Reflections on COVID-19 | Volunteering | Resources


  • Statement from the ING Executive Director
  • Volunteering Opportunities
  • ING Resources

From the Executive Director

What an interesting time we live in!

It is astonishing to me how something as miniscule as the COVID-19 virus, which is visible only through an electron microscope, can turn our world upside down as it has.

As a Muslim, I am reminded of the Quranic verses on the power of the Creator:

For the dominion of the heavens and the earth belong to God; and God has power over all things. (Q3:189)

The Creator of the heavens and the earth who on having determined something, simply says to it, “Be!” and it is. (Q2:117)

My reaction to the upheaval surrounding this virus is acceptance together with hope for the new opportunities this situation provides. Ironically enough, this tiny virus is bringing all humanity together, revealing both how equally vulnerable we all are and how much we need to stand by and support one another.

What I’ve advised myself and the team at ING to do is to take this opportunity to slow down, self-reflect, and take the time to make the adjustments you need to as follows:

1) For one, we can acknowledge and appreciate the value of our health that we often take for granted when we are young, and even when we are old, especially if we have access to good healthcare. We should be grateful just for the blessing of being able to get up in the morning. But if you’re suffering from any physical or mental ailments, then look for healing in meditation or prayer (in addition, of course, to seeking qualified medical care). I recommend a great documentary on Netflix titled Heal about the power of the mind in healing. You can watch a number of similar documentaries on Netflix that will show how gratitude helps you to be healthier and happier.

2) If you are one of the many people who is now working from home, then use the time you are saving from your commute and meetings to catch up on things that you have put on hold. Make a list of those things and start working on them to try to get them done. Set realistic goals with the added quiet time you now have.

3) Find time to reconnect with yourself and with the Divine through prayer, meditation, or a good book. Choose an activity that will keep you away from the commercial news media. The more you free yourself from being preoccupied with day-to-day worries, the more you will be able to relax and connect with yourself, with others, and with the Divine. From time to time, check the latest updates on the coronavirus at the CDC website here as well as your local government. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, our local governments just released new Shelter in Place orders.

4) Take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones by finding ways to enjoy each other’s company while following CDC guidelines to be safe. Stay in touch with friends and extended family, even if it’s just by calling regularly to see how they’re doing. Check in on your neighbors especially if they’re elderly.

5) Consider volunteering to help others in need, especially those whose health is at risk. Look to the charitable non-profits in your area. If you reside in California, consider volunteering for us at ING. I’ve listed a few ways you could join us.

Most of all be present, and don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by fear. Through prayer, meditation, or simply through self-reflection and positive self-talk, strive to keep your anxiety to a minimum; excessive anxiety only weakens your immune system.

As a Muslim, I am also comforted by the belief that God’s loving purpose will always win out in the end. I remind myself with the verse:

So with distress there is relief. Indeed, relief comes with distress. (Q94:5-6)

How has COVID-19 impacted ING?

The Shelter in Place order by the San Francisco Bay Area counties has demanded that all our staff work from home. Many of our in-person presentations have been rescheduled to later months or are being delivered via webinar. Just today, for example, we delivered “Women in Islam” presentations to three high school classes with students and educators attending from their home computers!
To request an ING presentation or panel via Zoom, go here for presentations relating to Muslims and Islam; here for interfaith panels; and, here for an Intercultural Speakers Bureau panel.
We also offer excellent online curricula that you can view here or register for if you are an educator. To view our answers to hundreds of questions about Muslims and their faith, go here. If you’re a teen Muslim, you might enjoy familiarizing yourself with our content specially designed for Muslim teens to use in their classrooms.

Immediate Volunteer Opportunities at ING:

Attend our webinar training this or next week to become a volunteer speaker for ING’s New Intercultural Speakers Bureau (ICSB)
ING’s Intercultural Speakers Bureau (ICSB) is seeking speakers from all religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, especially those from Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native American backgrounds who have an interest in educating diverse audiences (from schools to colleges to interfaith groups) about the roots, history, and interconnections of all forms of racism (including Islamophobia), with the goal of countering bigotry and promoting mutual understanding and respect.
Panels of speakers address the history of how knowledge about colonized people was first created, addressing the process of racialization and racism, which leads to bigotry and xenophobia throughout American history and the phenomenon of what we today call “implicit bias”. Sign up for our free trainings via Zoom from 7 – 8:15 PM on March 17th and March 24th.

Attend our webinar trainings in April to become a trainer for California police departments
ING is seeking trainers to provide cultural competency training seminars for police in several regions of California under a grant from the state’s Peace Officers Training and Standards (POST) Commission. ING has a 25-year history of providing training seminars for police officers, and our executive director, Maha Elgenaidi is a long-time advisor to POST on hate crimes and cultural diversity training. For more information and to apply, write to Programs Manager Rahimeh Ramezany at [email protected].

Become a volunteer speaker for our other Speakers Bureaus
Join the Islamic Speakers Bureau to deliver engaging, accurate presentations about Islam and Muslims to diverse audiences where we have an ING affiliate.
Join the Interfaith Speakers Bureau to participate in panels of Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims discussing their religious perspectives on a variety of issues in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Encourage your teens to join us for a summer internship this year
ING’s internship program offers a variety of opportunities to gain knowledge about non-profit management and ways of promoting peace and increasing understanding through our various educational and interfaith programs. This year, we are placing an emphasis on interns who will work together to produce multimedia content to foster understanding of Muslims and other misunderstood groups across the country. If you’re a student looking for real-world experience, consider interning with us!
Join us
And of course, you can always donate to support our work in peacebuilding through education and interreligious and intercultural engagement! Join us at To view our latest accomplishments of your investments in ING, view our Jan and Feb 2020 ING events.
Thank you for reading, and as always please feel free to give me feedback on how we’re doing. I read all email that comes to [email protected].
Maha Elgenaidi
Executive Director