Students will expand their understanding of Islam by comparing what the press mostly covers to what Muslims in the Middle East are doing to try to prevent the world from misunderstanding what most Muslims believe.
Ask students either as a previous homework assignment or as a quick classroom assignment to look up current events pertaining to Islam.
- What kinds of articles do they find?
- What impression does the news give of Muslims?
- If a person does not know more than what is learned from these articles, what would he or she believe about Islam?
Next show students this basic Q&A explaining Islam.
- Can they see any reference to violence or extremism in the basic beliefs?
- Why doesn’t the press report on the peaceful everyday beliefs of Muslims around the world?
Introduction to Lesson:
This lesson will ask students to go beyond the mainstream reporting on Islam, which can give the wrong impression of what the vast majority of Muslims believe.
1. After seeing how the press presents the extremist acts of Muslims, ask students to read the following article: “Young Saudis Embrace Internet Satire, Rejecting Ultraconservative Islam." What impressions do students get from this article about the beliefs of Muslims?
2. Pair students up and ask them to do their own research to find a news article covering moderates, reformers, everyday practices of Islam. Summarize the article.
3. Once the students have summarized their articles put them in groups of six so that they can share their news stories. Ask the larger group to discuss: How hard was it to find stories that were not related to violence or extremism? What is the danger of how the press is reporting on Islam?
Come together as a whole class and discuss what kinds of articles they found relating to the way the majority of Muslims practice, live, believe. Discuss how the groups answered: What is the danger of how the press is reporting on Islam?
If a teacher would like to pursue this topic further students can be assigned portions of the following longer article. Each student is responsible for summarizing the portion he or she read when presenting to a group made up of students who read the other sections. Once each student has presented what they understand from their section the whole group can discuss if they believe Islam is changing in Saudi Arabia or not.