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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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Islam

Hijab: Veiled in Controversy

Hijab is an Islamic concept of modesty and privacy, most notably expressed in women’s clothing that covers most of the body.

Source: www.nationalgeographic.org

What is the geography of the hijab?  Covering one’s head pre-dates Islam in the Middle East but many associate this practice strictly with Islam and only for women. Read this article (with teaching tips and supplemental resources) for more context on this cultural and religious practice.

Tags: Islam, perspective, religion, culture, National Geographic.

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The fate of religious freedom in the former USSR, 25 years after its collapse

It’s been 25 years since the fall of the Soviet Union. How has religious freedom fared in this part of the world?

Source: www.deseretnews.com

The collapse of the former Soviet Union was one of the biggest political events of the 20th century with long-reaching cultural ramifications.  The generations of state-sponsored atheism followed by a variety of new political policies has meant that religious freedoms vary greatly in the regions that were once a part of the USSR.  This article gives a good breakdown of all the former SSR’s and the state of religious freedom today in each of them.    

 

Tags: religionChristianityIslam, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, AzerbaijanGeorgia, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan.      

Projected Religious Population Changes in Sub-Saharan Africa

“The total population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at a faster pace than in any other region in the decades ahead, more than doubling from 823 million in 2010 to 1.9 billion in 2050. As a result, the two dominant religions in the region – Christianity and Islam – both are expected to have more than twice as many adherents in 2050 as in 2010.”

Source: www.pewforum.org

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the poorest regions of the world. While the economy is growing, the rate at which poverty is falling is less than the population growth rate.  Nearly all of the population growth in Africa between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.  As the population grows, the religious dynamics of Sub-Saharan Africa will change.  The share of residents practicing Christianity, the majority religion of the region, is expected to decline from 2010 to 2050 while the share of Muslims is expected to increase in the same time frame.  The changes in religious demographics is occurring alongside the region’s youth bulge (click here for a population pyramid).  Understanding religious demographics is key to understanding the challenges faced by the African people.   

 

Question to Ponder: What impact are the region’s two fastest-growing religions having on Sub-Saharan Africa’s overall fertility rate?    

 

Tagsreligionpopulation, ChristianityIslam, Africa.

How Islam Created Europe

“For centuries in early and middle antiquity, Europe meant the world surrounding the Mediterranean. It included North Africa, but the swift advance of Islam across North Africa in the seventh and eighth centuries virtually extinguished Christianity there, thus severing the Mediterranean region into two civilizational halves, with the ‘Middle Sea’ a hard border between them rather than a unifying force. Islam is now helping to undo what it once helped to create. A classical geography is organically reasserting itself, as the forces of terrorism and human migration reunite the Mediterranean Basin, including North Africa and the Levant, with Europe.” 

Source: www.theatlantic.com

The title is a bit overstated (aren’t they all in this click-bait driven media age?), but the article shows nicely how regions are cultural constructs that change over time. 

 

Tags: op-edregions, Europe, historical, Islamreligionhistorical, culture, Christianity.

The tragedy of the Arabs

“A THOUSAND years ago, the great cities of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo took turns to race ahead of the Western world. Islam and innovation were twins. The various Arab caliphates were dynamic superpowers—beacons of learning, tolerance and trade. Yet today the Arabs are in a wretched state. Even as Asia, Latin America and Africa advance, the Middle East is held back by despotism and convulsed by war.  

Pluralism, education, open markets: these were once Arab values and they could be so again. Today, as Sunnis and Shias tear out each others’ throats in Iraq and Syria and a former general settles onto his new throne in Egypt, they are tragically distant prospects. But for a people for whom so much has gone so wrong, such values still make up a vision of a better future.”

Source: www.economist.com

While the title of the article is more inflammatory than I would prefer, the analysis in this article from the Economist does a good job linking the cultural, economic and political struggles in the Middle East.

Tags: political, culture, economic, Islam, MiddleEast.

Malaysia’s ‘Allah’ controversy

Is limiting the use of the Arabic word for God a sign of growing intolerance towards minorities?

Source: stream.aljazeera.com

In Arabic, the word Allah means God.  Christian Arabs refer to God as Allah and Arabic versions of the Bible reference Allah.  As Arabic and Islam have diffused in interwoven patterns, the linguistic root and the theological meanings have became intertwined to some.  BBC World and Al-Jazeera have reported on this issue as the Malaysian government has attempted to ban the use of the word Allah to any non-Muslim religious group.  Language and religion just got very political.  

Tags: languagereligion, political, Malaysia, SouthEastAsia, culture, Islam.

The Origins Of The Shiite-Sunni Split

The division between Islam’s Shiite minority and the Sunni majority is deepening across the Middle East. The split occurred soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, nearly 1,400 years ago.

Source: www.npr.org

The ghosts of religious wars past are rattling in Iraq; The geography of the Sunni-Shiite division is incredibly important for a good understanding of world regional geography as well as modern geopolitics. This NPR podcast examines the  historical and religious aspects of this split to then analyze the political and cultural implications in the Middle East today.  

 

Tags: MiddleEast, Islamreligionhistorical, culturepodcast.

shia-sunni-split2_vert-c54281df26243133666cc54f16e76b6f72cb468f-s3-c85

 

The Islamic World’s Quiet Revolution

Via Scoop.itGeography Education
“Forget politics. Muslim countries are poised to experience a new wave of change — but this time it’s all about demographics.”   

For generations the talk about demographics has been that Muslim-majority societies have cultural factors that keep fertility rates high despite the global trend that indicates that fertility rates will drop as societies become more wealthy and developed.  This ‘cultural immunity’ is not as impermeable as was once thought and we are now seeing falling birth rates and fertility rates throughout the Muslim World.  This article is heavy on statistics and charts, which would be a benefit to student as a potential Free Response Question.
Via www.foreignpolicy.com

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