Lesson 1: The Presence of Religion in Daily Life
About this Lesson:
Religion, regardless of an individual’s level of religiosity, plays a significant role in daily life around the world, including in the Arab world. As the majority religion in the region, Islam is greatly present in daily life and plays a large role in structuring institutionalized rituals and routines. This lesson asks students to think about religious presence and consider its impact on society at large as well as individuals, Muslim or not.
This lesson begins by asking students to think about the role of religion in daily life in America. While they may not at first think religion is present on a daily basis, the understanding that god and religion play a role in daily life is important (examples include: the dollar bill, the national celebration of Christmas, the Pledge of Allegiance, etc.) Once this has been established, students will begin to explore the presence of Islam in daily life in the Arab world. Students will do so by considering the impact of the call to prayer (which is called five times a day) on individual’s understanding of religion and its presence in the region. By listening to multiple calls to prayer, students will be encouraged to think about the diversity within Islam and the Arab world.
The lesson ends by contrasting the call to prayer, an indication of the prevalence of Islam in the Arab world, with the blog Muslims Wearing Things, which shows multiple ways in which Muslims express themselves. You can remind students that the call to prayer is institutional, and clothes are a personal choice. This is the first lesson in a unit that explores religious culture in the region. Keep in mind that students may bring with them certain ideas about Islam that are not necessarily true. As students learn about the daily call to prayer, it may be necessary to remind them that while it is a daily reminder of a religion, that does not mean that everyone practices the same way or believes the same things. Further lessons in this unit explore religious diversity in the region.
In this lesson, students will:
- listen to various versions of the call to prayer.
- look at the blog Muslims Wearing Things.
- write an essay based on Muslims Wearing Things.
- Allah: The Arabic word for God.
- Call to prayer: Ad’han in Arabic, the call to prayer calls Muslims to worship at five prescribed times throughout the day. The call to prayer is called out by a muezzin from the minaret of most mosques throughout the Arab world. The text of the Ad’han is the same throughout the Arab world, though it will be recited differently by different muezzins.
- Islam/Muslim: Islam is the name of the religion and a Muslim is someone who practices Islam.
- Minaret: An architectural feature of a mosque, the minaret is a tall tower whose design varies from region to region. To see a picture, click here
- Muezzin: The person appointed at a mosque to recite the call to prayer.
- Though Islam is present in daily life in the Arab world, there is great diversity in the individual practice of the religion.
- Religion is more than a personal choice in the Arab world; it relates to identity and an individual’s association with their family and society.
Curriculum Framing Questions
- How is religious faith and practice present in the Arab world?
- What does religious identity in the Arab world entail on personal and community levels?
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- recognize the call to prayer.
- analyze the impact of religious practices and rituals on daily life in the Arab world.
Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning:
- Participate in discussion about the presence of religion and the impact of the call to prayer in the Arab world.
- Write a short essay comparing and contrasting images from the blog, Muslims Wearing Things.
Curriculum Standards Information
Reading: Informational Text
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.7 Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
Reading: Informational Text
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
Ask students to think about the role of religion in their own life. Put the following questions on the board and/or distribute the Presence of Religion in Daily Life Handout. Give students five minutes to reflect on them individually. Ask students to share their responses with a partner.
- Is religion present in the United States? Is it present in your life? How?
- Think of two or three examples of how religion is present in mainstream American culture.
- Do you know more about some religions than others? Why?
In a full class discussion, ask students to share their conversations and respond.
Explain to students that in this lessons, the class will consider the presence of Islam in the Arab world. One way in which Islam pervades the region is through the call to prayer. The call to prayer is projected from the minaret of a mosque five times a day and invites Muslims to pray. Play the Call to Prayer Audio clip for the students. As students listen to the call to prayer, ask them to jot down their thoughts and reactions. Use the following questions for discussion:
- What did you think of the call to prayer? What did it sound like?
- How would your life be different if you heard this call to prayer five times a day? Explain.
- How would this experience be different if you did or didn’t pray regularly? Why or why not?
- How might your answers to these questions change if you were/were not Muslim?
Note for teachers: The call to prayer may seem foreign to students and they may not know how to respond to it. Encourage them to be honest but also try to think from within the cultural framework of the Arab world. Remind them that while the call to prayer may seem foreign to them, it is a daily occurrence in the Arab world. Also remind them that while the call to prayer does take place five times a day, not all Muslims pray.
- The presence of prayer rooms in public places including shopping centers, malls, and restaurants.
- The incorporation of “God phrases” into daily speech, such as saying hamdulillah (thank God) in response to “How are you” regardless of one’s level of religiosity or one’s religion. For more information about God phrases, click here or here.
- Reference to God in national anthems in countries including Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
Students will choose 2-3 images from Muslims Wearing Things. They will compare and contrast the images they choose. For each image they must:
- Describe the picture
- Share a personal reaction to the image
- Does the image reflect what you know about Islam and/or Muslims? How?
- What do these images say about Islam and/or Muslims?