Islam: A Pictorial Essay in Four Parts


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This exceptional 90-minute video program on Islam aims at a high degree of accuracy and depth. It is outstanding for its quality, scope and beauty of presentation. This is one of the best audio-visual programs available on Islam. In ninety minutes, the viewer is able to gain a real understanding of the beliefs, culture and history of the Islamic world.

The video is appropriate for use in secondary school and university level courses, and is beneficial to anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the Muslim world. It is highly recommended for those interested in Islamic art and culture. This video is used by students the world over and is required viewing for Teacher Training Centers in Religious Education in England.

Some of the most eminent scholars of contemporary Islam are responsible for the script. Foremost among them is the Grand Sheikh of Islam, Sheikh al Azhar, the late Dr. Abdul-Haleem Mahmoud, Rector of Al-Azhar University, Cairo. Other eminent scholars include: Dr. Martin Lings, retired keeper of Oriental and Arabic Manuscripts at the British Museum Library; Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, former head of the Iranian Imperial Academy of Science and Philosophy, now Professor at George Washington University in Washington DC; the late Dr. Victor Danner, Arabist and Chairman of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.

The text is illustrated with more than 300 slides of the greatest masterpieces in Islamic art and architecture, including illuminated Qur’ans, calligraphy, the great mosques and details from Persian, Turkish and Mughal miniatures in the manuscript collections of the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, the British Museum, London, and the Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. Other photographs include important sites and subjects from all over the Muslim world, from the Philippines to Nigeria. The musical accompaniment was composed and performed especially for the video by Mr. Salman Shakur, the world famous Iraqi lute (òud) player.

Product Description

Part One: The Doctrine
What Muslims believe; The nature of Revelation and the succession of Prophets; The nature of religion as both doctrine and method; How man is viewed in Islam; The cyclical doctrine of history; The importance of Abraham — not only as the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but in relation to Mecca and the building of The Kaaba; The place of Moses, Jesus and Mary in Islam; The doctrine of unity as manifested in the attitude and daily life of Muslims; The Qur’an — as the origin and foundation of Islamic law and metaphysical knowledge; The Qur’anic doctrine concerning man and the structure of the universe; The function of the Prophet Muhammad as the “Seal of the Prophets;” The example of the Prophet — the Sunnah; The Prophet’s place in history and his prophecies concerning the anti-Christ, the second coming of Jesus and the Last Day.

Part Two: The Life of the Prophet and the Faith
A view of the world into which the Prophet Muhammad was born; The monotheism of Abraham; The life of the Prophet Muhammad: His birth, upbringing, work, marriage and spiritual retreats leading up to the Revelation; The hardships endured in Mecca and the subsequent migration to Medina; The Night Journey and the Ascension; The nature of Holy War; The return to Mecca and the final victory of Islam in Arabia; The practices which the Prophet established; The concept of unity; The significance of the Shahada (or “witnessing of Faith”); The Five Pillars of the Faith — the aims and symbolic content of each.

Part Three: The History and Culture

The following topics are covered: Islamic law; Sufism; Spiritual attainment in Islam; The four Rightly-Guided Caliphs: Abu Bakr, Uthman, Omar and Ali; The spread of Islam outside Arabia; Omar and Jerusalem; What happened to the existing religions of countries absorbed into the Muslim empire; The question of conversion; The unique integration of the Islamic doctrine with the cultural forms of the many civilizations with which it came into contact, illustrated by examples of Moorish, African, Arab,
Turkish, Persian and Indian art and architecture; The rise of the Ottoman Turkish Caliphate, the Mughal and Safavid empires and their place in the cultural and religious expansion of Islam; The decline of these civilizations and the period of colonialism; Communism and Islam; Islam in Africa and the Far East; Islam and the modern world.

Part Four: The Arts and the Sciences
The requirements of sacred art; Qur’anic calligraphy — the central art of Islam; The principles of Islamic art and architecture; Realism and stylization; How Islamic art suggests the Divine presence; The significance of the arabesque and geometric forms; The unity of natural forms in the microcosm and macrocosm as a reflection of Divine unity; Abstract art — two views; The art and science of Qur’anic recitation; The development of mosque architecture . . . “a sacred void;” The requirements of prayer; The madrasah or mosque school; Al-Azhar University, Cairo; The integration of classical sciences with the Islamic world view; The difference between traditional Islamic studies and modern Western science; The Divine intellect; Traditional Islamic cosmology; The Muslim contribution to the sciences; The revivification of Islamic art and sciences; The Islamic world view rediscovered.