NYSED Global History and Geography Online Resource Guide

Unit 2


Core Curriculum

Essential Questions

Focus Questions



Helpful Hints

Resources for Teachers


Learning Experience(s)


home > units >unit 2> The spread of Islam to Europe, Asia, and Africa

E. The spread of Islam to Europe, Asia, and Africa


Human and physical geography

2. Organizational structure
3. The development of Islamic law and its impact

Social class: women and slavery in Muslim society

5. Position of “people of the book”
The golden age of Islam
a. Contributions to mathematics, science, medicine, art, architecture, and literature
b. Role in preserving Greek and Roman culture
c. Islamic Spain
7. Trade

Focus Questions

In what ways are Islam, Christianity, and Judaism similar?  In what ways are they different?

What was the political organizational structure of the early Islamic Empire?

Why did Africans, Asians, and Europeans convert to Islam? 

What was the basis for Islamic law?

How did Islam link Eastern and Western cultures?
What was the status of women under Islamic law? How did this status differ from the status of women in other societies in Western Europe?

How would you describe traditional Muslim views regarding jihad, equality, Muhammad, slavery, trade and commerce, and People of the Book?

During the Golden Age of Islam, what contributions were made to global history by Muslims in the areas of mathematics, science, medicine, art, architecture, and literature? How do Islamic art and architecture reflect a blend of many different cultures?
In what ways did Islam preserve Greek and Roman culture?

Why was it possible for Muslims, Christians, and Jews to trade and mingle freely in cities like Cordova and Malaga during the Golden Age of Islam?

What roles did trade, conquest, and missionaries play in the spread of Islam?

back to the top


caligraphy mosque
caliph patriarchy
faqih rihla
gender roles shari'a
gender status shi'ism
hajj Sufism
iman Sunni
jihad 'ulama
matriarchy umma
Ka'ba zabat

back to the top

Helpful Hints

A book that has proven very readable and popular with students is The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour. The plot centers on the Islamic Golden Age, and the main character Kerbouchard lingers in Cordova then travels throughout the Muslim world. His adventures and encounters offer a variety of discussion topics on the unity of the Muslim world as well as contrasts with other civilizations that enter the story.  Kids who like to read really enjoy this book. 

It would be worth while to create a classroom-sized time line of important points in between these dates and keep the timeline available throughout the year.

A great contact for New York State teachers and students is the American Muslim Women’s Association, P.O. Box 2706, Briarcliff Manor, New York 10510. www.amwa.us

back to the top

Resources for Teachers (Books/Articles, Visuals/Music)


Aghaie, Kamran Scot, and the Council on Islamic Education. 1998. Muslim Women Through the Centuries: A Unit of Study for Grades 7-12. National Center for History in the Classrooms.


Danzer, Gerald. 2000. Atlas of World History. Ann Arbor, MI: Border Press.


Douglas, Susan L, and Thomson Gale. 2002. World Eras. Volume 2, The Rise and Spread of Islam, 622-1500.


Dunn, Ross. 1986. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century.  Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.


Hitti, Philip. 1970. History of the Arabs, 10th ed. New York: St. Martins Press.


Hodgson, Marshall G. S. 1977. Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization. 3 vol. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Hourani, Albert. 1991. A History of the Arab Peoples. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


Hughes, Sarah Shaver and Brady Hughes. Women in World History: Readings from Prehistory to 1500. (Vol. 1). M.E. Sharp. (See Chapter 9: “The Middle East: Islam, Family, and the Seclusion of Women”).


Jenkins, Jr. Everett. 1999. The Muslim Diaspora. Volume 1, 570-1500: A Comprehensive Reference to the Spread of Islam in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. McFarland & Company.


Jenkins, Jr. Everett. 2000. The Muslim Diaspora. Volume 2, 1500-1799: A Comprehensive Reference to the Spread of Islam in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. McFarland & Company.


Roberts, J.H. 1993. A Short History of the World. New York: Oxford University Press.


Smith, Bonnie, ed. 2004-05. Women's History in Global Perspective. Champaign, Ill: University of Illinois Press.


Stearns, Peter. 2001. Cultures in Motion: Mapping Key Contacts and their Imprints in World History. New Haven: Yale University Press.


Stearns. Peter. 1998. World History in Documents: A Comparative Reader. New York University Press.



Stillman, Norman A. 1979. The Jews of Arab Lands: a History and Source Book. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America.



Swisher, Clarice, ed.1999. The Spread of Islam. Greenhaven Press.


Time-Life Books. 1999. What was Life Like in the Lands of the Prophet. Alexandria: Time-Life Books.



“The Centuries of al-Andalus.” The Economist. Dec. 31, 1999, 34.



“Mont St. Michel.” National Geographic. Jun. 1977, 820-853.



“Pilgrimmage to Mecca.” National Geographic. Nov. 1978, 581-608.


“To Mecca: 1184.” The Economist. Dec. 31, 1999, 73.


“Egypt”, Youssouv D’Nour CD, (Senegalese lyrics)


“The Silk Road: A Musical Caravan”, 2-CD set, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings


“Visions II”, Lorena McKinnit, CD, (uses non-traditional early Christian, Sufi, and  Kabbalist myths to create lyrics for modern eastern Islamic music)

back to the top

Learning Experience(s)

Note:  To date there have been no Learning Experiences submitted for this subsection.  If you wish to submit one, please visit http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/sscontentcall.html

back to the top


Editor's Note: All state examinations are aligned to the New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies and Social Studies Resource Guide with Core Curriculum. The chart below specifies where these alignments have occurred (from June 2000 to the present).

Core Curriculum:

Global History and Geography Regents:

4. Social class: women and slavery in Muslim society

June 2000 Thematic, Justice and Human Rights

August 2001 DBQ, Role of Women

6. The golden age of Islam
a. Contributions to mathematics, science, medicine, art, architecture, and literature

August 2000 Thematic, Science and Technology


back to the top

home > units> unit 2 > The spread of Islam to Europe, Asia, and Africa