This is a problem which has continued for centuries. For the last 110 years, it has been frankly considered with care in sociological and historical studies.
The question which is always presented is ‘What is the motor of history and the fundamental factor for change and transformation of human societies?’
Then there are the materialists who believe in a totalistic view of history. They believe that history and society, from the beginning until now, is like a tree.
This tree, without a will of its own, was a seed which split, grew out of the earth having established its roots and then developed stem and leaf. It started to grow and has since developed into a large tree.
It is obliged to give forth fruits’ and blossoms at the beginning of the spring. It is obliged to evolve and to decay.
This group also believes that throughout history, human societies survive because of the effect of determining laws which exists in society, like laws which are in nature.
Therefore, the beliefs of individuals do not in anyway interfere in the fate of their societies. Society is a natural phenomenon which grows from the effects of natural laws.
The third group believes that personalities direct history such as the facists and Nazis. Great scholars such as Carlyle, who wrote the life of the Prophet of Islam, and Emerson, and so forth, are included in this group.
They believe that laws are mere tools in the hands of humanity and that they have no effect upon society to their way of thinking, the average person or lower than average person has no share in changing society.
They are considered to be simply tools as well. The only factor which reforms societies, develops them or causes their decadence is great personalities.
Emerson says, ‘Give me ten great personalities and I will tell you the history of humanity without reading a book.
Introduce me to the Prophet of Islam so I can tell you the history of Islam. Introduce Napoleon to me and I will declare the history of modern Europe?’
From this point of view, the fate of society and humanity is in the hands of great personalities who are the leaders of our society.
Therefore, the rise or decline of societies neither depends upon the people nor does it result from the effect of determined laws of the environment and society, nor do they result from mere accidents.
Rather, everything is in the hands of great personalities who appear from time to time in society and change its fate and sometimes change the fate of humanity.
Carlyle writes, in describing the life of the Prophet of Islam, ‘The Prophet of Islam was rejected in his first invitation to his relatives.
Hazrat Ali, who was 10 years old, stood up and gave a positive answer to the invitation and swore allegiance.’
Then Carlyle sums up the basis of his way of thinking, ‘This small hand, which was placed upon the great hand, changed the course of history.’
Those who follow the personality-cult theory are divided into two groups. One group believes that a great personality like Buddha or Moses or Jesus change society. These are the individualists.
The other group believes that first a personality appears and is then followed by a group of specialists, geniuses and distinguished men of the tribe who surround him and form a group.
This group is called ‘elite’ and it is they who will lead society towards their aims. They are known as ‘elite-worshippers’.
But both Islam and the Qoran have another point of view. As a rule, in Islam, the greatest personality is the Prophet.
If Islam, were to believe in the role of the great personality as the basic factor of transformation and change in society and history.
Then they would regard all the prophets and especially, the Prophet of Islam, as the basic factor of transformation and change.