“The media makes people scared of us.”

In light of the senseless murders in Chapel Hill…

The past 48 hours have been a slideshow of many emotions: fear, anger, grief, confusion. The horrific deaths of Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha have shaken the American Muslim community, and ignited a firestorm on and offline about Islamophobia and, more importantly, the violence prevalent in American society. What does it mean when the lives of three young people, young people who gave of themselves to help those in need, can be senselessly wiped away? How can we be an active part of making sure that this never happens again?
Yesterday, we released a statement calling on all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim, to live by the ideals that these three were dedicated to. Furthermore, we highlighted the outstanding example of Kayla Mueller, who was also recently murdered by ISIS in Syria.
At ING, we put those ideals into practice through interfaith engagement and religious literacy programs that educate about Muslims and their faith. Research consistently shows us that personal encounters with American Muslims is vital to dispelling stereotypes and ending Islamophobia. At times like this, when we can perhaps see the real-life effects of such hatred, we know that our work is of the utmost importance. Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of the two murdered young women, added to this dialogue in a recent interview:
“The media here bombards the American citizen with Islamic, Islamic, Islamic terrorism and makes people here scared of us and hate us and want us out. So if somebody has any conflict with you, and they already hate you, you get a bullet in the head.”
We hope and pray that the voices of education, pluralism, and peace are heard above the din of hatred and mistrust. If you have a desire to be such a voice, please consider attending one or both of our upcoming speaker trainings (details below).
Maha Elgenaidi
Trustee and CEO


Upcoming ING Trainings on Presenting Islam
and Answering Frequently Asked Questions

Wednesday, February 18 – Via Webinar
This training will equip people who represent Islam and Muslims to the public, including outreach personnel in Muslim organizations, with resources to present their faith and their community in a positive and convincing fashion. It will cover recommended presentations and answers to FAQs. It will be held 2:00-3:00 PM PST/4:00-5:00 PM CST/5:00-6:00 PM EST. Advance registration is required here. Registrants will be sent log-in information for the webinar after receipt of registration.

Saturday, February 21 – In Person

Here is your opportunity to become a certified speaker for ING or any of its Affiliates. Help clarify misconceptions while educating about Muslims and their faith in a variety of public setting including schools, universities, churches and other houses of worship, and civic organizations. Training will be held at the ING office in San Jose, CA from 10 am to 3 pm on February 21st. Register online for the workshop .

ING Reaches 10,000 Americans

So far in the academic year 2014-2015, ING has made or is scheduled to make presentations to 328 classes and other audiences, reaching at least 10,000 people. ING’s Interfaith Speakers Bureau has recently presented at high schools in San Jose and Albany and at the Kiwanis Club of San Jose. The Islamic Speakers Bureau has presented in middle and high schools in San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont, San Francisco, and Larkspur, at the Jesuit School of Theology and the Berkeley Adult School in Berkeley, and at a gathering “Muslim Voices Against Extremism” at Pacifica Institute in Sunnyvale.

ING Addresses Love as a Force
for Social Justice at Stanford

ING speakers recently delivered a talk at Stanford University on “Love as a Force for Social Justice in Islam”. Describing various prophetic sayings that illustrate the importance of both brotherly/sisterly love and service to others and Qur’anic verses that promote the concept of care for those less fortunate and the foundational concept of universal justice, the event concluded with examples of Muslim organizations working towards social justice and humanitarian relief.

ING Participates in Interfaith Meeting
with French Consul General


Interfaith delegation meets with French Consul General Pauline Carmona

On February 5th, an interfaith delegation, including ING Content Director Ameena Jandali, met with the Honorable Pauline Carmona, Consul General of France in San Francisco. The purpose of the meeting was to express the deep sorrow of San Francisco’s interfaith community over the loss of life during the horrifying attacks in Paris last month. The delegation was united in condemning all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and emphasized special sensitivity to backlash targeting the Muslim community.

In the meeting, Ameena shared information about ING’s programs, including ING’s Interfaith Speakers Bureau and INGYouth Program and spoke about how many Muslim youth report a sense of shame at being Muslim. In response to hearing about some of the initiatives France is taking, including teaching religion, Ameena talked about the First Amendment, which allows public schools to teach about religion, but not to teach religion for faith formation. She also mentioned the unique challenges in France, which include the socio-economic status of many Muslim immigrants and the country’s colonial past, comparing it to America’s history with slavery.

ING Celebrates its Speakers at Recognition Dinner

ING held its annual Speaker Recognition Dinner this past weekend to honor the efforts and contributions of volunteer speakers in both the Islamic Speakers Bureau and the Interfaith Speakers Bureau. ING board members, volunteers, interns and staff also attended the event. ING staff recognized outstanding speakers who travelled the farthest and delivered the highest number of presentations, and presented a small token of appreciation to all speakers, to whom ING is deeply grateful for efforts in promoting religious literacy and understanding.

ING Affiliate News: Phoenix

The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, an ING Affiliate, participated in a timely discussion on the interaction between law enforcement and the African American community and its impact on today’s Muslim community. Panelist ISB President Azra Hussain has conducted cultural sensitivity training to police departments, hospital personnel and corporations. She currently serves on the Arizona Muslim Police Advisory Board and on the Banner Health Professional Advisory Committee for Clinical Pastoral Education. She has also served on the Phoenix FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Board as Vice President and as a Citizen member on the Scottsdale Police Department Use of Force Review Board.

An ING Newsletter Reader’s Note of Thanks

“Thank you for your informative newsletter. I wish more people would educate themselves on Islam and Muslims. I am a public school teacher and have always stated, ‘People are good all over the world, no matter race, religion, or culture. Good people want the same thing.’ I have always appreciated theology, the study of different cultures, and countries. My wish is for peace. It is unfortunate far too many rely on news media bias as their only source of information. Yes, if one truly educates oneself, Islam is a peaceful study. In all the world, our fear lies in those fanatics/extremists who are the basis for most peoples’ opinions. Once again, thank you for educating me.”