Sharia Law in Indonesia Province

sharia law23

Banda Ache in Indonesia instituted Sharia law after the tsunami in 2004. The religious police who enforce the law gave reporter Kira Kay access to their daily routine. The clip above from the PBS NewsHour shows us what that law looks like in practice. … [Read more...]

The Poetry of Simin Behbahani


Introduce your students to the poetry of Simin Behbahani, Iran's national poet who died this week. Her poetry tells us a lot about Iran after the revolution.Although Behbahani wrote a lot about love, she also tackled political and social issues in Iran after the revolution of 1979. Some of her accolades include the the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom in 2009, and two nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature.Her poetry reveals both her love for Iran and her concern about … [Read more...]

World Muslim Population

Muslim distribution

Here's the distribution of the 1.6 billion Muslims from the Pew Research Center. That number makes Islam the 2nd largest religion in the world. And, contrary to popular perception, the vast majority, 62%, live in Asia/ Pacific! Here are some interesting facts about the distribution.Muslims make up the majority of the population in 49 countries Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims India has the second largest number of Muslims  … [Read more...]

ISIS & The Kurds Explained


Here are two very short and engaging summaries of events in the Middle East ideal for high school students. The first explains the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The second explains who the Kurds are and why they are important. Both clips come from the TestTube Newtork which has some other great clips that cover history, government and current events.  … [Read more...]

Wow! The Hijab Gets Fashionable

hijab makeover

Young Muslim women are starting to add color and style to their headscarves, called hijabs.One reason for the new trend, reports the New York Times, is "the proliferation of glossy, fashionable images on social media sites."  That "could be making young women more confident about wearing the hijab."Another reason may have been the release last year of the music video "Mipsterz" mixed to Jay Z’s “Somewhere in America” that featured urban women dressed in head scarves skateboarding, jugglin … [Read more...]

Birth of Indian Art: Restored Ajanta Caves

Photograph: Prasad Pawar

Restored paintings on the Ajanta cave walls in Maharashtra, western India are, according to author and writer, William Dalrymple, "possibly the finest surviving picture galleries from the ancient world."Restoration of the paintings in Cave #10 began in 1999 using infrared light, micro-emulsion and "cutting-edge Japanese conservation technology."In a story for the Guardian called "The Ajanta Cave Murals: 'Nothing Less Than the Birth of Indian Art,' " Dalrymple reports that … [Read more...]

Sanskrit Tries to Make a Comeback But…


Schools across India recently spent a week learning Sanskrit, India's ancient language, with ties to early Indian culture and  Hinduism. But not all Indians are happy with this new focus on Sanskrit, mandated by the government elected this spring. Tamils are the most vocal opponents.  According to BBC News, "the Tamil language is not derived from Sanskrit and many ...see it as a move by Hindu nationalists to impose their culture on religious and linguistic minorities." The government denies th … [Read more...]