Alphonse de Lamartine (d. 1869) was a French poet, politician, and writer who was influential in the foundation of the Second Republic. He was a central figure who led the campaign to abolish slavery and the death penalty and was a strong advocate of democracy. The following is the way he described the Prophet Muhammad:
“Never has a man proposed for himself, voluntarily or involuntarily, a goal more sublime, since this goal was beyond measure: undermine the superstitions placed between the creature and the Creator, give back God to man and man to God, reinstate the rational and saintly idea of divinity in the midst of this prevailing chaos of material and disfigured gods of idolatry.
Never has a man accomplished in such a short time such an immense and long lasting revolution in the world, since less than two centuries after his predication, Islam, preaching and armed, ruled over three Arabias, and conquered to God’s unity Persia, the Khorasan, Transoxania, Western India, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and all the known continent of Southern Africa, many islands of the Mediterranean, Spain and part of Gaul.
If the grandeur of the aim, the smallness of the means, the immensity of the results are the three measures of a man’s genius, who would dare humanly compare a great man of modern history with Muhammad?
The most famous have only moved weapons, laws, empires; they founded, when they founded anything, only material powers, often crumbling before them. This man not only moved armies, legislation, empires, peoples, dynasties, millions of men over a third of the inhabited globe; but he also moved ideas, beliefs, souls. He founded upon a book, of which each letter has become a law, a spiritual nationality embracing people of all languages and races; and made an indelible imprint upon this Muslim nation, for the hatred of false gods and the passion for the God, One and Immaterial.
Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of a rational dogma for a cult without imagery, founder of twenty earthly empires and of one spiritual empire, this is Muhammad.
Of all the scales by which one measures human grandeur, which man has been greater…”
(Extract from Alphonse de Lamartine’s Histoire de la Turquie Paris, 1854, vol. II, pp. 276-277)