For Educators

Islam and Terrorism – Background


In this lesson, students will explore the teachings and values of Islam and of the Muslim community in their own area. They will also examine the experience of the Muslim-American community after September 11, 2001. Through exposure to members of the Muslim community (i.e. as guest speakers, field trips to mosques) and research using various text and media resources, students will explore how Islam has been interpreted by terrorists for their own political purposes. Students will also consider why Islamic extremism and militarism might appeal to those individuals, especially young people, who have been subjected to intense violence and poverty.

Grade Level:

Grades 9-12

Time Allotment:

5-7 class periods

Note: The time needed for each learning activity is approximate. It will vary depending on the particular needs and skills of your students, as well as on course parameters and time constraints you may have to consider.

Subject Matter:

World History; Ethics; Culture and Society; Sociology; Religion.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Research the ways in which Muslim extremists have interpreted the teachings of Islam for their own political purposes.
  • Explore and understand some of the teachings of Islam, and examine where extremists’ actions stand in relation to these teachings.
  • Investigate the grievances voiced by many Muslims in the world, and look at how extremists have seized upon legitimate grievances to carry out acts of violence.
  • Understand the experiences of Muslim Americans following September 11, 2001.
  • Develop and conduct surveys.
  • Work cooperatively in small groups.
  • Synthesize the information they gather during the unit and through surveys in a class presentation.
  • Understand the following vocabulary: extremism, radical Islam, militant, Mohammed, jihad, legitimate grievances.


Click here to see the academic standards for this lesson plan.