BBC ‘Life of Mohammed’ Observations Part 2

Muslims praying around Kaaba, the most sacred ...
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My last ‘review’ was very badly done. Let’s hope this is a bit better.

Part 2 of the series deals with several hugely significant events. I don’t say I understand them but it is what Muslims believe. Rageh is unashamedly open about the fact he is a Muslim and I respect that. He is seen at prayer and he’s obviously wide-eyed at where he finds himself and from his perspective probably feels a great sense of privilege.

This program has Robert Spencer on a bit more than Part 1 so the program is trying to address the difficulties and differences found within Islam. It’s not a complete whitewash. But again it is – I think – a charm offensive. For your info Robert Spencer has a blog called Jihad watch.

The first significant event I’ll consider is where Mohammed flees to Medina (originally named Yathrib).  So significant an event that it’s from this date that Muslims begin their calendar. His native tribe is after him for preaching one God, the Quraysh relying on trade resulting from the worship of many Gods at the Kaaba in Mecca. His journey (Hijra)to Medina broke the ties of customary loyalty to tribalism and therefore the new religion of Islam, to put it in 21st century language, became global. It was no longer tied to a local community but was open to all. The people at Medina – not without some problems – pretty much all converted to Islam with Mohammed as their prophet.

Significance of Hijra

I may have missed it but the significance of this event for today and for non-Muslims was not discussed. Here’s why. Sam Solomon (converted ex-Muslim Jurist) & E Al Maqdisi have written a book (2008) called ‘Al-Hijra: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration’. This doctrine has a terrible relevance given the massacre in Norway. But it is an Islamic doctrine nonetheless. Mohammed’s original migration is used as a model today for how – to put no finer point on it – to take over non-Muslim societies. A couple of quotations from their book sets the context.

The Hijra was enshrined by Muhammed from the outset within Islam as the ‘Doctrine of Immigration’, or the ‘peaceful’ means of extending the Islamic political state garbed and girded in religious terminology. Hijra and military conquest are two components of Islamic expansion.

So today as we see staggering numbers of immigrants from Muslim countries in Europe and in the Americas, with developing Muslim communities that are self-segregating and asking for more and more rights and privileges to the point of the recent adoption of Shariah Family Law in the United Kingdom – we have to ask questions as in the title of this book, “Are these communities wanting to join the free societies? Or, are they extending the ‘Abode of Islam’ as per the ‘Doctrine of Immigration’ which was modelled by Muhammad in the initial Hijra?”

I think we can see why the Al-Hijra doctrine was not mentioned. In the program Karen Armstrong said Mohammed was not just a ‘spiritual genius’ but also a political genius of the ‘highest order’.

The Night-time Journey

The second significant event to consider is Mohammed’s ‘night-time journey’. This event involved an apparent – and here there is disagreement within Islam – instantaneous journey to Jerusalem. Some Muslims believe it was spiritual and physical, others that it was purely spiritual (theological), that is Mohammed never actually went to Jerusalem. Whether physical or not it’s significance is massive. Mohammed arrives at Jerusalem and is taken up into heaven and spoken to by of Allah where he meets all the previous prophets Abraham, Moses etc including Jesus and leads them all in prayer. This is, so Muslims believe, confirmation and acceptance that Mohammed is the last of the prophets. And, that Islam is linked to both Judaism and Christianity. I need to just point out here that the Bible very clearly says in the book of Hebrews Chapter 1 (New Testament):

Heb 1:1  Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Heb 1:3  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Heb 1:4  having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

The significance of this journey to Jerusalem is seen regularly on the TV news channels. What’s all the trouble about in the Middle East. Here it is. Jerusalem as far as Muslims are concerned belongs to them. So there can never ever be peace, until Jerusalem and I’m assuming all Israel is either wiped off the face of the earth or becomes an Islamic State in practice not just in theory. I hope I have understood this correctly – please tell me if this is not so. This is heady stuff.

I intended on looking at the various massacres. I’ll leave it at this and deal with it in a separate post – Part 2A.

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.