Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

The 1183-1185 Hajj of Ibn Jubayr and Teaching Islam

Justin Boucher

Contents of Curriculum Unit 07.02.04:

To Guide Entry


The goal of this unit is to guide high school history students in a study of the early Islamic world through the eyes of a 12th century Spanish pilgrim, Abul-Husayn Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Jubayr. Ibn Jubayr undertook the Hajj in 1183 and traveled extensively throughout the Islamic world before his return to Spain, meticulously documenting his travels. This unit follows his travels through his writing while exploring such major themes in history as the movement of ideas, religious experience, and changing perspectives on historical data all through primary source reading. This use of one excellent primary source will allow the teacher to stress the importance of primary sources in historical study, while allowing the students to identify deeply with an historical figure. Approaching the early Islamic world in this way gives teachers, particularly teachers of world history, the chance to expose their students to the Islamic world, before the Mongol invasion, and in only three weeks of classroom time.

The unit follows Ibn Jubayr closely, using his itinerary to explore many different concepts, while delving progressively deeper into history. In Sardinia we will see Ibn Jubayr face discrimination, and seek to understand this common thread in human social interaction. In Egypt, he describes the pyramids as he saw it, comparing modern and medieval perspectives on these ancient structures. In Mecca, we will study the Hajj. In Baghdad, we will view the city in its heyday as a center of learning, comparing it to our modern understanding of its role in the world. Finally, in Israel we will glimpse the crusades from the eyes of a Muslim, and ask important questions about the struggles between east and west. At the conclusion of this unit, students will have gained a basic understanding of Islamic history and early Islamic culture, in a timeframe, which is practical in a high school history class.

to top


I intend for this unit to be taught in my 9th grade Honors World Civilizations course at a magnet high school in New Haven, Connecticut. The class periods are 82 minutes long and meet every other day. The World Civilizations curriculum for the city of New Haven was designed to give students a basic understanding of world history in their freshman year of high school. The goal of the curriculum is to afford the students the tools and context to understand sophomore United States History (which begins with Exploration and ends with the Civil War). This is a daunting task, given that the timeframe of the course spans all but the last 500 years of human history. The curriculum writers tackled this challenge by compromising between depth and breadth.

The curriculum is broken into thematic units, which cover major historical trends and concepts without dictating the region or historical material that is required to meet the standards. For example, the second unit of learning requires that students understand the rise of civilizations in river valleys, but does not require that teachers focus on any one specific river civilization. Under this curriculum one teacher might focus his entire unit on Mesopotamia, while another might compare Egypt to China as river civilizations. The standard is intentionally broad enough to allow teachers to choose depth or breadth of coverage in any given unit. While the thematic approach reconciles some of the material difficulties teachers tend to have with teaching all of world history in a single course, it fails to address the largest challenge of all.

The largest challenge of teaching world history as a single course lies in the vast amount of material that one must deal with in order to fairly represent the history of the entire world. That being the case, it is nearly impossible to do justice to any one topic without doing some injustice to another. This leaves teachers in a very difficult position. We are forced to limit our study of any one civilization, culture, or time period to little more than a snapshot. We must sprint through massive quantities of historical fact, data, and representations in order to give only the broadest understanding of human events.

This method of studying history is particularly troubling to history teachers as they understand the value of depth, and the importance of understanding all of the available facts before coming to a judgment. We are forced to ignore stories, or events that might give a great deal of historical understanding in order to explain the whole of human events in anything resembling a coherent way.

There are many strategies a teacher can use to deal with this problem, but they all come with drawbacks. Maps, timelines, and PowerPoint summaries are useful in condensing historical material, but they are all limited in one way or another in their ability to convey historical understanding and strengthen the literacy skills necessary for historical study.

At its heart, history is a discipline based on documentary evidence, in particular, primary sources. Whatever the utility of a map for illustration, a timeline for temporal orientation, or a PowerPoint summary for speed of delivery, the meat of any good history course is in primary sources, and the skills necessary to read, evaluate, and synthesize them into one's own understanding.

Unfortunately, primary source use is often limited in high school history courses to short excerpts, or quotes. Though this is a necessary evil due to the quantity of material and the time available, it need not detract from the value of primary source use. If the right sources are chosen, and the right excerpts are read, students can gain all of the benefits of reading a long primary source without spending months reading it. For this reason this unit relies heavily on one extensive and complete primary source, which I have excerpted to provide maximum pedagogical utility in a manageable amount of reading.

In New Haven, the sixth unit of the curriculum is designed to be taught in March and focuses on the rise of regional civilizations. This unit serves as a bridge between the units on world religion and empire, which conclude in March, and the unit on the rise of the global economy, which wraps up the year. As a result of their previous unit on world religion, my students will already have a basic understanding of Islam, and its beginnings.

While the curriculum allows a teacher to choose between empires and civilizations from around the world, I have chosen to write this unit with a focus on the Islamic world. This makes curricular sense for me, but also allows this unit to be useful in any world history classroom. I am focusing on the travels of one man, and using those travels to highlight larger themes in the Muslim world of the European Middle Ages.

Certainly it would not be a stretch to describe the early Islamic empires as both a geographic and temporal bridge. The trade networks established by Muslim traders linked the East, principally China and India, to the West, principally Medieval Europe more concretely than ever before. This naturally led to a rise in trade, but also, spurred the Renaissance in the trading centers of the Mediterranean. The early Islamic Empires also served very successfully as a temporal bridge between the collapse of the Roman Empire, and the rebirth of Europe in the Renaissance. These bridges make it almost imperative to study the Islamic world in this context, and at this point in the year.

Given my students' existing understanding of the rise of Islam, I have chosen to circumvent the political state of the Islamic world between the year 656, in which the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam split over succession to Muhammad (Armstrong, Karen, A History of God. (Random House Publishing: New York NY. 1993) pg. 158.) and the 12th century, during which the Islamic world was largely politically stable. This is a good example of the bargains necessary in a world history classroom. Certainly the political history of the Umayyad Caliphate, and the Abassid Empire are important and useful in the context of world history. It is difficult however to justify taking the month it would require to begin to understand them fairly.

For that reason I decided to focus on the travels of a single man, Abul-Husayn Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Jubayr, a Spanish Muslim who made the Hajj in the year 1183. He traveled from Spain, to the Middle East and back, keeping a detailed record of his journey. He artfully describes each stop on his journey within the poetic tradition of the Arabic language. This allows his writing to be both descriptive and artistic, and grants the reader a colorful and extensive understanding of the places he visited (Broadhurst, Roland trans, The Travels of Ibn Jubayr Goodword Books: New Dehli, India. 1952)

In that he traveled most of the Islamic world of his day in the course of his travels, Ibn Jubayr offers exactly the kind of snapshot necessary for a high school world history teacher to teach the Islamic world. His work makes it possible to introduce students to the realities of daily life, and the systems that functioned, without getting lost in a lengthy discussion of the political realities of empire.

Aside from the quality of his descriptions, Ibn Jubayr also clearly demonstrates the centrality of faith in the life of a Muslim in that time period. His constant repetition of phrases like "May God show favor on them," allow his reader to see his faith in action. Whether this is an outright declaration of faith, or a plea to readers, it offers a valuable insight into history. These phrases also allow a teacher to highlight the importance of understanding religion as a means of understanding one's perspective. These factors make his writing ideal as primary source documents for use in a ninth grade classroom.

Ibn Jubayr will allow me to introduce a large variety of disparate topics through the study of one primary source. While this obviously serves a curricular goal, it will also allow me to focus on necessary and relevant skills in historical interpretation. Regardless of the content, reading primary sources serves a chance to teach the students about the nuances of perspective, and bias. They also allow us to practice the craft of history through critical interpretation of facts and viewpoints.

The difficulty with most primary sources is that primary sources are disinterested in the fact that I am looking for specific information in my lesson. They are also remarkably unconcerned with the fact that I have a limited amount of time to teach these topics. Jubayr allows me to circumvent that problem. He is so thorough and so concise that excerpting his work does not gut it of all meaning. It is entirely possible to select specific excerpts without losing the value of a single voice and without sacrificing the valuable historical content of his work.

These excerpts will operate as a starting point for historical exploration. We will follow Ibn Jubayr across the Mediterranean Sea, and throughout the Holy Land and Mesopotamia. This will give us a chance to review areas that we have covered before. The students will have studied Rome, Egypt and Mesopotamia, so this will serve as an opportunity to understand continuity in the ancient world. Furthermore, this will allow for a jump to modern times, as Ibn Jubayr travels through Baghdad and Israel on his way home.

With these excerpts in hand, the students will view history through his eyes, allowing them to identify with the humanity of his work. Given this much more personal approach, students will be asked to step into his shoes, and link what they find to their own personal experience. This personal connection will serve as the gateway to our focus on the skills of historical literacy.

I intend to augment the work of Jubayr with a number of modern and secondary sources. We will use our text, McDougal Littell's World History: Patterns of Interaction, along with video, internet, and map sources to draw a picture of the Islamic world that includes not only a travelogue, but also an understanding of the technological, artistic, educational, trade, administrative and governmental structures in the Islamic world. In this way the students will have the opportunity to compare the world presented by Ibn Jubayr, with the world understood by modern historians. Thereby granting the students a deeper understanding of history as a discipline as well as the specific history of these regions and this regional civilization.

to top


While the goals of this unit are broad and extensive, the objectives are designed to be both measurable and approachable. Each objective is a piece of the larger goal of guiding students through the early Islamic world using primary sources. These objectives are designed to accomplish that goal, while improving students' basic historical literacy and historical skills such as discussion, comparison, synthesis of sources, and evaluation of historical accounts.

As a result of this unit students will be able to

1. Describe Ibn Jubayr including his background, the circumstances of his life at the time of his Hajj and the reasons for his travels
2. Discuss discrimination in their own context and that of Ibn Jubayr's time in Sardinia.
3. Identify and explain differences in human understanding based on a comparison of our modern understanding of the pyramids and that of Ibn Jubayr.
4. Compare modern accounts of the Hajj, and their own understanding with Ibn Jubayr's account, noting similarities, differences and points of interest.
5. Compare Bagdhad's role as a center for trade, learning, and empire in the 12th century, to its role now in world politics
6. Evaluate various sources on the crusades, including that of Ibn Jubayr, for accuracy based on modern historical understanding.

to top


In order to accomplish these objectives and goals, it is necessary to break them down even further. I envision each lesson, in some cases take more than one day, achieving just one of these objectives. Additionally, each lesson will make use of more specific, more measurable means. Finally, each lesson builds upon the last in terms of the students ability to "put themselves in Ibn Jubayr's shoes" as well as their historical literacy and skill base.

Objective 1- Describe Ibn Jubayr. . .

The first objective seeks to introduce the students to Ibn Jubayr, giving the students the context of his journey and the ability to understand it. Students will review their understanding of Islam, read through Ibn Jubayr's background, identifying potential bias, and create their own description of him.

We will begin by reviewing Islam from the previous unit. The students should have a functional understanding of the five pillars and the basic history of Islam's rise as a world religion. It will be particularly important to remind students of the Hajj, and its purpose. While in my classroom this will be done through brainstorming and discussion, it is certainly possible to extend this activity to a day-long discussion or introduction of Islam. In either case, the students will begin their study of Ibn Jubayr with an understanding of Islam clearly established.

The next step will be to engage them in a discussion of bias. This will offer us the chance to tackle a major skill in history, as well as preparing us for the next activity. It will be necessary to ensure that the students understand what bias is, and how it can affect the portrayal of history. While it is my intent to discuss Ibn Jubayr as a valuable and accurate resource, he also offers immense opportunities for discussion of perspective, and it would be negligent to pass them up.

With a clear, class-wide definition of bias, and a clear understanding of its impact on history it will be time to introduce Ibn Jubayr. I intend to do this using the introduction from Roland Broadhurst's translation (Broadhurst, Roland trans, The Travels of Ibn Jubayr. (Goodword Books: New Delhi, India, 1952) Pg. 15). There are other available resources, including various Internet encyclopedias, but Broadhurst is concise, even though he can be challenging at times to read. As a function of the difficult nature of the introduction, the students will be broken into small, heterogeneous reading groups in which they will go through the introduction, making notes to help describe Ibn Jubayr. In addition to creating a description, the students will need to take notes on ways in which Ibn Jubayr might harbor bias in his writing.

When the students have completed the introduction, and they all have notes for a description of Ibn Jubayr, it will be necessary to prod them into discussion. Given that the students are already in their reading groups, it will not be hard to keep them in those groups for the purposes of the discussion. Each group will then be charged with answering the question "How might Ibn Jubayr be a biased source and why?" The answer should be obvious from the introduction. The students will have a short period of time to discuss it together before I bring them back together and review their findings. It will be necessary to play devil's advocate at this point, arguing against the prevailing opinion of the class, but I want the students to see Ibn Jubayr as an individual with flaws and biases.

For this reason the next task, which should accomplish the first objective, is to create individual descriptions of Ibn Jubayr. Students will have to write up a description alone, synthesizing what they read, with their understanding of his bias and background. The goal of the description is not to create a polished piece of writing, which is why there will be no time to edit or revise what is written. This is simply an opportunity to synthesize the information they have into a form that they can refer to later on in the unit.

Objective 2: Discuss discrimination. . .

The second objective seeks to help students to identify with Ibn Jubayr as a human being, by establishing similarities between the experiences of the students and the experiences of Ibn Jubayr. It is my fear that it would be difficult for students to connect with an 800 year-old world-traveling official on the Hajj. It has been my experience that students have a difficult time relating to individuals in extremely foreign settings. This is true of both temporal and geographic foreigners. Ibn Jubayr falls into both of these categories, and without some sort of connection, I believe that it will be very difficult for students to interact with him.

In order to address this problem, I have decided to include an objective and a lesson that will allow my students to see that some of his experiences of discrimination, and some of his feelings with regard to those experiences are totally human. Many of my students have had similar experiences in their own lives, or are aware of them in their own world. It is my hope that seeing this reality that transcends time and geography will allow them to see Ibn Jubayr in a different light.

The first task necessary to accomplish this objective will be to read excerpts from Ibn Jubayr's travels in Sardinia (Broadhurst, Roland trans, The Travels of Ibn Jubayr. (Goodword Books: New Delhi, India, 1952) Pg. 27). While reading these excerpts the students will be asked to identify discriminatory behavior on the part of the local residents. This will allow them to seek to explain the behavior of the Sicilians, and that of the pilgrims. Each student will have to create an explanation of the behaviors of each group, and seek to understand this behavior from either perspective.

This will lead to a discussion of these behaviors including their modern counterparts. Students will have the chance to air their feelings about discrimination, and their own experiences as well as those of people close to them. They will then evaluate the behavior of each group in comparison to their own experience. The students will then be encouraged to draw their own conclusions and connections to Ibn Jubayr.

Objective 3: Identify and Explain differences. . .

The third objective of the unit seeks to engage students critically analyzing historical perspective and discussing point of view. Ibn Jubayr's next stop on his journey was Egypt. His views of Egypt, and his discussion of his time there, offer ample fodder for discussion of historical understanding. He saw Cairo, as well as viewing the Pyramids, but his description of them, and his understanding of them were substantially different from the version taught in modern history books. His discussion of the pyramids suggests in no uncertain terms that a great deal was lost in the intervening years between the fall of the ancient pharaohs, and the rise of the Fatimid caliphate (Duiker, William J. and Spielvogel, Jackson J, World History 3rd Ed. (Wadsworth Thompson Learning: Stamford, CT, 2001) Pg. 200).

This gap in the historical record allows us to discuss the reality inherent in primary source history. The goal of this objective is to illustrate the fact that some information available to us now, or through secondary sources was not available to the writer of primary sources. In this particular case, addressing this objective will begin with a review of the building of, and the purpose for the pyramids. In my classroom, the students will have already learned about the pyramids, however it is still possible to complete this objective by providing the students with the information for the first time.

In either case it will be necessary to remind the students of the distinction between primary and secondary sources. With this review complete, we will turn to Ibn Jubayr's account (Broadhurst, Roland trans, The Travels of Ibn Jubayr (Goodword Books: New Delhi, India, 1952) Pg. 36). The students will read an excerpt, which includes Ibn Jubayr's account of the pyramids, their purpose and something of his views of Cairo. The students will then identify both the bias inherent in the account, reviewing the earlier discussion on bias, and his perspective on the pyramids.

When this is complete, the teacher will lead the students in discussion of, and comparison of Ibn Jubayr's account with our modern understanding. The teacher will lead the students in creating a Venn diagram to compare the two. Students will volunteer information from their review and their reading, specifically noting the missing pieces in Ibn Jubayr's account. The final evaluation of this objective will entail the students creating an explanation what is missing from Ibn Jubayr's account, why it was missing, and why his account is still valuable even though it is missing information.

Objective 4: Compare Modern accounts of the Hajj. . .

Once the students have seen the failings of primary sources, it will be necessary to remind them of their importance. Though I believe firmly that it would be difficult to overstate the importance of primary sources, I also believe that it is necessary to present them truthfully. For that reason I have included two main objectives designed to demonstrate both the failings and the successes of primary sources in terms of their ability to transmit history.

In the case of the unit's fourth objective, the students will follow Ibn Jubayr on the Hajj comparing his view of the Hajj with a more modern one. The content goal of this objective is simply to orient students to the Hajj, including its goals, its rituals, and its side effects. From a content standpoint, this is one of the most important objectives, as it clarifies the reason for Ibn Jubayr's travels, and gives great insight into the Islamic faith.

From a skills standpoint, students will have the opportunity compare primary sources from modern and Medieval times, creating their own secondary source. In this way the students will have the opportunity to do the "real work" of historians, while utilizing primary sources in a productive way.

The first step to meeting this objective is to present the Hajj from a modern viewpoint. I intend to show my students parts of National Geographic's "Inside Mecca" video to give them a modern primary source. The video follows three modern Muslims on their Hajj, giving an enlightening, if rosy, view of the modern Hajj. The students will take notes, gathering information on the modern Hajj, and creating a brief outline of what happens there. For comparison purposes, my students may have access to the entry on the Hajj in The Oxford History of Islam (Esposito, John L. ed. The Oxford History of Islam. (Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK. 1999) Pgs. 84-87). This will give them a chance to compare the video source to a modern written source.

When this is complete, the students will set aside their notes and read excerpts of Ibn Jubayr's account of his Hajj (Broadhurst, Roland trans, The Travels of Ibn Jubayr. (Goodword Books: New Delhi, India, 1952) Pg. 77). It will be necessary to trim down his account somewhat, but that will not detract from its overall value. The students will compare their understanding of the modern Hajj with that of Ibn Jubayr. This is a very carefully chosen comparison, given that neither source is any more biased with regards to its approach to Islam and the Hajj itself.

The final assessment of this objective will come in the form of an historical narrative. The students will synthesize these two accounts into one very brief description of what happens at the Hajj. The unstated goal of this arrangement is to help the students understand the longevity of the Hajj, and its relative stability over 800 years.

Finally, the objective will be tied together with another discussion of bias. This time however the discussion will be geared toward the unavoidable nature of bias in some situations. Hajj accounts are particularly useful for this discussion in that only a Muslim may enter Mecca, and therefore, only a Muslim can write an account of this intense experience.

Objective 5: Compare Baghdad . . .

The study of Baghdad comprises the largest objective of the unit, in that it offers an opportunity to shed light on both the cultural achievements of Medieval Islamic society, as well as a chance to explore our modern conflict. In a unit based on comparisons, this objective is perhaps the most extensive comparison. It calls not only for comparing accounts, but comparing cultures, a task that is likely to extend into a second or even third class period.

The students will begin with an exploration of the wonders and advances that existed in Baghdad at this time. We will explore science, architecture and technology as a means of viewing Baghdad of the 12th century as the cultural capital and crossroads of the world at that time. Students will view an excerpt from "Islam: Empire of Faith" on Baghdad and list all of the advancements present at that time. In addition, they will read parts of Ibn Jubayr's account of his time in Baghdad,(Broadhurst, Roland trans, The Travels of Ibn Jubayr. (Goodword Books: New Delhi, India 1952) Pg. 226) which he names "The city of peace."

Ibn Jubayr will also lead us to a brief discussion of trade in the Muslim world. Naturally, our discussion of the Hajj will include a discussion of trade. The video section will also include a brief discussion of trade, allowing us to review our discussion earlier in the year about trade as a mechanism for moving ideas. This will allow students to draw conclusions about the nature of trade as a driving force in the growth of Baghdad as a cultural center. This will not only serve the goal of cementing the importance of trade, but also fits the curricular goal of seeing medieval societies as largely regional in nature.

The next step will be to compare medieval and modern Baghdad. This will require a great deal of material scaffolding, in that the students most likely have a very inappropriate understanding of the current state of Baghdad. The lesson will begin with a discussion of modern Baghdad as a means of establishing a more complete understanding of the current state of affairs.

In order to accomplish this task I will utilize a number of separate resources including maps, recent news articles, and video news. In this way, students will have the opportunity to synthesize their own point of view on Baghdad, rather than relying on the rumors and hearsay, which currently make up their understanding. This will also serve as an opportunity for the students to demonstrate their understanding of authenticity of sources in that, in my class, they will have the opportunity to research modern Baghdad themselves using web-based sources.

The next step will be a comparison between Ibn Jubayr's views of Baghdad and their modern view. In one of the larger assessments of the unit, students will have to write their own travelogue of modern Baghdad, from Ibn Jubayr's perspective; this will be both a creative and a content challenge for the students. In that they will need to take on a perspective that is not their own, and describe a place that they have never been. The biggest challenge by far will be using a historical perspective, in a modern context. This will however be a good opportunity to put their understanding of bias, perspective and Baghdad to good use.

The brief addition to this assignment is that they have to take on Ibn Jubayr's perspective, pretending that he is returning to Baghdad after 800 years. The students will need to discuss the changes in Baghdad, and especially the big differences in terms of trade, and scientific advancement. The overall goal is to explain its role as a center of world events, and assess whether it was a positive or negative change.

Objective 6: Evaluate Sources. . .

The final objective of the unit allows the students to utilize all of the skills that have developed throughout the unit. In essence this has been a unit on sources. In particular, students will have spent a great deal of time and energy comparing, and evaluating sources with regard to their historical accuracy, successes, failures, and most importantly, biases.

Ibn Jubayr's last stop on his way home was modern-day Israel. In his day Israel was a hotbed of conflict between western Christians and eastern Muslims. Ibn Jubayr travels through this land during this period, giving students an excellent opportunity to discuss the Crusades. Ibn Jubayr interacts with the Crusader states, and Christians allowing for a comparison of sources that sets up a perfect comparative scenario. Specifically, Ibn Jubayr spends a small amount of time in Acre, one of the Christian kingdoms in Palestine.

This lesson will begin with reading Ibn Jubayr's account (Broadhurst, Roland trans. The Travels of Ibn Jubayr. (Goodword Books: New Delhi, India 1952) Pg. 326) and the account of Jean De Joinville (Shaw, M.R.B. Trans, Joinville and Villehardouin: Cronicles of the Crusades. (Penguin Classics: New York, NY. 1963) Pgs. 265-276) with an eye toward establishing basic facts of the account. I chose Jean De Joinville as a function of his excellent description of Acre. The goal was to find an account which dealt with the same kingdom that Ibn Jubayr visited. The students will also be directed to note the biases of the crusader account, and review the biases of Ibn Jubayr.

When this is complete the students will compare the two. This can be teacher or student directed and may or may not include use of a graphic organizer. This comparison will be specific. Student will note factual inconsistencies, inconsistencies in interpretation, and biases present in order to evaluate the truth of the information. This will be an opportunity to build upon the skills of the third and fourth objectives. The students will be acting as historians, and may even debate their findings.

The ultimate goal of this final objective is to evaluate specific sources critically. Students will, upon looking at, and breaking down multiple sources, seek to answer the question "Which is the best source and why?" Effectively, the students will be asked, if they had only one source to go by, which would they choose. This is naturally, a loaded question. Any answer could be correct or incorrectly, based upon their explanation. The explanation needs to include critical evaluation of the source, which demonstrates understanding of what they have seen over the course of the unit thus far.

The students will complete this unit by writing an essay explanation of their answer to the question of sources. The students must be able to suggest how and why certain sources are used, what the value of primary sources is in spite of the failings, and why we need to use them. This will be the ultimate measure in this unit of whether or not they have achieved the goals.

to top

Classroom Activities

Lesson 1: Describe Ibn Jubayr

Goal: To introduce Ibn Jubayr to the students, and help them to get to know him.


As a result of this lesson the students will be able to

1. Review and explain Islam as a religion
2. Describe Ibn Jubayr as a writer of history and his background
3. Identify and Evaluate Ibn Jubayr's potential biases


Board, Marker, pen, notebook, Introduction to Broadhurst's translation of Ibn Jubayr, dictionaries

Anticipatory Set:

List 5 things you remember from our study of Islam.


1. Class will begin with a brief review of the qualities of Islam through brainstorming.
2. When this is complete, then the teacher will lead the class in discussing the anticipatory set. (This should include a list of the 5 pillars of Islam, as well as other qualities of Islam)
3. The teacher will then put the word Bias on the board, asking the students to define bias in their own words. They may use dictionaries if necessary
a. The teacher must trend the discussion toward a clear definition of bias, as well as a brief discussion of its challenges for a historian.
4. The teacher will then break the students into heterogeneous reading groups
b. The groups will then read through the introduction and make notes that would help them describe Ibn Jubayr
c. It will be necessary for the teacher to circulate, checking in with every group and helping them to progress
5. When this is complete the students will return to their seats, and create their own description of Ibn Jubayr. This only needs to be between a paragraph and a page long.
6. When this is complete the students will be allowed to share their work briefly, which will lead to a discussion of Ibn Jubayr's biases.
7. When this is complete the teacher will lead the students in discussing ways in which Ibn Jubayr might be biased


The teacher will review what was done today, and assign the homework.


The students will be assessed based on their contributions, their descriptions, and their homework


Write a one-page response to today's work, describing ways in which Ibn Jubayr might be a biased historical source.

Lesson 2: Discuss Discrimination

Goal: To help the students identify with Ibn Jubayr through personal experience.


As a result of this lesson the students will be able to

1. Define discrimination in academic and personal terms
2. Identify and describe discriminatory behavior on the part of the Sicilians in Ibn Jubayr
3. Compare the experiences of Ibn Jubayr to that of themselves or others they know of


Board, Marker, pen, notebook, Excerpts of Ibn Jubayr's time in Sardinia from Broadhurst's translation of Ibn Jubayr, dictionaries

Anticipatory Set:

Define discrimination in your own words, and give one example of it from your experience.


1. Class will begin by defining discrimination as a group. If some of the students wish to share their experiences, it will be allowed, but not required.

2. When this is complete, then the students will return to their reading groups from the last class as the teacher passes out the excerpts.

3. The students will read through the excerpts together, creating a group description of what happened in Sardinia in their own words.

4. When this is complete, each student will need to create a one paragraph explanation of the behaviors of each group (the Muslims and the Sicilians), including a brief discussion of the causes or triggers of discrimination.

5. When the students are finished, the teacher will lead them in a discussion of Ibn Jubayr's experience. Specifically it will be necessary to draw out student discussion of their understanding of discrimination.

a. This should build upon the definition given at the beginning of class.


The teacher will review what was done today, and assign the homework.


The students will be assessed based on their contributions, their descriptions, and their homework


Write a one-page response to today's work, comparing Ibn Jubayr's experiences in Sardinia with your understanding of discrimination. How is it similar? How is it different?

Lesson 3: Identify and Explain Differences

Goal: To compare Ibn Jubayr's description of Egypt with their own understanding.


As a result of this lesson the students will be able to

1. Review the pyramids
2. Identify the purpose of the pyramids according to Ibn Jubayr through a reading
3. Compare the two, identifying similarities and differences as well as explaining what those differences teach us


Board, Marker, pen, notebook, Excerpts from Ibn Jubayr's time in Egypt from Broadhurst's translation of Ibn Jubayr, dictionaries

Anticipatory Set:

In 5 lines describe the difference between primary and secondary sources. You should include the relative benefits of each.


1. Class will begin with a brief review of the difference between primary and secondary sources.
2. When this is complete the teacher will lead the students in brainstorming about Egypt.
a. The students will undoubtedly have a lot to say about Egypt, but when the pyramids are mentioned, the teacher should focus attention on their purpose. It will be necessary to get out as much info as possible on the pyramids
3. With this complete the students should return to their reading groups as the teacher passes out the reading for the day.
4. This time the students should list ways in which Ibn Jubayr's account differs from their own
5. The teacher will then lead the class in creation of a class wide Venn diagram comparing their own account with that of Ibn Jubayr.


The teacher will review what was done today, and assign the homework.


The students will be assessed based on their contributions, their descriptions, and their homework


Write a one-page response to today's work, answering the following questions?

- Where did Ibn Jubayr's information come from?
- Where does your information come from?
- Why are the accounts (yours and Ibn Jubayr's) so different?

Lesson 4: Compare Accounts of the Hajj

Goal: To compare Ibn Jubayr's account of the Hajj with modern accounts.


As a result of this lesson the students will be able to

1. Review the strengths and weaknesses of primary sources
2. Identify the purpose behind, and the rituals of, the Hajj
3. Synthesize multiple accounts of the Hajj into their own short historical narrative.


Board, Marker, pen, notebook, Excerpts from Ibn Jubayr's Hajj from Broadhurst's translation of Ibn Jubayr, dictionaries, Excerpt from The Oxford History of Islam describing the Hajj, "Inside Mecca" video

Anticipatory Set:

In 5 lines describe the purpose of the Hajj as they understand it.


1. The class will begin with a brief brainstorming session based on their anticipatory set.
2. When this is complete the teacher will introduce the video, directing the students to take notes on the modern Hajj that fill in their understanding.
3. When this is complete the teacher will lead the students in a brief discussion of the parts of the Hajj
4. When this is complete the teacher will distribute the Ibn Jubayr reading and compare that to the video
5. The teacher will then lead them in a discussion of the similarities and differences between the accounts


The teacher will review what was done today, and assign the homework.


The students will be assessed based on their contributions, their descriptions, and their homework


Write a brief account of the Hajj from a modern perspective, including all of the rituals, and brief explanations of each. You should draw from both of the sources we used today in class.

to top

Annotated Bibliography

1. Armstrong, Karen. A History of God. Random House Publishing, New York NY. 1993

Karen Armstrong's A History of God is a popular history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It discusses in accessible detail the theological and political history of these three major religions. It is particularly useful for comparative discussion of these religions and concise history of each religion. For my purposes it was useful to clarify some specific facts regarding Islam.

2. Broadhurst, Roland trans. The Travels of Ibn Jubayr. Goodword Books, New Delhi, India. 1952

Roland Broadhurst's translation of The Travels of Ibn Jubayr is an excellent translation of a valuable source for discussion of the Islamic world. Ibn Jubayr traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean world in the 12th century, and wrote a great deal about his travels. For my purposes, Ibn Jubayr allows me to teach the Islamic World in a novel, thought-provoking and relevant way.

3. Duiker, William J. and Spielvogel, Jackson J. World History 3rd Ed. Wadsworth Thompson Learning. Stamford, CT. 2001.

World History 3rd Ed. Is a high-level high-school history text-book, written for AP World History. It is extremely comprehensive and contains a number of useful and accessible graphics, which make it a good resource for this unit. I used it for double checking a number of facts throughout the course of this unit.

4. Shaw, M.R.B. Trans. Joinville and Villehardouin: Cronicles of the Crusades. Pengwuin Classics. New York, NY. 1963.

Shaw's translations of Joinville and Villehardouin allow the reader to access these useful primary sources. These accounts of the 4th crusade deal with a number of specific descriptions of the crusader states. These descriptions are not only valuable in their own right, but they make it possible in this context to compare Christian and Muslim views of the same crusader state.

5. National Geographic. "Inside Mecca" Video 2003.

"Inside Mecca" is a documentary view of the modern Hajj which takes on multiple perspectives in its telling of the story. This is a uniquely in-depth view of the Hajj with striking footage of Mecca, which would ordinarily be inaccessible to outsiders. "Inside Mecca" can be purchased at Pbs.com.

6. PBS Home Video "Islam: Empire of Faith" Video 2001

"Islam: Empire of Faith" is a documentary of the entire early history of the Islamic world. It describes in detail the early days of Islam, including a brief biography of Muhammad as well as a description of the challenges that faced this fledgling religion. It then proceeds to describe the politics of the Islamic expansion and world in rosy, if comprehensive, terms. "Islam: Empire of Faith" can be purchased at Pbs.com.

to top

Contents of 2007 Volume II | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2016 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI