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The Life of Muhammad(TV) (2010)
No synopsis for The Life of Muhammad.
For more about The Life of Muhammad and the The Life of Muhammad Blu-ray release, see the The Life of Muhammad Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on August 18, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Rageh Omaar
» See full cast & crew
The Life of Muhammad Blu-ray Review
History worth remembering.
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, August 18, 2013
The mystery of Islam is a powerful puzzle of interpretation and emotion that seem impossible to approach in our modern era, with the passions of certain participants discouraging outsiders from acquiring a deeper appreciation of the complicated religion. "The Life of Muhammad" isn't the final word on the vast sea of experience found within Islam, but it's an excellent starting point of understanding. Credit host Rageh Omaar, a composed journalist who dares to work his way into the nuances and controversies of the Prophet Muhammad's channeled wisdom, submitting a fascinating overview of an extraordinary life that touches on diverse acts of divinity, experience, aggression, and education. It's three hours devoted to the opinions of scholars and participants, with Omaar traveling around the Middle East on a quest to bring the intriguing layers of Islam to those unaware of its profound significance in world history and individual consciousness.
"The Seeker" (59:32)
The series begins as it should, stepping into the heart of Mecca where Omaar suits up in traditional cloth robes and visits the Kaaba, clarifying the meaning behind the circular Islamic movement around the cube-like structure. Further concentration on the rules of Islam is shared here, exploring why images of Muhammad are forbidden, recalling the Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy as an example of the volatility that remains around the issue. From there, Omaar travels back 1,400 years to the birth of Mohammad and how that special history is studied in numerous writings, known as the Hadith, which paint a broader portrait of the Prophet outside of the Qur'an, detailing his life with Bedouin tribes and the tragic loss of his mother at the age of six, leaving him an orphan. Additional perspective is supplied by an Armenian historian named Sebeos. We learn of Muhammad's time with a camel caravan, soaking up the vastness of the Middle East and its many cultures, and his marriage to Khadija, an older woman who respected his business acumen. Omaar also raises a question of Mecca's history as a trading port, disputed by some as a falsehood invented during the early stages of Islam's growth. Exploring Muhammad spiritual retreats, the tale of the first revelation is told, giving birth to the Qur'an as a channeling of God's sacred teachings. The final section of the program concentrates on the Prophet's struggle with Meccan authorities, the Quraysh, who attempted to snuff out Islamic knowledge, forcing Muhammad to travel to Somalia, soon enduring his "Year of Sorrow." Also of interest is an overview of the vitriolic "Satanic Verses" controversy involving Salman Rushdie.
"Holy Wars" (59:17)
The saga of Jerusalem commences, with the famed "Night Journey" exploring Muhammad's voyage from Mecca to another holy land 800 miles away, led by the angel Gabriel. This incident is thrust into controversy over its interpretation, with some Muslims believing the encounter was spiritual, while others insist it was real. Either way, the holy experience granted Muhammad new levels of divinity. Escaping Mecca due to pressure from the Quraysh, Muhammad traveled to Yathrib, known today as Medina, hoping to reestablish himself in a new land, building a following greater than ever before. It's here where the development of the mosque was crucial to the growing pains of Islam, necessitating a call for prayers that used the vocal power of man to carry the notifying word. With the Constitution of Medina, a crucial, highly debated chapter of Muhammad's life began, out to create a civilized state of religious freedom and peace. However, misunderstanding of verse has clouded the purity of such an idea. Omaar returns to Mecca to discuss its transformation into an Islamic focal point, and the episode pores through Muhammad interactions with Jewish tribes of the region, with wars (including the Battle of the Trench), perceived betrayals, and cultural differences creating an air of antagonism that's carried on to this day.
"Holy Peace" (59:22)
In a world that struggles with the analysis of Muhammad's teachings, the Surfis attempt to replicate his spiritual bridge to God through intense prayer and dance. Talk of Muhammad as an exemplary human being leads to a deeper appreciation of his character, with the Prophet making himself available to anyone seeking his company, while remaining free of corruption to prevent a clouding of soul. A discussion of Sharia Law is handled carefully, with the moral code open to heavy interpretation, finding Omaar precise in his language when scrutinizing the controversial topic. Debate continues with the subject of polygamy, as Muhammad's union to child bride Aisha causes a myriad of considerations, with some believing such a pairing was rooted in political intent. A study of Qur'an text introduces a segment on the veiling of Muslim females, a practice of modesty that's clarified when Omaar interviews a fully cloaked shopkeeper about her beliefs. The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah displays the Prophet's willingness to explore compromise as a way to preserve peace. Bravely, our host dives into a brief but potent conversation about jihad and the famed "Sword Verse," questioning two radicalized (and recently paroled) Muslims about the nature of Islamic protection, which is crippled by misinterpretations, creating a divide in the religion. Finally, stories of Muhammad's return to Mecca near the end of his life are shared, discussing the nonviolent power of his actions and the emotional weight of his final sermon.
The Life of Muhammad Blu-ray, Video Quality
The AVC encoded image (1.78:1 aspect ratio) presentation carries a distinctly HD video look, which is useful for the various locations Omaar visits during his three hour tour. Detail is sharp during interview segments, with facial features on the participants crisply defined, revealing creases and the development of sweat underneath the hot lights. Exteriors also preserve exciting textures on buildings and desert expanse, capturing the atmosphere of the locations. Colors are lively and true, with bold hues supplied by clothing and displays of art, while the natural golden shade of the Middle East is also handsomely articulated. With a mix of video and film sources, the disc manages a clean look, only revealing distinctly low-res images when inside Mecca -- the footage looks like an upscale job, perhaps pulled from a different program. Some banding is detected, but this is a very assertive HD image befitting the show's television origins.
The Life of Muhammad Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix has no real sense of dimension, but its managing of basic elements is quite appealing. Interviewees sound fresh and deep, with welcome differences in inflection and concentration. Omaar's narration and host duties are deep as well, showing command in a series that needs it. Scoring cues are unobtrusive, blended into the action with vigor and crispness, adding needed support. Atmospherics are comfortable for a modest listening experience, preserving group unrest and interior echo. While the mix isn't ambitious, it supports the educational intent of the program with confidence.
The Life of Muhammad Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There is no supplementary material on this disc.
The Life of Muhammad Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As someone who came to the program with a limited understanding of Islam, "The Life of Muhammad" is a valuable tool in the comprehension of the religion and its numerous misconceptions. It's sharply paced and informative, displaying fairness and interest in the contentious aspects of Muslim life, hoping to provide a fresh perspective on an often misunderstood religion. It's not a humdrum college lecture, but a viewing experience that moves gracefully, tackles difficult subjects, and supplies meaning to the man behind the faith.
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