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Technology-rich, standards-based lessons for upper elementary and middle school
Qur'an: Sacred Scripture of Islam



The Qur'an is the sacred scripture of Islam, and is believed by Muslims to be God's final revelation to humankind. The Qur'an was revealed in Arabic to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel over a period of 22 years, beginning in 610 CE and ending in 632 CE. The passages of the Qur'an addressed topics such as God's power, the purpose of life, the nature of good and evil, and the Afterlife. Muhammad's early followers were provided with guidelines for living a moral and dignified life favorable to God, sometimes through passages that spoke to their immediate circumstances and other times through more universal teachings. As Islam spread over time into new areas, Arabic became a common language for Muslims in many lands. Qur'anic teachings influenced Muslim cultures, and its references to learning, education, observation, and the use of reason stimulated Muslims to pursue knowledge in many fields. The word Qur'an means "reading" or "recitation," and the oral recitation and memorization of verses has served as a foundation for strengthening faith as well as acquiring the intellectual tools to seek knowledge more generally.

In this lesson, students learn about the Qur'an and its rich history of promoting learning and providing Muslims with guidance in their lives.

Time Allotment: Three 45-minute class periods

Subject Matter: Science; Social Studies; English/Language arts; Religion

Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
  • Understand that madrasahs are traditional places of learning in Islam;
  • Recognize the strong emphasis Islam places on education and learning;
  • Learn about the advancements in ethics, mathematics, and astronomy by earlier Muslim scholars;
  • Learn about the effects of the Crusades and Mongol invasion on Muslim's outlook of the world, particularly in the madrasahs;
  • Appreciate the importance of Timbuktu as a center for learning;
  • Understand the use of primary source materials in constructing an image of an ancient city and civilization;
  • Understand the applications of passages from the Qur'an and the Hadith in Islamic life.

Historical Understanding
    Standard 2, Level III, Benchmark 1, 2
      1. Understands that specific individuals and the values those individuals held had an impact on history.

      2. Analyzes the influence specific ideas and beliefs had on a period of history.
World History
    Standard 13, Level III, Benchmark 2
      2. Understands significant aspects of Islamic civilization (e.g., the emergence of Islamic civilization in Iberia and its economic and cultural achievements, how family life and gender relations were prescribed in Islamic society).
    Standard 2, Level III, Benchmark 3
      3. Knows the relative location of, size of, and distances between places (e.g., major urban centers in the United States).
Behavioral Studies
    Standard 1, Level III, Benchmark 1
      1. Understands that each culture has distinctive patterns of behavior that are usually practiced by most of the people who grow up in it.
Language Arts
    Standard 7, Level II, Benchmarks 1, 5-6
      1. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts (e.g., textbooks, biographical sketches, letters, diaries, directions, procedures, magazines).

      5. Summarizes and paraphrases information in texts (e.g., includes the main idea and significant supporting details of a reading selection).

      6. Uses prior knowledge and experience to understand and respond to new information.
    Standard 4, Level III, Benchmark 6
      6. Organizes information and ideas from multiple sources in systematic ways (e.g., time lines, outlines, notes, graphic representations).
Listening and Speaking
    Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes Level II, Benchmarks 1, 3, 7, 10-12
      1. Contributes to group discussions.

      3. Responds to questions and comments (e.g., gives reasons in support of opinions, responds to others' ideas).

      7. Makes basic oral presentations to class (e.g., uses subject-related information and vocabulary; includes content appropriate to the audience; relates ideas and observations; incorporates visual aids or props; incorporates several sources of information).

      10. Organizes ideas for oral presentations (e.g., uses an introduction and conclusion; uses notes or other memory aids; organizes ideas around major points, in sequence, or chronologically; uses traditional structures, such as cause-and-effect, similarity and difference, posing and answering a question; uses details, examples, and anecdotes to clarify information).

      11. Listens for specific information in spoken texts (e.g., plot details or information about a character in a short story read aloud, information about a familiar topic from a radio broadcast).

      12. Understands the main ideas and supporting details in spoken texts (e.g., presentations by peers or quest speakers, a current affairs report on the radio).
Media Components

Web Sites:
    Council on Islamic Education
    This site provides a wide range of information from policy work, essays, reports, and articles and lesson plans for educators.

    Islam for Today
    This site provides a guide to the religion of Islam, Muslim history and civilizations, the rights of women in Islam, Islam in the West and around the world today, plus Muslim schools and family life.

    "Islam: Empire of Faith"
    A companion piece to the PBS documentary of the same name, this site offers detailed segments on faith, culture, innovation, and profiles figures in Islam. The site also features an interactive timeline and educational resources.

For the teacher:
  • Access to the Internet
  • Ideally, a screen on which to project Web-based video clips
  • Handouts of Web resources if computers are not available in the classroom
  • A map of Africa and the Middle East that shows Timbuktu, other major cities and a mileage key

For each group of 3-4 students: For students: Prep for Teachers

Prior to teaching the lesson, review all of the Web sites and video segments used in the lesson to make certain that they are appropriate for your students. Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom, or upload them to an online bookmarking utility such as Download the Acrobat Reader plug-in from to each computer in your classroom. Download the free RealPlayer plug-in from to play the video clips.

Download, print, and copy all of the student organizers listed above for each student in your classroom.

Prerequisite: Before beginning this lesson, be sure to do the Introductory Activity from the "Religion and the First Amendment" lesson with your class.