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April 2016 IOK Chaplaincy Initiative Update

Asalamu ‘Alkaykum

This month brought the school year at USC to a close and brought us to the middle of Spring Quarter at the UCs.

The day to day work continued as usual on the campuses with the weekly halaqas, office hours, and occasional outside events. In the halaqas between the three campuses many different subjects were covered this month. Shaykha Muslema taught “Who Are the Disbelievers” by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and the MSU also had a special gathering for one of the sisters who took shahada this month. At the UCs Shaykh Jamaal began teaching a list of principles that he has developed over the years called “Guiding Principles for Muslim Activists.” The list is a set of lessons and principles that are drawn from the life of the Prophet (pbuh) and essential for Muslim activists to understand.

There were also multiple events that took place outside of the usual office hours and halaqas. The first major one was that Shaykh Jamaal joined the MSU UCI for their yearly camping retreat. It was a great opportunity for him to spend some more in depth time with the students and strengthen the relationships that are built on a weekly basis. The highlight of the trip for him was one of the evenings when many of the students stayed up in the main hall and they had an impromptu open discussion and reflection session. It was truly a beautiful experience. He also joined the MSU UCI for their annual College Day event. This yeary they hosted, as usual, several hundred high school students from the area and introduced them to the campus and the work that the MSU does. Shaykh Jamaal addressed the audience on the importance of having a support team of people with different kinds of knowledge at every stage of life. Shaykh Jamaal also joined the MSA at LMU again this month for one of their Jumuah services. They are a new MSA at LMU and are working to maintain a regular Jumuah service on campus for the handful of Muslim students there. The MSU at USC also held their Islam Awareness Week this month and both of the chaplains joined them for different events. Shaykha Muslema joined them for an event on women in Islam and Shaykh Jamaal for a conversation with New Muslims and understanding their journeys to faith.

This quarter at UCLA has also seen the continued development of one of their subgroups, “Mahabba.” This group is based out of UCLA and dedicated to serving the needs of converts in the MSA. This quarter we have been holding bi-weekly gatherings for support and conversation about issues that are particularly difficult for converts to navigate; such as, dealing with non-Muslim family members and integrating into the greater Muslim community. Another of the subgroups at UCLA, “The Beautiful Mind Project,” which seeks to raise awareness of mental health issues among young Muslims also held an event, that Shaykh Jamaal introduced, with Sister Heather Laird-Jackson on navigating intergenerational differences.

Off campus there were three major events that the chaplains participated in this month. The first was a conference held by Bayan Claremont. At the conference Shaykha Muslema spoke on “The Sanctity of Human Life in the Sharia” and it was well received. The second event was a small day conference hosted by the Council of Islamic Scholars on “Differences of Opinion in Islam.” Shaykh Jamaal presented at the seminar on “The Etiquette of Differences of Opinion – Some Modern Examples.” The third event was CAIR’s Muslim Day at the Capitol in Sacramento. Shaykh Jamaal joined this event and was able to meet and engage with young Muslims from around the state who came to the capitol to advocate on particular issues of concern to the Muslim community. This year the attendance was over 600 and it was a great event.

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