it is he who sent amongst the unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them his signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in scripture and wisdom, — although they had been, before, in manifest error;-

(sura jumua) holy qur'an 62: 2

amazing as it may seem, i am not amazed anymore! for this is his way — he chooses an ummi 1 non-literate prophet for an ummi illiterate nation.

"a poor shepherd people, roaming unnoticed in its deserts since the creation of the world: a hero-prophet was sent down to them with a word they could believe: see, the unnoticed becomes world-notable, the small has grown world-great; within one century afterwards, arabia is at grenada (spain) on this hand, at delhi (india) on that; -glancing in valour and splendour and the light of genius, arabia shines through long ages over a great section of the world. belief is great, life-giving. the history of a nation becomes fruitful, soul elevating, great, so soon as it believes. 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 black 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."

thus concluded the speech of thomas carlyle, one of the greatest thinkers of the past century. it was friday, the 8th of may 1840. his theme — "the hero as prophet" his audience: were anglicans — english christians.


1. ummi: "unlettered." "one other circumstance we must not forget: that he had no school-learning; of the thing we call school-learning; none at all." thomas carlyle in his "heroes and hero-worship"

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