Saturday 6 August 2011

More on BBC2's The Life of Muhammad

A while ago I posted about Rageh Omaar's TV series The Life of Muhammad (and talked briefly about it on the Skepticule Extra podcast). My skepticism about Muhammad's revelations — and about his "Night Journey" as well as other aspects of Islam — provoked a series of comments from a user by the name of Walid, who essentially claimed that it was true because the Prophet said so. I did try to elicit some valid evidence for this claim, but to no avail.

Some days later Stuart Parsons responded to my post with a condemnation of the TV series, and to rescue his comment from the depths of Walid's justification attempts I reproduce it here:
As someone who has made a seious study of the Islamic religion, I can assure you that the BBC2 'Life of Muhammad ' series was a travesty. It was more noteworthy for what it chose to conceal about the life of Muhammad than what is was prepared to reveal.

Islam's own sources, the Quran, Sunnah and sirahs of Ishaq, Tabari and Kathir, reveal a very different life of Muhammad than that disingenuously presented to us by the BBC Head of Religious Broadcasting, Mr Aaqil Ahmed. We certainly were not told that the Quran and many hadiths call for ongoing holy war against ALL non-Muslims, until the religion is for Allah alone throughout the entire world. Instead it was mendaciously explained that Jihad is the struggle of individual Muslims to lead a good life. According to many Quran verses and numerous ahadith a Muslim is leading a good life if he is killing non-Muslims, forcibly converting them to Islam or subjugating them as inferiors under Muslim control. 
This does appear to be a damning indictment of Rageh Omaar's programme, and incidentally of Islam in general. To be fair though, I noticed a good deal of "equivocation by stealth" in the programme, with many hints of "interpretation" of scripture and much use of the phrase "according to Muslim tradition". Often these phrases slip by unnoticed, but they serve the same purpose as judicious use of "allegedly" when saying something that could be judged defamatory in a court of law.

And if we were in a court of law, could we say that the jury's still out?