April - June 2011, Other

What is the Islamic Networks Group (ING)?



Islamic Networks Group (ING) is an educational outreach organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area with affiliates throughout the U.S. Founded in 1993, ING’s mission is intercultural understanding and mutual respect through education and dialogue. Utilizing accredited volunteer speakers, ING delivers thousands of presentations and other educational programs annually in schools, colleges and universities, law enforcement agencies, corporations, healthcare facilities, and community organizations. ING reaches hundreds of groups and tens of thousands of individuals a year at the local grassroots level, thereby building bridges among people of all faiths and none.


ING’s vision is a world in which people of all religious backgrounds are understood and respected and their contributions valued.


ING’s mission is to promote intercultural understanding, tolerance, and harmony through dialogue and religious literacy. ING achieves its mission by providing informative presentations and panel discussions that supplement existing curriculum and cultural diversity programs in public institutions.

These educational programs develop a greater awareness and knowledge of major world religions while simultaneously improving the quality of life for people of different religious backgrounds by providing educational presentations and cultural competency training in schools and school districts, law enforcement agencies, corporations, social service agencies, and hospitals. ING reinforces and promotes the American ideals of tolerance and religious freedom that are enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by helping build more peaceful and accepting communities in which people of different backgrounds come to know and respect one another.

Statement of Need

While ING’s goal of challenging stereotypes and preventing prejudice while promoting understanding through education has been important since its inception in 1993, in a post-9/11 world this work has become critical in combating the rising anti-Muslim sentiment that has become common fare in the media, government, and the public square. A few recent examples of this include the continuing effort to tarnish Barack Obama’s image and prior to that his presidential campaign with the “Muslim Smear.” Accusing someone of being a Muslim or even being sympathetic to Muslims has become a common tactic. Similarly, the recent Park51 controversy over the building of a mosque in New York City and the planned Qur’an burning by a Florida pastor illustrate the growing spread of Islamophobia.

Organizational Highlights

ING operates two primary programs: the Islamic Speakers Bureau and the Interfaith Speakers Bureau. The Islamic Speakers Bureau consists of Muslim speakers who supplement education relating to Islam and Muslims and conduct cultural diversity programs in public institutions. The Interfaith Speakers Bureau consists of Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu speakers who supplement education related to world religions and cultural diversity.

ING’s Inception and Early History

ING was founded in 1993 to address the growing misconceptions about Islam and Muslims in the media and general public that increased as a result of political events and issues during and after the first Gulf War.

The organization was founded by Maha Elgenaidi, an American Muslim of Egyptian origin who migrated to the U.S. with her parents at a young age. Before founding ING, Maha worked in the corporate world in marketing and business management. She was inspired to establish this organization to counter the growing prejudice and vilification of Islam and Muslims that she noted had increased in the early 90’s. She herself had recently become better acquainted with her faith and felt the importance of providing that education to others through two means: religious literacy programs and American Muslim civic engagement.

Spanish Speakers Available

Volunteers of ING speak many languages from around the world. You may request a Spanish speaker for your event at www.ing.org.