Islamic history has been an area which a lot of people are interested, but resources (especially in the English language) have been few and far between. The Islamic History Channel aims to change that by providing a one-stop platform for all your Islamic History needs.
We talk to one of the co-founders of Islamic History Channel about the intention behind the project, representing the diversity of Islamic history and their future plans.
As the founder of Islamic History Channel, can you introduce yourself and your background. Have you always been interested in art and culture?
I am one of the co-founders of Islamic History Channel. My name is Wajid and I am a Doctor by profession, Islamic Historian by passion. I grew up in the Middle East where I studied Islamic History in some depth, but after moving to the UK I learnt about other cultures and more modern history including studying history at the LSE.
I haven't always been fascinated by the arts and culture, but as a student of history - I discovered a love for them when I realised that they are one of the most tangible ways of communicating with the past.
How did Islamic History Channel begin and what was the inspiration behind the idea?
The idea behind Islamic History Channel came about because of a simple vision - Unity. Up to now, Islamic History is often taught by individuals who have their own style, interests and views. However, if we united everyone interested in Islamic History across the world, we would build something that better reflected the myriad of views, the depth and complexity of our subject matter.
What aspects of Islamic heritage and history do you showcase?
Every single aspect. We want to talk about everything from the history of food to the twists and turns of court life. However, what we want to do differently is always link our stories back to a lesson.
You aim to teach history in a relatable and interesting way, can you please share more about your approach and intention?
Our approach is to teach history in ways that make it relatable and entertaining. Great examples in recent times include the musical Hamilton or the video game Assassins Creed.
Is representing the diversity of Islamic history important to you and how do you do this?
Absolutely. Islam is more than just the Ottomans, the Mughals and the Arab heartlands. We showcase this by building a diverse team with interests from across the Muslim world and beyond. We constantly look out for and want to share and promote the hidden stories, the lesser known gems and the rarest diamonds from our heritage.
How do you select and curate content for your platforms?
We're not picky. If it is interesting, we'll showcase it.
When people think of Islamic history what do you think their general assumptions are?
Arabs, wars and battles. Our history has political intrigue greater than House of Cards, more laughs than a Dave Chapelle comedy special and jaw dropping moments that will make Lord of the Rings look meh. We need to do a better job of showcasing the diversity, the complexity and the intricacy of Islamic history. Muslims especially tend to view Islamic History as more science than art, but it is both.
What has been the most memorable reaction to Islamic history so far?
We had a young mom in America who said that she used to drop her kids at school, go to a cafe and listen to our show. It just sounded cool that if we do things correctly, it could enrich and become part of peoples lives.
How do you think Muslims are represented and perceived in heritage spaces such as museums and archives?
We are represented but as exhibits. It is as if we are a lost civilisation rather that an existing people. We are not the incas or the ancient Egyptians. We exist today and are as relevant as we were 1000 years ago.
Do you think digital platforms help democratize culture and offer a space to collect our own stories?
They absolutely do. In my spare time, I lecture on Social Media and Healthcare at the local Medical School. The digital revolution is just like any other revolution that has come before - it will elevate those who harness it and relegate to powerlessness those who do not.
What are your plans and aspirations for Islamic history?
We hope that it will inspire the next generation of Muslims to be more confident, sincere and united than the generations that came before. We hope that it will help them use the lessons from the past to build a better future.
What are your thoughts on the potential for the future of Islamic art and culture?
Islamic art and culture is the alchemists dream come true. If we bring them together in just the right away, we can produce pure gold. Bayt Al Fann has been doing that already and we are big fans.
For more information check out https://islamichistorychannel.org/
The views of the artists, authors and writers who contribute to Bayt Al Fann do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bayt Al Fann, its owners, employees and affiliates.