Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Life of Muhammad


I have just watched the second episode of the BBC's "The Life of Muhammad". This episode included the (in)famous episode in the "prophet's" life where he partakes in the slaughter of a whole Jewish tribe after they had surrendered. Rageh Omaar (the presenter) admitted that to modern ears the event seems barbaric; however, (he assured us), by the standards of the time this sort of behaviour was common.

Ah well that's OK then, Muhammad is no worse than any other minor brutal warlord of the time, so we can all rest easy...

The problem is of course that Muhammad isn't just "another" ancient historical figure... like Genghis Khan. Rather he is the one that well over a billion of the world's population revere as the ideal model for humanity for all time. We are not meant to compare Muhammad to other ancient warlords, compared to whom he may well simply be a man of his times. Rather we are meant to compare him to the great religious figures of history, against whom he doesn't stand up at all well. Can anyone imagine Jesus or Buddha being involved in such brutality... not really.

It isn't good enough to excuse Muhammad's brutality as being "of his time", while at the same time holding him up as the final messenger of God, and the perfect model for believers of all time. I'm intrigued to know how the BBC will get around the child bride issue in the next episode...

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