The Enlightenment Muhammad: An Anticlerical Hero


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From the eighteenth century onwards, many European and American leaders saw the Prophet Muhammad as a symbol of justice and law and an anticlerical Hero. Among them were Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, and Edward Gibbon.

In this video, John Tolan, professor of history at the University of Nantes in France, shows that while many Europeans, from the Middle Ages to today, had a negative, polemical perception of Muhammad, others looked on him with fascination and admiration. The video is based on his recent book, Faces of the Prophet: A History of Western Portrayals of Muhammad.

You can get his book from Princeton University Press (


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