Islamic Contributions to Civilization

ING News & Information, 10/23/07

In this edition:

  • Register Online for ING’s 15th Anniversary Dinner on November 3rd, 2007 at:
  • Second in Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (JCCSF) Series, “Islamic Contributions to Civilization,” 10/22/07
  • Peace Programat Federal Church in Patterson, 10/21/07
  • First in Common Ground Series, “December Dilemma,” 10/17/07
  • Visit to Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, 10/17/07
  • ING Delivers Presentations to 18 Classes Last Week, 10/15 – 10/22/07


Second in Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (JCCSF) Series, “Islamic Contributions to Civilization,” 10/22/07

ING veteran speaker Imran Maskatia delivered the second in the four part Study of Islam and Muslim Series at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on Monday, October 22nd. The presentation addressed the topic of “Islamic Contributions to Civilization,” and covered the numerous accomplishments that have come to the rest of the world through Muslims, from food, drink, clothing and music, to the more sophisticated and commonly known contributions in the fields of science, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. In a post 9/11 political environment, it is critical to remember the positive aspects of all cultures and peoples, and to emphasize our common goals and achievements.

Peace Program at Federal Church in Patterson, 10/21/07

As part of an ongoing peace program, ING veteran speaker Uzma Husaini presented to a Methodist congregation at the Federal Church in Patterson, California on Sunday, October 21st. The presentation was the culmination of four separate Sunday study sessions during which they covered the basics of Islam and Muslims through a program called “Thoughtful Christians,” that teaches about other faiths and encourages outreach and understanding. Uzma spent an hour describing some of the basics of Islam before opening up to Q & A during which the congregation participated in a lively discussion about Islam and related issues. The congregation was very supportive and sympathetic and wanted to know how they could get involved to help promote understanding in the greater society. Uzma encouraged them to learn more about the topic and to share what they have learned with others.

First in Common Ground Series, “December Dilemma,” 10/17/07

In the first of the ING-JCRC Common Ground Series, ING’s President, Maha Elgenaidi, and the JCRC’s Educational Consultant and Director of Curriculum for Community Services, Jackie Berman gave their perspectives on the “December Dilemma,” namely the challenge for non-Christians that occurs every December, particularly for parents with children in public schools. Jackie Berman began the discussion by describing the intent of the First Amendment, which legislates for separation between religion and the state, particularly in public schools. She explained that the courts have traditionally kept the balance in upholding religious freedom without promoting a particular religion, and gave examples of acceptable religious practice in schools, such as student initiated activities that are not imposed on other students. She emphasized that any approach should both respect the rights of teachers who choose to commemorate the holidays, and the rights of children who belong to another faith and may feel alienated or excluded during the holiday season.

Maha Elgenaidi began her discussion by relating her own childhood experiences growing up Muslim in a predominately Christian elementary school and Jewish high school, and emphasized that the most important issue for a teacher or school is to observe all the holidays that are represented by the faiths of their student population in order for all the students to feel validated and included. Otherwise, the school or teacher appears to be promoting one or a few religions over the rest. She explained that Muslims do not feel so alienated by other’s religious holidays because of the high regard Islam has for both prophets Jesus and Moses. She then shared with the group Quranic verses relating to Moses and Jesus. She described ING’s Start-up Kit for K-6 parents or teachers that provides a complete set of activities that educate about Ramadan and Eid, including lesson plans, worksheets, songs, art projects and coloring sheets for elementary students in grades K-6. A Muslim parent who recently used the kit to present to her daughter’s first grade class commented that “it was perfect for covering everything I needed!” To order ING’s K-6 Start-Up Kit, go to and visit “Teachers, Grades K-6”.

The presentations were followed by a rich discussion among attendees about their personal experiences relating to the holiday season that ranged from expressions of total alienation to actual enjoyment of the season. The topic obviously inspired deep feelings among many of the participants, and led to a sense of a shared reality that is rarely discussed between Jews and Muslims: that of being a small minority in a predominately Christian culture. This was a great start to the series that promises more interesting topics that address shared values. The next topic on November 14, titled “Perspectives on the Environment and again on December 12, titled “Holiday Convergence” that covers the holidays of Hanukkah and Eid Al Adha.

To see the dates for upcoming holidays in all faiths for upcoming years, see:

Visit to Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, 10/17/07

For the fifth year in a row, ING veteran speaker Ameena Jandali visited the Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley to address a group of 15 chaplains in training on Wednesday, October 17th. The presentation was part of the module on Islam that is part of the students training to become chaplains that serve all faith communities. The two hour presentation covered the basics of Islam and what it means to be a Muslim before explaining some of the specific issues that affect Muslim patients, such as gender interaction, dietary restrictions, and rituals around death and dying. The students were also particularly interested in commonalities and differences in theology, and tips for interacting with Muslim patients. The students were also interested in understanding the mechanisms of prayer and other rituals.

ING Delivers to 18 Classes in Middle and High Schools, 10/15-10/22/07

Six ING speakers delivered presentations to 18 different classes at four Bay Area middle and high schools, including a Jewish and Catholic school. With an average of around 30 students per class, that means approximately 500 students heard a presentation relating to Islam or Muslims in the context of World History and Social Studies. The fall is generally when most middle schools study the topic, which makes it the busiest time for ING. ING is actively recruiting new speakers to meet the growing number of requests it receives annually. If you are interested in becoming an ING speaker, please contact ING’s Scheduler at [email protected]