6th Grade New York

Islamic Spain

This inquiry provides students with an introduction to a historical example of religious tolerance and cooperation as it evolved in Islamic Spain, also known as Al-Andalus. Muslims settled in Spain and took control from Christian Visigoths in the 8th century. Over the six centuries of Muslim rule in Spain, Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived side by side, sometimes in conflict but more often in harmony. This inquiry examines the establishment of Al-Andalus as an emirate of the Umayyad Caliphate and later as a caliphate of its own in 926 CE. The inquiry provides students with an opportunity to examine the establishment of the caliphate of Córdoba as a center of knowledge, innovation, and religious tolerance.

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Compelling Question:

Was the Caliphate of Córdoba a Success?

Staging the Question: Using the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week as a context, students discuss the role of dialogue among people of different religious faiths.
1

Supporting Question How did Muslims come to rule Spain?

Formative Task Make a timeline of events related to the spread of Islam into Spain.

Sources Source A: Map bank: Establishment and growth of the Islamic Empire and caliphate of Córdoba
Source B: Letter proclaiming Abd al-Rahman III caliph, 929 CE

2

Supporting Question How was Córdoba a center of learning and innovation?

Formative Task List examples of learning and innovation in Córdoba.

Sources Source A: Source bank: Descriptions of Córdoba as a center of learning
Source B: Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi’s surgical instruments
Source C: Drawing of Abbas ibn Firnas flying

3

Supporting Question What was the Great Mosque of Córdoba?

Formative Task Write a paragraph about the architectural and cultural significance of the Great Mosque of Córdoba.

Sources Source A: Image bank: The Great Mosque

4

Supporting Question How were Christians and Jews treated in Córdoba?

Formative Task Make a claim with evidence about the experiences of Christians and Jews in Córdoba.

Sources Source A: Image of Abd al-Rahman III receiving the ambassador
Source B: Excerpted letter from Hasdai ibn Shaprut, 10th century

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Present the argument in an interfaith dialogue about the history of the caliphate of Córdoba.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Determine the extent to which Muslims, Jews, and Christians are represented in a nearby community.
Assess: Identify ways that Muslims, Jews, and Christians coexist in a nearby community today.
Act: Invite a knowledgeable representative from each of the three religions to clarify and explain cultural traditions.