Recently we've also had Muhammad mythicism, disreputably presented on Unbelievable? with mythicist Robert Spencer clashing noisily with Adnan Rashid. And in the past week Channel 4 has shown Tom Holland's TV documentary Islam: The Untold Story.
Muhammad, neither contemporary nor for the subsequent century. Yet Islam claims to be true on the basis of the Qur'an — allegedly written by the Prophet, to whom the word of Allah was personally revealed. Holland is not a believer, and his approach has a different focus from that of Rageh Omaar's BBC2 documentary The Life of Muhammad (which itself drew some critical comments when I blogged about it).
Holland's documentary is available to view online:
(and incidentally will be re-broadcast on 4seven this coming Monday morning (audio described) at 02:05 BST, or alternatively it's available on YouTube — see below)
The film's controversial conclusion was bound to draw criticism from the faithful, and Holland has responded on the Channel 4 website:
He defends his approach in this paragraph:
It is important to stress as we do in the film that this is a historical endeavour and is not a critique of one of the major monotheistic religions. It was commissioned as part of Channel 4's remit to support and stimulate well-informed debate on a wide range of issues, by providing access to information and views from around the world and by challenging established views.
The documentary is currently available on YouTube in its entirety, so judge for yourself: