UK: Shia Muslims upset at Koran documentary

In the documentary The Qur'an, film-maker Antony Thomas explored the history and message of the Qur'an, Islam's holy book and questioned how much Muslims and non-Muslims understood the text.

While the film which was broadcast earlier this month was praised by some critics as a masterpiece, it has angered a prominent group of Shia Muslims who say it made some "seriously inaccurate statements" about their branch of the faith.

In a letter to Channel 4 the scholars claim that there was an anti-Shia bias to the film because it promoted obscure or extreme views as the mainstream opinion. They said the programme accused Shias of believing that the Qur'an had been corrupted and that he said a central belief of the Shias, the imamate, was contrary to the Qur'an.

In one scene, the narrator said: "The God the Sunni worship may not be described in human language, nor represented in any art form, for that would be blasphemous. Yet sometimes the human heart yearns for more. For a faith you can touch and feel, for drama, for music, for ceremony, for great stories of sacrifice, pain, martyrdom and salvation and for someone to pray to who has human form Shia Islam answers these needs ... But the Qur'an makes it so clear that your prayer should only be directed to God."

In another scene the programme explains elements of the Shia faith and asks: "But do these specific beliefs have any substance in the Qur'an? The answer is no."

The letter said: "It is not the job of a critical and responsible media to condemn a group of Muslims as heretics.... It is equally unacceptable to see a programme repeating the same anti-Shia polemic that is articulated by those jihadi extremists who justify their suicide bombings against the Shia in Iraq and Pakistan."

They said that the beliefs the programme said were Shia views were old fashioned and not held by majority of Shias.

The scholars were also offended by an apparent link in the film between Shiaism and violence with scenes of Iranian Shias burning effigies, chanting anti-western slogans and advocating acts of terrorism.

Shias make up to 20% of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims.

One of the signatories Yusuf al-Khoei, of the Al-Khoei Foundation, which represents Shia Muslims in the UK, said he was disappointed by the documentary. He said: "They interviewed one Ayatollah in Iran and made the complex politics of Iran sound like mainstream Shiaism. They really didn't show the diversity of opinion across the world."

Mr al-Khoei also said that the documentary contained factual errors. 


Source: Telegraph (English)

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