhammad is "worthy of all praise" and "walked in the path of the prophets" because he taught the unity of God. He taught the way of good works; he opposed idolatry and polytheism he taught about God, his Word, and his Spirit he showed his zeal by fighting against idolatry with the sword; like Abraham he left his kinfolk rather than worship idols.
George Sale became the earliest Westerner to rise above bigotry toward Muhammad when he translated Quran into English from Arabic for the first time. That 1734 work, along with his clarifying notes, fulfilled his intention of giving "the original impartial justice." Sale, a Protestant lawyer, writes in his introduction:
"Muhammad gave his Arabs the best religion he could, as well as the best laws; preferable, at least, to those of the ancient pagan lawgivers."
For two centuries, Sale's work was the best single source in English for the study of Islam.
Later in the eighteenth century, distinguished historian Edward Gibbon gave a balanced treatment of Muhammad's character. Gibbon recognized that Muhammad was "endowed with a pious and contemplative disposition and that he despised the pomp of royalty." Gibbon thought that Europeans who stress the prophet's amorous activities have "maliciously exaggerated the frailties of Muhammad."
Thomas Carlyle, another outstanding English writer, became famous for his theory that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." He discovered Muhammad to have been a sincere leader after approaching him in this positive manner: "I mean to say all the good of him I justly can." Carlyle rejected the characteristic European outlook of the preceding millennium, that Muhammad was "a scheming impostor." While laudatory toward the founder of Islam, Carlyle's appreciation did not carry over to the style of Quran as he read it in English. He confessed:
"It is as toilsome reading as I ever undertook a wearisome confused jumble."
Writing at the time of Carlyle in the nineteenth century, European historian Johann Doellinger asserted:
"No other mortal has ever, from the beginning of the world, exercised such an immeasurable influence upon the religious, moral, and political relations of mankind, as has the Arab Muhammad."
In the twentieth century, non-Muslim scholars have increasingly acknowledged the greatness of Muhammad. For five decades Anglican bishop Kenneth Cragg has been writing books to publicize the admirable qualities of Islam and has translated selections from Arabic religious literature. He states:
Bassetti-Sani is aware that the Bible contains this promise to Abraham:
"As for lshmael, I have heard you; I will bless him ... and make him a great nation."
According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad is a descendant of Hagar's grandson Nebaioth (or Nabit).
Alfred Guillaume, the English translator of the most important Arabic biographical sources on the prophet, writes:
"Trustworthy tradition depicts a man of amazing ability in winning men's hearts by persuasion and in coercing and disarming his opponents. . . . He stands out as one of the great figures of history."
Historian Will Durant likewise concludes his treatment of Muhammad with this tribute:
If we judge greatness by influence, he was one of the giants of history. He undertook to raise the spiritual and moral level of a people harassed into barbarism by heat and foodless wastes, and he succeeded more completely than any other reformer seldom has any man so fully realized his dream.... When he began, Arabia was a desert flotsam of idolatrous tribes; when he died it was a nation.
Michael Hart, a contemporary American scientist, offers a similar estimate of Muhammad's impact. Hart ranks the three most influential persons in history in this order: Muhammad, Isaac Newton, and Jesus. Hart places Muhammad at the top of his list of one hundred humans because he was "the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels." Within a century, his followers controlled the largest empire in human history.