Keep the Diversity, Seek the Harmony

ING News & Information – Update 10/2/07

Upcoming Events:

*TONIGHT: Keep the Diversity, Seek the Harmony: An Interfaith Celebratory Collaboration,

*REGISTER ONLINE: ING’s Annual Dinner with Reza Aslan, internationally acclaimed scholar of world religions, regular commentator for NPR’s Marketplace, Middle East analyst for CBS News, regular guest on Meet the Press, Daily Show and Hardball, and author of No god, but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam. In this edition:

  • ING Speakers Dialogue in Bay Area Wide Ramadan Open Houses, 9/29 & 9/30/07
  • ING Takes Part in Holy Convergence: An Interfaith Festival for Families, 9/30/07
  • ING Speakers Address Six Classes at Claremont Middle School, Oakland, 9/28/07
  • ING Participates in International Day of Peace Interfaith Prayer Service, 9/20/07
  • ING’s President & Interfaith Coordinator Participate in Interfaith Gathering, 9/06/07
  • To continue to support ING’s educational outreach and bridge-building, contribute online:

ING Speakers Dialogue in Bay Area Wide Ramadan Open Houses, 9/29 & 9/30/07

On Saturday and Sunday, September 29th and 30th, ING speakers delivered presentations & dialogued with audiences at Ramadan open houses held across the Bay Area, including the Islamic Society of the East Bay in Fremont, the Cordoba Center Mosque in San Martin, the Muslim Community Association of the Peninsula (Yaseen Foundation) in Belmont and the Livermore Islamic Center. All the events were well organized and attended by hundreds of Americans of all faiths coming together to break bread and dialogue in peaceful conversations and to gain a different view and understanding of one another.

At the Cordoba Center in San Martin, which has been the subject of some controversy due to a few neighbors who’ve initiated a campaign against the mosque, ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi joined CAIR-Northern California’s board member, Athar Siddiqee to describe Islam and the historical roots of Muslims in America and today’s Muslim political & social environment. This was followed by a 45 minute long conversation with the 200+ audience members addressing questions on familiar topics concerning Muslims in America. Among the other speakers and guests were the mayors of Morgan Hill, Hollister & Gilroy, city council members, faith leaders from the Catholic, Methodist and Anglican traditions, school board members and other dignitaries.

At the Islamic Society of East Bay mosque in Fremont, ING ‘s Ameena Jandali joined Saker Ghani in a similar event, which was attended by dignitaries that included the former and current mayors of Fremont, city council members, members of Fremont’s Human Relations Commission, and other city, school and hospital officials.

At the Yaseen Foundation in Belmont, Maha Elgenaidi was joined by Imam Abdu-Rahman Anwar and the president of Yaseen Foundation in a similar presentation and question and answer session with an audience of about 80 Americans of other faiths.

At the Islamic Center in Livermore event, Ameena Jandali was joined by the mosque’s imam and mayor of Livermore who expressed his appreciation for the event and the opportunity to network with his Muslim neighbors.

The four open houses were part of a Bay Area wide campaign organized by CAIR & Bay Area Mosques to encourage Islamic institutions to use the opportunity of Ramadan to reach out to their neighbors for dialogue and conversation. These events are a milestone in the maturation and development of mosques, both in the level of organization and execution, and the participation of respected community members, including city officials. All of the events were the result of weeks of planning and hard work, which was evidenced by the large turn-out and participation. The success of these events is a tribute to the community’s dedication to outreach, interfaith, and promoting understanding. Congratulations to all the nine Bay Area mosques who took the initiative to hold an open house this Ramadan, and to all those who made the effort to come out and meet their Muslim neighbors!

ING Takes Part in Holy Convergence: An Interfaith Festival for Families, 9/30/07

On September 30, ING’s Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan, attended a Holy Convergence event at Peace Lutheran Church in Danville. Titled an “Interfaith Festival for Families,” the program was a celebration of a number of significant faith holidays and traditions, including Ramadan (Islam), the Feast of St. Francis (Christianity), High Holy Days (Judaism), Diwali and Gandhi’s birthday Hinduism), Indigenous People’s Day, In Love with Life Season (Buddhism and the Baha’i faith), and World Communion Sunday (Protestant Christianity). Presented by Interfaith-San Ramon Valley (composed of two dozen faith organizations and congregations), the afternoon program included interfaith panel discussions, music in the sanctuary, activities for youth and children, food and booths in the front courtyard, and a closing ceremony complete with interfaith blessings.

ING Speakers Address Claremont Middle School Students, Oakland, 9/28/07

“Inquisitive” is probably the best word to describe the students at Claremont Middle School, where two ING speakers, Ameena Jandali and Adeel Iqbal delivered ING’s Orientation on Islam and Muslims in the context of World History and Social Sciences to six different seventh grade social studies classes for a total of about 180 students on Friday, September 28th. The students were highly engaged in the presentations, plying the speakers with dozens of questions, some based on their own experience with Muslims, others from the readings, and even television. The students had numerous misconceptions, particularly relating to the treatment of women, where students asked the speaker if her husband ruled over her, and why Muslim wives are mistreated?

With the rise in negative coverage of Muslims and a concerted effort to demonize Muslims in many sectors, the impact of this increasingly vigorous campaign is showing its effects. However, Muslims themselves are often to blame for propagating their own stereotypes through their misbehavior, as was evidenced by some of the student’s questions. This illustrates the need, as never before, for trained and qualified speakers to clarify the teachings and practices of Islam in an objective, honest manner. Conversing with a real live Muslim American seemed to make a big difference in their understanding of the subject matter. Many of the students came up to say “Thank you. I learned a lot,” at the end of the day.

ING Speakers Deliver Presentations to Bay Area High Schools, 9/26/07

ING speakers Ismael Nass-Duce and Farhan Syed visited two Bay Area high schools on Wednesday, September 26th. Ismael visited Oak Grove High School in San Jose in the afternoon, where he delivered an Orientation on Islam and Muslims to two full classes of 10th grade students. Farhan Syed visited Bay High School in San Francisco early Wednesday morning to participate in the school’s assembly, where he delivered a personal reflection on the significance of Ramadan and fasting in the U.S. The Bay School is a charter school that focuses on spirituality, and the event was part of “Ramadan Day”, when students skipped lunch to experience fasting. Farhan spoke about the challenges of fasting while living one’s regular daily life, which really struck a chord with the students, who asked about fasting while playing sports, fasting while in space (a Muslim
astronaut has been in the news) and the best diet to remain healthy while fasting. After the talk, the school principal and chaplain thanked Farhan, commenting that the talk was “perfect,” and that they can’t wait to have a speaker come during Ramadan next year.

ING Participates in International Day of Peace Interfaith Prayer Service, 9/20/07

On Thursday, September 20, ING’s Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan, joined representatives of different religions for an International Day of Peace Interfaith Prayer Service at the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose. The prayer service focused on global peace and nonviolence in alignment with the United Nations International Day of Peace and global cease-fire. Yasmine participated in a meeting beforehand, which discussed the South Bay interfaith community’s work for peace and non-violence and the upcoming Parliament of the World’s Religions. Subsequently she joined clergy and lay leaders from several traditions in a procession and in offering a Muslim prayer for peace. Rev. Paul Chaffee from the Interfaith Center at the Presidio delivered the keynote, followed by an inspirational talk from CSE’s Rev. Ellen Grace O’Brian. Yasmine’s prayer exalted God and glorified Him before making a supplication for contentment and guidance.

ING’s President & Interfaith Coordinator Participate in Interfaith Leaders Gathering in San Francisco, 9/06/07

ING’s President, Maha Elgenaidi, and Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan were two of over 60 participants from the diverse interfaith associations and projects of the Bay Area to take part in a gathering early last month on September 6th at St. Mary’s Cathedral for a daylong conversation on “The Changing Face of Religion in Northern California.” Dr. Jerome Baggett of the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley gave an insightful analysis of changing patterns in religious communities. The most important aspect of the event however was the opportunity for religious leaders in the area to engage in day-long conversations with each other about the challenges that face us all. This was the first effort to hold such a gathering, and plans are already in process to gather again next year.

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