A few days ago Channel 4 broadcast historian Tom Holland’s documentary Islam: The Untold Story (watch it here on 4oD), which was a respectful look at the origins of the religion to determine if it arrived fully-formed or developed over time. Without ruining it for you, Holland’s conclusion is that it evolved (ironically, think about it) over time.

Personally, I think the best argument is that of science vs. all theism a la Richard Dawkins, as even if there were no holes in the historicity of Islam it doesn’t automatically equate to its being correct, but as a historical look is something rare it was fairly interesting. Understandably, the programme drew quite a few complaints but I don’t think there’s really anything in it that could really be classed as inflammatory; Holland for instance is clearly not an Islamophobe.

Some of the criticisms the programme drew were bizarre such as why there seemed to be an Israeli and other western scholars featured, but tell me, if you were to make a documentary on the flaws of the Tory party you would go to Labour, wouldn’t you? Muslim scholars aren’t going to criticise the religion because they buy the historicity and logic, but they would be fascinating to talk to about why Judaism and Christianity would be wrong, so I think it was fair. Want an anti-atheist documentary? Call up scholars of all 3 Abrahamic faiths.

The other grievous implication is that for Islam to be correct it requires large parts of the Torah and Bible to be true. While the Koran is seen as an addressing of the corruption of those holy books, given that some text is virtually similar, if Judaism and Christianity are entirely wrong, the Koran can’t survive either.

I think it was brave of Tom Holland to make a documentary and hopefully there will be more respectful analyses of Islam. If you’re comfortable with your religion you really have nothing to fear. Holland didn’t attack culture or even drill in evolutionary theory, he just said look, there’s holes; we don’t know if the first Arab invaders even called themselves Muslims.