An Introduction to Islam

This is a new teaching unit based on the workshop module Basic Beliefs and Practices of Islam by S. Douglass, published by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University. The lesson provides an overview of major introductory topics required in survey courses, written for middle and high school level, or teacher preparation at lower levels.


Multiple-author Qur’an translations

Find subjects or specific chapters and verses of the Qur’an online, and view multiple English translations as well as transliterated text and Arabic text on the Qur’an search database, and even listen to the verse recited in Arabic.

The “Qur’an Verse Lookup” provides side-by-side translations by A. J. Arberry and M. A. S. Abdel Haleem for comparison, searchable by numbered Qur’anic chapter and verse. It is a feature of the Oxford Islamic Studies Online that requires access to the online resource. “Qur’an Side-by-side – Oxford Islamic Studies Online.”

Jerusalem, Haram al-Sharif, Masjid al-Aqsa Virtual Walking Tour

The third holiest site for Muslims, the mosque in Jerusalem, the Haram al-Sharif Virtual Walking Tour allows the viewer to see the tour in 360-degree panorama, along with an outstanding description by Oleg Grabar, scholar of architecture and the leading western academic expert on this site.

Other Introductory Lessons and Historical Issues

Hartford Seminary has an excellent lecture as a video from one of the leading experts on Shi’i Islam, Dr. Sayyid Hossein Nasr entitled “Sunnism and Shiism Yesterday Today and Tomorrow” at

  • Geography of the Arabian Peninsula and pre-Islamic history, a summary of the biography of Muhammad, important personages in early Islamic history, vocabulary, maps, information on Five Pillars; lessons on the spread of Islam based on historical research, chronology, and maps from the set of lessons written to accompany the Unity Productions Foundation documentary film Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet including viewing guides, discussion questions, note-taking grids, and suggested activities and enrichment. PDFs of the lessons can be found at
  • Lesson and Readings on Historical Background of the Abrahamic Faiths is part of the complete set of lessons for comprehension and enrichment written to accompany the Unity Productions Foundation documentary film Cities of Light, in addition to interactive online features, articles, slide shows, timelines and maps is found at The Lesson Plan Set is available for download in pdf format (individual lesson titles and the complete set on the site).
  • Era 5 pf the World History For Us All online curriculum features Islamic history, especially in the Panorama lesson in brief form, in Landscape Teaching Units 5.2 Islam and Afroeurasia and 5.3 Consolidation of the Trans-Hemispheric Network, and later eras, such as Landscape 6.7 The Long Reach of the Major Religions include lessons as relevant to premodern and modern history.
  • Horace Mann Middle School site on Medieval Islamic Cultures has 15 departments with text and image on the whole gamut of history and society, the arts, sciences and mathematics. Very worthwhile to visit.


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, K-12 Educational Outreach– Teaching Units

Teaching modules in pdf format are available on Islam (see above, top), Trade and Travel, Arabic Language, Calligraphy, the Arabs, and Islamic contributions to Mathematics and Science.

Documentary Films on Islamic History

  • Unity Productions Foundation teacher pages cover all of their documentary films with lesson plans at including Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, Cities of Light, The Sultan and the Saint (on the Crusades), Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, Enemy of the Reich: the Noor Inayet Khan Story, and Prince Among Slaves.
  • – British historian Bettany Hughes hosts the full length documentary, “When the Moors Ruled Europe.”
  • – 3 pt. documentary, “Islam and Science,” by the BBC.
  • Islam: Empire of Faith documentary film companion website – The site includes an outstanding timeline of Islamic history in four realms of history, as well as lesson plans and access to images from the arts and sciences. Visit the site at


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. 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.

Advanced information on a wide variety of scientific topics is found at, where the articles are quite well documented for the most part and written by academics in their fields of expertise.