PBS Islam: Empire of Faith

Empire of Faith
Photo: Mansour Nazmih, with permission of PBS. Mansour Nazmih, with permission of PBS

The Bottom Line

In early 2001, the U.S.-based Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) aired a new documentary film called "Islam: Empire of Faith." Muslim scholars, community leaders, and activists screened the film before it aired, and have given positive reports about its balance and accuracy.


  • Balanced and accurate overview of Muslim contributions throughout history
  • Positive reviews from Islamic scholars and community leaders


  • Only excerpts are available for viewing online; must purchase home video to view all


  • Three-part series covers 1,000 years of Islamic history
  • Highlights contributions in science, medicine, art, philosophy, learning, and trade
  • Produced by Robert Gardner

Guide Review - PBS Islam: Empire of Faith

This three-part series covers more than a thousand years of Islamic history and culture, with emphasis on the contributions that Muslims have made in science, medicine, art, philosophy, learning, and trade.

The first one-hour segment ("The Messenger") introduces the story of the rise of Islam and the extraordinary life of the Prophet Muhammad. It covers the revelation of the Qur'an, the persecution suffered by the early Muslims, the first mosques, and then the rapid expansion of Islam.

The second segment ("The Awakening") examines the growth of Islam into a world civilization. Through trade and learning, the Islamic influence extended further. Muslims made great achievements in architecture, medicine, and science, influencing the intellectual development of the West. This episode also explores the story of the Crusades (including stunning reenactments filmed in Iran) and ends with the invasion of Islamic lands by the Mongols.

The final segment ("The Ottomans") looks at the dramatic rise and fall of the Ottoman empire.

PBS offers an interactive website which provides educational materials based on the series. A home video and book of the series is also available.