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
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", 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.