Speaking Out against Extremism

Ameena Jandali and Osgur Koca

Ameena Jandali and Ozgur Koca at Pacifica Institute

Ameena Jandali has been helping people understand what Islam is for a long time and, after all these years, she is concerned that she still needed to explain how Islam is a religion of peace.

She is the co-founder and curriculum director of Islamic Networks Group, a group which has educated students, governmental agencies, religious congregations, hospital staff and more about Islam since 1993. Jandali was one of the panelists at “Muslim Voices Against Extremism,’ an event sponsored by the Pacifica Institute in Sunnyvale, an Affiliate Organization of SiVIC (Silicon Valley Interreligious Council).

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Statement on Anti-Muslim protests

hands togetherAt this time, when the forces of fear are calling for rallies against a religious minority, and xenophobia and bigotry are given more prominent voice in the public square, we feel it necessary to reaffirm the common values of openness, tolerance, understanding, and pluralism that unite us as Americans and as human beings. We stand against those who would fracture the unity of the human family along racial, ethnic, religious, or cultural lines; but even more we stand for the compassion and mutual respect that our world so badly needs. Continue Reading →

Learning About Other Traditions

interfaith symbolsIn Commemoration of The 50th Anniversary of Vatican II’s Nostra Aetate (The Church and Other Religions), Santa Teresa Parish presents a five part series about non-­Christian traditions. Promoting mutual respect and understanding to create a more peaceful world characterized by tolerance and good will. Featured speakers come from Muslim, Hindu, Zen Buddhist, Jain, and Jewish traditions. All are welcome! The series begins on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 7:00 – 8:30 pm at Santa Teresa Parish, 794 Calero Ave, SJ 95123. See the Events Calendar for additional sessions.

“The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.” Nostra Aetate, Vatican II

Download a flyer: Santa Teresa Interfaith Poster

Stand Together in Solidarity

Join the Muslim Community Association, South Bay Islamic Association, Evergreen Islamic Center, Blossom Valley Muslim Community Center and many Bay Area Mosques for a solidarity event with the Victims’ families of the San Bernardino Shooting.


Eid Festival (Celebration of Muslim Holidays)

A special opportunity to learn how Muslims celebrate their holidays.

All great religions encourage its followers to love their neighbors.But to love our neighbors, “we must know our neighbors.”

Three panelists from Islam, Christianity and Judaism will share how they celebrate their holidays, followed by Q & A and table sharing to encourage dialog and to learn about each other’s holiday traditions.

There will be a free gourmet Pakistani lunch, desserts from around the world, Mehndi (Henna) and bangles for girls. Photo booth/Ethnic clothes for you to play dress up, and Nasheed (Spiritual singing) Kids would share their favorite parts of Eid.

Register at www.eventbrite.com. search for Eid Festival (Celebration of Muslim Holidays)

Donations will be greatly appreciated. You can pay via paypal at www.amuslimvoice.org, or write a check payable to AMV Foundation and mail it to 120 Park Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

“A holiday to build ‘a beloved community'”
(coverage of last year’s Eid Festival in Palo Alto Weekly- see page 13)

Statement on Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

cropped-logo.site-icon.fw_.pngA couple of months ago in the face of statements that had already been made by many in the political arena that sought to stir up and focus hostility toward our Muslim brothers and sisters, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC) joined with several other local and national organizations to speak out against the rhetoric and in favor of the values of our common humanity: mutual respect, understanding, and compassion.

Since then, things have only gotten worse. Too many are prepared to foster suspicion and fear not only against Syrian refugees fleeing death and destruction in their own lands, but against our neighbors, friends, and co-citizens here in the United States. Those who foster fear and suspicion are placing the blame on an entire segment of our own people for the actions of a few violent individuals claiming religious justification for their attacks.

We are distressed to hear how our Muslim friends and neighbors are living in fear, and even more distressed to hear of harassment, abuse, and attacks that have actually taken place. We stand together with them and join them in condemning those who would hijack Islam for their own purposes.

Violent individuals may use scripture or religion to shore up their hostility and to attempt to undergird their legitimacy and authority. These strategies have persuasive power because they touch on and manipulate deep psychological issues of authority, communal identity, relationships, and attitudes towards those named as “outsiders.” These very same potentially violent dynamics underlie current campaign rhetoric, as they provide a way for candidates to manipulate the truth in their efforts to win an election.

We are still nearly a year away from the election, and there is no reason to anticipate that the rhetoric of suspicion and fear will go away any time soon. We commit ourselves to upholding the human rights and freedom of all members of our society. We commit to continuing to reach out to those of different religious traditions and of no religious tradition. Our coming together is not something new, but an ever-growing and emphatic affirmation of who we are as a people.

Here in Silicon Valley we know that what makes for a great America is not division, suspicion, fear or demonizing of others. We are great because we stand together—people of diverse cultures, languages, traditions, and religions who work together to make the world better for all of us. Together we seek to build a more just and compassionate society.

SiVIC Board

NOTE: Two opportunities to join our Muslim communities this week:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015, 6:30 pm: Stand Together in Solidarity
Muslim Community Association, 3003 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara
Join the Muslim Community Association, South Bay Islamic Association, Evergreen Islamic Center, Blossom Valley Muslim Community Center and many Bay Area Mosques for a solidarity event with the Victims’ families of the San Bernardino Shooting.  Sponsored by Bay Area Mosques Coalition.

Saturday, December 19, 2015, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Eid Festival (Celebration of Muslim Holidays)
First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto
A special opportunity to learn how Muslims celebrate their holidays. Three panelists from Islam, Christianity and Judaism will share how they celebrate their holidays, followed by Q & A and table sharing to encourage dialog and to learn about each other’s holiday traditions. Sponsored by American Muslim Voice.

Details on the SiVIC Events Calendar

Understanding Islam: Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue

On a daily basis, we read and hear conflicting information about Muslims and Islam in the media.  Muslim culture often isn’t very well understood and there are many misconceptions about it.

To help sort out fact from fiction, please join the Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale on Sunday, January 31, 2016 for a unique opportunity to increase our understanding about the Islamic faith, tradition, and practice, past and present and Muslim culture.

Ismael Nass and Aisha Morgan from the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Islamic Networks Group (ING) and Abbot Jian Hu Shifu of the Zen Center will engage in a conversation to promote a greater appreciation and understanding of each other’s religion and traditions and their relationship to one another.

Ismael Nass is a lifelong student of Islamic Theology and Jurisprudence. Aisha Morgan is the Principal of the Islamic School at the Islamic Society of Santa Rosa. Both are longtime speakers with Islamic Networks Group.

Islamic Networks Group (ING) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to counter prejudice and discrimination against American Muslims by teaching about their traditions and contributions in the context of America’s history and cultural diversity, while building relations between American Muslims and other groups.

Location:        Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale

Date:               Sunday, January 31, 2016

Time:              2:00 – 4:30 pm

1:45pm (Check-in)

Meet a Muslim: Questions and Answers

Please join us for our 4th Meet a Muslim Community Conversation. The purpose of the event is to build relationships and foster understanding through casual, honest conversation. No presentations, no lectures. Bring your questions and let’s talk.

Moina Shaiq ,a Muslim resident of Fremont for the past 33 years, a mother of four and an active member of our community.

MoinaShaiqBring any question that you might have, they will try to answer to the best of their ability. Know that they won’t be offended by any question.

  • Are women oppressed in Islam?
  • How do Muslims practice their faith?
  • How does Islam view other religions?
  • What is Sharia law?
  • What is the Islamic view of terrorism?
  • What factors contributed to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism?

Muslims of America Condemn Terrorism

Muslims of America Condemn Terrorism

This statement appeared today in The San Jose Mercury News. A similar version appeared earlier in the San Francisco Chronicle. We support our Muslim brothers and sisters and their efforts to be heard.

There has been a rash of terror attacks most recently in Paris and San Bernardino. Several of these attacks have been carried out by people acting seemingly in the name of our faith, Islam.

As American Muslims we condemn these attacks. The killing of innocent people is abhorrent, barbaric and an affront to our faith. No cause justifies violence and terrorism against innocent civilians.

We strongly condemn ISIS and all of their claims. Most importantly, we completely reject their assertion that they are carrying out a holy war sanctioned by our holy book, the Quran. Despite claiming to act in the name of our faith, they do not represent us, nor do they speak for us. These terrorists do not represent the views of the overwhelming majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, more than a fifth of the world’s population.

American Muslims are part of the fabric of this country.We contribute to our society in a variety of ways as accountants, architects, doctors, economists, engineers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, nurses, students and teachers.We run businesses and we serve in the armed forces, the National Guard and the police.We are your neighbors, coworkers and friends in this great land of ours.We cherish the freedoms and liberties that are enshrined in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We dearly love our country and do everything in our power to make it strong and keep it safe.

Sponsored by:
Council of American Islamic Relations, Bay Area chapter (CAIR), Islamic Center of Zahra, Pleasanton (ICZ), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Network Group, San Jose (ING), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muslim Community Association, Santa Clara (MCA), Muslim Community Center Eastbay, Pleasanton (MCC Eastbay), SABA Islamic Center, San Jose, San Ramon Valley Islamic Center (SRVIC), Shura Council of Southern California, South Bay Islamic Association, San Jose (SBIA), United Muslims of America-Interfaith Alliance, South San Francisco

ING Panel : Combating the Cancer of Extremism

Register at Eventbrite


Eli Taub: After a long career at Kaiser Permanente as a pediatrician, Eli retired and is now an active member in many Jewish organizations. He served on the Santa Clara County’s Human Relations Commission and has helped plan the County Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony. Eli attended the University of Michigan and received his M.D. at the University of Chicago. He and his wife have two grown children and three granddaughters. Eli represents the Jewish religion.

Henry Millstein: Henry holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies, with a focus on Jewish-Christian relations, from UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union,  and has taught humanities and history of religion at Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and the Graduate Theological Union. He worked for 16 years in language and cultural preservation with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon, where he participated in their traditional religious life. His interfaith experience also includes involvement with Jewish and Buddhist communities. Henry represents the Christian religion.

Maha ElGenaidi: Maha is the founder of ING and author of training handbooks on outreach for American Muslims as well as training seminars for public institutions on developing cultural competency with the American Muslim community. She has an M.A. in religious studies from Stanford University and received her bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from the American University in Cairo. Maha has been recognized with numerous awards, including the “Civil Rights Leadership Award” from the California Association of Human Relations Organizations and “Citizen of the Year Award” from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Maha represents the Muslim religion.