Islam and September 11: A Teacher's Guide

Many Americans are first becoming acquainted with Islam in the context of the September 11 tragedy. Teachers face the challenge of helping students understand current events and the diversity of Muslim attitudes on religious and political issues.

Teaching students about Islam requires two lessons, not one. The first introduces the Islamic faith as a major world religion, similar to Christianity and Judaism in many ways. The second presents Islamic civilization as a rich history of peoples and cultures, now engulfed in a series of internal and external conflicts. Teaching the second lesson without the first would not instill a proper respect for the Muslim faith. Teaching the first lesson without the second would not provide a context for understanding current events.

We have fused the two lessons into one guide for teachers on Islam and September 11, mostly in the form of questions and answers. We begin with a discussion of the Muslim faith and its basic doctrine. We then provide a historical overview of the religion's birth and the spread of Muslim civilization. Discussion of the global Muslim community profiles the vastness and diversity of the Muslim world today and puts American Muslims into a broader context.

This context helps students understand the Al-Qaeda organization, its historical roots, and the reasons for its limited popularity. Finally, we bring the lesson home to our multicultural society in America, and tackle the sensitive issues of American Muslims' views on Al-Qaeda and the current war, and the evolving attitude of non-Muslim Americans toward the Muslim world.


Download the Teacher's Guide as a PDF file.