Educating for Religious Literacy & Mutual Respect

ING News & Information, 12/12/07

In this edition:

  • Happy Holidays Season! Share in Learning About the Holidays
  • ING Training for the Newly Formed “Interfaith Speakers Bureau” in January 2008
  • Support ING as the Year Draws to an End
  • Interfaith Dialogue on “Retributive Justice,” 12/11/07
  • ING Speaker Participates in an Interfaith Holiday Event, 12/08/07
  • ING Participates in a Cultural Diversity Panel for the FBI, 12/05/07
  • Presentation on “Women in Islam” at Tamalpais High, 12/05/07
  • “Woven in the Fabric of Life – Faith” Discussion at Presbyterian Church in Livermore, 12/04/07
  • Interested in Becoming an ING Speaker?

Happy Holiday Season! Share in Learning About the Holidays

As all major faiths enter or are in the holiday season, come learn about two holidays celebrated by America’s two largest minority faiths! Join ING and the JCRC of the East Bay for the last of their Common Ground series titled: “December Holiday Convergence: Hanukkah and Eid al-Adha,” on Wednesday, December 12th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in Oakland. To RSVP, please contact ING’s Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan at [email protected].

ING Training for the Newly Formed “Interfaith Speakers Bureau”

ING is launching an exciting new program next school semester, the “Interfaith Speakers Bureau.” Modeled after the 15-year running “Islamic Speakers Bureau,” the new speakers bureau will include representatives from the five major faith traditions speaking on topics of relevance to all faiths on panels of two or more faiths addressing a variety of venues. The goal of the Bureau is “Educating for Religious Literacy and Mutual Respect,” and focuses on modeling civil dialogues among faith communities that address shared values and principles, differences, issues of interest and concern, and prevalent misconceptions about religion and faith in public life. The goal is to increase religious literacy of Americans of all faiths and none and promote mutual respect as we learn and share about our commonalities and differences. The program will be made up of speakers from the Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu faiths. Presenting in a variety of venues, including K-12 public and private schools, colleges and universities, faith congregations, community centers, law enforcement agencies, healthcare facilities, and other public institutions. If you are interested in becoming a panelist, you must attend one of the following three Speakers Trainings in January:

Mid-Peninsula: January 14, 2008
Peninsula Temple Beth El
1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo, CA

East Bay: January 23, 2008
First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison St. Oakland, CA

South Bay: January 25, 2008
India Community Center
525 Los Coches St. Milpitas, CA

All training workshops are between 6:00 and 10:00 pm. To sign up for training, please contact ING’s Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan at [email protected]. or go to this page for more information:

Support ING as the Year Draws to an End!

As we draw to the end of the year and you haven’t yet supported ING’s outreach programs, or would like to increase your level of existing support, consider donating to one of ING’s many programs, or providing ongoing support by signing up for monthly automatic donations through your credit or debit card. Help increase religious literacy while receiving a tax deduction for your donation. To donate, see:

Interfaith Dialogue on “Retributive Justice,” 12/11/07

ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi joined the Reverend Michael Carson for the Silicon Valley Conference for Community & Justice Dialogue at Campbell United Methodist Church on Tuesday afternoon. The theme the SVCCJ Dialogue Group has chosen to explore this year is the broad topic of “Justice,” and this month, they looked at the topic of “Retributive Justice” – just punishment. The discussion revolved around each tradition’s approach to retributive justice, and particularly with respect to capital punishment, especially as this applies to the State of California. Quoting the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad’s practices, Maha emphasized Islamic principles of education and social reform with laws, repentance instead of punishment and forgiveness & mercy. The conversation among the faith leaders continued for two hours.

ING Speaker Participates in an Interfaith Holiday Event, 12/08/07

ING speaker, Uzma Husaini described the focus and rituals of the upcoming Islamic holiday “Eid ul-Adha” for a group known as the Network of Spiritual Progressives at a dinner meeting in San Francisco on Saturday, December 8th. The event, which took place at St. Gregory’s of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, began with a vegetarian potluck, followed by a program that was opened by Rabbi Michael Lerner, followed by a Christian priest. Uzma followed with a brief description of the significance and rituals of “Eid ul-Adha,” or “Festival of the Sacrifice,” which commemorates the story of Abraham and his son, and the spirit of dedication and commitment. In between speeches, participants sang Hanukkah songs and Christmas carols, reflecting the ecumenical spirit of the event.

ING Participates in a Cultural Diversity Panel for the FBI, 12/05/07

ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi was one of six Muslims to take part in a Cultural Diversity Panel for the FBI Anti-Terrorism Task Force on Wednesday, December 5th, which included over 50 agents of the Bay Area Anti-Terrorism Task Force. The FBI had organized the event as a means of educating themselves about Islam, to reinforce lines of communications between Muslims and the FBI and to find ways to better serve the Muslim community while partnering to prevent terrorism. The other panelists included imams or presidents of Bay Area mosques as well as Islamic organizations. Maha’s presence on the panel was important both as the only female representative and as a speaker who has presented numerous times to law enforcement officials on similar topics. Maha is also one of two ING speakers who graduated from the FBI Citizens Academy and one of five ING speakers who graduated from Police Citizens’ Academies of police departments around the Bay Area. The aim of citizens law enforcment academies is to educate the public about the culture and work of law enforcement agencies, which we highly recommend for all residents of the Bay Area.

Presentation on Women in Islam at Tamalpais High, 12/05/07

ING speaker Ameena Jandali shared her insight about the role and status of women in Islam with a class on Women’s History at Tamalpais High School on Wednesday, December 10th. The class had been studying the topic and wanted to hear first hand about Islamic principals pertaining to the topic and real life experiences from a practicing Muslim woman. Ameena began by asking for some of the most common stereotypes about Muslim women, and discussed some of the sources of those perceptions. She then started a conversation that addressed the differences between Muslim practice, where Islam is but one factor in the lives of Muslims, and basic Islamic precepts relating to the rights of women in Islam that were introduced 1400 years ago, including the right to education, to earn and keep her own money, the right to inherit, and the right to take part in all walks of socie
ty. She pointed out that Muslim women are not a monolithic group; some or most depending on the country in which they live are educated professionals, politicians, and have even been heads of state in four majority Muslim countries. How Islam is understood and practiced depends to a great extent on the educational, social, political, historical and economic development of individuals and societies. The students and teachers were gratified to get a different perspective on the topic.

“Woven in the Fabric of Life – Faith” Discussion at Presbyterian Church in Livermore, 12/04/07

ING speaker Ameena Jandali joined a representative from the Hindu faith in describing the shared values in each of their traditions for the monthly meeting of the First Presbyterian Church of Livermore’s women’s group meeting and dinner. Each speaker explained briefly the central tenets and practices of their respective faiths, and shared their insight into how we can all learn from each other. For many of the audience members, it was their first opportunity to learn a little about these faiths, and many expressed their surprise at learning of similarities and commonalities. At the conclusion of the presentations, the organizers presented the speakers with hand crocheted prayer shawls, an appropriate symbol of their appreciation.

Interested in becoming an ING Speaker?

Contact ING’s Program Manager, Grace Fong at [email protected] Islamic Speakers Bureau trainings will be held in February 2008. Reserve your space now.