With the coming and passing of October the first full month of school at UCLA has passed and USC is getting deeper into the first semester of the year. This month we were able to continue our halaqas at both campuses, as well as continue to build relationships with the students.
The month started at USC with their annual Eid banquet. It was a large event held next to the campus and Shaykha Muslema was one of their guest speakers for the evening. It is usually a happy occasion for the students and their families to get together so we were honored to be a part of it. Also this month, Shaykha Muslema was invited as a guest speaker for a class taught by Dean Varun Soni on religion in Los Angeles to speak on her experiences growing up in Southern California as a Muslim and being involved as a leader in the community here. It was well received by the students and Dean Soni was very grateful for her insightful contributions to the class. For the USC weekly halaqa the students were able to complete the paper “Living Islam with Purpose” by Dr. Umar Faruq Abdallah this month and are now moving on to “Generous Tolerance in Islam” by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Throughout the readings there have been many discussions and, alhamdulillah, the attendance is continuing to grow.
At UCLA this month the students are now fully in the midst of the first quarter of the school year. Shaykh Jamaal gave his first khutba on campus this month and had the blessing of being able to meet more of the students and local community there. He also attended, for the first time, the Council of Chaplains meeting for UCLA where he was able to build relationships and network with religious leaders from the Christian, Jewish, and Baha’i communities. For the weekly halaqa at UCLA the students began “Living Islam with Purpose” and will finish it and move on to “Who are the Disbelievers” by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Shaykh Jamaal also led a halaqa around the time of Halloween on the topic of death and matters related to the soul in life and death. Alhamdulillah, this halaqa had large attendance with around 40 students joining in for the evening. MSA UCLA also held their beginning of the year banquet this month and both Shaykh Jamaal and Shaykha Muslema, along with Ismail, were able to join them for the event. During the event Shaykh Jamaal shared a few words of encouragement on the stages of spiritual development and how they relate to college life.
Outside of the two main campuses Shaykh Jamaal was at Loyola Marymount University twice this month. On the first occasion he was invited to a class to speak on pastoral care from the perspective and experience of the Muslim tradition and the second occasion was to lead their first jumu’ah service on campus. Both experiences were wonderful, but this latter one was especially fulfilling. Shaykh Jamaal was invited by Professor Amir Hussain who teaches at LMU to lead the service and network with the school administration and students. It was a historic event and we pray that the students are able to establish a regular jumu’ah service on campus. The other thing that happened off campus this month was that Shaykh Jamaal and Shaykha Muslema were both able to attend a roundtable discussion with the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health as to the resources that area available to Muslim clergy in aiding their communities with mental health related issues.
As always it is a pleasure and honor to serve our brothers and sisters. The challenges our youth are facing are immense and the contributions they are making are even greater.
Jamaal and Muslema
IOK University Chaplains