Promoting Understanding: Islam (A Toolkit for Teachers)
Subject: Social Studies | Grade: 1–12
Use this toolkit to promote understanding about Islam through study of the culture, traditions, and personal stories of Muslim Americans. Engaging videos, background essays, discussion questions, and teaching tips challenge students to recognize religious intolerance and combat Islamophobia, while increasing empathy and celebrating diversity.
In this guide you will find tried and tested approaches to teaching about religion in middle and high school classrooms. The guidelines emphasize an academic approach to teaching about religion and encourage discussion, intellectual and objective inquiry, as well as the development of the respect and responsibilities that ensure our Constitutional protections for freedom of conscience.
In this lesson, students learn about the First Amendment and its protection of religious freedom.
Holidays and Religious Observance
Eid-al-Fitr: All About the Holidays (Grades K-4)
Eid al Fitr is a three day holiday that ends the Islamic month of Ramadan. Muslims celebrate with family and food after the end of a long fast, joining with one another for prayer and other traditions.
Eid Al-Adha (Grades K-4)
Eid Al-Adha is a yearly four day celebration of the Islamic faith remembering the story of Abraham.
Nadia’s Ramadan (Grades 1-8)
Nadia, a young Muslim-American girl, describes the celebration of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast, or go without food and drink, during the day.
Ramadan is Here (Grades 5-12)
Learn about the Islamic period of fasting called Ramadan and its significance to Muslims.
Muslim Prayer (Grades 5-12)
Prayer, the act of communicating with God, is a shared component of religions around the world. Prayer is one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith.
Zakaat (Grades 5-12)
The Muslim practice of “zakaat,” or almsgiving, is one of the five pillars of Islam — part of the framework of Muslim life and required of all able adult adherents.
The Hajj: Islamic Sacred Pilgrimage (Grades 8-12)
Explore the Hajj, the traditional pilgrimage to Mecca, through the experience of present-day American Muslims and learn about the origins of Islam in its birthplace of Medina.
In this lesson, students explore and understand the basic beliefs of Islam as well as the Five Pillars that guide Muslims in their daily life: belief, worship, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage.
History and Culture
Wearing the Hijab (Grades 8-12)
Explore the Muslim cultural tradition of women wearing a head covering called the hijab in this video from Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.
Timbuktu (Grades 4-12)
Deep in the West African nation of Mali lies Timbuktu—a formerly prosperous desert crossroads where salt, gold, slaves, and scholarship were exchanged as far back as the 11th century.
Islamic Art (Grades 5-12)
The Islamic Empire once stretched from the Atlantic Ocean in the West, to India and the borders of China in the East. Over many centuries, the artistic traditions of these different regions merged into an identifiably Islamic style.
John Green teaches you the history of Islam, including the revelation of the Qu’ran to Muhammad, the five pillars of Islam, how the Islamic empire got its start, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and more.
Ibn Battuta (Grades 4-8)
Ibn Battuta is known as the greatest Muslim explorer in history. Over the course of thirty years, Battuta recorded his adventures from Africa to Southeast Asia.
Facing Muslim Stereotypes After September 11 (Grades 9-12)
This segment from the PBS series Finding Your Roots provides a look at Muslim stereotypes and anti-Muslim sentiments following the terrorist attacks of September 11.
9/11 Fifteenth Anniversary (Grades 9-12)
Explore the lingering impact of 9/11 and a vision for interfaith relations based on friendship and human connection in this video about the relationship between Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna at NYU.
Fighting Prejudice and Bullying (Grades 6-12)
Learn how a young girl who immigrated to New York City from Yemen dealt with Islamophobia in this video from the FILMS BYkids documentary “Poet against Prejudice.”
Each short film, in the style of a Public Service Announcement (PSA), covers a specific area connected to the representation and experience of Muslims in America.
American Muslims: Fact vs Fiction (Grades 9-12)
American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction provides poll-based answers to the most frequent questions Americans ask about their Muslim neighbors.
Funding for Promoting Understanding: Islam is generously provided by The New York Community Trust.