I just saw the Channel 4 program ‘Islam: the untold story’ by author Tom Holland. I found it very amusing, he tried to come up with a alternative explanation for Islam (presumably the ‘untold story’) and admitted failure (along with arch orientalist, Patricia Crone).
To boil it down, the programs logic went like this:
1.Tom doesn’t want to believe Islam came from super-natural causes, because history ‘must have materialistic explanations’.
2. Tom proposes that the 8th Century ‘Arab empire’ invented the background story of the Quran and Muhammed (saw) in order to justify the divine right of the Arab leader to be obeyed (which is funny, considering how Islam goes into more detail regarding morals, manners, rituals and dua – a little long winded for an Arab emperor who justs wants people to obey him!)
3. Islamic sources say that the Quran first was revealed in Mecca
4. Tom notices the Author of the Quran seems to talk about a great deal about different geographical places, times and histories – therefore Tom feels it ‘could’ have actually originated from different geographic locations and different communities (like syria?!), and allegedly, Muhammed (saw) was invented to play the role of the revealer of it, much later on.
5. Tom admits that the theory does not fit well, because it does not explain how the Quran was produced and compiled from all these different sources, into one book, and how this book was then disseminated to the masses of ‘Arabs’ of whom were meant to have already been fighting for it, and memorised it. The Quran seems to point to one origin, and Muhammed (saw) and the Quran seemed to originate together, from the same time and location (an isolated place in a desolate location i.e. Mecca). Tom admits he is confused (well Tom, I’m glad I didn’t have to say it first…)
6. Tom then suggests that it is because Mecca is so isolated, it could have been why it was deliberately chosen by the ‘Arab empire’ in the first place as the perfect alibi for its cover story – because Mecca is isolated from the world!
In essence, Tom says its hard to know anything about Islam for sure, because it came from an Isolated place (i.e mecca). Of course, he then suggests, that this was EXACTLY why Mecca was chosen to be the claimed origin of Islam in the first place! This is called circular reasoning, and is a poor argument. Its like me saying that the Queen of England is a shape-shifting Alien Lizard . If you tell me “but she looks human”, I will say, EXACTLY, it is BECAUSE she looks human, that she must actually be a shape shifting alien lizard – as surely an alien would want to look human to blend into human society unnoticed!
They should have renamed the program: Tom’s flight of Fantasy: The untold story”
What next from Tom Holland? Was Jesus an invention of the Roman Empire, to justify why Roman emperors should be obeyed by the people too?!