Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary
The Philosophical Dictionary
Selected and Translated by H.I. Woolf
New York: Knopf, 1924

Scanned by the Hanover College Department of History in 1995.
Proofread and pages added by Jonathan Perry, March 2001.


I TELL you again, ignorant imbeciles, whom other ignoramuses have made believe that the Mohammedan religion is voluptuous and sensual, there is not a word of truth in it; you have been deceived on this point as on so many others.

Canons, monks, vicars even, if a law were imposed on you not to eat or drink from four in the morning till ten at night, during the month of July, when Lent came at this period; if you were forbidden to play at any game of chance under pain of damnation; if wine were forbidden you under the same pain; if you had to make a pilgrimage into the burning desert; if it were enjoined on you to give at least two and a half per cent. of your income to the poor; if, accustomed to enjoy possession of eighteen women, the number were cut down suddenly by fourteen; honestly, would you dare call that religion sensual?

The Latin Christians have so many advantages over the Mussulmans, I do not say in the matter of war, but in the matter of doctrines; the Greek Christians have so beaten them latterly from 1769 to 1773, that it is not worth the trouble to indulge in unjust reproaches against Islam.

Try to retake from the Mohammedans all that they usurped; but it is easier to calumniate them.

I hate calumny so much that I do not want even to impute foolishness to the Turks, although I detest them as tyrants over women and enemies of the arts.

I do not know why the historian of the Lower Empire maintains that Mohammed speaks in his Koran of his journey into the sky: Mohammed does not say a word about it; we have proved it.

One must combat ceaselessly. When one has destroyed an error, there is always someone who resuscitates it.

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