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Technology-rich, standards-based lessons for upper elementary and middle school



The annual Hajj or pilgrimage of Islam brings millions of Muslims to Mecca, located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. All Muslims, both men and women, who are financially and physically able, are expected to attend the Hajj at least once in their lives. The pilgrimage consists of several ceremonies meant to symbolize the essential concepts of Islam and commemorate the trials of prophet Abraham and his family. The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and an essential part of a Muslim’s faith and practice. This week-long event occurs two months and ten days after Ramadan ends, during the Muslim month of Dhul-Hijjah.

In this lesson, students compare and contrast some of their cultural events with the Hajj. They will also learn of the activities involved during the pilgrimage and their historic and spiritual importance to Muslims.

Time Allotment: Three 45-minute class periods

Subject Matter: Social studies; English/ language arts; religion

Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
  • Reflect on the importance of rituals in familiar events enjoyed by themselves and with their families;
  • Understand that many of the same activities and motivations associated with these events are enjoyed by Muslims who attend the Hajj;
  • Understand where the Hajj takes place in Mecca and that people travel from all parts of the world to attend;
  • Understand the specific ritual activities of the Hajj, their historic relevance, and importance to Islam;
  • Appreciate the diversity of other groups’ religious and cultural traditions;
  • Understand the importance of attending the Hajj and its spiritual impact from an American Muslim's point of view;
  • Identify ways in which other religious and traditional practices are similar to one's own.

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 the Muslim civilization (e.g., the emergence of Islam in Iberia and its economic and cultural achievements, how family life and gender relations were prescribed in Muslim 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, Benchmarks 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:
      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

Hajj -- Part I
Hajj -- Part II
Hajj -- Part III
Web sites:
    Council on Islamic Education
    This site provides a wide range of information including policy work, essays, reports, 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 of prominent figures in Islam. The site also features an interactive timeline and educational resources.

    The Islam Project
    This multimedia website is aimed at schools, communities, and individuals who want a clearer understanding of Islam. The project comprises two PBS documentaries -- MUHAMMAD: LEGACY OF A PROPHET and FRONTLINE's "Muslims" -- along with a strong community engagement campaign and educational materials.

For the teacher:
  • Board and/or chart paper
  • Overhead projector, if available
  • Ideally, a screen on which to project the Web-based clips
  • Handouts of Web resources if computers are not available in the classroom

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.