Has anyone else had a hard time teaching more about Islam, specifically students with extreme beliefs? If so how did you handle it?
I taught a high school world cultures class in which there were students with fundamentalist Christian beliefs, some Jewish students who were adamantly Zionistic, as well as students who were just prejudiced generally. What I chose to focus on, not just with Islam, but with all the religions we studied, was the remarkable similarities among religions, rather than the differences. So, the differences, which they were expected to learn, entered their consciousness somewhat subversively. We read some of the Koran, which contains much of the Old and New Testament in it, and the students were all surprised to learn that Muslims had not "thrown out" the earlier religions, but had built upon them. We also had two imams come to the school to speak, and they, too, focused on similarities. Their visit was such a success that the students invited the imans back for our Thanksgiving dinner. They came and even brought a dish to share. I considered the experience to be quite successful for all of us.
I should also add that this was a small, private school, and that I had the complete support of the director, even in the face of some parental opposition, to do whatever I wanted to promote some understanding and respect of other cultures and religions. Had this not been the case, I'm not so sure how easy this would have been.