Mohammed: The Man and His Faith

Mohammed: The Man and His Faith

Mohammed: The Man and His Faith

Mohammed: The Man and His Faith

Excerpt

There was a time when it was considered in accordance with good scientific method to interpret all religious development as due to personal forces: either to social and economic factors, which operated with the simple inevitability of natural law, or to ideas and conceptions which, by their necessary and reciprocal interaction, gave rise to religious dogmas and systems. The bearers of this development are not individual, creative personalities, but an anonymous mass: the nation, the sect, the congregation, the mystical brotherhood. No place was really left for the great, leading, creative religious personalities. To go back to the particular personal experience, or the prophetic initiative, as the source of the new religious creation, was regarded as an act of scientific bankruptcy. In many cases this tendency went to the extreme of simply denying that the great founders of religion ever lived. To be sure, genuine scholars were less liable to draw such conclusions than scientific amateurs. Nevertheless, various scientists and self-appointed critics have denied the historicity not only of Buddha and Zarathustra, but also of Jesus and Paul. The spirit of collectivism, which had won so many victories in the political and social sphere, invaded also the quiet world of the humanistic sciences.

It is certainly not a sign of a higher methodological insight to imagine history as a drama without actors, a drama in which every action is performed by dummies. In all religious movements whose history we can really survey the awakening power proceeded from an individual personality. We find the same phenomenon even in the most recent formation of sects. The master or the prophet, and his disciples: this is the ordinary cell out of which new life grows in the sphere of religion. By no means, however, need science balk at the individual personality as if it were a supernatural entity before . . .

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