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British TV History of Islam Sparks Uproar

Published: 02/09/2012 12:18:40 PM GMT
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CAIRO - A new program on British TV about history of Islam has sparked a flood of complains as flawed after drawing a spat of angry comments accusing it of distorting the history of Islam.“Holland appears to have turned a (more)

CAIRO - A new program on British TV about history of Islam has sparked a flood of complains as flawed after drawing a spat of angry comments accusing it of distorting the history of Islam.

“Holland appears to have turned a blind eye to rich Islamic historical tradition,” the Islamic Education and Research Academy said in a lengthy paper denouncing the program, The Daily Mail reported on Sunday, September 2.

Aired on Channel 4, the program “Islam: the Untold Story”, was launched on 28 August.

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In the program, Tom Holland, a historian with a double first from Cambridge, garbed Indiana Jones-style, tricking across the Arabian desert, talking to local Bedouins, and inspecting historical artefacts to investigate the origins of Islam.

He concluded that prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) probably never came from Makkah, claiming the Noble Qur'an makes little or no reference to the holy city.

He even questions whether Islam ever really existed as a distinctive, coherent faith during Muhammad's reign.

A storm of angry tweets also accused Holland of trying to destroy Islamic history while another called him a ‘fool' for suggesting Islam is a ‘made-up religion'.

The program triggered nearly 550 complaints to both the television regulator Ofcom and Channel 4 itself.

Receiving 150 complaints about the program's bias, inaccuracy and offence caused to Muslims, Ofcom is considering an investigation.

This is not the first program on the British TV to stir problems.

Earlier this week, the sitcom “Citizen Khan”, produced by the BBC, divided the sizable British Muslim community, with some hail the series for correcting stereotypes and others accusing the show of ridiculing and insulting Islam.

Citizen Khan, is also being considered for investigation after receiving just 20 complaints.

Proper Evidences

The British writer and historian defended his program saying Islam is a legitimate subject of study.

“The origins of Islam are a legitimate subject of historical inquiry and this film is wholly in keeping with other series and programs on Channel 4,” Holland said.

“We were of course aware that we were touching deeply-held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilizational power of Islam was acknowledged.”

But, The Academy accused him of ignoring clear historical evidences on the origins of Islam, some of which were included in early Christian chronicles in the seventh century.

“Tom Holland's assertion that there is no historical evidence for the seventh century origins of Islam is historically inaccurate,” the Academy said.

“This notion cannot be sustained in light of the contemporary non-Islamic as well as material evidence.

“Holland's presentation was clearly biased in the program, as he ignored other scholarly views that would call his approach into question,” it added.

Britain is home to a Muslim community of 2.5 million.

A recent government-commissioned study has found that a torrent of negative and imbalance stories in the British media demonize the sizable Muslim minority and their faith by spreading prejudices and portraying them as the enemy within.

An earlier British study had accused the media and film industry of perpetuating Islamophobia and prejudice by projecting Muslims as violent, dangerous and threatening people.

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