Alhamdulillah the last month has been a busy month in campus life and in the development of our University Chaplaincy efforts.
It was in this period that we witnessed the senseless killing of 3 Muslim college students in North Carolina. In our efforts to support the students in the aftermath of this tragedy we tried to be around as much as we could for the students. This included our usual office hours at UCLA but also speaking at vigils to honor the memory of the victims at both UCLA and Chapman University. It has been a difficult time for many students on campus, but also a time for deep reflection and growth.
This past month also marked the 50 year anniversary of the martyrdom of Malcolm X. In honor of the occasion Shaykh Jamaal was a guest speaker at UCLA on lessons that we can learn as Muslims in America from the experience of Malcolm and how that affects us today. Many students joined us for the event and engaged in a deep conversation about racism, injustice, empowerment, and expression.
We’ve also continued our office hours as usual and we are meeting more and more students, and perhaps even more important, really getting to know some of them deeply. The students are very grateful and the experience has been extremely enriching for us from our end as well. On top of the office hours we’ve also tried to include some more social time with the students in order to get to know them better. This has largely consisted of dinners at campus dining halls, culminating with Shaykha Muslema attending a dorm dinner at UCLA where around 80 students were present.
The other major development this month was finalizing our presence as official Muslim Chaplains with the Office of Religious Life at USC. Through consultation with former Director of Muslim Life at USC, Ali Mir, and Chair of Islamic Studies at USC, Dr. Sherman Jackson, we were able to develop a relationship with Dean Varun Soni, Dean of Religious Life at USC and formalize our presence on the campus to serve the Muslim students at USC. The Office of Religious Life at USC has given great support to their Muslim students over the years, including a prayer space, wudu stations, and offices for chaplains on campus. We are very grateful for the support we have received from the university and honored to be part of the work that they do there. During our first official visit to USC we joined the halaqa that the MSU has on campus each week with over 20 students in attendance and were also honored at a Welcome Meet and Greet hosted by the Office of Religious Life to introduce us to the Muslim students on campus.
Dean Varun Soni had the following to share in regards to our recent appointment at USC,
“We are deeply honored and profoundly grateful to welcome Shaykh Jamaal and Shaykha Muslema to the University of Southern California as our Muslim Chaplains. In this capacity, they will provide pastoral care and spiritual counseling, mentor graduate and undergraduate students, support programs and events, and cultivate and inspire a vibrant Muslim community on campus. Given their extraordinary breadth of knowledge and experience, their presence on campus will immeasurably enrich our entire university campus. Furthermore, by serving as Muslim Chaplains and by being staff members in the Office of Religious Life, they will not only be advocates and ambassadors at USC, but will also have the opportunity to help shape regional, national, and global discourses about Islam.”
Overall it has been a fun and enriching month and we are looking forward to building deeper and deeper relationships in the coming months inshaAllah.
Jamaal and Muslema
IOK University Chaplains