Call for Unity from Muslim Religious Leaders

ING News & Information – Update 10/16/07

In this edition:

  • Open Letter & Call From Muslim Religious Leaders
  • Register Online for ING’s 15th Year Anniversary Dinner on November 3rd, 2007 in Palo Alto
  • Responding to “Islamo-Fascism Week” on College Campuses
  • ING Speaker Addresses Hope Lutheran Church in San Mateo, 10/14/07
  • ING Speaker Presents Ramadan at Phillip Brooks School, 10/11/07
  • ING Speaker Presents Ramadan at Mills College Fast-a-thon, 10/09/07
  • ING Speakers Visit Bret Harte Middle School in Hayward, 10/09/07

Open Letter & Call from Muslim Religious Leaders

Last week witnessed the release of an historic letter by 138 Muslim scholars from across the world seeking dialogue and understanding with their Christian brothers and sisters. The document, An Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders addressed to the Pope & other Christian leaders emphasizes commonalities between the faiths, and the importance of mutual respect, peaceful dialogue and peace-making. To see the full text of the letter and analysis by Islamica Magazine, visit:

ING fully supports this call for unity and collaboration around shared principles among people of all faiths and none.

Register Online for ING’s 15th Year Anniversary Dinner on November 3rd, 2007 in Palo Alto

For speakers bios and information on the event, go to

Responding to “Islamo-Fascism Week” on College Campuses

From Oct. 22 – 26, a campaign titled “Islamo-Facism Awareness Week” has been organized on campuses across the country. The event is being organized and promoted by David Horowitz and his Horowitz Freedom Center. Mr. Horowitz claims, “During the week of October 22-26, 2007, the nation will be rocked by the biggest conservative campus protest ever – Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a wake-up call for Americans on 200 university and college campuses.” While the issues raised are important for Americans to educate themselves about and understand, such discussions should not paint all Muslims with the same brush, nor use this campaign as a forum that rather than sincerely examining critical issues with the aim to reform or promote understanding instead increases intolerance, fear, and bigotry in a climate of prejudice towards Muslims that is already at an unprecedented level.

It is documented that campaigns that demonize an entire group of people, as occurred before the Holocaust, and more recently before the Bosnian genocide are one of the many gradual steps towards genocide. (*See below, Six Steps from Discrimination to Extermination.) Freedom of speech is guaranteed by our Constitution and part of what makes this country great, and censoring ideas we disagree with is not the solution. However, it is important to understand that hate speech which vilifies an entire group can have dangerous consequences in the form of hate crimes and violence. Report any such acts to the appropriate authorities on campus.

At the same time, responding to this campaign in a reactionary manner merely reinforces the very stereotypes that the campaign seeks to promote. It is commendable that Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) have launched a campaign, “Peace, Not Prejudice” as a means to promoting understanding and tolerance. ING encourages MSA’s to refer to its Start-Up Kit for MSA’s that lays the groundwork for just such an endeavor and describes in detail the steps for outreach and education on college campuses, and strategies for such a program. The Kit is available for purchase on ING’s website at:

Additionally we remind students to adhere to Islamic principles in responding to this campaign, following the example and manners of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him), and not allowing emotions to lead to anything less than the forbearance, compassion, and self control that he displayed in the face of discrimination, and far worse, persecution. Demonstrating Islam in one’s actions is far more important than defending Islam with one’s words. Therefore, people should avoid:

– Reactionary behavior
– Angry responses
– Shouting matches
– Engaging people in useless arguments unless they are sincerely interested in understanding, and you are confident in your ability to respond calmly and logically.
– Defending the indefensible: acknowledge that not everything Muslims do is right; Muslims do not represent Islam, just as Christians and Jews do not always represent their faith. There are many problems in the Muslim world today, and Muslims need to own up to them. Many of the problems mentioned in the films are due to a misunderstanding and misapplication of Islam, such as honor killings by Muslims which are explicitly forbidden in the Qur’an, domestic violence against women, Female Genital Mutilation, and others. Clarify what is part of Islam, and what is cultural practice or twisting of the faith.

* From “The 6 Steps from Discrimination to Extermination” by Bart Charlow, Executive Director of the SVCCJ. They include: 1) Spreading myths or stereotypes about people which result in denigration and social distancing from them; 2) Creating mistrust about a people that isolates that group; 3) Fabricating a threat they pose to the public, which creates agreement with illegal laws or restrictions upon the group; 4) De-humanizing the target group, which prepares the public for suspension of its rights; 5) Isolation & concentration, which ensures that the group is away from the public eye, where it is subject to oppression; and the last step is the resultant atrocities that take various forms. 6) Genocide

ING Speaker Addresses Hope Lutheran Church in San Mateo, 10/14/07

Veteran ING speaker, Uzma Husaini took time off from her holiday Eid ul-Fitr (Breaking of the Fast Festival) weekend to visit Hope Lutheran Church in San Mateo on Sunday, October 14th, where she delivered ING’s Orientation on Islam and Muslims presentation. The audience of about fifty worshippers was very appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about a religion they knew very little about, and had numerous questions for the speaker. The organizers were extremely warm and welcoming to Uzma, presenting her with flowers and a copy of the Bible. There will be a follow up presentation in the future to continue the education and dialogue with another ING speaker.

ING Speaker Presents Ramadan at Phillip Brooks School, 10/11/07

On Thursday, October 11th, an ING speaker addressed the entire third to fifth graders in an assembly about Ramadan at the Phillip Brooks School in Menlo Park. The prestigious school has hosted ING speakers on various occasions, but for this event wanted the children to gain a better understanding of fasting and Ramadan. The speaker described the Ramadan fast and the reasons for fasting before answering questions from the students, who were eager to relate the fast to their own life experiences.

ING Speaker Presents Ramadan at Mills College Fast-a-thon, 10/09/07

Uzma Husaini was the keynote speaker at a Ramadan Dinner and Fast-a-thon hosted by the Mills College MSA on Tuesday, October 9th. More than 50 college students attended the dinner, most of whom had fasted the entire day. When Uzma asked how many people had actually fasted even from water, a significant number raised their hands. More students participated in the fast, but were unable to attend due to classes at
the same time. The fast-a-thon raised money for each person fasting and donated it to charity. Uzma voiced her appreciation for their efforts and explained basic beliefs and the goals and rituals associated with the Ramadan and fasting.

ING Speakers Visit Bret Harte Middle School in Hayward, 10/09/07

On Tuesday, October 9th, three ING speakers, Imran Maskatia, Ameena Jandali, and Uzma Husaini spoke during different periods to a total of 9 social studies classes at Bret Harte Middle School in Hayward, supplementing their studies of Middle Eastern culture in the context of world history and social studies. Some of the presentations were to a single class, while others paired up two classes in the auditorium. Since it is common for middle schools to have numerous classes in the same grade, ING presenters often address multiple classes in a library or auditorium. The students had numerous questions for the speakers, and were very curios to learn more about aspects of Muslims that they had stereotypes about. There was also a significant number of Muslim students in the audience who were especially happy to have speakers representing their faith in a genuine, American manner which kids could identify and relate to.

Upcoming Events at ING

“Common Ground Speakers Series,” ING and the East Bay Jewish Community Relations Council, “The ‘December Dilemma’: How Jews and Muslims Cope with a Month Devoted to Christian Events and Holidays? 10/17/07, 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Limited seating – please RSVP to [email protected] or [email protected].

“Healthcare for Muslim Patients,” Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 10/24/07, 10:30 – 12:00.

“Women’s Rights in Islam,” Women’s Community Center, Stanford University, 10/25/07, 9:30 – 7:00.

Thank You for Your Support!