Crossing Borders/Breaking Boundaries IV:
The Impact of Islamic Culture on the Arts of the Renaissance

July 19-26, 2004
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Lesson Title: Islamic Conviviencia and Christian Inquisition

Name: Anne Dorwart

School: Century High School

Grades taught: 9 to 12

Grade level appropriate: 11th World History

Discipline: Social Studies

Duration: 2 – 3 class periods of 90 minutes

Big idea: Morality and Treatment of Others

Essential Learner Outcomes: See lesson, Stage 1 Maryland Core Learning Goals for World History

Lesson Objectives: See lesson, Stage 1 Essential Unit Outcomes

Abstract: Students will compare and contrast the Islamic tolerance of Jews and Christians to the Christian/Catholic intolerance in Spain and analyze the long-term impacts of these policies. Students will then use this historical lesson to determine how much religious freedom should be granted to a country’s citizens in today’s world.

Lesson Components : see lesson, Stage 3

Materials/Resources: Student textbook; The Koran;;; Goodard, Hugh. A History of Christian-Muslim Relations. (Chicago: New Amsterdam Books, 2000).; Hamid, Abdul Ali, trans. Moral Teachings of Islam: Prophetic Traditions from al-Adad al-mufrad by Imam al-Bukhari. (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2003).

Assessment: see lesson, Stage 2

Keywords: Islam, Christianity, Religious Tolerance, Conviviencia, Ottoman Empire, Catholic Monarchs, Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, Suleiman, millet

Anne Dorwart, Century High School
LESSON PLAN 2-3 90-minute mods
Keywords: Islam, Christianity,
Religious Toleration, Conviviencia

COURSE: World History (High School Juniors)
UNIT 2 – the Non-Western World: Islamic Conviviencia and Christian Inquisition




Enduring Understandings:
Students will understand that . . .

1. The religion of the people in charge of a country or empire tends to become the dominant or state supported religion.
2. Depending on time, period, and place, those in power either tolerated or suppressed other religions or religious beliefs and practices.
3. In a multi-religious society it is difficult to determine to what extent people should have religious freedom.
4. The treatment of people of various religions has impacted the growth or decline of countries’ and empires’ economies.

Essential Questions:

1. Why did the Muslim rulers of Spain and the Ottoman Empire permit religious toleration of Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians?
2. What impacts did this tolerance have on the cultural, political and economic life of Muslim Spain and the Ottoman Empire?
3. Why did the Catholic Monarchs end the conviviencia of the Muslim rulers?
4. How did Spain’s political, cultural and, most importantly, economic life change when the conviviencia of the Muslim rulers was replaced by the rule of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile?
5. Given the historical comparison of these two different societies, to what extent should a country in today’s world permit religious freedom? Why?

Essential Unit Outcomes:
Students will . . .

1. Examine the religious basis for the Muslim toleration of Jews and Christians in Islamic society.
2. Research the laws governing religious minorities in al-Andalus, the Ottoman Empire, and Catholic Spain, and compare and contrast the way Muslims and Christians treated those of different religions under their rule.
3. Analyze and evaluate how this treatment impacted the political, cultural and economic growth or decline of the societies under study, especially noting the long-term impacts of the expulsion of Jews and Moors from Spain, and the relative prosperity of the Ottoman Empire as a result of accepting those people expelled from Spain.
4. Extrapolate from historical precedents and form their own opinions regarding the treatment of religious groups in modern day societies.


Performance Tasks:

1. Opinion essay on religious toleration in the modern day world, using the historical examples as evidence and support for their position.

Other Evidence:

1. Questions on a traditional test or quiz as appropriate.
2. Comparison chart of the Muslim and Christian societies’ treatment of religious groups other than the state supported religion and the long-term impacts of this treatment.
3. Informal assessment through classroom discussion.
4. Textbook or other readings as assigned with appropriate questions for thought and analysis.


List of Learning Activities:

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE NOTE: The previous day(s) students should have been introduced to the religious beliefs and early history and spread of Islam. In Unit 1 – The Western World to 1815, students studied the unification of Spain, the expulsion of the Jews and Moors, the Spanish Inquisition and its spread, and the immediate impacts of these policies on Spain. In accordance with Century High policy, students had a nightly homework assignment that extended the knowledge of what they learned in the previous class mod(s). In this case, students were assigned a reading on the Moorish invasion of the Iberian peninsula in 711 and the establishment and society of al-Andalus. (Reading will be ready for November’s meeting.)

1. Preview activity: Students will be given the attached scenario and asked to respond in writing. A class discussion of several responses should elicit conversation on the following questions – to what extent does forcing people to convert help or hinder a society’s development? How “true” can those conversions be considered? What impacts does religious toleration or freedom have on a society? Explain that students will be analyzing and evaluating the policies and impacts of those policies of two different dominant religions – Christianity and Islam. {Time 15 to 20 minutes} (Scenario regarding forcing students to do something exclusively to come in November.)

2. Review prior knowledge with students from the previous day and from their homework reading. (As per usual, the homework questions were turned in as students entered the classroom into the appropriate in-box for their mod.) {5 – 10 minutes}

3. Explain that the society of al-Andalus practiced religious toleration as did a later Muslim empire, the Ottoman Empire. Inform students that this religious toleration was and still is a requirement of the Islamic religion. Read students Sura 2: 256 from the Koran: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.” Ask students what they think this passage means. Discuss with them that the Koran, the holy book of Islam, explicitly states that Muslims may not forcibly convert other people. Hand out to students a teacher written activity that requires the students to examine other passages in the Koran and in Hadith that explain how Muslims should treat other people. Give students about 20 minutes to read and respond to thought questions regarding those passages. Passages should include Sura 2:255, Sura 2:62, Sura 4:69, and Sura 49:13 from the Koran, and from the Hadith: “Negligence in observing the rights of fellow beings, and failure to carry out one’s obligations to them, is a very serious offense which Allah Almighty will not forgive.” Other selections include Asma ‘bint Abu Bakr’s question to the Prophet Mohammed about whether or not she should still be kind to her non-Muslim mother and his response that she should, etc. Discuss with students that the religion of Islam clearly states that good conduct is essential to faith and that part of this conduct is to accept that not all people are Muslims and not try to force them to convert. Religious toleration is therefore a requirement of their faith. Be prepared to deal with questions regarding current issues – knowing Sura 5:32, 2:114, 4:29, and 49:13 will help. [Sura 5:32: On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.](Teacher written handout to come in November) Discuss the students’ answers to the questions. {30 – 35 minutes}

4. Ask students to predict how Jews and Christians were treated in the Moorish kingdom of al-Andalus and in the later Islamic empire of the Ottoman Turks. Write predictions down on the board. {5 – 10 minutes}

5. Remind students that they learned about how Jews and Muslims were treated in Catholic Spain. In pairs, have students begin to fill out a chart that compares and contrasts the treatment of religious minorities in The Islamic World and Christian Spain using their prior notes, textbook, and other teacher provided resources. Students should focus on Spain primarily today since that is what they are already familiar with. {10 – 15 minutes} (Chart to come in November)

6. Assign an appropriate reading on the Ottoman Empire that covers its creation and history to Suleiman the Magnificent. Close class with students predicting how religious tolerance during the Renaissance time period may have impacted the economies of the Ottomans and of Catholic Spain. (Appropriate reading to be decided by November)


7. Preview question: Why would a ruler demand that all his or her subjects be of the same religion? What benefits would this have? What drawbacks? {10 minutes}

8. Review the previous night’s reading in brief. {5 – 10 minutes}

9. Explain to students that they will be researching the conditions of the religious groups under Muslim rule. Have students return to their pair groups from the prior day. Students will stay in class and use teacher provided materials and their texts to complete the chart from the day before or they will go to the media center to complete the chart. The chart also covers the impacts of these policies. Students should readily find that the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain harmed the country economically as it lost the majority of its artisans and merchants. The Inquisition that began also impacted Spain’s culture by prohibiting free thought and discussion in universities. Conversos were viewed with suspicion and often times were accused of heresy even if their conversion was in fact genuine. The Inquisition spread to other Catholic countries and to the New World, causing a ripple effect as groups of Jews and Muslims moved from country to country in Europe seeking a safe place to live. If this is an honors course, students may be instructed to compare the fate of Jews and Muslims in Spain to that of Jews and Muslims in the Netherlands/Dutch Republic during this time. Students should also readily find that the inclusion of Jewish and Christian artisans, translators, etc. in the Ottoman Empire allowed it to experience greater scientific and cultural achievements. Rather than being focused on the suppression of other religions, Ottoman culture was able to focus on art, poetry, calligraphy, etc. The Ottoman Empire also was better off economically in the long-term as it built up an internal economy as opposed to the Spaniards, who having lost the majority of their merchants, etc. had to depend on the importation of gold from the New World. {Remainder of mod, perhaps going into another day}

10. Once the chart is completed, have students respond in writing to the assessment question. The question and chart are to be turned in upon completion of this activity. The research may or may not take more than one mod depending on the ability level of your students. Due date will be up to the teacher. I would probably give them two to three days to complete it.

11. Upon completion of this activity, be sure to discuss with students the long-term impacts religious toleration or lack thereof had on both Spain and on the Ottoman Empire. Make sure to highlight the economic impacts, especially if you are in your school’s Business and Information Management Academy. {As a follow up to the activity done on the next day prior to moving on to next topic.}

Name: ________________________________

The Impacts of Religious Toleration on the Development of Societies

For the past few days you have been researching the religious policies of Islamic empires and Catholic (Christian) Spain. Using what you’ve learned, respond to the following question in no less than 3 paragraphs. REMEMBER – no opinion is ever necessarily wrong unless it is based on absolutely nothing. In other words, SUPPORT your opinions with EVIDENCE from history. You may draw on other examples or sources of which you are aware beyond what we’ve learned in class. Just be sure to document any additional sources used.

Due to its policies of permitting Jews and Christians to practice their faith, the Ottoman Turks were able to focus their resources on other areas and developed a culturally richer and economically stronger society to that of Spain under the Catholic Monarchs.
? State whether you agree or disagree with the above statement. Include details and examples to support your opinion.
? In today’s world, how much religious freedom should a country permit its residents? What impact does religious freedom have on the economic and cultural life of a country? Include details and examples to support your opinion.


Sponsored by
the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies
and the Maryland State Department of Education