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Perseveranze
08-29-2012, 08:44 PM
Asalaamu Alaikum,

This was nice to read, from Hamza's FB and comments;

Voltaire, the French enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher was famous for his wit, anti-Theism/religion and for his advocacy of civil liberties. He used to hate Muhammad(pbuh) and even wrote bigoted plays about him(pbuh)... (I won't paste the plays writing, as it's really offensive)

... or at least did hate.

His views "changed and evolved" as he learned more about the great Man(pbuh), as he was quoted writing this about Muhammad (upon whom be peace):


"Of all the legislators and conquerors, there are none whose life was written with greater authenticity and in more detail by their contemporaries than was than of Mahomet." EM, vol 1, page 255.

"He is admired for having turned himself from a camel merchant to a pontiff, a legislator and monarch, for having united Arabia, which had never been united before him, and for having made the Roman Empire tremble for the first time." De l'Alcoran et de Mahomet, page 340.

"His definition of God is of a more truly sublime sort." Notes marginales, vol. 4, page 664.

-- Taken from "The Enlightenment Qur'an: The Politics of Translation and the Construction of Islam" by Ziad Elmarsafy.

To give more of an overview -


Evolving views of Islam and its prophet, Muhammad, can be found in Voltaire's writings. In a letter recommending his play Fanaticism, or Mahomet to Pope Benedict XIV, Voltaire described the founder of Islam as "the founder of a false and barbarous sect" and "a false prophet",[32] a view he revised upon further research for his Essai sur les Moeurs et l'Esprit des Nations." [Source]

"In the essay on morals , Voltaire "makes a judgment almost entirely favorable" about Muhammad and "show full of praise for the Muslim civilization and Islam as a rule of life" 3 . It thus compares the "genius of the Arab people" to "genius of the ancient Romans' four and wrote that "in our centuries of barbarism and ignorance, following the decline and tearing of the Roman Empire, we received almost all of the Arab astronomy, chemistry, medicine, " 5 and that "in the second century of Muhammad, it was necessary that the Christians of the West among Muslims instruisissent" 6" [Source]


Subhanallah, look at how much his views changed. Just upon a little more sincere research, his heart, at the very least changed towards our beloved Rasool(pbuh).

Reminded me of this hadith;


The Messenger of Allah gave Sufwan ibn Umayyah three hundred grazing animals after the battle of Hunayn. Sufwan later said, "By Allah, the Messenger of Allah gave what he gave me while he was the most hated of people to me, and he kept on giving me until he was the most beloved of people to me." (Muslim)


I guess it shows that even the biggest of Islamophobes and haters, who are like talking to a wall... can one day change their perceptions of Islam and the Prophet(pbuh) upon learning and doing some sincere research.
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IbnAbdulHakim
08-30-2012, 01:18 PM
Thank you
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czgibson
08-30-2012, 02:01 PM
Voltaire was not an atheist, he was a deist.

"What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason." (Voltaire. W. Dugdale, A Philosophical Dictionary ver 2, 1843, Page 473 sec 1)
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Perseveranze
08-30-2012, 04:58 PM
Originally Posted by czgibson
Voltaire was not an atheist, he was a deist.

"What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason." (Voltaire. W. Dugdale, A Philosophical Dictionary ver 2, 1843, Page 473 sec 1)
Thanks for the correction. He used to always rip on Religion and Theism, that's why I got the impression he may have been a Atheist.

I wonder if this isn't another one of his evolutionary beliefs, or has he always been a deist?
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czgibson
08-30-2012, 07:55 PM
Originally Posted by Perseveranze
Thanks for the correction. He used to always rip on Religion and Theism, that's why I got the impression he may have been a Atheist.
Yes, it can be deceptive, especially when dealing with people from the 18th century. Deism was a very popular option at that time.

I wonder if this isn't another one of his evolutionary beliefs, or has he always been a deist?
I am not sure about what connection there may have been between Voltaire's belief in progressive human evolution and religion. Remember, he was living long before Darwin and Wallace, so his belief in "evolution" is rather different from what we usually mean when that term is discussed.
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Perseveranze
08-31-2012, 01:19 AM
^I didn't mean "evolution" in the literal sense lol... I meant, how he changed his beliefs on Islam/Prophet(pbuh), was wondering if the same thing happened with his beliefs in Deism (ie. Was he an Atheist before, or always a Deist).

Was wondering due to this;

"All men are born with a nose and ten fingers, but no one was born with a knowledge of God."
-Voltaire

"If God does not exist, it would be necessary to invent him"
-Voltaire

Though I can't find reference.
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czgibson
08-31-2012, 01:33 AM
Originally Posted by Perseveranze
^I didn't mean "evolution" in the literal sense lol... I meant, how he changed his beliefs on Islam/Prophet(pbuh), was wondering if the same thing happened with his beliefs in Deism (ie. Was he an Atheist before, or always a Deist).

Was wondering due to this;

"All men are born with a nose and ten fingers, but no one was born with a knowledge of God."
-Voltaire

"If God does not exist, it would be necessary to invent him"
-Voltaire

Though I can't find reference.
Both of those quotes would fit with Deism, which holds that belief in God is arrived at through the use of reason, not revelation. (The last one should be "If God did not exist...".)

I'm not aware of any outright expressions of atheism in Voltaire's work, but they may exist somewhere.
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