Muslim Contributions to Civilization

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INTRODUCTION

This curriculum was designed to supplement content standards in social studies and world history relating to the study of world civilizations and their contributions. The curriculum is composed of six individual lesson plans, each of which focuses on different parts of the digital presentation, Muslim Contributions to Civilization. The curriculum begins with the actual presentation notes that describe each slide in the presentation. In addition to the presentation notes, each lesson features post-presentation analysis, comprehension and discussion questions. The curriculum also includes links to related films, which are accompanied by follow-up questions about each film. Each lesson concludes with suggestions for additional resources and references, including films, books and websites.

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LESSON ONE: WORLD CIVILIZATIONS

This lesson discusses the interconnectedness of all civilizations and the importance of recognizing the contributions of all of them as a means to understanding history and culture. This includes Muslim contributions, particularly those made during the Golden Age of Islam in medieval times, which have often failed to be fully recognized and acknowledged. This lesson also discusses the various elements of culture that enhance our life and wellbeing.

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LESSON TWO: HOME AND DAILY LIFE

This lesson examines Muslim influences in our home and daily lives, beginning with the most common products that we use on a daily basis, namely food and drink. It also describes various spices introduced from the East by Muslims into Europe, some of which still reflect their Arabic names. Other contributions discussed include articles of clothing, fabrics, furniture, and carpets. In this regard, Ziryab of Spain influenced multiple aspects of lifestyle trends, including fashion, hygiene, cosmetics, dining, and cuisine.

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LESSON THREE: ARCHITECTURE, THE ARTS, AND RECREATION

This lesson looks at Muslim contributions to art, architecture, and music. Medieval Muslims created beautiful gardens and courtyards. Medieval Muslim cities were often carefully planned and featured such advanced amenities as lighting, sewers, and indoor plumbing. Muslim artists created unique and beautiful art forms utilizing art forms such as arabesque, geometric designs, and calligraphy. Muslims also contributed to music and recreational activities. Trade and commerce helped spread these art forms and greatly expanded between the East and West during the Golden Age of Islam.

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LESSON FOUR: LIBRARIES, COLLEGES, AND MATHEMATICS

This lesson describes medieval Muslims’ zeal for knowledge and learning. Enabled by the art of papermaking which the Muslims learned from the Chinese, this zeal gave rise to a proliferation of books, libraries, and institutions of higher learning. The Abbasids founded the House of Wisdom in ninth century Baghdad, where scholars translated the works of the Greeks, Persians, Indians, and others in various fields of science and mathematics. Muslim colleges were places of learning open to people in all walks of life and demonstrated many characteristics of modern universities. Of all the fields that Muslims excelled in, mathematics is perhaps the area where they contributed the most. Geometry is a related field where the Muslims combined science with art, yielding magnificent results in geometrical designs that embellish tiles, artwork, and mosques across the Muslim world.

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LESSON FIVE: MEDICINE

This lesson examines how medieval Muslim physicians, surgeons, and pharmacists contributed to the field of medicine. One of the greatest physicians in history was Ibn Sina (known in the West as Avicenna) who wrote the groundbreaking Canon of Medicine. Medieval Muslim hospitals treated a variety of diseases, in conjunction with the development of pharmacies that provided treatments for numerous ailments. Additionally, zoology and veterinary medicine grew out of an early interest in the anatomy and treatment of animals.

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LESSON SIX: SCIENCE AND HUMANITIES

This lesson examines the contributions of Muslims in diverse fields, including astronomy, geography, philosophy, and literature. Muslim astronomers translated the works of the Greeks, Indians, and others into Arabic and built upon their discoveries and research. They studied Ptolemy’s tables and made their own observations using the astrolabe, which they enhanced and used for multiple purposes. Muslim scientists such as Ibn al-Haytham studied optics and made great advances in that field. Muslims were also interested in timekeeping, and inventors such as al-Jazari designed various types of clocks. In geography and history, Ibn Battuta is considered one of the greatest travelers of all times. In philosophy and poetry, Averroes and Rumi are still world renowned. The tolerance and learning that characterized much of Muslim history allowed these advances and contributions. Today, American Muslims continue to contribute to this country and the world in multiple fields and professions.

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