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Important message from ING founder and trustee Maha Elgenaidi
From Gaza to Burma, from the Central African Republic to France, from Syria to Afghanistan, Muslims face attacks each day, either through legislation, discrimination, or the barrel of a gun. But there is hope for our world, and it is found in the most basic parts of our religions.
If you’re reading this message, chances are that you’re one of our supporters and friends in the United States, a country that, while still struggling with its religious pluralism, has codified the notion that all people of faith can live and cooperate together in society.
As such, we have at our disposal the mechanism of representative democracy, an immensely powerful tool for guaranteeing the rights of minorities and enacting American policy on the world stage. This system, based on mutual civility, has built bridges between and among faith communities in the United States and beyond.
We need to continue to bring people together, across religious lines, to teach each other about our faith practices and hope for our planet. Through these connections, we can influence what happens to Muslims all around the world. Our work in dispelling stereotypes about American Muslims, and introducing citizens, face-to-face, with practitioners of a variety of religions, is of the utmost value in times such as these.
Can we create safe spaces in our schools to talk about all religions, and what it means to be a person of faith in America? Can we act out our values through interfaith service projects? Can we expand the already robust Muslim-Jewish interfaith dialogue that has made America a safe home for both religions, and work with their co-religionists in the Middle East to promote peace? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES.
ING’s work is to deliver presentations and training seminars in schools and other public institutions and build interreligious understanding and harmony through interfaith engagement and service. These practices will, slowly but surely, increase America’s religious pluralism, and force its policymakers to recognize that religious flux abroad can translate to religious flux at home. We can change our world, and deliver hope to those, especially Muslims, who even today face violence and suffering at untold levels.
On their surfaces, religions appear to divide us from one another, but it is precisely the animating force of religions, the deep sense of hope for a better present and a perfect world yet to come, that binds us together once labels like Muslim, Jew, and Hindu fall away.
Those deepest, most elemental ideals have been our focus this Ramadan, and we’ve explored them in great depth through our First Principles of Religion series. Look for our next note celebrating Eid this coming Monday, when we will reveal the fifth and final First Principle of Religion, which is perhaps the most important of them all: The Golden Rule.
Please consider ING in your giving as we end this holy month of Ramadan. Our programs and people speak for themselves, and we will, hope upon hope, bring greater peace to our world.
Trustee & incoming chair of the board