Comparison of Islamic text and movies.

Essay by NatsukoUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, December 2003

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I find many differences in the interpretation of historical events between the film "Islam: Empire of Faith," and Hodgson's The Venture of Islam text. I also think that both the film and the text have similar messages, though their makers have chosen to show the messages differently.

The film runs more like a work of fiction, a tale from out of One Thousand Arabian Nights perhaps, than a traditional PBS film. I almost forgot to take notes because I was watching the film so intently, fully immersed into the goings-on of Muhammad and the Muslim people. The text, on the other hand, is more concerned with dates, maps, names, and smaller details. The film and the text go hand-in-hand, even if their interpretations of historical events are different; one should watch the film for the overall effect of the Islamic Empire, but one should read the text for specific information about what happened when and why it happened.

The film's emphasis is not necessarily on the Muslim faith, but more on what the Muslims contributed to the world in the ways of science, math, art and architecture. The film also depicts major battles, like those of Muhammad against the Bedouin pagans. Conversely, Hodgson pays close attention to the religion, and acknowledges several times that it was at the base of the Islamic Empire, saying, "We shall be talking a good deal about religion in this work, for it pervaded every aspect of Islamicate culture. I must make clear my point of view on it," (Hodgson, I: 158).

Hodgson seems to interpret events in a linear fashion, with times and places and terminology at the heart of his writing--this can be found throughout the book, especially in the General Prologue to book I on page 71. "Islam: Empire...