I developed these lessons over the course of several years, starting when I was teaching an ancient history class for sixth graders. I was expected to teach "the origins of the five major world religions." Oh, okay. I was familiar with Judaism and Christianity, since my father was a Christian pastor. But I knew nothing about Hinduism or Buddhism, and was barely familiar with Islam. So it took me a LONG time - including lots of research, conversations with Muslims, and visits to mosques - before I could confidently teach this topic.
I now teach 7th grade Eastern Hemisphere World Geography, and so I still teach about these world religions.
I'm sharing this in hopes that I can spare teachers some of the challenges I faced trying to teach this topic with objectivity, respect, and realism.
1. WHICH SCRIPTURES? activity:
This PowerPoint presents 9 quotes from scripture, and students decide which scripture is the source: Jewish, Christian, or Muslim scripture? If you prefer to use a handout instead of a PowerPoint (or to use both), that is also included. The “trick” is that ALL of the 9 quotes are from Muslim scripture, which students don’t find out until the end. I use this to introduce my students to the historical roots of Islam in Judaism and Christianity.
Clearly these three are not identical religions. Each religion cherishes their stories and beliefs. Therefore, in the last 7 slides of the PowerPoint, I show a few of the ways in which Qur’an accounts differ some from those in the Jewish and Christian scriptures (the story of Noah, the birth of Jesus, the death of Jesus, etc.).
2. OVERVIEW OF ISLAM:
45-slide POWERPOINT and student fill-in NOTES (one page, front and back) – fully editable
It includes what you would expect: simple information about the historical origins of Islam, explanation of how Sunni and Shiite Muslims split, and an explanation of the Five Pillars of Islam.
3. HARD QUESTIONS ABOUT ISLAM: This is not a "let's all join hands and sing kum-ba-ya" PowerPoint. It looks at truly hard issues, and tries to context them.
52-slide POWERPOINT & student fill-in NOTES (one page, front and back) – fully editable to suit your classroom
I developed this for my own classroom as I struggled with often frustrating misinformation - or simply LACK of information. It is the culmination of several years of study, and addresses two categories that concern many in the US: What does the Qur’an say about women? What does the Qur’an say about violence?
This material places the teachings of the Qur'an in their historical context - 7th Century C.E. (A.D.) - and attempts to show the impact of culture and history on the Qur’an and early Islam.
Questions this PowerPoint addresses:
Does the Qur’an say Muslims are supposed to attack non-Muslims? Are terrorists who claim to be faithful Muslims just doing what their religion tells them to do?
Why does the Qur'an say daughters get only half the inheritance that sons receive? Why does Islam allow men to have multiple wives? Does the Qur’an really say it’s okay for a man to beat his wife? Why do so many Muslim women wear the hijab? Why do some wear veils?
4. STORY: THE WELL OF ZAM ZAM:
This simple PowerPoint is 12 slides long. It is the story of Hagar, the "mother of the Arab people," who was abandoned with her young son (Ishmael) in the desert by Abraham. She is remembered every year at the hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. I included this short PowerPoint here because it is an interesting story of an important woman in Muslim tradition.