Holland said: “The origins of Islam are a legitimate subject of historical enquiry and…the programme was in keeping with other series on the channel where the historical context of world religions were examined. It is important to stress as we do in the film that this is a historical endeavour and is not a critique of one of the major monotheistic religions.”
However, as the author of another book on the historical development of Islam that challenges the canonical account, as well as other books that lay out honestly and accurately the texts and teachings of Islam, I can testify that any discussion of Islam that is not full of fulsome praise and distortions about the violent and supremacists texts and teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah will inevitably meet with accusations of “bias” and “hate.” Those who make such accusations are not neutral observers, but combatants in an ideological war, bent on discrediting and marginalizing those whom they perceive to be the “enemies of Islam” by tarring them with the taint of bias and bigotry. Such accusations are, in other words, just tactics, weapons of war, not honest analysis.
“Islam TV show triggers deluge of Ofcom complaints,” by Ben Quinn in the Guardian, September 2 (thanks to Daniel):
The British historian behind a Channel 4 history of Islam has defended the programme after it triggered hundreds of complaints to the broadcaster and the television regulator Ofcom, which led to him being accused of distorting the history of the religion.
Islam: The Untold Story was billed by the channel as “an extraordinary detective story” in which historian Tom Holland found himself embroiled in “an underground but seismic debate: the issue of whether, as Muslims have always believed, Islam was born fully formed in all its fundamentals, or else evolved gradually, over many years”.
But after it was broadcast on 28 July, Holland found himself on the receiving end of a torrent of criticism on Twitter and a lengthy critique by the Islam Research and Education Academy (IREA), which accused him of making “baseless assumptions” and engaging in “elective Scholarship”.
“Tom Holland’s assertion that there is no historical evidence for the seventh-century origins of Islam is historically inaccurate,” the IREA said, alleging that his presentation was “clearly biased” and that he ignored the work of key scholars.
In a response issued by Channel 4, Holland said: “The origins of Islam are a legitimate subject of historical enquiry and that the programme was in keeping with other series on the channel where the historical context of world religions were examined.
“It is important to stress as we do in the film that this is a historical endeavour and is not a critique of one of the major monotheistic religions,” he added.
The historian, a non-Muslim, went on: “An accusation laid against the film is one of bias and, although I believe that absolute objectivity is a chimera, what was incumbent upon us, in making the film, was to be upfront about my own ideological background and presumptions, and to acknowledge the very different perspective that Muslim faith provides.”
Holland continued to field criticism on Twitter, where one user tweeted: “This fool Tom Holland who made this programme also created a book about Islam saying it was a religion made up by people over the years.”
However, where there was also support. Dan Snow, who has hosted historical documentaries for the BBC and other channels, tweeted: “Dear angry mad people on twitter, it is conceivable that you know more than @holland_tom & the world’s leading scholars, but very unlikely”.