Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Editorial on an Islam: Empire of Faith

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Editorial on an Islam: Empire of Faith

    It is amazing to see how negative the american press or perhaps the journalists are to the islamic faith. Even having a documentary show muslims in a positive light is viewed morally wrong by Ms Claudia!.

    her line
    "It is precisely the more extreme practitioners of Islam
    who are the touchiest. Letting them set the agenda runs counter to
    precisely the message PBS is trying to send -- that Islam is at core a
    tolerant faith."

    amazes me as it is the tolerant muslim majority who would not want the Phrophet's face to be shown. She implies that she herself is tolerant by this statement, but then wants to make a documentary about a islam with out considering the feelings of the majority of muslims. That to me sounds like hipocrasy. She would rather blame that on art when there can be a separate documentary about art.

    Another point to note, when talking about current day muslims she mentions Sudan, afganistan and so on but very nicely forgets to mention Palestine or Kashmir (the two biggest issues to most moderate muslims ).
    It really hurts me to see editorials like these from people who call themselves journalists.

    I wonder where the muslim journalists are when we need them to correct potrayals like these!. I cant think of anything right now but I feel there should be a more active way to prevent editorials like this from been repeated!.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Wall Street Journal:

    [WSJ.com]
    May 7, 2001

    TV

    Bowing Down Before
    A Great Religion

    By CLAUDIA ROSETT

    The worthy aim of "Islam: Empire of Faith" -- billed by PBS as the first
    prime-time special on the roots of Islam -- is to show us that, contrary
    to Western cliche, Islam is not a wellhead of terrorist bombers and
    Middle-Eastern mayhem, but one of the world's great and enlightened
    religions, its rich history deeply entwined with the West.

    Okay, I'm ready to learn, and this two-and-a-half-hour program pairs
    scholarly commentary with an enticing, Lawrence of Arabia, big-screen feel.
    Produced and directed by seven-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Rob
    Gardner, narrated by actor Ben Kingsley, featuring assorted experts on
    Islam and filmed in places such as Iran, Syria and Turkey, "Islam: Empire
    of Faith" (tomorrow, 8 to 10:30 p.m. EST) provides a tour of Islamic
    civilization spanning 1,000 years, from the birth of Mohammed circa 570
    A.D. to the death of Suleyman the Magnificent in 1566. "In the unfolding
    of history, Islamic civilization has been one of humanity's grandest
    achievements," intones Mr. Kingsley. But, he adds, "For the West, much of
    the history of Islam has been obscured behind a veil of fear and
    misunderstanding."
    [Photo]

    Unfortunately, Mr. Gardner tears away one veil only to impose another. What
    we get here is uncritical adoration of Islam, more appropriate to a tract
    for true believers than a documentary purporting to give the American
    public a balanced account.

    Veils can, of course, have their charms. Beauty and mystery resonate
    through this show, starting with the opening shot in which the Muslim call
    to prayer echoes across domes and minarets silhouetted against the dawn
    sky of Cairo. There follow many gorgeous, if stock, scenes of camels in
    profile on desert dunes. The costumes, and even the camel adornments, are
    intricate and lovely -- much of this choreographed in cooperation with,
    and under approval of, Hedayat Films of Iran. There are breathtaking
    depictions of what the gardens and fountains of ninth-century Baghdad
    might have looked like, at the city's once-lofty height. There is footage
    of mosques so exquisite, with tiles so blue and domes so dazzling, that no
    one could doubt there is a wondrous heritage here.

    But for all the visual delights, something goes awry in this "television
    event," as PBS, in the breathy hyperbole of network promotions, has labeled
    it. Take, for instance, the recruitment of a narrator with the customary
    British accent to lend authority to the script. Mr. Kingsley's ghostly
    guidance through this TV millennium of Islam kept reminding me of the
    cloying role he once played as Gandhi, who in the 1982 hit movie of that
    name came across not as the genuine man, both great and flawed, but as a
    Hollywood paint-by-numbers saint for Americans who had never ventured too
    close to India.

    Similarly, in "Islam: Empire of Faith," somewhere amid the footage of
    caravans, souks, sun-blasted dunes and re-enacted historic moments, the
    makers overshoot. So eager is Mr. Gardner to depict the bright side of
    this culture that the deeper textures of human experience -- Muslim or
    otherwise -- go missing. This show bears a propaganda stamp akin to those
    old Soviet brochures once sent out by Intourist -- the kind that were
    packed with pictures of colorfully costumed ethnic minorities and
    wide-angle photos of verdant fields but somehow went light on the grittier
    aspects of the situation.

    By the time the sixth or seventh caravan sways by, or yet another group of
    sword-waving Muslims goes coursing across the screen in the name of
    enlightenment, one starts to want more depth and substance mixed in with
    the spectacle -- a little less breathless wonder and a little more about
    human beings struggling with the good and bad of any powerful religion.
    Islamic civilization deserves huge credit, as this program says, for
    preserving the wisdom of the ancient Greeks at a time when European
    learning was largely dead in the water. Islamic scholars provided the
    system of numerals we count with today. Muslims brought such earth-shaking
    inventions as paper and gunpowder to the West. And they proclaimed the
    powerful belief that there is only one God.

    But at times the narrative goes overboard in its zeal to imply that we owe
    modernity and even monotheism to Islam. The ancient Greeks get slighted,
    for instance, with the comment that it was under Muslim scholarship that
    "the scientific process was born." China gets no credit for actually
    inventing both paper and gunpowder. And Mohammed's message that there is
    one God is described here as "radical," which it might have been to the
    Bedouin tribes of his day -- but the idea was not news to other local
    folks, like the Jews.

    There's a lot of gloss on the fact that Islamic progress -- like that of
    most empires -- went hand-in-hand with plenty of brutal conquest (such as
    the Ottoman seizure in 1453 of the Christian city of Constantinople) and
    suppression of rival beliefs (such as the burning in 1009 of the Church of
    the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem). The rough stuff is presented mainly as
    the benign marginalia of "a vibrant culture emerging in celebration of a
    singular faith."

    There are also some weird forays into the modern jargon of victimspeak and
    affirmative action. The prophet Mohammed, we are told, was orphaned early
    in life, something that left him facing "what it really feels like to be
    marginalized." Islamic art historian Esin Atil then explains that this led
    to an equal-opportunity society back around the eighth century. "It was a
    beautiful way of life because everyone was equal: black, white, men,
    women, children, so it had that type of universal appeal."

    Viewers wondering how to square all this with the repressive customs today
    in Islamic states such as Sudan, Iran and Afghanistan will come away
    unsatisfied. The program stops about half a millennium shy of modern times
    -- thereby also missing the chance to comment in any depth on the better
    aspects of modern Islam. This large missing link is something the
    producer, Mr. Gardner, attributed in a telephone interview last week to
    the constraints of TV's need to stay simple and a $1.5 million budget that
    while large was not enough to cover that last handful of missing centuries
    -- however critical to completing the project of understanding Islam
    today. Nothing more is planned. "If I were going to add something, it
    would be to comment on the courage of PBS to embrace this," Mr. Gardner
    said.

    Courage may not be quite the right word. The advance tape of this show, for
    example, carries a lovely picture of Mohammed. To many Muslims, such images
    are taboo. But that's not how history always played out. This picture is a
    14th-century illustration of a famous manuscript by someone who was himself
    a Muslim, living 800 years ago in then-cosmopolitan Persia (now Iran) -- a
    statesman and historian named Rashid al-Din. And the bottom line is that
    you won't see this picture on the air Tuesday night. A Muslim lobbying
    group called the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, based in
    Washington, objected last month to the broadcasting of this image of
    Mohammed. In deference to CAIR, and with disregard to the heights of
    14th-century Islamic art and some of the more tolerant voices among
    Muslims today, PBS asked Mr. Gardner to edit out Mohammed's face. He did
    -- leaving only the hands. Some might call this censorship. Mr. Gardner
    says he wasn't coerced and "it wasn't a big deal." But taken together with
    the worshipful tenor of the entire program, this incident underscores an
    important issue. It is precisely the more extreme practitioners of Islam
    who are the touchiest. Letting them set the agenda runs counter to
    precisely the message PBS is trying to send -- that Islam is at core a
    tolerant faith.

    If the aim of this PBS event was to give Americans a truer picture of
    Islam, it would have been wise to focus less on avoiding offense and more
    on offering some genuinely balanced truth. It's odd that in an era when TV
    keeps cranking out one reality show after another, it is so hard for
    serious people tackling a subject as vital as Islam to produce a credible
    show about reality itself.


    ISLAM: EMPIRE OF FAITH
    Tomorrow
    8 to 10:30 p.m. EST on PBS

    URL for this Article: http://interactive.wsj.com/archive/r...2803986892.djm


    Copyright © 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    Printing, distribution, and use of this material is governed by your
    Subscription Agreement and copyright laws.

    For information about subscribing, go to http://wsj.com

    #2
    read more on this and also CAIR's views on it

    ----------------------------
    In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

    -----

    * TV CRITICS DOWNPLAY POSITIVE IMPACT OF PBS "ISLAM: EMPIRE OF FAITH" SERIES
    AIRING TONIGHT
    * AFTER REQUEST, PBS EDITS 'ISLAM' (Wash. Post)
    * COLUMNIST STEREOTYPES MUSLIMS
    * SEMINARY PLANS TO OFFER MUSLIM STUDIES DEGREE (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

    -----

    CAIR ACTION ALERT #294

    TV CRITICS DOWNPLAY POSITIVE IMPACT OF PBS "ISLAM: EMPIRE OF FAITH" SERIES
    AIRING TONIGHT

    (WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/8/2001) Several television critics with major media
    outlets are apparently trying to downplay the potentially positive impact of
    PBS's "Islam: Empire of Faith" three-part documentary scheduled to air this
    evening nationwide.

    For example, Claudia Rosett of the Wall Street Journal wrote:

    "What we get here is uncritical adoration of Islam, more appropriate to a
    tract for true believers than a documentary purporting to give the American
    public a balanced account...This show bears a propaganda stamp akin to those
    old Soviet brochures once sent out by Intourist -- the kind that were packed
    with pictures of colorfully costumed ethnic minorities and wide-angle photos
    of verdant fields but somehow went light on the grittier aspects of the
    situation...If the aim of this PBS event was to give Americans a truer picture
    of Islam, it would have been wise to focus less on avoiding offense and more
    on offering some genuinely balanced truth..."

    In response to Rosett's review, CAIR wrote the following letter to the editor:

    "Claudia Rosett's sneering piece on the PBS documentary 'Islam: Empire of
    Faith' ('Bowing Down Before a Great Religion,' May 7, 2001) read like a review
    of 'Schindler's List' written by Timothy McVeigh.

    "Rosett accused the film's producer of indulging in Soviet-style 'propaganda'
    merely because he, heaven forbid, offered a generally positive portrayal of
    Islam. Reading her review, it is clear Ms. Rosett is so immersed in her own
    prejudices that she is incapable of granting Muslims this all too rare pat on
    the cultural back.

    She complains that PBS is not offering a "balanced" account of Islam based on
    'reality.' Why do I get the feeling that for Rosett, balance really means
    criticism and reality translates into stereotyping?

    In today's Los Angeles Times, Elizabeth Jensen stated:

    "...What the program leaves out, notably, is religion, which is dealt with at
    times only tangentially. There is no exploration of the split between Sunni
    and Shiite Muslims, or the spread of Islam to areas such as Indonesia and
    India. Narrator Ben Kingsley explains in the opening, 'For the West, much of
    the history of Islam has been obscured behind a veil of fear and
    misunderstanding,' but that is as far as the program goes in touching on some
    of the more radical interpretations that Islam has taken on in a few countries
    today..."

    The New York Daily News' Eric Mink wrote:

    "...although the contributions of Islamic societies to mathematics, astronomy,
    trade, medicine and other fields are well established, the program fails to
    mention the pioneering advances of even older civilizations - the Egyptians
    and the Chinese, for example - that laid the foundations for some of the
    Islamic breakthroughs..."

    ACTION REQUESTED:

    1) Go to http://www.pbs.org/empires/islam/ to educate yourself about this
    documentary series.

    2) Find your local PBS station, by going to: http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html (Also check local newspaper
    listings. In most areas, the program will air from 8 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.)

    3) INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES TO COME AND WATCH THE PROGRAM.

    4) Contact your local station to offer your feedback.

    5) Contact PBS and the program's producer to offer that same feedback. Thank
    PBS for its effort to offer a positive portrayal of Islam.

    CONTACT PBS:

    PBS
    1320 Braddock Place
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    TEL: 703-739-5481
    E-MAIL: [email protected]

    CONTACT THE PRODUCER:

    Mr. Robert Gardner
    Gardner Films
    102 Hawthorn Road
    Baltimore, MD 21210
    TEL: 410-235-5546
    FAX: 410-235-5538
    E-MAIL: [email protected]

    COPY TO: [email protected] and to your local PBS station

    6) Monitor local media for negative reviews of the program. Contact those
    media outlets to offer your views.

    7) Call 1-877-PBS-SHOP to order the video for use in schools or at home.

    SEE ALSO:

    AFTER REQUEST, PBS EDITS 'ISLAM'
    By: John Maynard, The Washington Post Staff Writer, 5/08/2001 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...-2001May7.html

    The producer of a PBS documentary on the history of Islam has edited out an
    image of the Prophet Muhammad's face after objections from Muslim groups...

    -----

    COLUMNIST STEREOTYPES MUSLIMS

    TRICK OR TREATY
    By Art Buchwald, The Washington Post, 5/8/2001 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...-2001May7.html

    "Let's say Abdul Ben Rabat, a millionaire terrorist, manages to buy an atomic
    bomb in a souk to deliver to Buffalo..."

    POLITE COMMENTS TO: [email protected] (Buchwald is syndicated nationwide.
    Look for his column in your local newspaper.)
    COPY TO: [email protected]

    -----

    SEMINARY PLANS TO OFFER MUSLIM STUDIES DEGREE
    By Peyton D. Woodson, Star-Telegram (TX), http://www.star-telegram.com/news/do...140506101.html

    FORT WORTH -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has created a master's
    degree program to train students to minister to the country's growing Muslim
    population...

    - PLEASE COPY, POST AND DISTRIBUTE -
    -----

    CAIR Action Alert
    Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
    453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
    Washington, D.C., 20003
    Tel: 202-488-8787
    Fax: 202-488-0833
    E-mail: [email protected]
    URL: http://www.cair-net.org

    -----

    TO SUBSCRIBE:
    Join CAIR-NET by sending the message "subscribe cair-net" (without the
    quotation marks) to [email protected].

    TO UNSUBSCRIBE:
    Leave CAIR-NET by sending the message "unsubscribe cair-net" (without the
    quotation marks) to [email protected].

    NOTE: If you have difficulty unsubscribing, send a message to
    [email protected] with the subject line "Manual CAIR-NET Unsubscribe."

    Comment


      #3
      I'm watching the show right now at this sec....hmmmm so far everything seems positive.....leemmee watch more :--)

      ------------------
      *We are the Taleban-Resistance is Futile*
      Sin: Osama Bin Junior

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by yOuNgBrAt:
        I'm watching the show right now at this sec....hmmmm so far everything seems positive.....leemmee watch more :--)

        The show is mostly postive ... the editorials are not. It almost seems like the american journalists dont like to see a postive view of Islam. They rather have everything sterotyped.

        Comment


          #5
          I watched it last night and I thought it was a very well done piece. There were a couple of inconsistencies, but overall it was a great (although, a bit too elementary for those of us who have studied it in greater detail). I only thought that the portrayal of Hazrat Bilal was something that Muslims may object. The other part is when one of the professors said something totally wrong by claiming that the Quran is full of stories about Mohammad (I donít think he said it in the right context). I also think that two much time was devoted on the Ottoman and less on the other historical periods that brought this faith to all corners of the world. By nonetheless, I enjoyed it very much, and I plan to buy the video for my collection so my kids can watch it in a few years.

          I had wished that it will be a 10 or 15 part series covering more of the first 3 centuries in grander detail. Well, may be someone will make one.

          My only critique is that there werenít many (only one infact) muslim scholars with their views, but that is not to say that the scholars that were present were any less credit-worthy. In my opinion, they were all very resourceful and persuasive students of Islam.

          Comment

          Working...
          X