Religion: Understanding Islam

TED Studies, created in collaboration with Wiley, are curated video collections — supplemented by rich educational materials — for students, educators and self-guided learners. In Understanding Islam, speakers take the TED stage to talk about the faith practiced by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide and often misunderstood by many non-Muslims. These writers, religious leaders, activists and artists draw distinctions between the core tenets of Islam found in the Qur'an and the political and cultural traditions in some predominantly Muslim societies. Relevant areas of interest, study and coursework include: Islamic studies, religious studies, theology, Islamophobia, Arab studies, African studies and Asian studies.

Learning outcomes

TED's Understanding Islam will provide learners with a deeper knowledge of:

  • How to approach the Qur’an (Koran, in archaic spelling)
  • Values Islam shares with Judaism and Christianity
  • Islam’s dominant values
  • Islam’s potential to create truly democratic governance in the modern world
  • How to counter the allure of danger and glory through extremist adventures
  • How humor can be a coping mechanism for people stigmatized by stereotypes
  • How Muslims have incorporated components of Euro-American youth culture
  • How to educate and empower Muslim youth with Islamic virtues.

Relevant talks

Introductory essay

Begin Understanding Islam with a fascinating read that gives context and clarity to the material.

About the educator

TED Studies professor: Tamara Sonn

Religious scholar Tamara Sonn, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the College of William & Mary, teaches Islamic Studies. Her books include Interpreting Islam (Oxford 1996); Comparing Religions through Law: Judaism and Islam (with J. Neusner; Routledge 1999); Islam: A Brief History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010); and The Religion Toolkit: A Complete Guide to Religious Studies (with J. Morreall; Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).

About TED Studies

TED Studies created in partnership with
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Each TED Study offers a curated and sequenced set of TED Talks, along with specially commissioned materials for teaching and self-guided learning. Created by world class experts, they cover topics ranging from "Understanding Happiness" to "Covering World News" to "Ecofying Cities." An abbreviated version of TED Studies is offered here; the full curricula — including special modules on each talk with questions, assignments, key terms and recommended reading — are available for licensing to academic institutions, ministries of education, and media companies worldwide.

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