“Please regard me as a Mohammedan…”
great Russian writer and thinker who contributed a lot to the Russian literature
and history is more famous as a writer, his philosophical views and works that
reflect his ideas of God, soul, knowledge, love, the meaning of life, etc. are
much less known.
continuing quest for the meaning of life, the moral ideal, the covert general
regularities of existence as well as his spiritual and social criticism run
through all his creative work. Since the 1870-ies he pays more and more
attention to the subjects of death, sin, penance, and moral revival.
extraordinary way of thinking was in most cases incomprehensible to the Russian
society of those days.
was excommunicated and committed to anathema, his friends and acquaintances
turned away from him. In 1910, at the age of 81, Lev Tolstoy left home and died
on the way to the station “Astapovo”.
was the end of his life so sad and where was he going after leaving home?
Perhaps, some of his letters will throw light upon it.
is what he wrote about the Church:
world was doing what it wished to do and was letting the Church keep pace with
it providing as good explanations of the meaning of life as it could possibly
think of. The world was setting its own mode of life which was entirely
different form the teaching of Christ, and the Church was inventing allegories
which would suggest that people who violated the law of Christ lived in keeping
with it. As a result, the world started living the life which was worse than
that of pagans, and the Church came to approve of it. Moreover, it claimed that
such life was what the teaching of Christ consists in”.
Polyana, March, 1909
Russian woman who married the Muslim E. Vekilov, wrote to Tolstoy that her sons
wanted to convert to Islam, and asked for his advice. This is what the writer
far as the preference of Mohammedanism to Orthodoxy is concerned…, I can fully
sympathize with such conversion. To say this might be strange for me who values
the Christian ideals and the teaching of Christ in their pure sense more that
anything else, I do not doubt that Islam in its outer form stands higher than
the Orthodox Church. Therefore, if a person is given only two choices: to adhere
to the Orthodox Church or Islam, any sensible person will not hesitate about his
choice, and anyone will prefer Islam with its acceptance of one tenet, single
God and His Prophet instead such complex and incomprehensible things in theology
as the Trinity, redemption,
sacraments, the saints and their images, and complicated services…”
Polyana, March, 15th, 1909
can adduce another letter of his which explains his world outlook which formed
as a result of his long painful search for the truth.
would be very glad if you were of the same faith with me. Just try to understand
what my life is. Any success in life- wealth, honour, glory- I don’t have
these. My friends, even my family are turning away from me.
liberals and aesthetes- consider me to be mad or weak- minded like Gogol;
others- revolutionaries and radicals- consider me to be a mystic and a man who
talks too much; the officials consider me to be a malicious revolutionary; the
Orthodox consider me to be a devil.
confess that it is hard for me… And therefore, please, regard me as a kind
Mohammedan, and all will be fine”.
Polyana, April, 1884