The Mosque as an American Institution

ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi was featured in the latest issue of Aziza, a contemporary Muslim women’s magazine that often focuses on the achievements of Muslim American women. The article begins with simple advice from Maha about the role and potential of women: “‘Everyone has a calling,’ she explains, ‘and it’s important for women to manifest their faith in the way that God intended for them.'” The article continues describing the need which led to the founding of ING and the focus of ING today. It concludes with the premise that all women should get involved and make a difference: “From Maha’s standpoint, there is tremendous opportunity for Muslim American women to work and be active in their communities. They simply have to identify the need and their potential contributions. ‘For some it’s to work in Islamic schools or within the mosque community, and for others it is to do outreach work, civil rights or politics. But it can also be to stay home and raise great kids.'” The point is for Muslim American women to be actively engaged with a sense of purpose of benefiting their community in whatever area they choose to work in. Events of Note:

ING Speaker Speaks at MCC Fundraiser, San Ramon, 3/10/07

ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi was one of the many speakers to help rally support for the proposed Muslim Community Center (MCC) in the East Bay at a fundraiser dinner in San Ramon on Saturday, March 10th. The project includes buying a piece of land and building a community center which will serve the Tri-city area of the East Bay. To find out more about the MCC, visit:

Maha’s talk focused on the topic of the “Mosque as an American Institution,” in light of the growing number of indigenous Muslims who now make up between 60-80% of the Muslim-American population and the growing needs of that community that is not being met by current institutions. She described the fact that the majority of Muslim-Americans rarely if ever frequent a mosque, and the need to appeal to a larger and more diverse audience, including the growing number of professional, career oriented women and American born youth. She outlined some of the necessary characteristics of a mosque, including being spiritually inspiring and diverse in both ethnic and ideological composition. She emphasized the importance of being both women and youth friendly, with equal access, opportunities, and specific programs directed towards the youth, and the need to run a mosque as efficiently as a corporation by hiring a professional, well organized staff. She recommended the reading of “Social Entrepreneurship” by Peter Brinkerhoff for all non profit managers. She concluded by stressing the need to contribute to and build bridges with the mainstream community, particularly neighbors and local faith groups.

ING Speaker Addresses Global Warming and the Environment, 3/10/07

ING speaker, Ameena Jandali addressed the timely topic of Global Warming and the Environment at a monthly AMILA meeting in the East Bay on Saturday, March 10th. After socialization and dinner, the topic of global warming was introduced with clips from an interview with Al Gore on the Oprah Winfrey show in December where he laid out the effects and future threats of global warming. This was followed by ING’s presentation on Islam’s views about nature and the environment, and the responsibility of human beings to live up to their role as stewards over this earth. The presentation concluded with basic conservation tips that help preserve the environment and reduce global warming. These included such basic life style changes as driving less, adjusting the thermostat a couple of degrees, reducing water and particularly hot water usage, recycling, composting, using recycled paper products, replacing light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which not only save energy, but money.

In addition to a presentation, ING has developed an environmental policy for the organization, its employees and volunteers that includes many of these protocols. Addressing the threat of global warming and preserving our planet’s environment and resources should be a priority for every one of us, and all of us need to do our part in combating what is possibly the greatest threat to humankind and the world as we know it today.

ING Participates in Inter-Religious Dialogue on Conflict & Peace, 3/9/07

ING’s president and Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan participated in a dialogue of South Bay religious leaders titled, “Inter-Religious Dialogue on Conflict, Warfare, and Peacemaking” on Thursday, March 8th. The event took place at the Jain Center in Milpitas and was sponsored by the Silicon Valley Conference for Community & Justice (SVCCJ). The bimonthly meeting between interfaith leaders included representatives from ten faith groups, including Jains, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and several Christian Protestant denominations, as well as Christian Scientists.

Following a description of Jainism and a vegetarian lunch, participants began discussing the topic, highlighting scriptural teachings that promote peace making and non-violent conflict resolution. The conversation soon turned to the question of whether warfare, especially modern warfare, reflected the faiths of those perpetrating it, and how resorting to war directly contradicts many scriptural teachings. The conversation became unusually self critical, as each faith examined their legacy of violence and warfare in the light of their own scripture, and acknowledged the difficulty of viewing a particular faith as peaceful when its practitioners engage in violence, often in the name of religion. While this charge has often been leveled only against Islam, it was refreshing to have an honest dialogue about the same dichotomy in other faiths.

ING Speaker Participates in Diversity Awareness Activities at Bay Area High Schools, 3/5 & 3/7/07

One of ING’s newest speakers, Adeel Iqbal, UC Berkeley student, participated in celebrations of diversity at two Bay area high schools last week, Moreau Catholic High in Hayward, and Piedmont High in Piedmont.

At Moreau he joined a combined prayer service for all faiths on Monday, March 5th. The afternoon service, held in the gymnasium of the college preparatory school kicked off a week of activities celebrating diversity, and was attended by the entire student body and faculty. The service opened with the entrance of four students carrying pots of incense and a student’s blowing of a conch, followed by the Muslim call to prayer. It proceeded with readings by students from various religious texts, as well as appeals for peace from God in multiple different languages. The service concluded with a Jewish hymn for peace. The richness and diversity of the various faiths and backgrounds of the students was conveyed through the traditional dress that some of students wore, while the commonalities of the faith traditions were reflected in their religious prayers and chants.

Adeel also took part in Piedmont High’s Cultural Diversity Week on Wednesday, March 7 by delivering ING’s orientation on Islam and Muslim culture to a social studies class that is currently studying world religions. The students were in the process of preparing individual papers and presentations on specific world religions; the students asked lots of questions during the 90-minute block period, particularly about Islam’s relationship to other faiths.

Upcoming Events:

ING’s second Peninsula Series Interfaith event will be held on Thursday, March 15th, also from 7:00-9:30pm, at Yaseen Foundation (Peninsula Islamic Center), 621 Masonic Way in Belmont. The topic of discussion will be “Have Women’s Leadership
Roles Changed in Religion?”, and will feature a panel of women religious leaders. We invite you to mark your calendars and join us as we share in another evening of interfaith discussion.

Ohio Speakers Bureau Trainings in Columbus and Cincinnati, 3/24-3/25/07. All day Speakers Training programs will be held in Columbus on Saturday, March 24 from 9-5 and in Cincinnati on March 25, from 9-5.