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ING News & Information, 10/17/08

In this Edition:

  • ING’s Annual Supporters Dinner and Eid Holiday Celebration, 10/05/08
  • Latest News on ING’s Blog:
  • ING President Speaks on Panel at Religion Writers Conference, 9/17/08
  • ING Participates in Screening & Discussion of “Divided We Fall”, 9/17/08
  • ING in the News: Better Business Bureau to help vet Muslim charities, 9/14/08
  • ING Speaker Presents at ISEB Ramadan Open House, 9/13/08
  • Thank you for your support!

ING’s Annual Supporters Dinner and Eid Holiday Celebration, 10/05/08

Thanks to all of you who attended ING’s Annual Supporters Dinner which this year was also a celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid-ul-Fitr, or the “Festival of Breaking the Fast.” The theme of this year’s event was “Telling Our Stories, Transforming the World,” focusing on the importance for American Muslims to define themselves, rather than allowing others to define them.

The event, which was held at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara on Sunday, October 5, and emceed by ING board member Kamal Ahmed was a great success with a sold out crowd of more than 700 people that included ING supporters, board members, staff, speakers from both the Islamic and Interfaith Speakers Bureaus, and other interfaith representatives and community leaders. The program began with prayers and invocations by interfaith leaders from the Muslim (Imam Tahir Anwar), Jewish (Rabbi Dana Magat) and Christian (Pastor Ben Daniels traditions, followed by dinner. ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi then presented an overview of the importance of countering what has become known as the “Muslim Smear” with education and interfaith community engagement, and the special role education plays in fulfilling American ideals of religious pluralism, preventing a culture of hate, improving human relations and guaranteeing human rights for all Americans.

ING then honored community leaders for their work in cultural diversity programming and building bridges of understanding. Presented by ING board member Faisal Haq, the “Building Bridges” award was conferred upon the East Bay Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) for its ongoing social justice work and participation in dialogues with ING. Awards for “Excellence in Cultural Diversity Education” in schools were awarded by ING board member Diane Bauer to two schools, Independence High School in San Jose, CA and Carondelet High School in Concord. Awards for “Excellence in Cultural Diversity Education” in healthcare were presented by ING board member Dr. Isha Abdullah to Stanford University School of Medicine and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, and an award for “Excellence in Cultural Diversity Education” in law enforcement was bestowed upon the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) by ING board member San Jose PD Chief Rob Davis. All of the awards were graciously received by the recipients whose brief words of appreciation were moving testimonials to the importance and efficacy of ING’s work.

The highlight of the evening was the keynote speaker by Dr. John Esposito, professor of Religion, International Affairs, and Islamic Studies and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He talked about the importance for American Muslims to be proactive in defining their own identities and telling their own stories, and encouraged increased involvement by the community. The evening concluded with entertainment by Comedian Maz Jobrani. Maz is an Iranian-American comedian who kept the audience entertained for more than an hour with jokes about Muslims, Iranians, and other current topics, making light of what is often a serious topic.

ING thanks all of you who attended and those of you whose support of ING for the last 16 years has increased religious literacy and mutual respect among all Americans.

Latest News on ING Blog
News relating to education on cultural diversity, interfaith relations, and separation of church and state.

Washington Post: “Philanthropy for Fear,” by Eboo Patel

“So now the Muslim-hating film Obsession has shown up in the mailboxes of students at the University of North Carolina. Add that to the 28 million copies the Clarion Fun sent out as an insert in Sunday newspapers in swing states a few weeks ago. You’ve got to wonder how much all this costs. I mean, there’s the price of materials, the cost of postage and buying the space in the papers, the expense of the staff who designed the send-it-to-swing-states strategy, and of course the filmmaker’s fee. Let’s call it tens of millions of dollars, all told. ?I guess no price is too high when your goal is to make people afraid of their Muslim neighbors. Why is there is so much money out there to fund fear and hatred, and so little to support efforts that promote understanding and cooperation.”

ING President Speaks on Panel at Religion Writers Conference, 9/17/08

ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi joined a panel of other Muslim women leaders addressing the topic of “Women and American Islam” at a session for the Religion Writers Association conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, September 17th. The all day event featured different panels addressing important issues for religion writers when covering Islam and Muslims. The panel on women focused on how American Muslim women are increasingly taking on leadership roles in their communities and the implications for the U.S. and beyond. Joining Maha on the panel were Daisy Khan, Dalia Mogahed, and Mona Eltahawy, representing various organizations.

Maha talked about the tremendous change in women’s roles over the last 15 years, from being completely invisible and silent in the mosque to being highly visible, vocal and in leadership positions. She enumerated the many leadership positions Muslim women now hold in Islamic organizations, from the very top with the two time election of Dr. Ingrid Mattson to the presidency of ISNA, to joining the boards of Islamic centers and heading local and national organizations. She enumerated the dozen or so organizations in the Bay Area that were founded and are led by women, including ING, Rahima Foundation (Habibe Husain), American Muslim Voice (Samina Sundas), Give Light (Dian Alyan), SEMAH (Reshma Inamdar), and DIL (Sara Abbasi). She also mentioned the fact that the majority of ING affiliates around the country are founded and directed by women. She concluded by citing Muslim women in politics, such as Talat Hasan, and civic engagement, such as Moina Shaiq, who was recently recognized as “‘Woman of the Year” in California. She acknowledged that there is still a long way to go in areas such as women being elected presidents of mosques, which is an administrative role that should not bar women from holding the position, having equal access for women in the mosque, and the need for more women involved in chaplaincy fields and given the titles of imams or chaplains. She concluded by emphasizing that the implications for this new involvement of women contributes not only to America’s relationship and understanding of Muslims, but has positive repercussions for the role of Muslim women worldwide.

ING Participates in Screening & Discussion of “Divided We Fall,” 9/17/08

ING speaker Ameena Jandali participated in a panel discussion following the screen
ing of the film “Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath” at Irvington High School in Fremont on Wednesday, September 17th. The event was sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves and included a prior screening for high school students earlier in the day. The film is the first feature-length independent documentary about hate violence in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Filmmaker Valarie Kaur documented stories in the Sikh, Muslim and Arab American communities. Harvard Professor Diana Eck, Director of The Pluralism Project, describes the film as a starting point for a “new dialogue on race and religion that is central to America’s future.” After the film, panelists Ranjit Singh Sabharwal, Neha Singh and Ameena responded to the film with comments about the current situation for Sikh and Muslim Americans, followed by questions and comments from the audience. Ameena explained that while major hate crimes and harassment has decreased in the years following 9/11, Islamophobia itself has increased according to numerous polls. She mentioned how Islamophobia is being used in an election year to sway voters, and described a recent campaign that placed 28 million copies of a film on radical Muslims in newspapers in swing states. The film was a chance not only for the general public to hear the stories of harassment and even death after 9/11, but for two communities affected by this hate to share their common experiences.

ING in the News: Better Business Bureau to help vet Muslim charities
By Jessie Mangaliman
Mercury News, 09/14/2008

“As Muslims head into the final weeks of the holy month of Ramadan, a well-known national watchdog group and a legal organization are preparing to vet Muslim charities under a new voluntary program meant to give new credibility and transparency to charitable groups that fell under government scrutiny after 9/11. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, in partnership with the San Francisco-based Muslim Advocates, will begin evaluating the finances and structure of Muslim non-profit groups in the United States. The program gets under way during a time when Muslims across the country and the world do most of their yearly giving. Seven charitable organizations, including one educational non-profit based in San Jose, the Islamic Networks Group, have signed on to be the first to undergo the extensive accreditation process, which includes a review of financial record-keeping, governance and how well it is following its mission. “Muslim charities in this country have a special challenge,” said Art Taylor, the Better Business Bureau’s alliance president. “This is an important step.”

Muslim Advocates hired a full-time lawyer to guide non-profits through making organizational changes to meet the bureau’s standards. Seeking the bureau’s stamp of approval “was a no-brainer,” said Maha Elgenaidi, president of
Islamic Networks Group in San Jose. Ramadan, a time of prayer in Islam, is also a time of fasting, one of the five pillars of the faith. During the holy month, many Muslims donate to charities. The timing of the new program, Elgenaidi said, is important. “If anybody has any doubt about Muslim charities, hopefully, this process will diminish that,” she said. “We’re abiding by the law. That’s the message we want to give.”

To read the entire article go to: Better Business Bureau to help vet Muslim charities

ING Speaker Presents at ISEB Ramadan Open House, 9/13/08

ING speaker Ameena Jandali was the main presenter at the Ramadan Open House hosted by the Islamic Society of the East Bay, Fremont on Saturday, September 13th. The presentation was part of a larger program that began with Quranic recitation and concluded with an Iftar dinner. The presentation focused on Islamic beliefs and Ramadan, beginning with an overview of major Islamic beliefs followed by an in-depth explanation of the purpose, format, and observances of Ramadan. The formal presentation was followed by a Q & A session with Ameena and two other guests, Dr. Mohammed Rajabally and Seham El-Ansary. The three addressed questions from the audience about hijab (modest dress), terrorism, the Shi’a –Sunni split, and other common issues. The event was attended by a diverse audience that included a number of governmental officials, including the former mayor of Fremont, the vice mayor, city council members, and a representative from Congressman Pete Stark’s office. Ramadan open houses were observed across the Bay Area the same weekend.

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