Contemporary Issues on Islam
This page includes annotated teaching resources related to contemporary issues such as Muslim women, women’s rights in Islam, human rights, terrorism, the concepts of jihad, shari’ah, Islamic law, and the geography and demographics of the contemporary world and Muslim majority regions, etc. Documents on Islam in the United States are also included.
Where Is the Middle East, a slide presentation at http://mideast.unc.edu/where/ by the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, shows the changing configurations of military/strategic regional designations related to the Near East and the Middle East since the term was first coined by naval strategist Alfred T. Mahan in the early 1900s. This is a MUST-VIEW for classes before using the term!
The PEW Forum has a new 2010-2011 demographic report The Future of the Global Muslim Population, including current data on a global as well as regional and country-by country basis. The executive summary, interactive maps and data tables is located and printable at http://www.pewforum.org/The-Future-of-the-Global-Muslim-Population.aspx.
The Terrorism Equation, a 10-minute video on the issue of the relationship between Islam and terrorism, on the Islamic principles relevant to extremists’ claims about terrorism as jihad. The film for general audiences provides a clear argument about the definition of jihad and its application and other relevant issues related to Islamic law and practice, and the problem of terrorism and civil society. The video is posted on Vimeo.com at http://vimeo.com/11385557.ht
The accusation that Muslims have not spoken out with a unified voice is met in the Amman Message at http://www.ammanmessage.com, an initiative of the Jordanian king, who called upon 24 senior Muslim religious scholars from around the world to establish basic unified positions on the crucial issues of defining who is a Muslim to delegitimize sectarian accusations of unbelief, a statement on fatwas (religious rulings) issued by unqualified persons such as extremists, and matters of interpretation of Islamic law. The website contains useful explanations of the implications of this statement of Islamic unity.
On the topic of the rights of religious minorities in Muslim majority countries and a call to action is a primary source document based on a meeting of Islamic jurists and scholars is the statement entitled the Marrakesh Declaration, which can be found in full text at http://www.marrakeshdeclaration.org/
Teaching about Refugees: Teaching about Forced Displacement Project by Rochelle Davis and Grace Benton at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service have developed teaching resources and lesson plans, videos and other materials for teachers to use in designing a unit about refugees and forced displacement. The project derives itself from field research completed in Jordan and Lebanon during May and Jun 2013. These lessons are aimed at secondary school students. We welcome comments, suggestions, and additional material. https://isim.georgetown.edu/2017/02/03/teaching-about-refugees/
Shari’ah, or Sharia, translated as Islamic law, is poorly understood, and is the latest Islamic concept to become associated negatively with violence and aggression. There are numerous attempts to legislate against shari’ah on the state level, based on the efforts of a few Islamophobic organizations to create “model legislation” and find politicians willing to buy into the fear-mongering charge that 1% of the American population–Muslims–is engaged in a gradual effort to replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law. These groups characterize Islam as a fascist or totalitarian system rather than a world religion. A number of articles have appeared recently to refute this charge, explaining the meaning of shari’ah and its relationship to American law. Intisar Rabb is an American scholar of Islamic and American law, who is interviewed in this outstanding article at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/03/rabb_interview.html.
A general-purpose website on a range of issues is at the University of Georgia is Islam and Islamic Studies Resources for Studying Islam and the Diverse Perspectives of Muslims at http://www.uga.edu/islam/.
On the Arab Spring, Jadaliyya a website/blog contains a wealth of information on current events, pedagogy of the Middle East http://mespi.org, conferences, reports, commentary of various stripes, and other material. Note that inclusion of this link does not imply endorsement of the opinions stated on the site, neither for the Jadaliyya editors nor the ACMCU Georgetown program that this site represents for teachers.
Online links to Documentary Films:
Unity Productions Foundation has made many of its documentary films available on various video platforms. Most recently, they have launched a new website called UPF Theater (http://upf.tv/teachers), a centralized hub for viewing and acquiring lesson plans and discussion guides . These films are especially relevant to issues being discussed in the public forum. Controversies over mosque construction proposals around the country have raised hate speech and misinformation about Muslims to a new high. Such divisive speech harms our nation and violates our highest principles. You can view several award-winning PBS films online, in their entirety, at no cost. These films speak directly to the issue. They include: Talking through Walls: How the Struggle to Build a Mosque United a Community, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet and Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think.
An excellent set of resources on human rights and women’s rights is found on the website of KARAMAH, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights at http://www.karamah.org. The site includes profiles of women lawyers and their work, responses to events around the world concerning these topics, and sections on research with articles on pertinent issues, resources for women, and much more.
A set of lessons was developed as part of The Islam Project to accompany the PBS documentary Frontline: Muslims, a set of vignettes on aspects of Muslim cultural and religious practices in several countries. The lessons include glossaries of terms, discussion guides, maps, note-taking worksheets for the activities, and a series of topical lessons on contemporary hot-button issues such as human rights, women and marriage in Islam, terrorism vs. jihad, and Islamic law, among other lessons on geography, terminology, and other topics.
- Link to downloadable pdf files for individual lessons from Frontline: Muslims set
- Link to Lessons at The Islam Project (scroll down for individual lessons by film: http://www.theislamproject.org/education/Lessonplans.htm
The book Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think is based on the massive Gallup polling project conducted in the United States, Muslim and other countries, which has been made into a documentary film by Unity Productions Foundation with the title Inside Islam.
- Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think homepage. View the documentary film Inside Islam based on the book at http://vimeo.com/14121737
PEW Forum Map: Distribution of Muslim Population by Country and Territory is based on a newly released study by the PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life. It is accompanied by a report Mapping the Global Muslim Population that can be read online, accessible from the same page as the map, or downloaded as a pdf file (click on title). The newest resource from PEW is the study The Future of the Global Muslim Population.
The U.S. Department of State has developed a booklet on Islam in the United States that includes demographic information, cultural trends, prominent Muslim Americans in business, politics, education, the arts and human services, as well as statistics on the ethnic composition of the Muslim community in the US. It can be downloaded in full color as a pdf file at Being Muslim in America at https://photos.state.gov/libraries/korea/49271/dwoa_122709/being-muslim-in-america.pdf.
Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, K-12 Educational Outreach – Teaching Modules
Teaching units in pdf format are available at https://ccas.georgetown.edu/curriculum-materials/ on Islam, Trade and Travel, Arabic Language, Calligraphy, the Arabs, and Islamic contributions to Mathematics and Science, and a new curriculum unit, Islam and Politics.
The Bridge Initiative, Georgetown University
The Bridge Initiative is a multi-year research project on Islamophobia housed in Georgetown University. The Bridge Initiative aims to disseminate original and accessible research, offers engaging analysis and commentary on contemporary issues, and hosts a wide repository of educational resources to inform the general public about Islamophobia. https://bridge.georgetown.edu/.
Islamic Architecture at MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Libraries) has a page devoted to Islamic Architecture, including Mosques in the United States, Islamic Collections, and the Aga Khan Visual Archive. it can be accessed at. The site also has links to various reports on Islam in the U.S., including the report The Mosque in America: A National Portrait and other articles on mosque architecture trends, and a list of many mosques by state. The images are only available as thumbnails, but the names of the mosques would help locate the community mosque websites which usually have photos and lots of other information.
The film New Muslim Cool is about a Puerto Rican American Muslim who is also a rapper. The film is available at a discount with a license to show in high schools and with lesson plans at http://www.7thart.com/Islam/New-Muslim-Cool.