Inter-Religious Dialogue in the Bay Area

ING President Participates in Interfaith Event: “Responsibility to the ‘Other’”, 2/18/07

ING’s President, Maha ElGenaidi joined Rabbi Stephen Pearce from Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco and Reverend Alan Jones from Campbell United Methodist Church in a special interfaith event titled, “Responsibility to the ‘other’, Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conversation.” Attended by 80 people of Jewish, Christian and Muslim backgrounds, the event took place at the Jewish Community Center from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm, and included a Kosher dinner. Maha’s presentation related to Islam’s perspective on people of other faiths. Citing tens of Quranic verses based on scholarly works of Prof Khalid Abu El Fadl and Fathi Osman, her presentation stressed Islam’s responsibilities towards “the other” as being no different from Islam’s responsibilities to people from within our own family. Islam accepts diversity as part of divine will and human nature, legislates equal rights and responsibilities for all human beings, promotes peaceful resolution of conflict when they arise and unequivocally condemns warfare except in self-defense or for the purpose of fighting oppression, but even under those circumstances, forgiveness, kindness, generosity and grace are always urged.

After the panelists presented their particular faith’s view on this important topic, the audience participated in a lively and moving question and answer session with the panelists on issues relating to the furtherance of inter-religious dialogue and social good work in the Bay Area.

This event was part of an ongoing series sponsored by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio and several Abrahamic groups of faiths (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) including the United Muslims of America (UMA), longtime Muslim participants in interfaith that have included Dr. Waheed Siddiqui, Shafi Refai, and Iftekhar Hai.

ING Speaker Addresses Ways to Build Bridges between Christians and Muslims at First Congregational Church of San Jose, 2/18/07

An ING speaker addressed the topic of “Bridging the Gap: Muslim Americans Post 9/11 and American Popular Culture” Sunday morning at the First Congregational Church of San Jose. The morning event began with a spiritual lecture to the congregation in which the speaker, citing Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s work on Purification of the Heart, (see:, emphasized the importance of “courtesy as the heart of spiritual purification”. This was followed by a presentation on the status of Muslim Americans in our current political and social environment, including a discussion of some of the challenges as well as opportunities in a post 9/11 world. The presentation concluded with a lively dialogue between the speaker and church congregation with an emphasis on how Christians can help and work with Muslims on bridging the gap.

ING Speakers Discuss “Being Muslim Today” in three classrooms at College of San Mateo (2/7/07) and Skyline College (2/8/07)

ING speakers discussed some of the realities and challenges of “Being Muslim Today” at The College of San Mateo and Skyline College. After going through some of the basics about terminology, demographics, and religious beliefs and practices, they addressed some of the common misperceptions about Muslims today. The two most misunderstood areas relate to terrorism and violence, and the role of women in Islam.

After explaining the Islamic position on both, they addressed current deviations from these teachings today, and some of the roots of these practices. People often assume that any actions that Muslims engage in are a reflection of the faith, when in reality they often are based on socio-economic-political issues or individual interpretations or practices. They also described some of the challenges faced by Muslims Americans since 9/11, ranging from actual hate crimes, job discrimination, harassment in schools, “flying while Muslim”, and the subtle sense that one is “the other”. Audience members were empathetic to some of the experiences and issues described, and were appreciative of the opportunity to hear a little known perspective.

Upcoming Events of Note:

Tuesday, February 27th, 6:00–7:00 pm
“Islam and Contemporary Issues Concerning Muslims”, Notre Dame De Namur University, 1500 Ralston Ave., Belmont

Friday, March 2nd, 9:15-1:00 pm
“Islam and Muslims in the Contemporary World”, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara University, Bannon Room 133

Thursday, March 15th, 7:00-9:30 pm
ING’s 2nd Peninsula Series Interfaith event “Have Women’s Leadership Roles Changed in Religion?” featuring a panel of women religious leaders. Yaseen Foundation, 621 Masonic Way, Belmont