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Discussion and Activities


Discussion and Activities
  • Pre-Viewing Discussion
  • Pre-Viewing Activity: Stereotypes and Myths about Islam
  • Internet Resources
  • Pre- or Post-Viewing Activity: Media Analysis
  • Post-Viewing Discussion Questions
  • Post-Viewing Activity: Gender Issues in Islam

  • Glossary

    Beliefs and Daily Lives of Muslims

    Islam Timeline

    Pre-Viewing Discussion

    Before watching the film, help students think about what they may already know, as well as questions they may have about Islam or Muslims.

    You may want to hand out the glossary to students and review the terms "Muslim," "Arab," and "Islam" with them prior to watching the film.

    Explain to students that the film shows Muslims in six countries -- Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Turkey, and the United States -- and that you will be asking them to think about some specific issues while viewing. Put the following questions on the board and ask students to think about these issues as they watch the film.

    1. What Muslim beliefs and practices do you observe in the film?

    2. What roles do you see women playing in the film?

    3. What are the connections between the legal system and Islam in each of the countries? What are the differences?

    4. Are there conflicts you observe in the film between globalization and the Muslim cultures you see portrayed?

    5. In the section on Muslims in the United States, how do the people portrayed in the film view their roles as Muslims within a non-Muslim country?

    After viewing, discuss students' responses to the questions.

    Pre-Viewing Activity: Stereotypes and Myths about Islam


    Prior to viewing, students will write down what they know about Muslims and/or Islam. While viewing, they will look for information that confirms or contradicts what they know. After viewing, students will discuss their findings.


    Ask students to make three columns on a sheet of paper. The first column is for "Beliefs about Muslims prior to viewing." The second column is for "Contradictions or confirmations." The third column is a place for comments or questions to bring up for discussion after viewing the film.

    1. Ask students to list what they know about Islam or Muslims in the first column on their sheet of paper. Typically, students will list a mixture of stereotypes and facts, so it will be important for teachers to be able to differentiate between the two. If students are quiet or in younger grades, teachers can prompt them by asking them if they know any famous Muslims. Often students will suggest people like Malcolm X or Muhammad Ali. Ask students how they know that those people are Muslim. This often gets them talking about stereotypes that they were aware of, but were not identifying as Muslim stereotypes. You can also stimulate discussion by asking students if they know what the major religions of the world are and what some of the differences are between them? This question will likely get students talking about Muslim women covering themselves, or Islam and violence.

    2. Tell students that as they view the film, they should notice and write down in the second column whether any of the information they have written down in their first column is confirmed or contradicted. Tell them to be as specific as possible. For example, students typically list something about women not having rights. In the film, there are several examples of women working outside of the home.

    3. Tell students that while viewing the film, they should write down in the third column any unfamiliar vocabulary, issues or questions that come up for them. You could also hand out the glossary ahead of time to help them identify or circle words they do not know.

    4. After viewing, stimulate a discussion by asking students to share what they learned, what comments and questions they have, and what stereotypes were confirmed or contradicted. Discuss with students where some of their stereotypes might originate. For example, how have they seen Muslims portrayed on television, movies, commercials, magazines, and newspapers?

    Internet Resources

    The following Internet sites provide easily accessible information about Islam. You can also give students the following Web site addresses to use in doing a research activity to follow up their viewing and discussion of the film.

    Teachers who would like to invite religious leaders or scholars into the classroom can also find contact information on the above-mentioned sites, as well the following Web site: http://www.ing.org/about_us.htm

    Islamic Networks Group (ING) is a nonprofit, educational organization based in San Francisco that delivers presentations relating to Islam and the Muslim world with the goal of eliminating stereotyping through education.

    For a list of countries with significant Muslim populations, visit the Web site of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the United Nations: http://www.oic-un.org/about/members.htm

    News and Politics

    The following Web sites are good resources for news and information about the politics of American Muslims. These are also good sources for better understanding the global politics involving Muslims and Muslim countries.

    Pre- or Post-Viewing Activity: Media Analysis


    Students will compare coverage of Islam or Muslim related news stories, such as Ramadan, in a U.S. and Islamic newspaper.


    1. Have students locate a news story from an Islamic news source, centered on Islam and/or Muslims in another country. Coverage of Ramadan is a good topic to focus on for this exercise. Students can find their news story online or bring a newspaper or magazine to class. See the listing below of sample newspaper Web sites.

    2. Have students locate coverage of the same news story in a major United States newspaper such as The New York Times.

    3. What do students notice about the way in which the event or story is told? What is the same? What is different? What is included and excluded?

    4. Discuss the following questions: Do you see bias in each of the news stories? Are events covered in non-U.S. newspapers that are also covered in U.S. papers?

    Examples of Online newspapers (in English)


    Assign students to analyze their social studies or history textbooks looking for the following: What does your book say about Islam? Does your textbook include contributions from Muslim-dominant countries as a part of world history? Is Islam mentioned in countries other than the Middle East, including the United States? How would you characterize the information your textbook tells you about Islam? (Note: This alternative is particularly useful for schools that do not have Internet access and/or access to international newspapers)

    Post-Viewing Discussion Questions

    Here are some questions designed to get students talking after the film:

    • What did you notice about the relationship between Islam and the law in the different countries in the film?

    • What are three things you learned about Islam from the film?

    • What did you learn about the influence of globalization on Muslims who do not live in the United States?

    • Name some of the tensions the film identifies between "the West" and Muslims

    Post-Viewing Activity: Gender Issues in Islam

    Students will be asked to compare and contrast the roles of men and women with regard to various topics in the six countries featured in the film.

    1. Divide students into five topic groups: Paid labor, family, education, marriage, and activism. Alternatively, there can be six groups, one group for each country, and they can compare the roles for each of these categories.

    2. Each group should discuss what they saw in the film about each topic or country, and prepare a brief oral report to present to the class. For each of the countries featured in the film (Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Turkey, United States) they should review the roles that Muslim men and women play with regard to each of these topics.

    3. After each group has presented their report to the large group, discuss the similarities and differences across countries, the differences and similarities between men and women, and how these roles differ from other religions they may know about. You can also discuss any conflicts they see between the culture of the country and Muslim practices they observed in the film.

    Note: The film does not cover all of these areas for each country. You can assign students to research the 'blank spaces' for this exercise.

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