Illuminating Islam: A Guide for Better Understanding
Illuminating Islam was a semester long grant-funded project bringing Muslim students and community members from James Madison
University, the public school system, and the larger community, into dialogue with one another. Funded from September
of 2003 to June of 2004, the core purpose of the Illuminating Islam grant was to carry out an educational program which would
augment understanding of the Islamic tradition. oIP staff recruited volunteers from the JMU Muslim student community, who
presented introductory information in local high schools on Islamic doctrines, practices, history and art and then answered
the high school students’ questions. This personal interaction of local high school students with international Muslim
students produced a valuable opportunity for both parties to learn from and about each other. Presentations were also made
to the Rotary Club and at JMU’s International Student Leadership Conference.
The second tier of programming took place on campus and utilized more sophisticated materials for JMU students and faculty.
In conjunction with the Muslim Student Association, Grant Coordinators arranged for various activities during Islam Week,
including talks on calligraphy, jihad, Sufism, and women in Islam, and co-hosted an Islamic Art Exhibit.
All of the presentations were filmed, and two were chosen to be produced as video programs by the JMU School of Media Arts
& Design. Those presentations, entitled – Women in Islam and Jihad in Context – were donated to local libraries
and schools where they will be available for personal checkout and use as teaching aids. In addition, texts discussing the
Islamic tradition were donated to local county schools; high schools received two books and three videos (including a PBS
The Illuminating Islam Project was supported by the U.S. Department of State through a grant from the Cooperative Grants
Program of NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the JMU Office of International Programs.