Muslims react to Islam Untold Story Documentary aired in Britain

Tom Holland’s documentary ‘Islam the Untold Story’ sparked more than 1200 complaints to Channel 4 in Britain for poor research and biased coverage on the history of Islam.


The AhlulBayt Islamic Mission featured in a Press TV report by Nargess Moballeghi on the controversial Channel 4 documentary ‘Islam: The Untold Story’.

When historian Tom Holland’s documentary Islam: The Untold Story was aired at the end of August it caused an outcry.

Over 1,200 complaints were made, there was fierce criticism online and now Channel 4 has cancelled a repeat broadcast of the program after Holland was threatened. The one hour program questions the origins of Islam in the 7th century, claiming there is no historical evidence of it, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) or Mecca from that time. Holland questions whether Islam even existed in the early years of the Arab conquests or whether it was a creation of what he called “the Arab Empire.”

Many Muslims were angry that the program framed Islam as un-academic, and Muslims as irrational.

Samir Al Haidari, a senior member of the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission, says one of the greatest flaws of the documentary is that it doesn’t consider the orally transmitted history of Islam and as such has ignored Hadith, the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family).

Below is Press TV’s report conducted by Nargess Moballeghi who spoke to British Muslims at an AIM event about the issue.


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  1. I have to agree with the complaint made, the commentator was very cynical and biased.

  2. The British writer Tom Holland’s documentary “Islam: the Untold Story”, aired on 28 August 2012 on Channel 4 is the most nonsensical documentary screened on this channel. Not only the so-called historian was ignorant of the subject, but he was insistent on his ignorance. The motive was to confuse the viewers and insult their intelligence.

    Mr. Holland says in the documentary that his training requires him to question everything. Hence, he questions the validity of the established facts of history accepted by almost seven billion human beings that, Mecca in Arabia is the birth-place of Islam and of the Prophet Muhammad (saww). But his highly biased “research” does not permit him to question a few sceptics who create doubts in historic facts, without presenting a shred of evidence to the contrary. His method of scepticism was tantamount to writing the history of Britain, but denying the existence of London as its Capital, and questioning whether the Queen is the Head of State.

    Mr. Holland made a fool of himself when he joined Muslim congregational prayers and then, walked out half way through, as if to convey a message of how boring he felt to pray the Muslim way. Who would have expected anything better from an individual who was totally disinterested in religion and yet felt quite qualified to write about Islam? The Bedouin actor, who was employed by Mr. Holland to guide him in the course of congregational prayers, for the sake of filming, was no more aware than him about the rules of Muslim prayers.

    He cast doubt whether Ka’ba in Mecca is the oldest sanctuary. But when a lady (God knows who?) takes him towards a location of some scattered stones in a barren desert (God knows where?) and points out that this is the sanctuary showing that people used to pray towards Jerusalem, he accepts her version as a Gospel truth, without casting any doubt. Had he referred to the Quran, whose authenticity he doubts without any evidence, the Quran would have told him that the first direction of prayers for Muslims was Jerusalem.

    Mr. Holland subscribed to the view that Islam had not originated in Mecca and that the Prophet Muhammad (saww) as an entity was non-existent until much later, when the Arab empire had started to spread. So he travelled to Jerusalem (where else?) to trace the origin of Islam! Guess what? He found the evidence. He found a coin which was minted in the time of Abdullah ibn al-Zubair. So he concluded that Abdullah ibn al-Zubair had introduced the entity of the Prophet during the civil war! If the existence of historic personalities is held ransom to finding minted coins in their name, then most of the present rulers are deemed to be non-existent, until Mr. Holland finds coins minted in their names.

    If he was true to his contention that he is trained to question everything, why didn’t he question the scepticism of the sceptics? Just because they said what he wanted to hear? Neither did they operate on any evidence nor did he operate on any credible methodology. There seems to be a new trend of creating a hotchpotch of fiction with guesswork and calling it research when it comes to Islam and Muslims.

  3. I had hoped this broadcast would have entertained at least a historical, theological or philosophical theme which was rational and coherent using a basic academic method: As believers we would find the conclusions insulting, but as intelligent humans, the way those conclusions were reached was naive and unsystematic, with false logic, and inadequate scholarly evidence; I exercised my fundamental free will by deleting the recording I had made, avoiding the adverts, and denying C4 of viewing figures.


    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.

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