Mosque of Mahmudiyya

Al-Hajj and the Islamic Calendar

This article describes the rituals performed by Muslims during the annual Hajj to Mecca and introduces the Islamic calendar and holidays.

BBC: Slavery in Islam

History of the slave trade in Islam.

Ethnic and Religious Diversity in the Middle East

This is a short reading from the University of Notre Dame on the Ethnic and Religious Diversity in the Middle East. It includes a great map.

Ethno-Religious Minorities in Iraq

Information about religious minorities living in Iraq.

Islam, The Middle East, and The West

This course will introduce you to the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the twenty-first century.  The course will emphasize the encounters and exchanges between the Islamic world and the West.  It will be structured chronologically—each unit will focus on the emergence of a particular Middle Eastern society or empire during a specific time period.  By the end of the course, you will understand how Islam became a sophisticated and far-reaching civilization and how conflicts with the West shaped the development of the Middle East from the medieval period to the present day.

Islam: A Primer

There are about one billion Muslims in the world, concentrated primarily in North Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia. Islam teaches that Allah selected Muhammad, a merchant from Mecca, as the last of the prophets following Adam, Moses, Jesus, and others, to deliver God’s message to mankind. The report includes short descriptions of the historical background, the tenets of Islam, jihad, the status of women in Islam, and other aspects of Islam.

Islamophobia: An Anatomy of An American Panic

This edition of The Nation features writings by Jack Shaheen and other scholars about Islamophobia in the US.

Religion: A Collection of Articles from Teach Mideast

A collection of articles about religion in the Middle East. From Teach Mideast


Wahhabism is a fundamentalist, militant Islamic movement founded in the Arabian peninsula by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792). Followers of ‘Abd al-Wahhab  didn’t  call themselves the term Wahhabi, Wahhabis used the word al-Muwanhhidun, meaning “those who profess the unity of God.”  This is a short history.

100 Questions about Islam (video)

Debates on the role xenophobic anti-Muslim rhetoric and the role of Islam in democracy is being widely discussed as uprisings in the Arab world continue apace. In this context—and ahead of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11—a new and timely video series, launched by the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the British Council, seeks to provide insight on these and other current issues around perceptions of Islam and Muslim communities.

1001 Inventions and the Library of Secrets (video)

Three school children visit a dusty library to research the story of ‘The Dark Ages’. What they find changes their world view dramatically as ingenious inventors and pioneers of science and culture are vividly brought to life.

Starring Oscar-winning legend Sir Ben Kingsley in the role of The Librarian, this astounding movie provides an eye-opening introduction to the 1001 Inventions initiative and is the centrepiece for the global touring exhibition.

Baghdad Twist (video)

Featuring a unique collection of archival images, home movies and family photographs from Iraq, Baghdad Twist is a short film that pulls back the curtain on Iraq’s once thriving Jewish community. Baghdad-born filmmaker Joe Balass takes us on a journey through the fragmented memories of an Arab exile. This powerful collage forms a portrait of a time and place that no longer exists.

Contestant No. 2 (video)

How far can one young woman push a conservative culture? Duah Fares is an Arab-Israeli teenager and member of the Druze minority, a religious sect living predominantly in Israel, Syria and Lebanon.  When she changes her name to Angelina and sets her sights on the Miss Israel pageant, her tight-knit religious community balks. Miss Israel requires a bathing suit competition, but to appear that way in public would disgrace her family and even put her in danger from those who would rather see her dead than see the community dishonored.

Contestant No. 2 follows Fares and her family as they navigate the boundaries of traditional values while she tries to achieve her dream.

Faith Versus Tradition in Islam (video)

Journalist Mustafa Akyol talks about the way that some local cultural practices (such as wearing a headscarf) have become linked, in the popular mind, to the articles of faith of Islam. Has the world’s general idea of the Islamic faith focused too much on tradition, and not enough on core beliefs? (Filmed at TEDxWarwick.)

The Hajj and Eid al-Adha (images)

Collected here are scenes of Hajj and Eid al-Adha, from Mecca and around the globe

Iraqi Jewish Archive (multimedia)

Jews have lived in Iraq for thousands of years, but when coalition forces entered Baghdad in May 2003 only very few remained. A U.S. Army team searching for weapons of mass destruction in the flooded basement of the Mukhabarat, the headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services, discovered over 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents. The remarkable survival of this written record of Iraqi Jewish life provides an unexpected opportunity to better understand this community. The National Archives is preserving these books and documents and making them accessible worldwide.

Islam and Democracy (audio)

Is Islam compatible with democracy and human rights? Will religious fundamentalism block the development of modern societies in the Islamic world? Georgetown’s John L. Esposito demolishes some common negative stereotypes about Islam, the fastest growing religion in the world

Jadaliyya: Religion (text)

A collection of articles posted on Jadaliyya about religion in the Middle East

Mecca, Holiest City in Islam (images)

Pictures of Mecca, the Kaaba, and surrounding areas.

Muslim Journeys Web Resources (multimedia)

These resources support the Muslim Journeys Collection and provide great information about various aspects of Islam and Muslim Culture and Civilization in the US and around the world.

Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things (images)

Pictures of Muslims wearing things in order to breakdown stereotypes.

Reading the Koran (video)

Lesley Hazleton sat down one day to read the Koran. And what she found—as a non-Muslim, a self-identified “tourist” in the Islamic holy book—wasn’t what she expected. With serious scholarship and warm humor, Hazleton shares the grace, flexibility and mystery she found, in this myth-debunking talk from TEDxRainier.

Religion, from Your Middle East (text)

The role of religion in the Middle East can hardly be understated. But it’s not all about extremism. Moderate winds are blowing and Islam, the region’s dominant faith, must find ways to coexist with other religions.

Religious Minorities in the Middle East (audio)

This podcast explores the rights of religious minorities in the Middle East following the Arab Awakening and rise of Islamist governments, and addresses the following subjects:

Presented by America Abroad

Superheroes Inspired by Islam (video)

The 99, a series of graphic novels / comics about superheroes who each bear one of the 99 names of God given in the Qur’an as a superpower, is supposed to be an inspirational series for Muslim kids and others. Not surprisingly in this day and age, it also ran into controversy when it was being turned into an animated series over fears of “indoctrinating” non-Muslim kids.  Here, creator Naif al-Mutawa talks about what inspired the series in the first place.

A Land Called Paradise (video)

This video is a nice portrayal of Islam in America.  Accompanying Power Point presentation and presentation notes.

Access Islam

Access Islam is a pioneering new tool designed to support the study of Islam in grades 4-8. Comprising over 100 minutes of digital video from the award-winning PBS series Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. The site also contains high quality, multi-media tools; downloadable lesson plans; and resources related to Islamic holidays, traditions and cultures. The video segments can be used alone, or in conjunction with any of 10 lesson plans which are aligned to national standards and vetted by an advisory committee of experts in education and Islamic cultures.

Access Islam: Lesson Plans

Each of these 10 expert-developed, media-rich lesson plans provides ideas for teaching students in grades 4-8 about Islamic holidays, traditions, and cultures. Walk your students through the entire lesson plan, or use one or more of the many learning activities — it’s up to you!

An Introduction to Islam

The five different lessons are titled “An Introduction to Islam and Muhammad,” “The Fascinating World of Islam,” “Creating a Textile Museum Piece from the Islamic Empire,” “Great Thinkers and Accomplishments of Islam Fact Cubes,” and “Renaissance Man Comparison Poster.” The lessons are for grades 6-12.

psu logo edited Cafe Baghdad: Curriculum

This pack of resources is designed to guide teachers through a series of lessons and discussions about a variety of topics, all stemming from a lesson about the Iraqi Jewish experience. Teachers are encouraged to select ideas and activities from the collection that are applicable to their students, their curriculum, and their environment.

Celebrating Nowruz: A Resource for Educators

A teaching resource about the Iranian New Year for educators.

Exploring Islamic Lands

In this lesson students explore what it’s like to be a teenager living today in an Islamic country in the Middle East. They will begin by gaining background information about the religion and the region from which it sprang by using the PBS series ISLAM: EMPIRE OF FAITH and other resources. Once students gain a historical understanding, they choose a particular modern day Middle Eastern country to explore in depth using resources such as the Library of Congress Web site and epals. In the end, they will create a personal narrative of what it’s like to live in that country.

Exploring Muslim Understandings of Islam

This essay is the “Introduction” from Ali Asani’s forthcoming book Infidel of love: Exploring Muslim.

Frontline: Muslims

The lesson packet bridges between the constraints of a documentary video production and the needs of the classroom. A correlation demonstrates that the materials meet content standards and skills mandates cited in state and national curriculum documents. They provide preparatory material that helps students get the most out of viewing part or all of the film with vocabulary, note-taking pages, as well as pre- and post-viewing questions for comprehension and critical analysis and assessment.

psu logo edited Golden Age of Islamic Achievement

Through this 5 day teaching unit, students will understand the role of Islamic civilization in the medieval world: its geographic and historical context, its achievements, scope and impact.

Lesson 1: History of the Abbasid and Umayyad Dynasties
Lesson 2: Geography of Islamic Expansion
Lesson 3:  Baghdad and Cordoba: Cities of the Golden Age of Islam
Lesson 4:  House of Wisdom—Scholarship in the Abbasid Dynasty
Lesson 5:  Art, Architecture and Scholarship in Muslim Spain

This unit was developed by the Middle East Studies Center and based on the Oregon Social Studies Standards for 7th grade.

A History of the Jews of Turkey

An AP-style document-based question (DBQ) unit for world history classrooms that examines the history of Sephardic Jews from their expulsion from Spain in 1492 to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in the 20th century.  The map contained in document 5 may be downloaded separately for higher resolution viewing.   From University of Texas, Austin

Islam: Empire of Faith

This collection of teaching materials serves as a companion to the film Islam: Empire of Faith, available online on youtube.  For more information about the film, click here.

Islamic Extremism in the Modern World: Episode 2

In this episode, we tackle “that pesky standard” in the Texas World History course that requires students to understand the development of “radical Islamic fundamentalism and the subsequent use of terrorism by some of its adherents.” This is especially tricky for educators: how to talk about such an emotional subject without resorting to stereotypes and demonizing? Christopher Rose offers a few suggestions and some background information on how to keep the phenomenon in perspective, and how to explain what drives some to turn to violent actions in the first place.

Content developed by the University of Texas at Austin.

Lesson Plan: Religion in Culture & Politics: Women’s Empowerment in Syria

In this lesson, students will explore the role of religion in society and politics in Syria. They will watch a series of video clips showing Muslim women in Syria who are committed to living according to Islam without giving up their autonomy. Students will compare the ideas and actions of these women with their personal idea of women’s empowerment. They will then look at three quotes from the clips and explain in an essay what the women in the clips see as the role that religion plays in culture and politics.

Middle Eastern Jewish Communities

Examination of Jews in the Middle East.

Mosque Lamp Activity

In this lesson, students create a mosque lamp and learn about the symbolism of light in Islam

Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet

This collection of teaching materials serves as a companion to the film Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, available online free.  Developed by the Center for Islamic Education.

Muslim Journeys Collection

The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf collection consists of twenty-five books and three films, a collection of resources carefully curated to present to the American public new and diverse perspectives on the people, places, histories, beliefs, practices, and cultures of Muslims in the United States and around the world.

At this site, you can find the collection of books along with guides, discussion questions, and additional supporting resources

Muslim Prayer Movements

Adapted from the Islamic Council on Education and Access Islam, 13.  This lesson includes information about the five pillars of Islam, discussion questions, and suggested classroom activities.

Muslim Women Beyond the Stereotypes

The curriculum is composed of seven individual lesson plans, each one of which focuses on a different section of the digital presentation Muslim Women Beyond the Stereotypes. Every lesson includes detailed notes that describe each slide in the presentation. In addition to the notes, each lesson also features post-presentation analysis, comprehension and discussion questions.

Mystical Musician Healers from Morocco

Mixing video, audio, photographs and text, Gnawa Stories takes you inside the uncharted waters of this secret world, and explores the Gnawas’ commitment to connect with their traditions while adapting to a new Global Age.

PBS Frontline: Muslims

PBS Frontline explores Islam through the stories of diverse Muslims struggling to define the role of Islam in their lives and societies.

“Save the Muslim Girl!”

by Özlem Sensoy and Elizabeth Marshall

In the years since 9/11, books like The Breadwinner and Broken Moon have become staples in many English classes. But does this young adult literature about Muslim girls build understanding or reinforce stereotypes?  Rethinking Schools, Volume 24 No. 2 – Winter 2009-10

Sunni vs. Shia: Deconstruction Islam

Powerpoint presentation and accompanying handouts which cover an introduction to Islam and the history behind the Sunni/Shia split in Islam.

The Hijab Between Secularism and Piety

The purpose of this lesson is to elicit discussion on the contemporary meaning of the jihab and various reactions it draws from different cultures. To be used with the article “Damned if you Do, Damned if you Don’t.”  By the Council on Islamic Education

The Swahili Coast

East Africa’s connection to the Arabian Peninsula.

Who Wears a Veil?

In this lesson, students will define stereotypes and learn how common misperceptions foster visual stereotypes about Muslim women. Students will identify famous women and learn about the significance of the veil in different cultures.

psu logo edited Women in Islam

This lesson plan explores stereotypes of women in Islam.  Written by Claudia Werner.

Women’s Rights and Marriage in Islam

The lesson provides information on marriage and the general legal rights of women according to Islamic law. Quotations from the Qur’an and the Sunnah illustrate the spirit and substance of the ideal of marital relations. By the Council on Islamic Education.

World Religions: Islam, the Quran and the Hijab

We learn through media and our personal relationships that veiling is associated with Islam. However, it can be unclear to many non-Muslim students (and perhaps even to Muslim students) exactly why some Muslims veil, why some do not, and how their religious beliefs shape these decisions. This lesson gives students an introduction to the Quranic passages and gives them a chance to understand how veiling is discussed in this sacred text. This lesson includes visual resources which can be accessed here.

Developed by University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, ReOrienting the Veil