: Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

16-09-2012, 07:19 AM
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) He was an English philosopher, historian and litterateur and one of the most prominent figures in English culture in the 19th century. He was influenced by Goethe and Scheller and translated some of their works into English. In Sartor Resartus, his first work in 1834, he criticized English society.
He wrote many works including his volumes about the French Revolution. In 1837-1841, he delivered public lectures, the most important of which were collected by Carlyle himself on the history of the human conception of the hero and published, in 1841, in a book entitled The Heroes and the collection known as The German Literature. In 1847, he wrote The Past and Present in which he dealt with political issues and problems. He also wrote about general rights and how people should pursue them, in which he called for a strong, wise ruling class. Seven years later, Carlyle returned to write once again about the political issues in his Eternity Notes.
The Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell is one of his successful literary works which he wrote in 1845, changing the previous negative public view to the personality and morality of Oliver Cromwell. In 1851, he wrote his book The Life of John Sterling. Then, he devoted himself for twelve years to write his voluminous book, History of Friedrich II of Prussia Index, which he published in 1858-1865. In 1865, he was granted the title of President of Edinburgh University.
The following witnesses will be transmitted from The Heroes. We could understand the value of the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] in the sight of Carlyle when we know that this book is a presentation of the history of heroism and heroes in the world and how different peoples conceived the hero: first as divine, then as a messenger, a poet, a bishop or a philosopher. But, it is turning that when he presented the hero in the image of a Messenger, he chose only Muhammad [peace be upon him]. However, Carlyles lecture on the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] as stated by the famous English Orientalist, Montgomery Watt, is a decisive historical point in changing the information the West had about the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him].
From Heroes, Hero Worship and the Heroic in History:
What a shame!
One current hypothesis about Mahomet, that he was a scheming imposter, a Falsehood incarnate, that his religion is a mere mass of quackery and fatuity, begins really to be now untenable to anyone. The lies, which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man, are disgraceful to ourselves only. It is really time to dismiss all that. The word this man spoke has been the life-guidance now of a hundred and eighty million men these twelve-hundred years. These hundred and eighty million were made by God as well as us. A greater number of God's creatures believe in Mahomet's word at this hour than in any other word whatsoever. Are we to suppose that it was a miserable piece of spiritual legerdemain, this which so many creatures of the Almighty have lived by and died by? I, for my part, cannot form any such supposition. I will believe most things sooner than that. One would be entirely at a loss what to think of this world at all, if quackery so grew and were sanctioned here.[1] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn1)
Falsehood and forgery
Alas, such theories are very lamentable. If we would attain to knowledge of anything in God's true Creation, let us disbelieve them wholly! They are the product of an age of skepticism. They indicate the saddest spiritual paralysis and mere death-life of the souls of men. More godless theory, I think, was never promulgated on this Earth. A false man found a religion! Why, a false man cannot build a brick house! If he does not know and follows truly the properties of mortar, burnt clay and what else he works in, it is no house that he makes but a rubbish heap. It will not stand for twelve centuries to lodge a hundred and eighty million. It will fall straight way. A man must conform himself to nature's jaws, be verily in communion with nature and the truth of things or nature will answer trim. No, not at all! Speciosities are specious ah, me! a Cagliostro, many Cagliostros, prominent world leaders, do prosper by their quackery, for a day.[2] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn2)
The power of religion
Much has been said of Mahomet propagating his religion by the sword. It is no doubt far nobler what we have to boast of the Christian religion, that it propagated itself peaceably in the way of preaching and conviction. Yet withal, if we take this for an argument of the truth or falsehood of a religion, there is a radical mistake in it. The sword indeed but where will you get your sword! Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one. In one man's head alone, there it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world believes it; there is one man against all men. That he take a sword and try to propagate with that will do little for him. You must first get your sword! On the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can. We do not find, of the Christian Religion either, that it always disdained the sword, until it got one. Charlemagne's conversion of the Saxons was not by preaching. I care little about the sword. I will allow a thing to struggle for itself in this world with any sword or tongue or implement it has or can lay hold of. We will let it preach and pamphleteer and fight and to the uttermost bestir itself and do, beak and claws, whatsoever is in it. Very sure that it will, in the long run, conquer anything which does not deserve to be conquered. What is better than itself, it cannot put away, but only what is worse.[3] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn3)
The merely dead fuel but not the fire vanished
Islam devoured all these vain jangling sects and I think it had right to do so. It was a reality direct from the great heart of nature once more. Arab idolatries, Syrian formulas, whatsoever was not equally real had to go up in flame mere dead fuel, in various senses, for this which was fire.[4] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn4)
It is but the natural voice of humanity
Islam, like any great faith and insight into the essence of man, is a perfect equalizer of men: the soul of one believer outweighs all earthly kingships. All men, according to Islam too, are equal. Mahomet insists not on the propriety of giving alms but on the necessity of it. He marks down by law how much you are to give and it is at your peril if you neglect. The tenth part of a man's annual income, whatever that may be, is property of the poor, those who are afflicted and need help. The good in all this: the natural voice of humanity, of pity and equity dwelling in the heart of this wild son of nature speaks so.[5] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn5)
The penetrating vision
This is the great staple of the Qur'an the eye that flashes direct into the heart of things and sees the truth of them. This is to me a highly interesting object. Great Nature's own gift; which she bestows on all[6] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn6)
A spark from heaven
These Arabs, the man Mahomet and that one century is it not as if a spark had fallen, one spark, on a world of what seemed a black and unnoticeable sand. But lo, the sand proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Grenada! I said, the great man was always as lightning out of Heaven. The rest of men waited for him like fuel and then they too would flame.[7] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn7)

The tongue of the one they refer to is foreign
The author discusses how the Messenger of Allh [peace be upon him] met Bahrah, the monk, and whether or not he was influenced by this meeting to think over the issues of life and creation, refuting the false allegations that he received knowledge from the monk who stood behind the Prophethood of Muhammad: Mahomet, as he grew up, accompanied his uncle on trade journeys and such. In his eighteenth year, one finds him a fighter following his uncle in war. But perhaps the most significant of all his journeys is one we find noted as of some years' an earlier date, a journey to the fairs of Syria. The young man here first came in contact with a quite foreign world with one foreign element of endless moment to him, the Christian Religion. I know not what to make of that 'Sergius, the Nestorian Monk,' whom Abu Tlib and he are said to have lodged with or how much any monk could have taught one still so young. Probably enough, it is greatly exaggerated, this of the Nestorian Monk. Mahomet was only fourteen and had no language but his own. Much in Syria must have been a strange unintelligible whirlpool to him. But the eyes of the lad were open, glimpses of many things would doubtlessly be taken in and lie very enigmatic as yet, which were to ripen in a strange way into views, beliefs and insights one day. These journeys to Syria were probably the beginning of much to Mahomet.[8] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn8)
The man of great flashing natural eyesight
In reply to the allegations forged by Christian radicals and atheists that Muhammad [peace be upon him], through his career, wanted nothing but personal fame, sovereignty and worldly benefits, the author says: For my share, I have no faith whatsoever in that. Ah, no: this deep-hearted son of the wilderness with his wild sincere heart, earnest as death and life, with his great flashing natural eyesight, his beaming black eyes and open socially deep soul had other thoughts in him than ambition.[9] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn9)
The noblest attributes and best merits
Rude vestiges of poetic genius of whatsoever is best and truest are visible in this man. A strong untutored intellect; eyesight, heart; a strong wild man, might have shaped himself into a poet, king, priest or any kind of hero.[10] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn10)
A candid ferocity
Not a mealy-mouthed man! A candid ferocity, if the case calls for it, is in him; he does not mince matters! The war of Tabk is a thing he often speaks of, his men refused, many of them, to march on that occasion. They pleaded the heat of the weather, harvests and so forth and he can never forget that. Your harvest? It lasts for a day. What will become of your harvest through all Eternity? Hot weather? Yes, it was hot 'but, Hell will be hotter![11] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn11)
A man with a patched cloak is more influential than an emperor
Mahomet himself, after all that can be said about him, was not a sensual man. We shall err widely if we consider this man as a common voluptuary, intent mainly on base enjoyments nay, on enjoyments of any kind. His household was of the frugalest, his common diet was barley bread and water and sometimes for months there was not a fire once lighted on his hearth. They record with just pride that he would mend his own shoes and patch his own cloak. He was a poor, hard-toiling, ill-provided man, careless of what vulgar men toil for. Not a bad man, I should say; something better in him than hunger of any sort or these wild Arab men, fighting and jostling three and twenty years at his hand in close contact with him always would not have reverenced him so! They were wild men, bursting ever and anon into quarrel, into all kinds of fierce sincerity. Without right worth and manhood, no man could have commanded them. They called him Prophet, you say? Why, he stood there face to face with them, bare and not enshrined in any mystery; visibly clouting his own cloak, cobbling his own shoes, fighting, counseling and ordering in the midst of them. They must have seen what kind of a man he was, let him be called what you like! No emperor with his tiaras was obeyed as this man in a cloak of his own clouting during three and twenty years of actual rough trials. I find something of a veritable hero necessary for that, of itself.[12] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn12)
Genius of balance
There is no ostentatious pride in him but neither does he go much upon humility. He is there as he can be in cloak and shoes of his own clouting, speaks plainly to all manner of Persian Kings, Greek Emperors and what it is they are bound to do. He knows well enough, about himself, 'the respect due unto thee.'[13] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn13)
Mahomet: our merciful brother
His last words are a prayer, broken ejaculations of a heart struggling in trembling hope, toward its maker. We cannot say that his religion made him worse for it made him better; good, not bad. Generous things are recorded of him. When he lost his daughter, the thing he answers is, in his own dialect, every way sincere and yet equivalent to that of Christians, 'The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.'[14] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn14) He answered in like manner of Seid (Zayd), his emancipated well beloved slave and second of the believers. Seid had fallen in the war of Mutah, the first of Mahomet's fighting with the Greeks. Mahomet said, It was well; Seid had done his master's work, Seid had now gone to his master; it was all well with Seid. Yet Seid's daughter found him weeping over the body the old gray-haired man melting in tears! "What do I see?" said she. "You see a friend weeping over his friend."[15] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn15) Traits of that kind show us the genuine man, the brother of us all, brought visible through twelve centuries the veritable son of our common mother.[16] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn16)
Withal I like Mahomet
Withal I like Mahomet for his total freedom from cant. He is a rough self-helping son of the wilderness and does not pretend to be what he is not.[17] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn17)
Great by nature
Through life we find him to have been regarded as an altogether solid, brotherly and genuine man. A serious, sincere character; yet amiable, cordial, companionable, jocose even a good laugh in him withal: there are men whose laugh is as untrue as anything about them; who cannot laugh. One hears of Mahomet's beauty, his fine, sagacious and honest face, brown florid complexion, beaming black eyes I somehow like too that vein on the brow, which swelled up black when he was in anger like the 'horse-shoe vein' in Scott's Red-gauntlet. It was a kind feature in the Hshem family, this black swelling vein in the brow. Mahomet had it prominent, as would appear. A spontaneous, passionate, yet just, true-meaning man! Full of wild faculty, fire and light, of wild worth, all uncultured, working out his life-task in the depths of the desert there.[18] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn18)
Deadly earnestness and sincerity
No dilettantism in this Mahomet. It is a business of reprobation and salvation with him, of time and eternity. He is in deadly earnest about it! Dilettantism, hypothesis, speculation and a kind of amateur search for truth, toying and coquetting with truth: this is the sorest sin.[19] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn19)
Wisdom of words
They noted that he always meant something. A man rather taciturn in speech, silent when there was nothing to be said but pertinent, wise and sincere when he did speak and always throwing light on the matter. This is the only sort of speech worth speaking![20] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn20)
A well-proven primary fact
This Mahomet, then, we will in no wise consider as an inanity and theatricality, a poor, conscious and ambitious schemer; we cannot conceive him so. The rude message he delivered was a real one withal, an earnest confused voice from the unknown deep. The man's words were not false, nor his workings here below. No inanity and simulacrum but a fiery mass of life cast up from the great bosom of nature herself. To kindle the world, the world's maker had ordered it so. Neither can the faults, imperfections, insincerities even, of Mahomet, if such were never so well proven against him, shake this primary fact about him.[21] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn21)
I have spent a long time among you
He seems to have lived in a most affectionate, peaceable and wholesome way with this wedded benefactress, loving her truly and her alone. It goes greatly against the imposter theory, the fact that he lived in this entirely unexceptionable, quiet and commonplace way till the heat of his years was done. He was forty before he talked of any mission from Heaven.[22] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn22)
From Nature's own Heart
He was alone with his soul and the reality of things. The great mystery of existence, as I said, glared in upon him with its terrors and splendors. No hearsays could hide that unspeakable fact, "Here am I!" Such sincerity, as we named it, has in very truth something of the divine. The word of such a man is a voice direct from nature's own heart. Men do and must listen to that as to nothing else all else is wind in comparison.[23] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftn23)

[1] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref1) The Heroes, 62-63.

[2] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref2) Ibid. 63-64.

[3] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref3) Ibid. 87-88.

[4] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref4) Ibid. 90-91.

[5] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref5) Ibid. 104.

[6] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref6) Ibid. 96.

[7] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref7) Ibid. 109.

[8] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref8) Ibid. 73-74.

[9] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref9) Ibid. 77.

[10] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref10) Ibid. 98.

[11] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref11) Ibid. 104.

[12] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref12) Ibid. 100-101.

[13] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref13) Ibid. 102.

[14] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref14) al-Bukhri, no. 1241; Muslim, no. 2315.

[15] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref15) It is reported that when Seid (Zayd ibn Hrithah) fell a martyr in the battle of Mutah, the Messenger of Allh [peace be upon him] went to his house, where Zayds daughter received him weeping. On that, the Messenger of Allh [peace be upon him] shed tears. Sad ibn Ubdah asked him: What is this O Messenger of Allh? He said: This is the longing of a one to his beloved. See ath-Thahabi, History of Islam, 2:496.

[16] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref16) Ibid. 101-102.

[17] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref17) Ibid. 102.

[18] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref18) Ibid. 75-76.

[19] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref19) Ibid. 103.

[20] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref20) Ibid. 75.

[21] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref21) Ibid. 65-66.

[22] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref22) Ibid. 77.

[23] (http://islamstory.com/en/node/36637#_ftnref23) Ibid. 77.