Islam: Empire of Faith is the epic PBS documentary that charts the history of Islam from its beginnings in Mecca and Medina in the seventh century to the glory of the Ottoman Empire 1,000 years later.
The demonization of Islam by the West has a long history, stretching back to the First Crusade at the end of the 11th century. This documentary redresses the balance by showing the riches of Islamic culture and the vital role played by Islam in preserving and building upon ancient wisdom from East and West at a time when most of Europe was stumbling through the Dark Ages. Muslim physicians, mathematicians, and astronomers stretched the boundaries of human knowledge, and Muslim architects created some of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
Islam also offers fascinating insights into key personalities, from Muhammad himself--a simple merchant whose vision of a single deity forged warring tribes into a nation--to great conquerors such as Mehmed and Suleyman, who presided over an empire that stretched from Spain to India. The faith itself is clearly explained, and interviews with historians and religious scholars bring home both its simplicity and the way that it survived huge cultural changes (like the Mongol invasions of the 13th century) to emerge stronger than ever. Islam has often been misunderstood in the West, but this splendid documentary helps to set the record straight. --Simon Leake