Three years in the making and fueled by an unprecedented grassroots funding campaign, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, travels in the footsteps of the prophet to the Arabian desert and the holy city of Mecca, where much of Muhammad’s story unfolded. But the film does not stay in the past. Much of its story is told through the observations of contemporary American Muslims, including a fireman at the World Trade Center on September 11, a second generation Arab-American family building a community based on Islamic principles, a Congressional Chief of Staff working for justice, and a refugee fleeing religious persecution, whose experiences in some way echo Muhammad’s life.
Muhammad's father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was only six. But sheltered by a powerful uncle, he made a good start in life, established himself in a profitable business and married well. Then, at the age of 40, he was transformed. He could not read or write, but he announced that he was the prophet of God. His name was Muhammad, and in the next 23 years he would bring peace to the warring pagan tribes of Arabia and establish the religion of Islam, which today has 1.2 billion followers.
With some of the world’s greatest scholars on Islam providing historical context and critical perspective, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet is history in the present tense. It tells of intrigue and faith, bitter persecution and the birth of a holy book, brutal war and brilliant diplomacy in a desert environment where tribal allegiance was often the only protection.
Supported by two educational websites, www.pbs.org/muhammad and www.theislamproject.org, the film is an excellent resource for people seeking knowledge about the beginnings of Islam, and a better understanding of the millions of American Muslims who regard Muhammad as the Last Prophet.
Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet
First aired on PBS on December 18, 2003. This two-hour prime time was aired without commercial interruption on 340 stations nationwide and was viewed simultaneously in Canada.
PBS designated the documentary a ‘Pick of the Month’ and featured it on their community outreach website.
Press coverage was extensive, with articles and reviews appearing in 40 newspapers across the country. The program was discussed nationally on MSNBC and on radio. In many cases, print, TV, and radio coverage outlined the story of Muhammad as part of their review, so that the actual exposure to Muhammad’s story far exceeded the PBS audience. MS-NBC ran clips of the show nationally, before the broadcast.
Several million viewers watched the program and responded enthusiastically. In the last two weeks of December, the film’s PBS-supported website received 630,000 page views by approximately 373,000 users-heavy traffic for a PBS program website.
PBS’s central offices in Washington DC received 5,000 messages running 40 to 1 positive in the first two days of broadcasting. The program’s associated websites received thousands more messages. Through the winter of 2003, the video and DVD versions of Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet were top-selling items in the PBS catalog.