Friday Ephemera
Dumb Culture


Further to recent comments on Muhammad and how one might view him, here’s H.G. Wells on the same subject, from A Short History of the World, published in 1922.

Then for four years more until his death in 632, Muhammad spread his power over the rest of Arabia. He married a number of wives in his declining years, and his life on the whole was by modern standards unedifying. He seems to have been a man compounded of very considerable vanity, greed, cunning, self-deception and quite sincere religious passion. He dictated a book of injunctions and expositions, the Qur’an, which he declared was communicated to him from God. Regarded as literature or philosophy the Qur’an is certainly unworthy of its alleged divine authorship.

Wells goes on to concede that “when the manifest defects of Muhammad’s life and writings have been allowed for, there remains in Islam… much power and inspiration.” But what catches the eye is how sharply Wells’ estimation of Muhammad and the Qur’an contrasts with modern affectations. It’s hard to imagine a similar view being expressed quite so freely by a public figure today, when much smaller improprieties often meet with sudden inhalation and calls for apologies.