This month at the various universities was mostly filled with the day-to-day activities of chaplaincy. The halaqas on the various campuses continued, with different texts being covered at different places. At UCLA we also hosted an event called “Conver(t)sations” where a panel of UCLA MSA students who are converts to Islam shared their stories, experiences, and advices with the rest of the MSA. It was a beautiful event, but also an authentic event in that they did not shy away from addressing some of the challenges that are faced by converts who are trying to adjust into their new way of life.
Other than the day-to-day the major event of the month was that Shaykh Jamaal attended Ta’leef Collective’s “Refining the Core” training. The training is designed to introduce the attendees to concepts of self-care, hospitality, mindfulness, and authentic relationship building that are essential to community activism and service. It occurred over the span on one whole week in the Bay Area and had attendees that came from as far as the UK and Australia, as well as others from around the country. Shaykh Jamaal found great benefit in the program and has already applied some of the skills he learned to his work on the campuses. He was also able to connect with the UC Berkeley MSA and give khutba there on the Friday that he was in town, so the chaplaincy efforts have now touched another campus, albeit briefly.
This month Shaykh Jamaal was also invited to be a guest speaker at a class on religion and counseling at the USC School of Social Work. It was a small graduate level seminar, so the conversation was intimate and they were able to explore issues related to counseling young Muslims in America and how to navigate the different ideas, practices, identities, and cultures involved. It was a great pleasure to be hosted by Dr. Helen Land for that session and we hope the early steps of a deeper engagement with intellectual life at USC.
Yours in service,
Jamaal Diwan and Muslema Purmul