October finds all the campuses in full swing. Students are settled in and getting into a new year of studies. It also takes all the campuses, at slightly different times during the month, through midterms. Please make dua for their success. So far this year Shaykha Muslema has been leading the weekly halaqa at UCI and Shaykh Jamaal has been leading the ones at UCLA and USC. For UCI Shaykha Muslema started covering “Sincerity: The Essential Quality” by Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. This book is usually a good one to start with earlier in the year because it lays some of the foundations of how to balance activism with our relationship with God. At USC Shaykh Jamaal finished covering his exposition on some of the themes that can be derived from Surah al-Fatiha and then began a study of Imam al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith. At UCLA he also began the Forty Hadith. This work by Imam al-Nawawi is also a good starting point because it is foundational and covers so many of the core concepts of Islam. As a result, it provides a strong jumping off point for all kinds of discussions. On the campus relations front Shaykh Jamaal had his quarterly meeting with the Chaplains Council at UCLA. In the meeting the group decided that their mother organization, The University Religious Conference, will begin to offer funding opportunities to campus religious organizations who are seeking to host interfaith events on campus. This can be a great opportunity for the MSA at UCLA and will hopefully result in some meaningful conversations and relationships. Shaykh Jamaal also had a meeting with UCLA Interim Vice Chancellor Monroe Gorden, Jr. In the meeting they discussed campus climate and what the university can do better to cater to the needs and concerns of Muslim students on campus. Shaykh Jamaal also met this month with Jake Gildea who serves as the campus advisor to the MSA at UCLA to build their relationship and see how best to serve the students. All of them were fruitful meetings that will continue to help us meet the needs of students on the campuses and work with the various administrations. At USC Shaykh Jamaal was a guest speaker at the monthly meeting of Religious Directors through the Office of Religious Life. The Dean of Religious Life at USC invited him to the meeting to speak to the other religious directors in attempt to help them better understand the lived experience of Muslim students in the US and what they can do to serve them.
Outside of regular office hours and halaqas there were a few other events that the chaplains were a part of this month. The first was MSU UCI’s annual beginning of the year banquet. Shaykh Jamaal simply attended and joined the students for dinner and some informal time together. Another major thing was that the students at UCI, along with Shaykha Muslema, worked together to host Imam Zaid Shakir and Shaykh Faraz Khan at UCI for a day-long seminar on the book “Agenda to Change Our Condition.” About 200 people registered and attended the event and the students, as well as general community members, greatly enjoyed the gathering. There was also a competition to see which community organization could bring the most attendees, and therefore qualify to be the next hosts of a Zaytuna faculty member, and the MSU at USC came out victorious. So we look forward to that as well in the future. Also, at the end of the month both Shaykh Jamaal and Shaykha Muslema were invited to be guest speakers at San Diego State University MSA’s College Day. They both shared their reflections on seeking knowledge and the university experience with a diverse group of mostly high school students in the region. Lastly, Shaykh Jamaal led Friday services once at both UCLA and UCI this month. Requesting your prayers and support as always. With every month that passes we feel more and more convinced of the utter necessity of this work. There is much to be done and so much need between these campuses and many others, but we are doing what we can and praying that Allah helps these efforts to grow and spread to even more students, inshaAllah.
Yours in service,
Jamaal Diwan and Muslema Purmul
IOK University Chaplains serving UCLA, USC and UCI