Roots of Islam in America through Enslaved West Africans

ING News & Information, 02/26/08

In this Edition:

  • ING’s Winter Newsletter is now Online
  • Commemorating Black History Month
  • Pew Releases Landmark Survey on Religion in the U.S.
  • Jewish Study Group Presentation, 2/24/08
  • ING’s Islamic Speakers Bureau Trainings Conclude, 2/23/08
  • ING Presents Award to Karen Armstrong, 2/21/08
  • California Police Officer Standard and Training, 2/19/08 – 2/21/08
  • Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin Presentation, 2/20/08
  • Sonoma State University Presentation, 2/20/08
  • Thank You for Your Support!
  • Upcoming Events of Interest

ING’s Winter Newsletter is now Online

Winter 2008 Newsletter is now accessible online for those who did not receive a hard copy. The newsletter features coverage of ING’s supporters’ dinner, an overview of the new Interfaith Speakers Bureau, and other news.

Commemorating Black History Month

ING extends its best wishes for a Black History Month that is both educational and inspiring. In this exciting time of possibly seeing the first African American president, ING encourages people of all faiths and backgrounds to learn more about this topic. ING offers a presentation called the “Roots of Islam in America” that describes the earliest Muslims in this country, namely enslaved West Africans. The presentation features stories and experiences of individual enslaved Muslims, including “Prince,” who was featured recently in a PBS documentary. It also chronicles the development of conversion movements in the African American community, and the impact of West African Muslim culture on the U.S. To request a presentation on this topic, please contact the ING office at (408) 296-7312 or write to [email protected]

Pew Releases Landmark Survey on Religion in the U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Feb. 25, 2008—The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life today released the first report of the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which finds that a remarkably high number of people have changed their religious affiliation since childhood. The report details the religious affiliation of the American public and explores the remarkable dynamism taking place in the U.S. religious marketplace. The first report of the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that:

– More than 83% of Americans say they are affiliated with a particular religion, and more than 16% say they are unaffiliated.

– More than a quarter of American adults have left the faith of their childhood in favor of another religion – or no religion at all.

– The U.S. is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country. The number of Americans who are affiliated with Protestant denominations now stands at barely over 51%.

To see an article on the topic go to:


Jewish Study Group Dialogue, 2/24/08

ING speaker, Ameena Jandali delivered an “Overview on Islam and what it means to be a Muslim” presentation to a Jewish study group sponsored by Temple Emanu El. The presentation was a follow up to a previous event a few months ago at Temple Emanu El, which sparked an interest in having the study group members attend a similar lecture. She gave an overview of the basics of Islam, including the major beliefs and practices while answering questions throughout the presentation. Attendees at the intimate gathering plied her with questions that ran the gamut from queries about performing the prayer to questions about terrorism, and violence. One of the audience members, commenting on the similarities between the two faiths remarked at the end that “if one of his co-religionists were to give an overview of Judaism to a group of Muslims, it would be a nearly identical presentation.”

ING’s Islamic Speakers Bureau Trainings Conclude, 2/23/08

ING held its third and final in a series of three winter trainings this past Saturday at UCSF Conference Center Laurel Heights in San Francisco. The training was coordinated by ING’s Sr. Program Manager, Grace Fong and conducted by ING veteran speakers, Fouzi Husaini and Reema Qadry, with part of the Orientation presented by a veteran speaker, Khatija Afroze. There were many college age attendees who were very excited about becoming speakers and immediately understood the goals and focus of ING. Thanks to all the ING volunteers and staff who made these trainings a success, and a big thanks to all the trainees who hopefully will soon become an invaluable member of ING’s pool of speakers!

ING Presents Award to Karen Armstrong, 2/21/08

ING’s president Maha Elgenaidi presented Karen Armstrong with the “Outstanding Pen Award for Inter-Religious Understanding” before her speech on “Understanding Islam and the West” at the California Institute of Integral Studies on Thursday, February 21st. Before presenting the award, Maha made a few comments as excerpted below from her speech:

“ING is honored to have the opportunity to recognize Ms. Armstrong because like her, we are also dedicated to understanding religion, not through blind following, but through personal, spiritual struggles to understand the faith on our own, rather than through the lens of those who claim to follow Islam but are doing so in a manner that drives people away from faith instead of being beacons of light for humanity…

“ING was founded in 1993 for the purpose of presenting Islam as experienced by the vast majority of Muslims. ING is composed of about 250 speakers all across the country who deliver presentations and participate in interfaith dialogues that challenge prevalent stereotypes about Islam and promote a view of the religion that is understood and practiced by the vast majority of Muslims. We strive to inform our neighbors, coworkers, teachers, students, doctors, police officers and anyone who invites us that Islam promotes peaceful co-existence and many of the values that are universally held dear, such as the value of life, liberty, and freedom for all people, races and genders, and that Muslims have much more in common with you than you think…

“Your work and ours are intertwined Ms. Armstrong and shares a similar path towards opening minds and bringing enlightenment at both the personal and public levels. … Our similar work is a vocation that has the shared purpose of peace making through education, understanding and respect of “the other” where we no longer see “others” but rather, we see human beings, much like ourselves. The more we do this work, the more that we become better human beings, which is the goal of all religions.”

ING’s board member, Imam Faheem Shuaibe also shared a few words not only from the perspective of ING, but also as a renowned national leader of the African American Muslim community. Both Karen Armstrong’s speech that night and the subsequent Saturday was greeted with standing ovations from the audience and sold out crowds.

California Police Officers Standards and Training, 2/19/08 – 2/21/08

Joining representatives from diverse law enforcement agencies and community organizations, ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi participated in a meeting to develop an updated 2-hour telecourse on Hate Crimes at a meeting of the California Po
lice Officers Standards and Training (POST) which was held last week in San Diego. Maha is a long time advisor to POST and has contributed to the development of training guidelines as well as other telecourses for POST relating to hate crimes and cultural diversity education. These telecourses are distributed to 650 law enforcement agencies across the state and viewed by thousands of police officers. To help police officers understand Muslim and Arab cultures and how to work effectively with those communities to prevent and respond to hate crimes, ING’s police training titled, “Working with the American Muslim and Arab Communities” is certified by POST and delivered by ING trainers who received certification from police academies for citizens. To learn more or to request training for your law enforcement agency, please contact Grace Fong at [email protected]

Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin Presentation, 2/20/08

ING speaker, Uzma Husaini delivered an “Orientation on Islam and Muslims” at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin on Wednesday, February 20, 2008 to a group of about 70 people. After the presentation there were numerous questions, including some stereotypical ones such as “why do they hate us?” and “why are so many of them violent?” But most of the attendees were genuinely interested in learning about commonalities between faiths and details such as how Muslims pray. The organizer of the event commented on the presentation, saying, “thank you very much for taking the time to educate us… I found the talk very interesting and very enlightening, and your patience with the audience’s questions is commendable.”

Sonoma State University Presentation, 2/20/08

ING speaker, Ameena Jandali addressed an audience of students from various classes at Sonoma State University on Wednesday, February 20, delivering an Orientation on Islam and Muslims. She spent the first forty minutes describing the basics about the religion, including the six beliefs, and five pillars, comparing them to beliefs and practices in other faiths. She then fielded questions from the floor which covered the entire gamut on the topic, from women’s issues to questions about jihad and war. Many of the students took avid notes and at the end of the presentation one student told the speaker that it was the most succinct description of Islam he had ever heard; “better than what I am learning in college.”

Thank You for Your Support!