Illustration by Al-Biruni (973-1048) of different phases of the moon, from Kitab al-tafhim (in Persian).

The resources to download and links to explore on this page will contribute to creating cross-curricular  lessons. They provide informational texts and activities; image resources and museum exhibits and websites, including Islamic geometric designs, tessellations, architecture, painting, and plastic arts analyzed from a sometimes rigorous but always fun mathematical and scientific perspective. Some are most applicable to advanced students and teacher preparation, but others are very suitable for the classroom. In some cases, math, science, or computer class may be the most productive place to use these lessons to gain maximum benefit, though art classes should not be forgotten either.

Teacher Guides to Islamic Arts and Sciences

  • A new educational resource at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore is Integrating the Arts, an interactive website with activities for integrating arts into social studies, language arts, science and mathematics. The link leads to the section on Islam, but there are sections on Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Chinese arts with the same subject-area integration possibilities. The site includes both videos, information segments, and interactive lessons in pdf or online form
  • Beyond A Thousand and One Nights: A Literature Sampler from Muslim Civilization, by S. Douglass (Council on Islamic Education, 1999), a wire-bound set of reproducible excerpts from writing in science, philosophy, politics, history, law, poetry, essays, stories, travel accounts, and more, with background information on each author and work, and study questions for each excerpt. Available for purchase as well as sample pages to download.
  • Emergence of Renaissance: Cultural Interactions Between Europeans and Muslims, S. Douglass and Karima Alavi (Council on Islamic Education, 2000), a collection of teaching resources that links to the wealth of recent scholarship and historical thinking on hemispheric connections in trade, the history of science, artistic influences, literature and architecture, and religious expression that contributed to this formative period in Western and world history.contains dozens of illustrated texts, activities, literature and primary source readings. Covering learning standards related to medieval and Renaissance world history from virtually every state and national curriculum document, this flexible teaching tool contains material at multiple reading levels from 6-14. Available for purchase as well as sample pages to download.

Mathematics, Geometry and the Arts Resources

Key Curriculum Press link to Geometer’s Sketchpad information and recent talks/”slideshows” by Steve Rasmussen on Islamic art and tesselation use this widely respected mathematics software to teach geometry and enhance appreciation for the complexity of geometric design.”Tessellations & Islamic Art.” This workshop investigates what types of polygons can be used to tessellate the plane and how Islamic artists have approached their craft. You must first either purchase the Geometer’s Sketchpad software or download the Evaluation Edition of the Geometer’s Sketchpad, which will enable you to use these workshop materials on Islamic art and other resources on the site:

An outstanding website for teachers of mathematics and history both is by James E. Morrison, Janus, a maker and expert on astrolabes. He explains the history and uses of the astronomical device on his website The Astrolabe: an Instrument with a Past and a Future. He has developed materials for using the astrolabe as a teaching device (and making one for the classroom from a downloadable template), to teach astronomy and solving various mathematical problems. In the heyday of the astrolabe, it was the equivalent of a hand-held computer. Morrison has also created a computer program The Electric Astrolabe that functions as an astrolabe, which users can download and learn about.

Other resources for educators show how tessellation and geometry relate to science such as crystal structure, chaos theory designs, but also to the design of stained-glass windows and other artistic constructions.

Sciences and Scientists

The links provided here range from biographies of scientists working in Muslim regions to scientific achievements and influences from and upon other societies, with significant detail and evidence provided.

  • The Islamic World to 1600: The Arts, Learning, and Knowledge a site with many departments on Islamic history, these pages provide information on science and scientists, with short biographies of major figures.
  • Muslim Heritage is a library of articles by specialists in the fields, which offers brief overviews and in-depth articles on a lot of specialized topics. This is the MH page with the extensive topic list (which now includes videos).
  • Sayyid Hossein Nasr is one of the foremost experts on the history of Islamic Science. This is the Introduction to his book Science and Civilization in Islam.
  • A teacher’s lesson plan with complete instructions and resources (including info links) for a student writing activity called Islamic Scientific Contributions to Civilization.

Museums and Virtual Exhibits, Educational Resources

These museum and other gallery websites and educational resources produced by museum outreach departments open the collections of major art collections assembled worldwide during the past two centuries, and now as near as your computer mouse. They can be printed out with their museum tags, placed in inexpensive plastic page protectors for durability (try inserting a piece of light card stock along with the paper printout, and sealing the plastic page protector with a clear adhesive bulk mailing dot). Many of the exhibits in this set are much more than just a series of images and tags; they are dynamic resources that tell stories about art, science, technology and interactions among cultures over time.

  • The Getty Museum Arts of Fire exhibit includes metalwork, glass, and ceramics, and their influence on Renaissance art in Europe
  • Al-Bab, Open Door to the Arab World, including many links to countries, cultures and arts, and including a resource by Carol Bier, curator of the Textile Museum, a scholar who analyzes mathematical relations in Islamic art to improve the teaching of mathematics and cultures.
  • WorldArt archive at SDSU – a huge collection of images from many sources, including artworks, photographs, architecture and others, enabling users to create portfolios and collections, and view collections, search, etc.
  • 1001 Inventions virtual exhibition from the United Kingdom, with interactive features on Inventions transmitted to the modern world through Muslim civilization. The exhibit is built around the school, the market, the hospital, the town, the world, and the universe. A wide variety of common and uncommon objects we take for granted today are ascribed to specific regions, inventors, and scientists and placed in the context of modern life. A book and poster set is available for purchase on the site.
  • Windows on Asia, Indian Architecture illuminates the connections and development of Hindu and Muslim architecture in India at MSU — other historical and contemporary resources and media links on Asia are forthcoming after the site is fully developed.