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Islam and Judaism: From Muhammad to the Ottoman Empire
Introduction Learning Activities Materials Bookmarks Standards
Learning Activities
In the Beginning...
Jewish-Muslim Relations in Islamic Lands
The Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Empire
Islamic calligraphy: glazed brick on the wall of a tomb in Shah-i Zindeh, Samarkand (Courtesy C M Dixon)
Learning Activity 1: In the Beginning...

Students will gain basic knowledge about the early beginnings of Islam, as well as a broader view of the growth of Islam as a religion and culture.

1. Ask students what they know about Islam. Write their responses on the board, then restate their responses and organize them into useful categories - who, what, when, where, why, how.

2. Introduce the HERITAGE: CIVILIZATION AND THE JEWS DVD-ROM. (See Tips for Using Lesson Plans in Your Classroom for ideas about how to do this.)

3. Look up "Islam" in the Concise Judaica. Students should begin their research with the Concise Judaica, and they may want to use the other components of the HERITAGE DVD-ROM for additional research.

Additionally, the following Web sites offer basic information on Islam:
4. Break into small groups and have students discuss and answer questions from the handout Early Islam (PDF):

  • Who were the important people in early Islam?
  • What were the central events in the early story of Islam?
  • When did the central events in the early story of Islam occur?
  • Where did the central events in the early story of Islam occur?
  • Why did these things happen, and why did Islam emerge as a distinct religion and culture?
  • How was this able to happen? How did the events of the time affect what happened?

5. Ideally, each group will have a computer to work with. After students have had time to discuss the questions generally, assign each group one of the six questions to respond to and write up on large paper. Students will present the work of their small group to the class as a way of sharing and incorporating the research.

6. Say to students: "Now that we've got some basic information, let's look at the map and see what else we can learn." Divide students into groups of two or three and distribute the Atlas Exploration (PDF) handout. (Note: This activity could take an entire class period. If you only have one computer, this can be done as a whole-class activity.) Ask students to review the materials outlined in the handout, and to complete the assignment:

    Go to the Heritage Bookmark Atlas, 72-732 CE and click on Summary
    • Read the World summary.

    Zoom in on Europe/Near East/North Africa and click on Summary.
    • Read the summary for this segment.

    Zoom in on Near East.
    • Read the summary for this segment.

    Look at the same maps in different time periods.
    • Read the summary for the segments.
Remember, you can flip between the historical and modern-day views of these maps.

You can be more or less directive with students in terms of what you'd like them to look for in their Atlas exploration. There is much to be gleaned from expanding the time and geographical parameters (looking in-depth over several eras and areas), just as there is from asking students to limit their explorations to specific times and locations. While exploring the Atlas, have students complete the following assignment:
  • Using the Atlas feature of the HERITAGE DVD-ROM, write down five interesting facts or important bits of information.
  • Write down at least three questions that came up as the result of your Atlas exploration. For instance: How did Islam gain such a strong foothold in the Arabian lands?

Continue to Learning Activity 2: Jewish-Muslim Relations in Islamic Lands
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