August is the month where things start to speed up again in anticipation of the new school year. In this summer period we have been in contact with the student leadership at both UCLA and USC, offering guidance and advice in preparation for the new year. Both campuses are excited for the new year and both student groups are gearing up to serve their local communities in the best way possible.
In the end of this month formal office hours are resuming (although informal ones have been available throughout the summer) and we are getting ready to begin our educational programming on the campuses. To that end we have been preparing and are now ready to launch the “Sacred Light Scholars Program” on the two campuses. This idea was inspired by Dean Varun Soni, Dean of Religious Life at USC. He suggested that it would be great if we can offer something that is a little more structured on a weekly basis so that the students can eventually put it on their resumes and make it part of their professional and educational development. From there we took the idea and began to survey the academic-level work that we could find that is in line with traditional understandings of Islam. In the process we came across a plethora of material from scholars such as Dr. Sherman Jackson, Dr. Jonathan Brown, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdullah Hamid Ali, Dr. Tariq Ramadan, and many others. We focused on material that was written in article form rather than books so that they would be easier to discuss and process as a group. We then archived those works and divided them up into the different fields of Islamic Studies so that through guided readings and discussions the students could obtain a good overview and understanding of Islam. We are looking forward to all benefitting and learning together.
So as this new year begins we ask the community at large to please keep us and the students in your prayers and please support the program in whatever way you can.
Jamaal and Muslema
IOK University Chaplains