BBC makes The Life of Muhammad ‘in line with Islamic tradition’
It is difficult to see how a documentary made ‘in line with Islamic tradition’, commissioned by Aaqil Ahmed (a Muslim), directed by Faris Kermani (a Muslim) and presented by Rageh Omaar (a Muslim) could possibly offend ‘Muslims’ sanctity’. It’s a bit like Goebbels commissioning ‘The Life of Hitler’ and asking Himmler to direct and Göring to present it - such a documentary could hardly offend any Nazis. And is that Sunni Muslim sanctity or Shi’a Muslim sanctity (not to mention Amadhi, Yazidi, Alawai, Druze, Qadiani and Sufi)? The BBC tends to bend over backwards not to offend Muslim sensibilities, and so this documentary will tell the history of Mohammed – from his birth in Mecca, through his quranic revelations, the Hijra to Medina, the rise and spread of Islam through war and conquest, and the return to Mecca – all without depicting any images of the face of Muhammad or featuring dramatic reconstructions of his life (the BBC assures us).
So it’s in line with the iconoclastic Sunni Islamic tradition, then.
And the BBC just can’t resist an anti-Israeli slant by filming on location in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and Jerusalem, when Mohammed never set foot in Israel’s capital city. Sure, he dreamed he did, hence the Al Masjid al Aksa mosque. But that hardly justifies the expense of on-location filming (courtesy of the licence-fee payer). It has a whiff of hagiography about it; a hint of prophetic authentication, historical affirmation and religio-political validation.
Iranian culture minister, Mohammad Hosseini (a Shi’a, who obviously has not seen the programme) has already written a review for the Tehran Times Daily: “What the enemy is trying to do in ruining the Muslims' sanctity is definitely much more than causing us to react and unfortunately, some Islamic countries are not taking this issue seriously. One way to show objections is to express condemnation of the West over their despicable actions."
The reality is that, since Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses led to riots and civil unrest in 1988, just about anything staged, published or screened now tends to be ‘in line with the Islamic tradition’. Despite historic evidence from Islam's own texts, there is not likely to be any objective analysis of Mohammed the warmonger, who tortured, murdered, raped and pillaged. There is not likely to be mention of Mohammed’s betrothal to six-year-old Aisha, for that would provoke the masses to shouts of ‘paedophile’ and doubtless incite religious hatred.
No, the BBC will not question the central tenets and foundational claims of Islam, or cast doubt upon the honour and integrity of Mohammed or impugn his character in any way. For to do so would bring the distant threats of the Iranian culture minister a little closer to home. His Grace will be watching this documentary with interest. It is, he believes, a very good thing that such a programme is being made: the character and era do need a little de-sanctifying, and that must begin somewhere. And if any Muslims don’t like it, they can always switch off or complain through the usual channels.
But what irks His Grace ever so slightly is that he has spent decades watching his fellow Christians, the Holy Bible, the beloved Church, the holiness of God and the Lord Jesus being ridiculed, despised, trashed and spat upon by the BBC, while Allah, Mohammed, Muslims and the Qur’an are ' treated differently’, just as the Corporation's Director General insists they ought to be and somehow merit.