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Words on a Page
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
The Secret History of Writing
The Satanic Verses 30 Years On
The publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses in 1988 sparked a culture war in Britain between those in the Muslim community, who considered the book blasphemous and called for the book to be banned, and those defending it as an expression of freedom of speech. Protests, which began in the north of England, soon spread across the UK and to the rest of the Islamic world, culminating in February 1989 with Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issuing a fatwa - a death sentence on the writer.
Now, 30 years on, broadcaster and journalist Mobeen Azhar embarks on a journey, starting in his native Yorkshire where the protest first began, to examine the lasting effect the book has had on the Muslim community and how the events of 1989 continue to have an impact today.
In the fall of 2016, an army of over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and militiamen mobilize to liberate Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from the clutches of the Islamic State. Ali Mula, an Iraqi journalist, joins this army of uneasy allies--including Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Kurds--to find out if they can put aside their sectarian differences and finally free their country from the scourge of ISIS.
Along the way to Mosul, Ali encounters an unforgettable group of characters including a Sunni tribal leader who calls himself 'the Crocodile', a female militia leader avenging the death of her husband, a canny, Iranian-backed militia leader, a lawyer-turned-warrior, an elite band of ISIS killers, and refugees who survived the brutality of ISIS occupation. As he nears the end of his journey, Ali meets face-to-face with a die-hard ISIS prisoner who reveals the truth behind his nefarious organization.
Unmasking Jihadi John
This feature documentary tells the story of Mohammed Emwazi's journey from being an ordinary London boy to becoming terrorist 'Jihadi John', and the intelligence operatives' attempts to catch him by the US and British military and intelligence services.
It explores the twisted worldview espoused by ISIS - the richest and most notorious Islamist terrorist organization in history - and its propaganda machine which was operated by "Jihadi millennials" who turned social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube into recruitment platforms. Told through extraordinary first-hand accounts of key counter-terrorism and intelligence officials who identified "Jihadi John" and the voices of Muslim community leaders who worked with parents whose radicalized children fled places such as the US and Britain to join ISIS on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.
The Language of Science
Physicist Jim Al-Khalili travels through Syria, Iran, Tunisia and Spain to tell the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries. Its legacy is tangible, with terms like algebra, algorithm and alkali all being Arabic in origin and at the very heart of modern science - there would be no modern mathematics or physics without algebra, no computers without algorithms and no chemistry without alkalis. For Baghdad-born Al-Khalili, this is also a personal journey, and on his travels he uncovers a diverse and outward-looking culture, fascinated by learning and obsessed with science. From the great mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, who did much to establish the mathematical tradition we now know as algebra, to Ibn Sina, a pioneer of early medicine whose Canon of Medicine was still in use as recently as the 19th century, Al-Khalili pieces together a remarkable story of the often-overlooked achievements of the early medieval Islamic scientists.
Science and Islam
How the Universe Works Season 4
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The Story of Science
The Private Life of Plants
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