Islam: Teaching the Basics

Islam: Teaching the Basics

Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, but teaching it in the classroom can be difficult. Students may not have been exposed to Islam before, or what they have heard may be characterized by misinformation and stereotypes. In reality, Islam is a huge and varied tradition with a long history, fascinating contributions to society, and a modern population with incredibly diverse lives, beliefs and practices. Learning about other religions is important — a study by the First Amendment Center found that teaching world religions in the classroom has a positive effect on students’ views on similarities between major religions, religious freedoms, and the importance of civil liberties in general.

Click here for a guide on how to address difficult topics in the classroom, and find below a collection of resources for educators: articles, books, and infographics to inform how you teach Islam, lesson plans and scripts to help plan your curriculum, and multimedia resources like novels, films, and podcasts to supplement your own lesson plans.

Recommended Topics to Discuss

  • The history of Islam
  • Muslim practices and holidays
  • Similarities and differences between Islam and the other Abrahamic religions
  • Sunni Islam vs. Shia Islam
  • Muslim demographics – are all Muslims Arabs, or vice versa? (hint: no!)
  • Muslims in America (in-depth resource guide to come, so make sure you’re signed up for future newsletters!)

Background Information

Lesson Plans and Teaching Guides

Films & Documentaries

YouTube Videos



  • Muslims in America from NPR, a radio series on what it means to be a young American Muslim
  • Three Islamic Truths from Philosophize This! discusses three schools of thought on “truth” in Islamic philosophy
  • Islam and the U.S. from Backstory on America’s long and surprising relationship with Islam and Muslims
  • Islamic Extremism in the Modern World from 15 Minute History (A UT Austin Project) briefly discusses Islamic extremism today and how to approach it in the classroom
  • Islam’s Enigmatic Origins from 15 Minute History reexamines what we actually know about the life of the Prophet Muhammad

Local Resources

  • Are you looking for someone local to talk to your class about Islam – maybe a local faith leader, organizer, or imam? Search IslamicFinder for a database of mosques and Islamic center in your area, and consider reaching out. Many people are happy to come share their religion and culture with a classroom.


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