It is interesting that Robert Spencer is featured in this, but I wonder if the editing of him left his views intact. This should be interesting in any case. I wonder what Iran plans. Maybe they will hang a few more of their own minorities, gay people and journalists.
Last updated at 8:57 PM on 7th July 2011
The Life of Muhammad will be presented by journalist Rageh Omaar
The BBC is courting controversy with its plans to broadcast a documentary series about Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Three-part series The Life of Muhammad has already been blasted by officials in Iran, who claim the country will take ‘serious action’ if it is screened.
The Iranian minister of cultural and Islamic guidance, Mohammad Hosseini, who has yet to watch any of the series, has branded the film an attempt by the ‘enemy’ to ‘ruin Muslims’ sanctity’.
‘The BBC’s decision to make a documentary on the life of [the] prophet Muhammad seems dubious and if our suspicions are proved to be correct, we will certainly take serious action,’ he told Iran’s Fars news agency.
The documentary, to be broadcast in mid-July, just ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in August, will see journalist and TV presenter Rageh Omaar travel to the place of Muhammad’s birth, Mecca, to re-trace the footsteps of the prophet.
However, the series will feature no visual images of Muhammad in a bid not to offend Muslims, whose religion forbids depiction of the prophet.
Instead, a spoken description of Muhammad will be given, making this the first biographical documentary not to feature visual images of the subject.
The documentary will include three episodes, an hour each, on BBC 2.
The film tells the ‘extraordinary story of a man who, in little more than 20 years, changed the world forever’, according to the blurb.
Part of the filming takes place in holy cities Mecca and Medina where non-Muslims are banned from entering.
Sacred: Part of the documentary is filmed in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina where non-Muslims are banned from entering
The first episode looks at the circumstances and society that Muhammad was born into, according to Riazat Butt from the Guardian.
She said that the film follows Muhammad’s childhood and early years when he is orphaned and looked after by his uncle.
THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD
Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten caused outraged among Muslims when it published cartoons of Muhammad in September 2005.
Muslim groups held protests against the printing of the prophet but the unrest spread when 50 publications around the world used the same images.
The devout religious followers believe in Muhammad’s sanctity as a messenger from god.
The Koran condemns pictorial forms of the prophet as idol worship.
The ‘201’ episode of South Park featured a group of angry residents demanding that Muhammad be produced.
The episode alludes to Comedy Central’s refusal to show pictures of Muhammad following controversies about cartoons in newspapers.
Muslims complained about the show and the resulting broadcast was censored with all the Muslim images obscured and all references to Muhammad bleeped.
A third controversy began in 2007 when Swedish artist Lars Vilks depicted the Islamic prophet as a roundabout dog.
Galleries refused to show the art but one newspaper did publish the work.
‘The documentary does not shy away from contention but doesn’t immerse itself in the details either,’ said Ms Butt, who saw a screening attended by Muslim Mr Omaar in London today.
‘The programme also addresses the issue of the satanic verses, not just the apocalyptic fall-out from the Rushdie book but the incident where a supposedly divine revelation – acknowledging pagan gods – was later withdrawn because it was designed as a test.’
She said that as an opening episode it’s fairly heavy going if you’re new to the finer points of Islamic theology or Islam.
‘But it’s well filmed, has plenty of access to the relevant sites and has a diverse line-up of talking heads – [authors] Karen Armstrong, Tariq Ramadan, Robert Spencer, Michael Nazir-Ali and Tom Holland,’ she added.
The documentary-makers claims the film will raise questions about Islam’s role in the world today and explore ‘where Islam’s attitudes towards money, charity, women, social equality, religious tolerance, war and conflict originate’.
Mr Omaar, the Middle Eastern correspondent for Al Jazeera English, said: ‘I am extremely pleased to be presenting this exciting and groundbreaking series.
‘The details of Muhammad’s life really are little known, and I hope that my series will – for many – shine a light on the very beginning of Islam, taking viewers to the heart of this faith, illustrating just how Muhammad’s life and legacy is as important today as it was a over a thousand years ago.’
The show was commissioned by the BBC’s first Muslim head of Religion & Ethics, Aaqil Ahmed.
The BBC said: ‘In line with Islamic tradition, it does not depict any images of the face of Muhammad, or feature any dramatic reconstructions of Muhammad’s life.’