Islam & HIV/AIDS

ING News & Information, 12/04/07

In this edition:

  • ING Participates in World AIDS Day Event, San Jose, 12/1/07
  • Islamic Contributions to Civilization Presentation in Arizona, 12/01/07
  • ING and JCRC Sponsor “Co-existence and Community through Art,” Silicon Valley, 11/27/07
  • ING Speakers Supplement the Study of Islam in Social Sciences & World History, 11/27/-12/03/07

In the News:

The government of Sudan finally pardoned the British teacher who unknowingly created a tempest in a teapot by naming a teddy bear after the Prophet Muhammad. The shameful actions of the Sudanese government is aptly described in a BBC report that quotes a British Sudanese Muslim: “Dr. Imad Hassan, 45, said that this incident is not the true face of Islam and Sudanese anger is not shared by Muslims in Britain. ‘I feel insulted as a Muslim by the government of Sudan, not by Mrs. Gibbons,’ he told the BBC.‘ Describing the lovely children’s toy with the name of Muhammad is a compliment, it is not an insult.’ Dr. Hassan says he feels compelled to generate support for Mrs. Gibbons among British Muslims. ‘I will try my best to motivate scholars to speak out to show the original conviction was unfounded…to show that there was no insult to the Prophet and clear her name. I feel a sense of responsibility. I would like to send my apologies to her family on behalf of the Sudanese nation.’”

Upcoming Events:

We invite you to join us in the last of the Common Ground series sponsored by ING and the Jewish Community Relations Council of the East Bay, titled: “December Holiday Convergence: Hanukkah and Eid al-Adha,” This event will take place next Wednesday, December 12th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in Oakland, and will focus on Jewish and Muslim holidays that are converging this year in December, much as they did in September.

To reserve your space since seating is limited; please RSVP to ING’s interfaith coordinator, Yasmine Khan at [email protected].

ING Participates in World AIDS Day Event, San Jose, CA, 12/1/07

ING’s President, Maha Elgenaidi, joined an interfaith gathering for World AIDS Day that included prayers, scripture readings, inspirational texts, songs, poetry, and short meditations by more than 20 faith leaders at the First Christian Church in San Jose among them clergy and lay leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Baha’i, and other faith traditions. Referencing the outcomes of Islamic Relief’s International Islam and HIV/AIDS Conference which took place last week at Johannesburg, South Africa and HIV/AIDS and Islam by Positive Muslims, Maha began her remarks by recounting the numbers of Muslims who are infected with HIV/AIDS in Muslim populated countries:

“By May 2004, Saudi Arabia announced that nearly 7,000 of its citizens are living with HIV infection, five times higher than the number of cases reported two years earlier; Indonesia has one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world; Malaysia now has around 57,000 reported cases of HIV/AIDS. In Afghanistan, UNICEF warned that increasing intravenous drug use could see war-ravaged Central Asia risking an AIDS epidemic. Indian Kashmir, with a 10-million population mostly made up of Muslims has an estimated 20,000 HIV cases, and in the Middle East the official number of people suffering from the disease hit 750,000. However, many analysts have said that the situation is much graver, citing unofficial accounts showing that the number of those afflicted with HIV/AIDS is on the rise at disturbing levels.”

She continued by saying that similar to many other communities, “Muslim response is not always shaped by the best of our religious values.” Responses have included denial that this could happen to Muslims, silence and refusing to speak about it, confusion when confronted with reality, rejection of Muslims who are infected with HIV and feeling sorry for those people who are infected. Citing the prophetic tradition, which relates that “On the Day of Judgment, God will ask: “My servant, why have you not visited Me?” The person would reply: “How could I visit You while You are the Lord of all humankind?” God will say: “Did you not know that so-and-so was ill? And if you were to visit him, you would have found Me there,” Maha spoke about the importance of compassion, humility and love in the spirit of God when responding to or treating those who are infected with HIV.

Islamic Contributions to Civilization Presentation in Arizona, 12/01/07

ING’s presenter, Ameena Jandali, delivered ING’s Islamic Contributions to Civilization presentation at a special event hosted by the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona on Saturday, December 1st. The event, which was held at the Arizona Historical Society, a fitting venue for such a topic, was intended to inform the community about the work of ING and its affiliate in Phoenix, the ISBA, which was the first ING affiliate initiated in 1999. The presentation, which was developed by Sh. Hamza Yusuf, highlights important Muslim contributions, from the most basic, such as food and drink, to the sophisticated, such as the field of algebra, which gets its very name from the Muslims mathematician’s work in Arabic that introduces new mathematical concepts. The information was received with enthusiasm by the audience which was made up of both adults and a fair share of youth, especially in light of the current vilification of Muslims. The presentation was followed by a film that began with clips from recent Islamophobic quotes from television that clearly demonstrate the need for education about Islam and Muslims, and the importance of this work. After the event, numerous attendees signed up to join the bureau –we wish them all the success in continuing their important work of education the Phoenix area.

ING and Jewish Community Relations Council – Silicon Valley Sponsor “Co-existence and Community Through Art,” 11/27/07

On Tuesday, November 27th, ING and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Silicon Valley convened an unprecedented program between Jews and Muslims in the South Bay titled, Coexistence & Community through Art. Setting the tone for the event, ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi began by saying:

“Finding common ground between mainstream Muslims and Jews in America shouldn’t be difficult to do; after all our two faiths share a common heritage, belief in the same God, and have as their goal and objective the Golden Rule of doing onto others what we would want done onto ourselves. Yet practitioners of our two faiths have not always gotten along as well as they should, focusing more on our differences than our commonalities. ING and JCRC want to change that by centering our conversations and relationship not on issues that divide us, but rather on issues which we share and concern us living here in the United States. We want to address and work on common issues such as stereotyping of our two minority communities, which results in Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We want to address how to maintain our faith and religious identity in an increasingly secular society, particularly for our children, as we want to address extremism by practitioners of both faiths, and the expanding role of women in the mosque and synagogue. By centering our conversations on issues that concern us here in America, we’re neither dismissing as unimportant nor ignoring the elephant in the room; we’re just choosing to get to know one other first and foremost as human beings, with the same needs and wants, concerns and int
erests, and hopes and dreams of all other human beings. ING and JCRC’s collaboration tonight on art and co-existence is saying that the conflict in the Middle East over which we have no control should neither define us as individuals nor the relationship between Muslims and Jews in the United States.”

The event, which took place at the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos brought together students and parents from the Silicon Valley Academy and Yavneh Jewish Day School for an evening of sharing through art. The project, which started three months ago with the students reviewing each other’s scriptural readings on the principles of co-existence and pluralism, was based on the Coexistence Exhibit from the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem. Based on their readings and reflections, the students created their own original artwork pieces along the same themes, which were exhibited alongside artwork from the Museum on the Seam at the Jewish Community Center. The event also included live music by the Dror Sinai Trio, keynote presentations with local artists Youssef Ismail (former ING speaker) and Amy Trachtenberg, and parent discussions led by Imam Tahir Anwar (South Bay Islamic Association) and Rabbi Dana Magat. Attended by over 150 people of all ages and backgrounds, the event was considered a huge success, both in terms of attendance, and the enthusiasm and excitement over the project, and the sense that true coexistence is something tangible, not merely a popular phrase. Feedback after the event included the following:

“I thought it was a great success in a lot of ways. The night of the event I felt honored to have been able to take part in such an exciting and enriching experience for students and parents alike. I will look forward to our school being involved in more cultural projects and events of this nature…Again thank you and bless you all for all your hard work. All the best.”

Jon Otto
Silicon Valley Academy
Arts and Culture Coordinator

I want to take this opportunity to say that, as the Yavneh art teacher, I was personally enriched by the Coexistence project, from beginning to end! Generating ideas and discussion with the students in my classes, working together with so many of you to organize and mount all the artwork, and interacting with many new friends at the event itself: this was a great collaboration! I love the idea of the students pairing up to work on another project together. It struck me while the Imam and Rabbi together were sharing with the audience, that all we need are more opportunities to get these students together! It is obvious from the interaction I observed at the art show; the students liked one another very much! Thanks!”

Karen Ford
Yavneh Jewish Day School
Art Teacher

ING Speakers Supplement the Study of Islam in Social Sciences & World History, 11/27/-12/03/07

ING speakers delivered twenty presentations to seven different middle and high schools in Oakland, Berkeley, Redwood City, San Jose, and Los Gatos addressing over 600 students on topics relating to the study of Islam and Muslims in the context of world history and social sciences. The schools included three high schools and four middle schools, including two private Catholic schools with students in K-8. Students in many of the schools had questions about the recent case of the naming the teddy bear Muhammad, which ING speakers clarified was an extreme overreaction to the notion of respect and love for the Prophet Muhammad in Islam, and that such actions contradict his very teachings, which emphasize mercy and respect for others. To see ING’s response to the now infamous “the Briton and teddy bear case”, which has thankfully been resolved by a pardon by the president of Sudan himself, see:

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