ISLAMIC AND MUSLIM CULTURE

Professor Kay E. Vandergrift

In our post 9/11 world, it is increasingly important for young children to meet sympathetic Islamic and Muslim characters in picture books as well as acquire information about those peoples that profess this faith. Children may hear far too much condemnation and fear of all Middle Eastern cultures and peoples and may even make fun of or be fearful of a young classmate who wears a Muslim Hijaab.**

Children need to develop understanding and appreciation of both the similarities and the differences in the lives of children who grow up honoring Islamic and Muslim traditions.

The following websites may contribute to the acquisition of this knowledge.

Islam: Empire of Faith The resources offered here are designed to help you use the PBS Islam: Empire of Faith video series and companion Web site in secondary social studies, civics, religion, and language arts classes. Islam: Empire of Faith may be taped off-air and used for up to a year following broadcast, or you may choose to purchase it through Shop PBS for Teachers. The lesson plans may also be adapted for use as stand-alone resources.

Iranica: Decoration In this article, the historical development of the Persian ornamental repertoire will be surveyed, with the purpose of providing a foundation for addressing these more general questions. Treatment of this development will be divided into two basic epochs, from the Islamic conquest to the Mongol invasion and from the latter to the mid-19th century. Although there was considerable continuity between these two epochs, Mongol rule brought to a close a period of gradual internal artistic evolution and opened an era in which change was increasingly stimulated by the importation of foreign decorative themes and techniques, often at the instigation of the ruling dynasty.

Religious Beliefs Made Visible: Geometry and Islam As students learn about the art produced by people of an unfamiliar society, they discover that it tells them many things about what these people did, knew, and believed. Examining the geometric patterns that characterize so much of Islamic art can provide students with important insights into the technology, scientific knowledge, and religious beliefs of Moslems.

The Noble Qur'an On this Web site, there are three translations of the Qur'an. Note that any translation of the Qur'an immediately ceases to be the literal word of Allah, and hence cannot be equated with the Qur'an in its original Arabic form. In fact, each of the translations on this site is actually an interpretation which has been translated. The first-time reader is strongly advised to read the introduction to the translations we have made available.

The Koran This is an electronic version of The Holy Qur'an, translated by M.H. Shakir and published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc., in 1983. It also allows for simple and advanced text searches, including Boolean searches.

Islamic Art Introduction This website is conceived as a companion to the Islamic galleries at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Intended as a general introduction to Islamic art, it draws upon examples from the museumís comprehensive collection, which includes works from an area extending from southern Spain to Central Asia, ranging in date from the seventh through the nineteenth century. The text is designed for readers who seek to go beyond the obvious surface beauty of Islamic art to discover the rich historical and cultural traditions from which this art emerged. Be sure to example the various images in this site.

Commentary: Terrorism Is at Odds With Islamic Tradition by Khaled Abou El Fadl In short, modern Muslim terrorism is part of the historical legacy of colonialism and not the legacy of Islamic law. According to the Islamic juristic tradition, terrorists would have no quarter.

Masud Ahmed Khan Home Page One of the smaller sites, it offers a selection of well-crafted essays by prominent clerics and other Muslim commentators. All are highly critical of the September 11 action, and many, like Nuh Ha Mim Keller, have some thought-provoking analysis.

** The rubric of the hijab, a term loosely, if not always accurately, employed to denote loose clothing topped by a headscarf.
The Islamic imperative for veiling stems from a passage in the Koran that states: "Say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty. They should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their ornaments."
But within Islam, the issue of veiling is a subject for considerable debate. Some Islamic experts say the text is open to interpretations, which has accounted for the diversity of veiling traditions across the Islamic world.
"Although the Koran does call upon women to cover their heads, the measures change from tradition to tradition," says Ibrahim Kalin, an Islamic scholar and fellow at George Washington University. "The burqa in particular, is part of local traditions in different parts of the world. While the Koran does not obliterate the need for hijab, Muslim women have a choice based on their circumstances. But Koranic injunctions definitely call for modesty in dressing."

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