All three universities had Spring Break this month, although the UC and USC weeks are different. At the UCs that means the end of one quarter and the beginning of the next and at USC it is just a break in the middle of the semester.
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 “Sincerity” by Dr. al-Qaradawi at USC for a couple weeks as a prelude to their upcoming elections. She also taught and led a discussion with the MSU around Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqubi’s “Refuting ISIS,” and was a guest speaker on a panel on Islamophobia where she joined Dean Varun Soni and a representative from the Sikh community. Shaykh Jamaal studied two articles by Dr. Jackson at UCLA and USC. The first was “On the Back-Breaking Jihad of Speaking Truth to Pain” and the second was “Liberalism and the American Muslim Predicament.” He also taught a special session at UCLA on gender relations and how to appropriately navigate that issue in a college setting and a special session at UCI on praising the Prophet (pbuh) as part of their week long event on praising the Prophet (pbuh). He also led a reading with reflections of Surah al-Kahf during finals week at UCLA since fewer students were expected then.
As for events outside of the usual during the week activities, there were four major things that happened this month. The first was that Shaykh Jamaal joined the monthly Chaplains Council meeting at UCLA. This council is part of the UCLA University Religious Conference and is in a major transition as the URC moves into a deeper role with the university. Shaykh Jamaal also attended, although briefly, the Afghan American Conference which was held at UCLA this year. This is a major effort that is held to motivate and provide resources to younger Afghan Americans. It was a beautiful gathering with about 450 young Afghan-Americans attending from all over the country.
The last major event was at USC. On Tuesday, March 29th, Dr. Steven Sample, former President of USC passed away. As part of remembering his legacy the university, along with the Office of Religious Life, arranged for an interfaith prayer service to be held. Shaykh Jamaal was chosen by Dean Varun Soni to be one of the three religious leaders who spoke at the event and it was very well received. The video is still forthcoming, but it was covered in the LA Times.
Yours in service,
Jamaal Diwan and Muslema Purmul