The British historian behind a Channel 4 history of Islam has defended the programme after it triggered hundreds of complaints to the broadcaster and the television regulator Ofcom, which led to him being accused of distorting the history of the religion.

Islam: The Untold Story was billed by the channel as "an extraordinary detective story" in which historian Tom Holland found himself embroiled in "an underground but seismic debate: the issue of whether, as Muslims have always believed, Islam was born fully formed in all its fundamentals, or else evolved gradually, over many years".

But after it was broadcast on 28 July, Holland found himself on the receiving end of a torrent of criticism on Twitter and a lengthy critique by the Islam Research and Education Academy (IREA), which accused him of making "baseless assumptions" and engaging in "elective Scholarship".

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