The story begins in the 6th century CE with the message of Muhammad's strict monotheism. Struggling to gain a foothold in Arabia, he eventually is victorious, conquers Mecca and gains thousands of followers. In one of the most spectacular rises of civilization in the history of man, Islam spreads its faith for thousands of miles from Western Europe to Central Asia.
Muhammad's message is simple and profound, he unites the various Arab tribes into one cohesive group under the banner of one God, smashing idols and reciting God's words along the way. Muhammad co-opted one of the greatest innovations of man: the immense power of monotheism and its ability to unite disparate groups of people under a common polity and society. The new Arabic empire spreads rapidly throughout the peninsula, the Levant, Egypt, the Maghrib, Spain, Persia.
There is absolutely no doubt that Islamic civilization during the Middle Ages was spectacular, rich, and more advanced than European civilization. They preserved Greek philosophy and expanded upon it, developed geometry and discovered trigonometry, and adapted Indian numerals to a decimal system, greatly advancing mathematics. Art and architecture under the empire was simply stunning, breathtakingly beautiful. Muslims also developed an anatomy that was used for centuries afterward by Europe, discovered inoculation and formed the precursor to modern hospitals.
The Islamic empire was so rich and powerful it became a great threat to Christian Europe, who responded with the Crusades. Over one hundred years of conflict ensues in the Levant, until Saladin re-conquers and ends the Crusading campaigns.
The rise and spread of the Ottoman Empire is narrated in the third installment. Their power, spread into Europe, their great architecture, and their antagonism with the Iranian Safavid Empire are all included. By far the best part of this DVD is its telling of the life of Suleyman the Magnificent. He was certainly an extraordinary ruler and he receives his due attention in this documentary.