February 10, 2015

Tom Holland: "In the Shadow of the Sword" + The Untold Story Documentary

Thomas Holland (born 1968) is a British novelist and historian, who has published several popular works on classical and medieval history as well as creating two documentaries.

In August 2012, he produced a documentary for Channel 4 entitled Islam: The Untold Story, which provoked what Holland described as "a firestorm of death threats" against him. Contributors included Professor Patricia Crone. The programme generated a strongly negative response from some British Muslims, with more than 1,000 complaints received by Ofcom and Channel 4. A planned screening of Islam: The Untold Story before an audience of historians was cancelled, due to security concerns raised from threats received by Holland as a result of the documentary.
Possessor of a bachelor's degree in English and Latin from the University of Cambridge, Holland is an English novelist and popular historian who has published a trio of best-selling histories of the ancient world: Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic (2003), Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West (2005), and Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom (2008). In 2012, Holland's fourth work of history, In the Shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World, was published; it explored the collapse of the Roman and Persian Empires, as well as the rise of the Arab Empire and the accompanying Arabian religion of Islam. 
Raised into a Christian family, Holland was not a Muslim. In an interview with The Spectator, he rejected the Islamic belief that the Qur'an constituted the direct word of God, stating that he believed it to have been "very clearly" written by a human being during Late Antiquity. He highlighted "the lack of sources" that were available with which to analyse the origins of Islam, and that all religious movements come to construct their own back story, in doing so erasing alternative accounts and interpretations of their history.
Title: Tom Holland: "In the Shadow of the Sword" (Night Waves, 4/4/12). Source: Islam & Islamicate Archive. Date Published: July 29, 2014. Description: 
Tom Holland discusses his new account of the history of Islam.

Title: Channel 4 Islam - The Untold Story banned in the UK. Source: Dan 123. Date Published: April 29, 2013. Description:
In this ground-breaking film, historian Tom Holland explores how a new religion - Islam - emerged from the seedbed of the ancient world, and asks what we really know for certain about its rise. The result is an extraordinary detective story. Traditionally, Muslims and non-Muslims alike have believed that Islam was born in the full light of history. But a large number of historians now doubt that presumption, and question much of what Muslim tradition has to tell us about the birth of Islam.