This month in chaplaincy we continued our efforts at both UCLA and USC.
The year is quickly coming to a close at USC and many of the students are rushing to get ready for their finals and a few are even graduating this year. Part of the graduation ceremonies is a special Baccalaureate Celebration and Dinner that is hosted by the Office of Religious Life at USC. In this ceremony the school honors the graduates and the chaplains and religious directors of various faith traditions are represented on stage along with university officials. Shaykha Muslema will be attending this dinner on behalf of our community as the Muslim Chaplain at USC. We are also especially honored this year in that a member of our community, Engie Salama, was chosen as the graduating keynote speaker from the students.
In our work at USC we have continued to meet individually with students and hold a weekly halaqa covering various topics of interest and importance to the students on campus. These gatherings are held in the USC Muslim Prayer Space and usually have between 20-30 students in attendance. Shaykha Muslema was also a guest speaker at an event this month at USC hosted by the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics called, “The Power, Danger, and Responsibility of Voice.” The event featured a film hosting and panel conversation on issues related to Muslim women and gender roles in Muslim majority countries. She was joined on the panel by Dr. Sherman Jackson, Chair of Islamic Studies at USC, and others.
At UCLA we continued our office hours, slowly but surely meeting more and more students. This month marked the beginning of the Spring quarter on campus so we began our halaqas for this quarter with the intention to complete Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir’s book, “An Agenda to Change our Condition.” In the weekly gatherings we cover the text and discuss the main themes that are presented. Outside of office hours we also attended a town hall discussion by the MSA discussing how the MSA can better serve the students on campus. It was a fruitful discussion and great to see the students take initiative and figure out how to serve each other even better. We also attended a thank you dinner hosted by MSA West at UCLA in order to thank the MSA UCLA members who supported them in holding the MSA West Conference of this year at UCLA. It was a nice dinner that brought together many of the volunteers and we finished the evening by praying maghrib together and sharing some thoughts about the importance of volunteering and service, while at the same time balancing school and family commitments.
In the coming month USC will be finishing up for the summer and UCLA will be nearing its finals week. Shaykh Jamaal will also speaking at CSULB at an event hosted by their MSA in the end of April on the topic of “Understanding Jihad.”
As usual, we ourselves have derived great pleasure from our time with the students and we pray that they, too, have benefitted. We look forward to continuing to build these relationships moving into the next year and really getting established at the two universities.
Jamaal and Muslema
IOK University Chaplains