from The Farewell (Hajj) Sermon
O people! Allah says, O men, who were created from a man and woman, divided into castes and tribes to identify each other; you are equal, but he is more respectable who fears Allah. All Muslims are brothers together.  Men and women have their duties and rights to each other. Offer prayers to Allah five times a day, fast the full month of Ramadan, pay zakat every year, perform Hajj and obey your rulers. Thus enter the Heaven created by Allah."


February 13, 2000

    Dear (your name),

    I hear you are studying about Islam in your history class.  That sucks!  My uncle fought against the Muslims who wanted to destroy Israel, and I can hardly turn on the television without seeing someone blowing something up in the name of Islam. 

    Maybe you, who have now studied Islam at some length, can answer some questions for me.  Why is the Muslim world so backwards technologically?  Why are there no world-class universities in the Islamic world?  It seems they look backwards to tradition rather than embrace technology and the future.  Is that true?  Is that why they cannot compete militarily with other countries in the world?  It seems all the Muslim countries in the Middle East are run by dictators who would do anything to hold onto power.  Or if they are not run by dictators, they are run by religious fanatics who would impose their idea of Islam on everyone else.  Are there any Muslim countries that enjoy freedom and democracy?  Do you think Islamic societies can produce governments that are democratic and tolerant of diversity?  Must Muslim societies spend so much money on weapons, with much of the rest of their societies so impoverished and underdeveloped?   Is it true that someone who blows himself up in the name of "Allah" goes straight o heaven?  Does Islam really condone terrorism?  Is Islam really as harsh and fanatical as it comes across in the newspapers?  Are all Muslims the enemy of Israel?  Do all Muslims hate Jews?  Does the Islamic world want to erase Israel from the map?  Is Islam a force for peace or a threat to world peace and harmony?  Are Islam and democracy incompatible? Is Islam a threat to the United States?  So many questions!

    I really look forward to reading your response.  Many of these questions have been running through my mind for a long, long time.  I am curious as to what is the truth. So write me back!



P.S.  I hope your history presentation went well.  You sounded really nervous and stressed about it!

P.P.S.  Instant message me tonight if you are online! Talk to ya' soon.


THESIS (2-3 sentences) (brainstorm)

Paragraph 1  Past (brainstorm: crusades, colonialism, overview of past)

Paragraph 2  Arab nationalism (brainstorm)

Paragraph 3  Islamic fundamentalism (brainstorm)

Paragraph 4  The religion of Islam and intolerance and violence?  Read this letter by one of our correspondents.  (brainstorm)

Paragraph 5 The future -- Read this interview of the new leader of Jordan, King Hussein.  (brainstorm)

CONCLUSION (2-3 sentences)


You will be graded according to the following criteria: vigor and strength of introduction and conclusion, quantity of facts and back-up arguments, effective use of transition words to move from one idea to another, fluency and correctness of language, and overall quality of argument.  You can view the grading rubric here.

NOTE: You will be read and graded on the overall effectiveness and quality of your essay.