The Koran: The History Channel needs salt
Recently, The History Channel aired a two-part series to explain the Koran to non-Muslims. Unfortunately, the producers must have been intimidated by the violence inflicted on those who published a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a turban in the shape of a ballistic missile. So, a few grains of salt would help.
Born in Mecca in 570 A.D, Muhammad, like most Bedouins, could neither read nor write. So, what he knew of history, he learned by ear. At age 40, Muhammad said he had been called by God (Allah) to be His prophet, to memorize what Allah told him, and to tell Allah’s sayings to others. Between age 40 and his death at age 62, Muhammad provided his growing number of followers with the 114 chapters that comprise the Koran. Just when the Koran appeared in written Arabic is unclear; however, it was long after the death of Muhammad in 632. A.D.
Because the Hebrew Scriptures preceded Muhammad by thousands of years and because Christ was crucified 570 years before his birth, Muhammad, like most of his people, was well aware of and admired Biblical figures such as Abraham, Moses, David and even Jesus. For example, the Koran contains 100 mentions of Moses and 25 mentions of Jesus.
But when Muhammad preached monotheism in Mecca, a town that made its money selling religious polytheist idols, Muhammad and his followers were expelled to Medina. Muhammad got even by robbing the caravans going in and out of Mecca.
The TV series made the Koran sound like the Boy Scouts Creed while glossing over the parts about killing all non-believers. It even glossed over the Koran’s relegation of women to a servile position just below the beasts of the field.
The subjugation of women is odd because Muhammad, orphaned at age six, would probably have been sold as a slave but for a rich uncle and due to Muhammad’s marriage to a very wealthy widow. Without that woman’s generosity, he might never have survived to found Islam. Still, the harshness of his initial circumstances may explain why the Koran is so long on killing and revenge and so short on love and forgiveness.
The series gave a favorable spin to the notion that Islam has a valid claim to Jerusalem when, in fact, Muhammad never set earthly foot in Jerusalem. According to Koran (17:1), Muhammad had a dream during which he was transported on a winged donkey to Jerusalem where he prayed alongside Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
Following their joint prayers, Muhammad dreamt he was taken up into Paradise. That single verse in the Koran is the sole basis for the Muslim claim that Jerusalem is sacred to Islam because Muhammad “ascended” from the Dome of the Rock into Paradise. The number of Jews, Christians and Muslims who have died and continue to die because of Muhammad’s “dream” boggles the mind.
After the death of Muhammad, his lieutenants went on the warpath. A color graphic depicted Islam radiating out of Mecca and Medina to conquer not only Jerusalem and the ancient lands of the Jews, but all of the lands between eastern India and the southern border of France. Forced conversion to Islam was barely mentioned.
No mention was made of the Battle of Tours when, in 723 A.D., the Christians of France had to repel an all-out Muslim assault. Also glossed over was the forcible conquest of the Byzantine Christians in Constantinople. No mention was made of the Muslim Turks’ unsuccessful Siege of Vienna in 1529.
The Turks’ unsuccessful assault of Vienna in 1683 made the cut; however, no comments were made that the Turk’s approach marches from former Constantinople to Vienna in 1529 and in 1683 wiped out virtually every human being in their path. No mention was made that the Turks fought on the side of Hitler during World War II.
Is the series worth watching? Yes, but make that a big box of salt.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2006. William Hamilton.