Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Islam: The Untold Story," by Tom Holland

While Muslims generally accept the stories contained in sources that come centuries after Muhammad's death (e.g. Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, etc.), scholars are more critical. Most scholars tend to apply historical principles to the earliest Muslim sources, attempting to sift through weaker material in order to arrive at true claims about Muhammad. However, a growing number of historians are becoming far more skeptical, claiming that we know little or nothing about Muhammad.

In "Islam: The Untold Story," historian Tom Holland presents what we might call the "Skeptical Thesis." He rejects almost all of the standard Islamic account of Muhammad's life, concluding that stories about Islam's prophet were manufactured for a purpose other than accurate history.


andy bell said...

I think he has a point. It wasn't a literate culture and many of those things could have been fabricated.

It's not unreasonable to think there was a muhammad. I'm sure he existed and did the things he did. As for whether or not it was due to a calling from God.....

that's the real problem. As a non-theist, I ask the same questions about the jesus story also.

Zack_Tiang said...

I've watched this long ago. It is a good documentary. Tom Holland presented himself very nicely and seemed very considerate of the Muslim beliefs...

But, it doesn't stop Muslims from calling this Islamophobic or a pack of lies, etc and even banning this.. which I believe was the case long ago (hence I went and searched and watched the video).

hugh watt said...

Here's more of what Tom Holland had to say:

Tom Holland's Islam film: the scholar versus the booby

"‘Tom Holland asks his questions with sincerity, sympathy, and intellectual integrity. Isn't the legitimate academic study of history driven by this kind of honest questioning?’"

Here's a post from the comments section.

"I am sure Dr. Tom Holland shall neither be pampered by the ‘Crusaders’ nor intimidated by the ‘Jihadists’ in his quest for the origins of Islam though being met with such acclamation from one camp and condemnation from the other.

‘Tom Holland asks his questions with sincerity, sympathy, and intellectual integrity. Isn't the legitimate academic study of history driven by this kind of honest questioning?’ as Dr. Keith Small has politely pointed out.

In my humble opinion the comments from Syyed Hossin Nasr and the concluding remarks from Tom Holland and Patricia Crone are the high lights of the documentary.

Hossein Nasr: “It’s interesting that the history is very weak in being able to provide causes for certain effects. Not been able to know something is no proof that it doesn’t exist.”
Tom Holland: “It’s an Arab story. Arabs came from the desert. God’s speaking to the Arabs. They don’t want Jews or Christians having any influence on Muhammad. The Koran is in Arabic. The Koran is full of characters from the Bible. But if the book came out of the desert, how did these characters get there?”
Patricia Crone: “We have nothing. We have this one book, out of nothing. We don’t have the key that can unlock the tradition.”
Tom Holland: “But maybe that’s the point. We are not supposed to unlock the tradition. God’s message comes to a prophet, the prophet lives in a desert. There is no room for anyone else. It’s remote.”
Patricia Crone: “It’s remote, it’s uncontaminated, it’s pure. It’s a place where we can rule out that Muhammad got his ideas from others than God.”

Woh Baat Saare Fasane MeiN Jis Ka Zikr Na Tha
Woh Baat Unko Bohat Na Gawaar Guzri Hai

What did not even figure in the tale entire,
To that he has taken very grave offence.
[Faiz Ahmed Faiz]"


hugh watt said...

As a "non-theist" should I take it you're an evolutionist?

"It's not unreasonable to think there was a muhammad. I'm sure he existed and did the things he did."

Like splitting the moon in half with a sword?

JP Prasad said...

@ David Wood

do you have any idea about ‘Sayar-ul-Okul’ treasured in the Makhtab-e-Sultania library in Istanbul, Turkey. ?

Anonymous said...

everyones favourite muslim! well sseems the poms at any rate haha

Anonymous said...

David I hope you and your fellow americans in New york state are faring well after the horrific storm? And that things get back to normal as quickly as possible.

SajidHussain said...

The Jinn And Tonic Show tomorrow will have Tom Holland as a guest - the producer of the Channel 4 documentary "Islam - The untold story" and author of "In the shadow of the sword." It is possible to watch the show live on BlogTV (link on the video) and if you wish you may also call in to the show with Skype.

Unknown said...

for tom holland to find the origin of islam, he should start in the bible. a jouney of 1000miles begins with a step.

Unknown said...

I have read the Koran, and there is nothing new in it. All these revelations are old tales the Jews , Pagans, Christians, Zoroastrian & Romans have in their history. Some Christians did not believe Jesus died on cross that it's just what Mohammed picked up. There are so many book written before Islam the contains
science that would amaze you. If you start to read them you will see some appear in the Koran. The Arabs needed a Prophet and seeing that there were so many different groups of Christians they work hard to create a book the would not contradict each other so they can say its from God Jesus is a creation of Rome Mohammed does not know who the real Christ was false Prophet without a doubt.

Unknown said...

Hi, I am Agnostic who grew up in Muslim culture, please tell me where can I find the information to cross check the historical information advised by Mr. Holland, example, in the part where he finds the 1st coin from "Abdullah Ibn al Zubayr" regime, the Wikipedia have completely different information.
Thank you