The Significant Contributions of Islamic Women to the Growth and Expansion of Islamic Civilization

Time Estimate

One 90-minute class period and DBQ as an independent assignment.


After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. read and understand the historical evidence that supports the viewpoint that Islamic Women have made significant and lasting contributions to Islamic Civilization.
  2. read and analyze secondary and primary sources relevant to the topic.
  3. work in small groups to answer questions and then present data to the class.
  4. respond to a document-based question related to the topic integrating information from both secondary and primary sources.

  1. Historical Context (20 minutes):
    • Read: Islamic Empire Introduction
    • Discuss: What bias have male historians traditionally brought to the study of women in the Islamic empire?
    • Identify: Islam, Hadith, Companion, Fitna, Patriarchal, Sufism, Private Sphere, Sharia
    • Key People: Identify-Muhammad, Khadija, A’isha, Umm Salama

  2. Think-Share (20 minutes):
    • Divide class into groups of four to facilitate discussion.
    • Assign one question to each group based on the reading.
    • Each group will present its response to the class.
    • Discuss briefly the responses and check for understanding.
    • Suggested Questions:
      • Who was Khadija? List reasons why she has been a most revered woman throughout Islamic history.
      • Outline the evidence that supports the fact that Islamic women played integral roles in Islamic Civilization both politically and spiritually.
      • What is the significance of the Battle of Camel to Islamic women?
      • The article suggests that the majority of Islamic women were most influential in the “private sphere.” Explain what that means and give examples of that influence.
      • Compare the spiritual relationship of Islamic women to the deity to the position given them in the patriarchal social structure.

  3. Reading Primary Resources (25 minutes):
  4. Responding to Primary Sources (25 Minutes): Distribute Primary Source Analysis Worksheet: Images and Primary Source Analysis Worksheet: Texts from to each student. Assign an equal number of students to work independently and complete the work sheet for Primary Source 6, 3, 4, or 4. Discuss.
  5. Document-based Essay Question (10 minutes): In class permit students to work on the outline for the essay. A completed, printed essay will be due in class at the next block session.

Advanced Students: Assign the reading and responses to the questions relating to the reading in the “Historical Context” activity for homework. Based on these responses, lead a 10-minue class discussion. To assess the completion of the assignment, consider a peer review or circulating and completing a quick check of the homework while students are involved in the other activities. Allocate the time saved on the “Historical Context” activity to the “Document-based Essay Question” activity. Alter this activity by using the backward design model. Provide students with the topic, but not the thesis statement. Allot the students about 20 minutes to work on the body of the essay. Then, from the factual content the students have outlined, take five minutes and ask them to write a draft thesis for the paper. Conclude the activity by asking volunteers to write their thesis on the board. Invite the other students to critique and offer positive suggestions that improve the thesis. The completed, typed essay will be due the next block period.

Less Advanced Students: Focus on ensuring that students comprehend what they are reading and learn tools to assist with this comprehension. For the “Historical Context” activity, direct students to scan the introductory pages and spend five minutes highlighting words or phrases that they do not comprehend. Then, ask the students to build a list on the board. Review the list, soliciting clarifying info from the class. Encourage students to jot down the meanings. Check for understanding. Condense the time in the later activities to allow for this.