Quote of the Week: Vladimir Soloviev On Muhammad

Quote of the Week: Vladimir Soloviev On Muhammad January 27, 2010

Constantine the Great and Charlemagne suggest themselves for comparison. They were both religious-political actors, just as Muhammad was. All three connected their politics with religion, wrote laws and conducted wars in the name of God; all three understood religion as a practical principal, as the foundation for a sociopolitical unification of people; all three were representatives of well-known theocratic ideals, and each of them left after himself a certain theocratic organization. According to personal qualities, all three were people candidly religious, honest, and free from base vices. And the personal qualities of all three did not safeguard them from abusing the limitless power that fell to their lot. Constantine he Great committed to death his wife and innocent son; Charlemagne massacred 4,500 Saxon prisoners. These evil deeds in and of themselves are more grave than all the evil deeds of Muhammad, and beyond that one must not forget that Charlemagne belonged to a nation that had already 300 years since accepted Christianity, and was brought up in this religion; and Constantine the Great, who had himself converted to Christianity, moreover, lived in a world incomparably more educated than the cultural milieu of Muhammad. Thus comparison of the latter with religious-political heroes of the East and the West of the Christian world turns out to be in favor of the Arabian prophet; and if the Greeks canonized Constantine, and the Latin Charles, then Muslims have all the more basis to reverently esteem the memory of their apostle.

–Vladimir Soloviev, “Muhammad: His Life and Religious Teaching” in Enemies from the East? V.S. Soloviev on Paganism, Asian Civilizations, and Islam. Trans. Vladimir Wozniuk (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2007), 209.

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  • Zak

    Henry,
    THat’s an interesting reflection. Thanks.

    • Zak

      His biography and study on Muhammad, as a whole, is quite good. Like me, he sees quite a bit of good, even spiritual good, coming out of Muhammad, while also recognizing he was a man with foibles. But I did like how he brought Muhammad in relation to Constantine and Charlemagne — it helps remind us of the age in which he came from, one quite different from our own.

  • Pinky

    Charlemagne isn’t a saint, is he?

    • Actually…

      he is recognized as such (look him up in Holweck).

  • Pinky

    It looks like he was canonized by an antipope, and that decision was nullified.

    Anyway, saints aren’t perfect or necessarily good. Constantine and (I assume) Charlemagne died in Christ, and it was His sacrifice that got them into heaven. Muhammad rejected Christ’s divinity, so he died in sin. I hope for his acceptance into heaven, of course, but I respect Dante’s instinct about the fate of a person who leads others away from Jesus.

    • Pinky

      Not nullified — he is recognized as having a local cult. Of course the point of Solovyov is that saints are not perfect, and indeed, we are willing to accept that fact from our saints, while we will treat non-Christians with more rigorous standards. I highly suggest you read his work in full.