BBC ‘Life of Mohammed’ Observations Part 1

The first thing to say upfront is this review (more a set of observations) and this reviewer is biased. I cannot undo what I am. I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. It is impossible for me to be neutral. I can of course seek to be objective, but I can only see it through my eyes as it were – through my world-view glasses. What I can be, or aim to be, however, is fair. With these parameters in mind, let’s get to it. Just one other thing – I’m not an expert on Islam, I will not pretend to be one.

In terms of its production the program is well made and well presented. Rageh Omaar does a good job. He’s obviously biased but then we know that. That’s better than someone like Jeremy Bowen presenting who thinks he’s being objective. So far as I can tell the facts about Mohammed – those presented anyway – seem to be accurate. Mohammed was born in 570, orphaned at 6 (his father having died before his birth) and was apparently described at age 21 as the Truthful One. Though Mohammed was illiterate we should not get the idea he was unintelligent. He was clearly a powerful personality, very intelligent and extremely persuasive. In the year 610 he had the first of a series of spiritual encounters. He thinks he’s going mad but his wife seems to know better and assures him it’s real. How she knows this we are not told. So the whole system of Islam as it became known is because his wife told him it was true.

Omaar up front directly compares Mohammed to Jesus by saying Mohammed was just a man. Unlike Jesus he was not the Son of God, did no miracles and did not rise from the dead. One other very important detail that Rageh leaves out is that Jesus is sinless, Mohammed is not. The Mosques have no images of Allah or Mohammed unlike the Christian Churches. There was a controversy in the 4th Century concerning images (to break out again later) within the Churches over the use of images but by the time of Mohamed they were widely used so maybe this in some way influenced his views. I guess it would have been from his perspective quite a counter-cultural thing to do. And in my opinion he was right.

We were told there are extensive written sources in The Hadith and The Koran. Scholars had to sift through thousands of sayings to arrive at an authoritative Hadith text. One Islamic scholar tells us these memories are preserved through history. One external source is provided concerning Mohammed, writing ‘only’ 24 years after his death about Mohammed giving laws. So, there is we were told, a large body of detailed facts.

We were told very little about any Christian influences. There were many doctrines that by the time of Mohammed were settled orthodoxy – the person of Christ and the Trinity for example. This does not mean there were no errors and it seems Mohammed took as orthodox teaching on the person of Christ and the Trinity when they were actually nothing of the sort. For someone who claimed to have direct revelations from God (Allah) to know this seems to me a serious flaw. Didn’t Allah guide His prophet into all truth – clearly not.

Nowhere are we told whether Rageh Omaar or anyone else on the program or anyone else period supports Sharia Law. This is I think, very important. For this reason: There is no separation between Islam and the State. What we have been treated to is a very subtle charm offensive. The program will be hailed a BBC first and an un-qualified success. Iran might get a bit upset – but then they have to make the right noises. As an aside a Muslim I work with (a really nice guy) has only seen clips of it but ‘couldn’t trust the media’ anyway. He didn’t seem interested or felt it not worthwhile watching. He confessed his lack of knowledge about the history of his own faith. But then many Christians exhibit a similar lack of historical interest.

I love the way language is used to covertly undermine the Christian message. I mean it’s very simple really – there are only two options. Option 1, either Islam or Christianity is true, there can only be one. Or, option 2, neither of them is true. If it is option 2, we should all find something better to do with our lives. But if it’s option 1; we need to think about which one is true. That’s not being Islamophobic that’s being a seeker after truth.

There are quite a few things unsaid and unanswered – so far. Maybe they will come up later. We’ll come back to this. So far I have watched the first episode (of three). I’m just going to watch episode 2. I’ll maybe come back and edit this post.

Also see Part 2.

11 thoughts on “BBC ‘Life of Mohammed’ Observations Part 1

  1. hi, being honest i have not read all your comment cos i am only trying to manage my break time at work. i really like the way you started it though
    anyways i am muslim, i only can see it throuhg my eyes
    the whole islam was never based on Mohamed’s (SAAWS) wife thoughts
    what happened there was just to tell how wifes support their husbands ups and downs which is for me a normal attitude for a normal couple, i think that you have given this point more important then what it deserves
    rather than focusing on the process of islam itself or what Mohamed said and try analysis to find the truth cos for us muslim every single world from our prophet is true, will be curious to find out if what we believe is scientificaly right as well

    1. Hi Amine, but if my world-view were wrong (my vision is impaired) I’d have to get a new pair of glasses – a new world-view. A view more aligned with reality. Only the Christian world-view does this. As a seeker for truth this is something you must consider.

  2. Hi,

    Why Khadijah belived that Muhammed was a messenger is becase she was his wife, and a women will know when her husband is a truthful man, and here is the Hadith in Sahih Albukhari describing why she beleived him.

    from “Sahih Al bukhari” Volume 1, Book 1, Number 3:

    Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadija replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your Kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.”

    Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal bin Asad bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzza, who, during the PreIslamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” Allah’s Apostle described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same one who keeps the secrets (angel Gabriel) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Apostle asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while.

  3. sorry I cannot comment on “So the whole system of Islam as it became known is because his wife told him it was true” because it’s so ridiculous that its beyond my brain function.

    And for Christianity, Are you speaking about the Christianity of Jesus or about the one hijacked by king Constantine to unify his kingdom??????

    As history and present time shows, truthful people are Always few, and unfortunately that was the case on the council of Nicea where the vote of the majority choose to divide the one god into three to please the pagans instead of dividing the kingdom.

    and after that Constantine made a law that it’s the only Christianity people will know and the truthful people kept fighting for the truth, and when people thought that the pagans of romans won in hijacking Christianity, Allah sent his messenger Muhammad peace be upon him to revive the message of his brother Jesus.

    May Allah reward both of them for all the hardship they suffered to give his message.

    1. Walid, thanks for your comment. But once again Muslims just cannot or will not or are not allowed to get the doctrine of the Trinity right. The idea that One God was divided into three is complete nonsense. This is NOT what orthodox Christian doctrine teaches. Read about it for yourself in The Athanasian Creed.

      Read it at the end of this blog post:

      As for the approval of Mohammed’s wife – I’m only commenting on what Rageh Omaah said in the program. But Touché – I should read about it for myself.

      1. Sorry for my mistake for saying that they divided god into three.

        My mathematics teacher at primary school was not good,

        she thought us that 3= 1+2 or 1+1+1

        she never told us that 1 = 3

        I will study mathematics again and maybe I will understand Trinity right.

      2. Walid, Did you read The Athanasian Creed – no, didn’t think so. The doctrine of the the Trinity is difficult to understand – incomprehensible even, but not unreasonable. You’ll need to spend a bit of time reading up on it and thinking about it instead of trying to be smart. My main point is that the Koran completely misrepresents (wrong actually) what the Church has taught as orthodoxy. But then, you probably don’t really want to know anyway.

        Incidentally I came across a website that quotes extensively from Muslim writings about the wife of Mohammed and it seems I was correct. I’ll link to it in another post.

      3. You says “Trinity is difficult to understand – incomprehensible even”

        I consider myself to be educated and its hard for me to understand that 3 = 1

        The wold is full of non Educated people, like some farmers in villages that never gone to school.

        Do you think that Allah the merciful will send for them a very complicated message like that. and ask them to beleive in it even without having the ability to understand it?????

        Its human that always make things complicated, because some people want religion just for the elite, to keep making money from religion, and the rest need them to understand.

        The Message that jesus came with is very very simple and everyone can understand, wether he gone to school or not

        “The Lord is one, The one that send me to you, to give you this message, Worship him alone, Love others, Be good with them, and you will be rewarded paradise”

        You see how easy is the message.

        [5:117] And when Allah will say, “O Jesus, son of Mary, didst thou say to men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?’”, he will answer, “Holy art Thou. I could never say that to which I had no right. If I had said it, Thou wouldst have surely known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. It is only Thou Who art the Knower of hidden things.

        5:118] “I said nothing to them except that which Thou didst command me — ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them; and Thou art Witness over all things.

        [5:119] “If Thou punish them, they are Thy servants; and if Thou forgive them, Thou surely art the Mighty, the Wise.”

        [5:120] Allah will say, ‘This is a day when only the truthful shall profit by their truthfulness. For them are Gardens beneath which streams flow; therein shall they abide for ever. Allah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him; that indeed is the great triumph.’

  4. Walid, if you are going to quote me at least have the courtesy to get it right. I said: ‘the Trinity is difficult to understand – incomprehensible even, but not unreasonable.’ The doctrine of the Trinity is not illogical as you suggest.

    I am in the process of preparing a post on the Trinity so perhaps you can come back then as we seem to have reached an impasse.

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