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Lesson Plans

Welcome to Oxford Islamic Studies Online's lesson plans.

These lesson plans illustrate how professors can use Oxford Islamic Studies Online to bring online learning into the Islamic studies classroom, streamline their course materials to one accessible location, and connect with today's technologically savvy student. Students today are increasingly accustomed to using technology in their research. With that in mind, we have collected lesson plans from professors of Islamic studies who use this site in their classrooms. By encouraging the use of authoritative websites in the classroom, educators can guide students in their studies while teaching them responsible research methods.

Each lesson plan highlights the resources available on Oxford Islamic Studies Online and provides discussion questions, supplementary reading suggestions, and a summary of the topic for lecture preparation. These lesson plans can be used to supplement existing syllabi, to provide ideas for integrating the site into the classroom, or as outlines for self-guided study.

We will add lesson plans with each update, so please check back for new plans.

Progressive Islam

Adis Duderija, Lecturer in the Study of Islam and Society at Griffith University, has written extensively on the movement in contemporary scholarship known as "progressive Islam." In this lesson plan, Duderija provides instructors with a guide to introducing this school of thought to undergraduates.

Islam and LGBTQ+ Issues

Co-authors of Islamic Law and Muslim Same-Sex Unions Junaid Jahangir (MacEwan University) and Hussein Abdullatif (University of Alabama) argue that linguistic analysis of the Qur'ān challenges neo-traditionalist positions on homosexuality in Islam. This lesson plan leads students toward an alternative reading of the story of the people of Lut, from which these neo-traditionalist arguments are derived.

Shī'ite Messianism

Lynda C. Clarke, Associate Professor of Religion and Islam at Concordia University, is an expert on Shī'ism in all of its historical and contemporary forms. In this lesson plan, Professor Clarke explores the concept of messianism within Shī'ite Islam.

Trends in Modern Arab Political Thought: Islamic Reformism

The tendency to reaffirm the continued relevance of Islamic texts and disciplines in the present, and to recast these texts and disciplines as adhering to modern understandings of “reason,” “progress,” and “democratic politics” is one of the defining characteristics of modern Arab political thought. Yasmeen Daifallah of the University of Massachusetts–Amherst presents the ways in which reformers have interpretated and changed understandings of hte Islamic tradition.

The Modern Gulf

Though the Gulf has long been viewed as a hybrid of both Persian and Arab cultures, this series of lessons by Allen Fromherz (Georgia State University) examines the varied influences on the Gulf, from Europe to Asia to Africa.

Yemeni Islamist Movements

The significance of Islamist rhetoric, shared or valued by large segments of the population, is without doubt one of the most remarkable features of the Yemeni political landscape. The country has been engaged since 2011 in a revolutionary process and a constitutional transition whose outcomes are still uncertain. Laurent Bonnefoy (Centre détudes et de recherches internationales/Sciences Po Paris) presents the diversity of the Islamist field in this often overlooked region of the Arab Spring.

The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs

Lynda C. Clarke, Associate Professor of Religion and Islam at Concordia University, is an expert on Shī'ism in all of its historical and contemporary forms. In this fascinating lesson plan, Professor Clarke introduces teachers and students to the ʿAlawīs, a secretive and controversial branch of Shiite Islam.

Islamism in Sub-Saharan Africa

Alexander Thurston (Council on Foreign Relations) presents an in-depth study of the origins of political Islam and then explores the topic as it has manifested itself in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years. Students will gain an understanding not only of the Islamic presence in Africa, but also of wider movements to incorporate Islamic principles in government.

Islam and Women's Dress

Christina Lindholm (Virginia Commonwealth University) employs a variety of readings and self-reflective activities to guide students to an understanding of the history and social significance of women's dress in Muslim cultures.

The History of North Africa (Maghreb)

Allen Fromherz (Georgia State University) explores the development of Islam in this complex and diverse region, from the Berber culture of the pre-Islamic era through the independence movements of the late 20th century.

The Fundamentals of Islam: Debunking Stereotypes and Misconceptions

In a wide-ranging lesson plan, Chrystie Swiney (College of William and Mary) utilizes major scholarly works, newspaper articles, surveys, podcasts, and television programs to confront the major misconceptions of Islam.

Political Islam: Genesis, History and Impact

B. Zeynab Ali (Columbia University) provides a course overview focused on the evolving relationship between Islam and politics, from the end of the colonial era to the Arab Spring.

Islam in South Asia: Introduction to South Asian Islam

In this course outline, B. Zeynab Ali surveys the diversity of Islamic practice and teachings in South Asia, dealing specifically with Sufism, the manifestations of political Islam, and the development of a South Asian Muslim identity.

Perspectives on Women and Gender in the Muslim World

In this lesson plan, professor Corinne S. Blake provides the outline for a modern look at the rights and roles of women in Islam. This modular approach focuses on the scholarly examination of four major issues in women's lives: religious texts, polygamy, the veil, and politics.

Islamic Nationalism

The modern roots of Islam as a unifying political force can be traced to the writings of early twentieth-century pan-Islamists such as Muhammad Iqbal and Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī. Marked by a strong anti-colonial message and the wedding of Islam and politics, their works continue to resonate in the Islamic world. In this lesson plan, Senior Research Fellow at Nanyang Technological University Singapore Farish A. Noor frames the causes and effects of the movement.


In this lesson plan, Erik S. Ohlander, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, provides a template for discussing the historical development and major themes of the Islamic mystical tradition known as Sufism.

Sunni-Shiʿa Conflict

Hostility between adherents to the Sunni and Shiʿa sects of Islam dates from the time of Muhammad's death in the seventh century. In this lesson plan, International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies fellow Christoph Marcinkowski outlines the points of contention between the branches and their current implications.


In this lesson plan, University of Michigan graduate student Hafsa Kanjwal provides a framework for teaching about the partition of British India. Suggested readings, maps, and films provide a comprehensive view of the world-altering event.

The Roots of Democracy and Constitutionalism in the Middle East

Though its legacy remains a work in progress, the "Arab Spring" of 2011 represented a historic victory for bottom-up activism in the Middle East. In this lesson plan, Corinne S. Blake, of Rowan University, examines historical precedents for democracy and constitutionalism in the region.

Contemporary Salafi Movements

Within the past decade, much of the world has been focused on Salafism, an orthodox Islamic movement and one of the most prominent "bogeymen" of post-9/11 Muslim politics. In this lesson plan, Laurent Bonnefoy, Research Fellow in political science at Institut Français du Proche-Orient, analyzes the movement's role in modern Islamist politics.

Islam in East Africa

Religion in non-Arab East Africa has a uniquely complicated history. In this lesson plan, Rüdiger Seesemann, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Northwestern University, explores the history of Islam in the region.

Islam in Southeast Asia

In this lesson plan, Fred R. von der Mehden, Professor Emeritus of Rice University, offers a blueprint for students on the unique form of Islam in Southeast Asia, a region that includes Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority state.

Islamic Modernism

Written by Professor John Voll of Georgetown University, this lesson plan details the ways in which the Muslim world adapted to modernity in the twentieth century, listing the major figures in the intellectual enterprise, along with the essential primary and secondary sources.

Women and the Qur'an

This lesson plan by Dr. Kiki Kennedy-Day explores the creation story, human rights, and scriptural interpretation in relation to women in the Qur'an, connecting them to modern issues such as suffrage, political reform, violence, and marital practices.

Islam in North America

In this lesson plan, Professor Amir Hussain of Loyola Marymount University explores the role that Islam has played in North America by examining the Nation of Islam and its key members: Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Warith Deen Muhammad. The lesson plan directs students to relevant illustrative readings and provides questions for further discussion.


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