The Traditional World Of Islam, Part 1-6

Stephen Cross
Stephen cross Ltd.
All Middle East

For 1300 years Islam was the most widespread and powerful civilization in the world, forming a bridge in time from classical antiquity to modern times. This series brings alive many aspects of the Islamic world. The six videos in this series focus on the classic Islamic empire and the realm of its lingering existence from Africa through the Arabian heartland to Indonesia, it stresses the universality of Islam. The majority of scenes are from the semi-arid Middle East, especially Iran, of Islam in stasis, not evolution. This series creates a magnificent background for western appreciation of Islam and its contributions to world civilization.Part 1, Unity: This film was shot in Africa and the Middle East, and it introduces some of the basic ideas of Islamic civilization. It includes scenes of the enormous annual Pilgrimage to Meccaóprobably the most ancient and certainly the most impressive collective human activity in the world. Other sequences show the trading pattern and the great caravan routes, the attitude to warfare, and the need which Muslims feel for a private, inner world.Part 2, Nomad and the City: The nomad and the city are the two poles of Islamic civilization, and the tension between them has always been a feature of its life. The nomads bring fresh and unspoiled energies, and the capacity for renewal. The cities provide stability and continuity, and are the home of the arts, crafts and learning. The film opens with scenes in the famous square at Marrakech which provides the meeting ground for nomadic people and the city dwellers. Scenes of nomadic life feature the Berber, Bedouin and Turkoman peoples, and the Bahktiari of Iran. These are contrasted with two citiesóSanaía in Yemen, a beautifully preserved example of the early cities of Arabia, and Fez in Morocco, which with its narrow streets, inward-looking houses, and hundreds of busy craftsmen, typifies the more usual type of Islamic city.Part 3, Man and Nature: Muslims believe in the unity of all creation, even at its most extensive. Islamic civilization has never been in conflict with nature, or sought ruthlessly to exploit its resources. This film shows many examples from different parts of the Islamic world of manís cooperation with the forces of nature such as the use of earth as a building material, the large dams built long before anything comparable in Europe, the system of underground canals upon which whole areas depend, the huge water wheels of Syria, the methods of counteracting the high temperatures of the Middle East, the means by which ice was supplied right through the summer many centuries ago, and the earliest windmills in the world, which can still be seen in use.Part 4, The Pattern of Beauty: The visual arts of the Islamic world are among the greatest achievements of man, but they are unique and must be understood on their own terms. This film concentrates on the arts of architecture and abstract decoration, and shows how, from an Islamic point of view, these are approached and understood. Other sequences show the arts of calligraphy and painting, and the film ends with the art of three great cultures which flourished at the time three centuries ago. Saffavid Iran, Ottoman Turkey, and Mughal India all produced magnificent buildings which in widely differing ways are profoundly Islamic.Part 5, Knowledge of the World: ìSeek knowledge from the cradle to the graveî is a famous of injunction of Mohammed. Islam has always valued the use of reason, and it formed the bridge that links the knowledge of Greece to that of the present day. Many of the ideas and institutions now taken for granted came to Europe from the Islamic world. The film shows the large and beautiful colleges in which advanced teaching took place, and which led to the establishment of what are probably the oldest universities in the world, such as that of Al Azhar in Cairo. Two other important institutions also passed from Islam to Europeóthe observatory and the hospital. Islamís contribution to medicine was particularly great, and today an interesting revival of Islamic medicine is taking place in Pakistan.Part 6, The Inner Life: The inner life of Islam is the mystical path known as Sufism, and it has played a major role in the civilization. Probably a majority of the poets of the Islamic world, and a great many of the finest musicians, architects and even scientists, have been Sufis, or strongly influenced by Sufism. The film includes a beautiful Persian garden of the 17th century, designed by a great Sufi and itself a symbol of the inner lifeóthe Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the site of Mohammedís mystical ìNight Journeyîóand examples of Sufi practice and teachings in Egypt, Morocco and Iran. It ends in India, where the anniversary of one of the great Sufi saints of the past is celebrated with passionate devotional songs and music which can lift the audience into states of ecstasy.