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The Past and Present of the Europeans’ View about the Holy Prophet

Knowing the European view of the Prophet is important to us, because it enables us to analyze what is currently happening in Western civilization towards Islam and to understand its roots and consequences, as well as it makes us aware of the importance of introducing the Prophet on a global scale with a civilizational approach and the responsibility of each Muslim, especially the elite in this field.

Introduction of the Article

First of all, I congratulate the Anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Mohammad and Imam Sadigh Peace be upon them.

I thank Managers and the staff of this Virtual International Hosseiniyah of martyr Hajj Ghasem Solaimani, especially Dr. Mohammad Hassan Ahmadi, and I wish them well.

I have already explained in the following three articles about the subject of our discussion tonight, namely, “The past and present of the Europeans’ view about the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him and his family and his selected Companions” ·

The Always on and without downs position of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) among the Europeans and its civilizing capacity (September 6, 2016)·     

The Prophet through which eyes of the Europeans?, November 2, 2017·     

A short article about the insult of the French magazine and the President of France to the Holy Prophet, November 1, 2020

Tonight’s speech does not have a new word compared to the previous ones, nor does it even expand as much as they do, and therefore I invite who are interested in this discussion to read those writings.

The importance of the subject

To speak about the European point of view about the Prophet is not only speaking about a historical and even social issue, but it is speaking of a matter of civilization. Knowing the European view of the Prophet is important to us, because it enables us to analyze what is currently happening in Western civilization towards Islam and to understand its roots and consequences, as well as it makes us aware of the importance of introducing the Prophet on a global scale with a civilizational approach and the responsibility of each Muslim, especially the elite in this field.

The evolution of Europeans’ view about the Prophet

The Europeans’ view of the Prophet began with a completely hostile and spiteful view, and this view gradually became a neutral and impartial view throughout history, and then an empathetic view and in the future horizon, this view will eventually become a view full of submission and Surrendering to the Prophet Mohammad and Islam.

This evolution can be illustrated in a detailed look at the following seven periods:

The First Period

The first stage of Europeans’ encounter with the Prophet is related to the beginning of their acquaintance with Islam, I mean the arrival of Muslims in Spain in the ninth century AD until the end of the Crusades in 1291 AD. At the beginning of this period, we see the worst interpretations, insults, myths and lies of the Europeans about the Prophet. These activities were led by the church members, and it was the Christian clergy who carried out their programs by the church.The religious basis of these objections, according to them, was that the Prophet had prevented the spread of the call for the salvation of Christ, and therefore they allowed any kind of slander against the Prophet. The arrival of Muslims in Europe, although accompanied by many civil, scientific and cultural activities, and the general public so-called Mozarb (Arabized)was inclined to Muslims, but the intensity of the Catholic Church’s hostility to the Prophet did not reduce, to the point that a group of priests called martyrdom-seeking priests appeared in the public squares and the public streets of Korodova in the middle of the ninth century AD, insulting the Prophet to be consequently killed according to Islamic jurisprudence and a law about those who insult the Prophet.They wanted their blood will be the basis for the church to oppress and incite the masses against Muslims.The Crusades (1096-1291) were started by the same priests. The Crusades caused the name of the Prophet to be mentioned in Europe, albeit with pessimism and slander, and with the misconception that the Prophet was the enemy of Christ.During this period, influenced by the activities of the church,the Prophet was considered by Europeansas an enemy that must be fought at all costs.

The Second Period

The second period begins after the Crusades and continues until the beginning of the Renaissance. During this period, Europeans’ view about the Prophet was still influenced by the Catholic Church, but Catholics, unsuccessful in the Crusades, now wielded their swords and turned to evangelical and cultural activities to convert Muslims to Christianity. It was a setback compared to the previous period. During this period, the Prophet was still considered as an enemy, but instead of fighting him and his followers, the Europeans tried to keep his followers away from him.

The Third Period

The third stage begins with the Renaissance and continues until the arrival of Napoleon in Egypt. During this period, the church was ousted and the colonial governments in the West gained strength, looking to the East in terms of political and economic power. Therefore, resentment towards the Prophet decreased and even a few works that had a positive view about the Prophet were published in the same period. The hegemonic view of the West in this period was followed by political institutions towards the East, and there for research on the Prophet had no priority for these institutions, and instead, the study of the situation of Muslims and Islamic countries in scientific institutions affiliated with governments was a priority. During this period, the Prophet was considered by Europeans as a main part of the Muslims’ beliefs who should be known in order to find a way to infiltrate and dominate the Muslims.

The Fourth Period

The arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte in Egypt in 1798, almost a decade after the French Revolution, increased the opportunity for Western direct access to the main sources of Muslims. Perhaps for this reason, and also because of the establishment of large libraries in Europe with resources taken from Islamic lands, more works were published in which there were signs of acknowledgment of the greatness of the Prophet.The expansion of European travel to the Muslim East and travel writing, the Europeans’ keen interest in learning Arabic, their easy access to Muslim written sources, and the reduction of the Ottoman threat also contributed to this positive approach. The Europeans, as they expanded their colonial rule over Islamic countries, accepted that it was impossible to destroy Muslims or convert them to Christianity or make them pessimistic about the Prophet. From the European point of view, in this period that continues until the end of the Second World War, the Prophet was a great and historic figure who could not be denied, but his greatness must be gradually acknowledged.

The Fifth Period

With the end of the ancient colonial age, and especially after World War II, from 1945 to 2001, we see a new era centered on scientific institutions independent of the church and directly dependent on political and security institutions, in which non-hostile scientific works about the Prophet grew significantly. Some of these sources, which have also been translated into Persian, are among the most valuable scientific works written about the Prophet. During this period the Prophet had become a figure among the Europeans who they decided to correct their unjust views about him.

The Sixth Period

The sixth period, which begins with the story of 9/11 and continues to this day, is the period of the separation of media orientalism from scientific orientalism. The main source and base of media orientalismis the mass media dominated by the power and wealth of the West, and the main source of scientific orientalismare universities and scientific centers. The main mission of media orientalism is to introduce false faces of Islam and incite Islamophobia, and the main mission of scientific orientalism is to know Islam correctly and to expand the scope of Islamology and even to spread the praise of Islam.Scientific orientalism, like media orientalism, has gained considerable popular influence. If one can name a few cases for media orientalism, such as the insulting caricature of a Danish newspaper a few years ago or the recent insult in a French newspaper and support of the French President, he can find many examples for scientific orientalism with a simple search in databases. During this period, the Prophet was and is a person through the eyes of the Western media, whose face should be tarnished so that the Europeans would not go to him, but through the eyes of many scientific institutions, the Prophet is a great social reformer worthy of respect.

The Seventh and Final Period

The seventh stage, which we have not reached yet, but we are moving towards it, and now is not the time to address it, is the period of the return of Jesus Christ to earth and his prayer behind the Imam Mahdi, peace be upon them. This means the realization of a completely positive view about the Prophet and his full acceptance. It is clear that reaching the sixth and seventh periods does not mean completely emptying the Europeans’ view of their mistakes, misunderstandings and even immorality towards the Prophet, but it means increasing and overcoming the positive view compared to the past.

The Last Word

An examination of the evolution of the Europeans’ view about the Prophet shows that the more Europeans have a connection with the Muslim, the more positive their view of the Prophet becomes, and as time goes on, resentments fade and their hearts are filled by curiosity, fairness and love for Prophet Mohammad.

This positive evolution now opens to us, despite the dominance of the Western media, a window into a great and promising situation for inter-civilizational dialogue, but also a great opportunity in this field.It is the duty of Muslim academics and researchers above all to provide the space for this dialogue and to work to preserve it.In such an atmosphere, the importance of activities such as the letter that the Supreme Leader of the Revolution wrote to the Western youth or the note that he recently published to the French youth becomes clearer. Writing books and articles and creating works of art to introduce the Prophet in accordance with the needs of different strata and social groups of the Western world, especially the Western elite, and given the current situation in the West is an inevitable necessity. We hope that we will all be successful in this way, which the activity of this Hosseiniyahis also in the same way.

The article was written by Dr. Mohsen Alviri – Baqirol-olumUniversity_November 5, 2020.

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