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Adnane Ben.
Boston USA
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PBS and Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet
12:00:00 AM Saturday Dec 21, 2002

I watched the last 2/3 of the film Muhammed: Legacy of A Prophet, on PBS.
First, it is a short film given the rich life of the prophet and the events of his time. So don't expect any great detail. I think they did a nice job at presenting a summary about the birth of Islam. After that, they emphasized on a few things, that are probably on every western mind who is not very familliar with Islam, and especially after 9/11:

1. Role of prophet Mohammed: God messenger, social leader, military leader, human like all of us.
2. Islam spread by the sword ?
4. Muslims and Jews: hostility or love.
5. Polygamy
6. Moslims in USA
7. Beyond 9/11

I will try to summarize what the documentary talked about, including my own comments from time to time. I wish to open a good discussion about this documentary.

The documentary walked through the stages in Prophet Mohammed's life starting with his normal role in society, and how highly respected he was, remembering his trustworthy and truthfull character. Then, a messenger to himself, and to his immediate familly, then to society. Emphasizing how he didn't become a military leader yet, and that his initial message wasn't by the sword. Even when he was rejected by his tribe, he ordered his followers to move to a safer place while he remained among his tribe making his last attempts to bring them to their senses. Having failed miserably, he got very depressed and bothered. God decided to ease up his pain and took him on terrestrial trip to Jerusalem, then on a cosmo trip to the seven heavens. Next, and powered by stronger belief and confidence, he decides to join his followers in Medina. Now in Medina that's an interesting fragment of the documentary because it handled a sensitive issue.

There were several tribes living in Medina, and among them were jewish tribes. All tribes were fighting. The prophet, known to the people for his excellent negotiation skills, was asked to find a resolution. He started spelling the first portion of the resolution that marked, at least for me, the genius of him. That marked the start of Mohammed role as a social leader. Instead of asking them to stop fighting, he asked them to make a promise to at least fight together as one if agressors attacked their land. You could argue that probably he was working out a plan bcause he knew his mad tribe he left behind is coming after him and his followers. Maybe that is one of the controvercies. Later on when Medina was indeed attacked by a majestic army made up of Prophet Mohammed ancestor tribe and other recruited tribes. Medina won, and that marked the new role of Mohammed as a military leader. At the end of the war, one of the jewish tribes went out of the way and fought aside with the enemy. Mohammed asked the other tribes what they want to do with them, the tribes decided to kill all men of the jewish tribe. Mohammed didn't disagree, and all jewish men were killed.

That creates one of the controversies in the documentary. Did people act from hatred towards the jewish people ? the documentary tackled these questions by saying no, the tribes acted because of an agreement they already had. Among the surviving tribes were also another jewish tribe who fought alongside with the Medinis. they would have decided the same for any tribe. Mohammed decided to consult with the people and go with the majority trying to emphasize the importance of Law and the strong coupling between leadership and consulting with the people.

The documentary emphasized how Mohammed introduced rules of war: no killing of nature, animals, women, kids, elderly and food providers. One thing the documentary mentioned about women dancing around corpses of the enemy after Moslims have won a war. I found that weird.. I was uncomfortable.

Throughout the documentary, you see impersonization of prophet Mohammed, that was almost new to me, but I didn't really make a big deal out of it, it is not a problem for me to see a picture of prophet Mohammed. Character, charisma and truth of the message is what I believe in and follow.

The documentary also explains the circumstances that led to Mohammed suggesting polygamy under conditions. There was war, men died, many women were left behind, and polygamy was allowed if the man is to provide for the wives equally. I would think that after the war and if the balance of the number of men and women is reasonable in society, polygamy should be dismissed, and this makes total sense to me. I would probably think hard about the opposite case when society have a ridiculousely unbalanced number of a few men and majority of women.

The documentary focused on the Muslim community in Detroit, and a Muslim familly second generation. the documentary also featured many interleaved interview quotes with Muslims and authorative scholars. With that the documentary tried to make us aware that there exists Muslims in America who are not just immigrants or non-immigrants. They are citizens, and not only that, they are 3rd and 4th generation Muslims who are honest contributing members of the society at all levels, from engineering, to medicine, to academics, to police, to firefighting, to faith centers, to charity. The documentary brings a very important point that America is an excellent environment for the Muslim mind to progress, develop, envision and reach truths it would have been hard to reach in a Muslim country. I totally agree with that.

I would probably need to watch the documentary again because I am sure I missed some subtle points, but the above is my contribution to start the discussion. I found the work innovative in its way to present Mohammed to an audience seeking understanding of Islam after 9/11. I think the documentary still didn't answer the question very well: Is Islam spread by the sword ? Is Islam a follow-me or die religion ?

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5:16 am    April 1, 2003
Anyone from the Muslim or Arabi worlds living in the States and wants to keep his/her integrity and wits should stop watching TV made in the US including PBS. Freedom of expression.My foot!

10:31 am    December 22, 2002

Adnane Ben. message
Someone told me they believe the documentary shouldn't have mentioned the trip of the prophet to jerusalem and to the seven heavens in one single night, and rather should have emphasize on the bio of the prophet only. Here is my reply:

I think the documentary mentioned those two metaphysical trips of the prophet to Jerusalem on top of Buraq (white flying steed) and then to heaven, for probably 3 reasons:

1. To mark how Jerusalem became even more of an important holy site, the prophet that night met all prophets before him there and they prayed together a Moslem prayer reciting Quran.

2. It was the last attempt to show his tribe, after he came back that he is not a joke. That God offered him a trip to Jerusalem that night, a trip that would have taken months to complete. But even after they asked him to describe Jerusalem, and he did, they still decided to get rid of him.

3. It still is part of the prophet biography and important point in his life.

It is hard though to seperate these miracles from the life of the prophet. Anyone who is introduced to religion, should be made aware that there are miracles he will read about, it is up to the person then to choose wether to spend time pondering on the meta-physics or not... a task that can get frustrating. The documentary for example mentioned that in one of the battles Mohammed won, when the number of his fighters waas fewer than the enemy, that it was believed unseen fighters were enabled by God to fight alongside with them... There is still soooooo much metaphysiscs and miracles in Islam that will be hard for even a Moslim to come to grasp with, but given the limited scope of mathematics and physics our brain operates with, I myself don't even bother thinking about those miracles, not that I believe in them, or not, it doesn't make a difference for me. I believe in this religion not because of its miracles, but because of the non- metaphysical parts, these parts affect my life and my behaviour.

1:30 am    December 22, 2002
Just like you i watched the last 2/3 thirds of the film. I must say it is a pretty good one.
to answer your questions, I definatly dont think islam is spread by the sword.
I think one of the reasons why islam is misunderstood and misused a lot is because we ( as muslims) dont go around promoting it.
we dont go around preaching and recruting people, explaining what islam is and how they would be better off if they convert, like other religions do. we are muslims in our hearts. we try our best to follow our religion and go on with our lives. Of course if a person is to ask about Islam, muslims would gladly take the time to explain what Islam is and answer any questions that person might have.
so here we are minding our own business when a "fanatic" goes around killing people ... ect.. in the name of islam. not many people care to go back and learn about our religion, they all believe muslims are crazy killers...
the film prortrayed muslims and christians and jews living together in community going about their daily chores. the same way the Prophet (pbuh) asked his followers to build a community with the other tribes when they moved to Medina. like you said " Instead of asking them to stop fighting, he asked them to make a promise to at least fight together as one if agressors attacked their land"
the documentary went back and forth between relating the Prophet's life (pbuh) and behavior and the way they are still followed by muslims nowadays.
I liked the film because it did not come from muslims, it was funded and made by non muslims. peple who lived with muslims and had dealings with them on a daily basis and saw the urge to shed the light on what i would call the " real Islam".



12:27 am    December 22, 2002
assahbi Al moudir .. we know our prophet (saw) than any body else .. I don t know really what r you looking for Adnane.. Ranmadan is over, la fete AL ADHA IS STILL FAR AWAY.. WHAT'S THE OCCASION ARE YOU WORKING FOR fbi..cia or moussad otherwise for dst dialna.ha you can t cover all the topics.. religious, funny, and scientists.. I think You have to make a choice either you take care of you own business or split responsibilities inside your website team so we can deal with you seperately.. you remind me of the moroccan system man.. you want to take care of every f.. single things which is not possible.



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