In 1671 Henry Stubbe (1632–1676), physician and political writer, authored a manuscript entitled ‘An Account of the Rise and Progress of Mahometanism’. It was groundbreaking in being the first truly positive account of the Prophet Muhammad in English.
In the text, Stubbe set out to correct the ‘fabulous, ridiculous trash’ that previous English and European commentators on Islam had written, and gave a sympathetic and largely accurate portrayal of the Prophet. He also debunked the myth that Islam was spread the sword, arguing that religious freedoms were given to other faiths in the Qur’an, ‘wherein he permitts the Unbeleivers to hold their own Religion, and declares that every of them, Jew, Christian, or other, might be saved if he held that there was one God, the Creator, a day of Judgement, and lived justly and uprightly. ‘
The text remained unpublished due to its dangerously radical nature, but manuscript versions circulated privately among intellectual circles during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
– Samera Hassan