Islam: The Untold Story
In late August Britain’s Channel 4 broadcast a controversial but well-made documentary entitled Islam: The Untold Story. The film is done by British historian Tom Holland who took a great risk by taking on this subject. In the movie, Holland suggests there is no historical evidence that points to the rise of the religion and, despite Muslims believing in the accounts of their faith’s origins as revealed in the Hadiths, there is little evidence of a religion named Islam anywhere in 7th century records.
Tom Holland further points out that Mecca may not have even been the real birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed. The earliest of biographies written about Mohammed were authored 200 years after his death in which they were first transmitted orally. He further states that Islam was developed over time from a single text in which the teachings of Islam grew with the expansion of Muslim conquests. In other words, the religion was made up as Muslims went along.
Religious texts being authored after saviors or prophets die is a constant theme not only in Islam but of other faiths as well. For example, the book of Mark which is the first Gospel of the Christian savior Jesus was authored 20 to 40 years after his death and was transmitted orally until Mark put pen to paper. Buddhism is based on the Pali Cannon which were essays collected about Buddha and his teachings but were not put in print until 50 years after Gautama Buddha passed away. Like the Gospel of Mark and Hadiths of Mohammed at first the Pali writings were transmitted orally as well. This being the case, each of the books’ content could have been altered and the people tasked to commit them to memory could have forgotten or purposely chose to omit certain things when any of the cannons were being inscribed.
Channel 4’s documentary, not surprisingly, was the subject of a huge number of complaints in which the station later cancelled a second screening to be held in September after Tom Holland received death threats communicated to him via Twitter. For a limited time you can watch the movie in it’s entirety here.