A new thee-part BBC documentary starting this Sunday tells the story of the extraordinary tensions and mutual misunderstandings, wars and reconciliations that have haunted two cultures, Christian and Muslim, during Imperial Britain’s rise and fall.
Clash Of Worlds (BBC Two, Sunday 28 October 7.0opm) sets out to show how present-day conflict in the Middle East and Al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks in the West are informed and even motivated by a historic sense of injustice and oppression that Islamists believe arises directly from the past actions of the British Empire.
The first programme examines the causes and legacy of the Indian Mutiny of 1857. It reveals how a purist form of Islam, Wahabbism, was brought from Arabia to India in the 18th century, where it created the basis for a jihad (holy war) against the British. Later, in the form of Deobandism, this revivalist form of Islam was taken up in Pakistan, then by the Taleban, and today by disillusioned young Muslims in Britain.
Author Charles Allen, a leading authority on South Asian history, and award-winning writer and historian William Dalrymple (pictured above) share their knowledge and opinions of the mutiny and its background. The programme also makes use of newly discovered documents that show how the revolt centered on the King of Delhi, Bhahadur Shah II, a descendant of the Mughal Emperors from the great Islamic dynasty started by Babur in the 16th century.
Future episodes look� and the Mahdi uprising in Sudan in the 1880s and the creation of the state of Israel in the first half of the 20th century.
Sunday 28 October, 7.00-8.00pm BBC TWO