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IOK Chaplaincy Update for UCLA

UCLA Summer/Fall 2018 Update

Over the summer, I led a backpacking trip in the Yosemite backcountry with both UCLA and CSUN students.  The trip was phenomenal!  We covered over 30 miles and enjoyed the most spectacular views that the Sierra Nevada Mountains have to offer.  We camped next to pristine, high country lakes and streams, stargazed, viewed wildlife (bears, marmots), sat around the campfire and prayed Fajr in the cold, silent forest every morning.  The highlight of the trip was our ascent up the iconic Half Dome!  I’m already excited about taking up another group of students next summer, God willing.

The school year started off with UCLA MSA’s annual Opening Banquet where 300-400 Muslim students gathered to celebrate the new school year.  Many new students including incoming freshman, transfers, graduate and medical students were orientated towards “Muslim” life on campus and learned about the services available to them through the IOK Chaplaincy.  And since then, many of those same students have been availing office hours over the course of the quarter.  I often engage students in a “walk and talk” where we walk through various sections of the campus – my favorite spot is the botanical gardens located on campus – while discussing important issues in students’ lives.

Many new and returning students have been steadily participating in our weekly halaqas where we have addressed a variety of subjects that intersect with students’ lives.  My once-a-month Friday khutbahs have been centered on important subjects that intersect directly with student life.

The new leadership at UCLA MSA has been very conscious about meeting students’ needs and has been in frequent consultation with me as part of their due diligence in striving to merge between student realities and the provision of appropriate Islamic guidelines and boundaries.  Helping MSA leadership navigate issues of sexual harassment within the student community has become an unfortunate but important reality of my chaplaincy.

This year marks the first year of my three-year term as a Board Member of the University of Religious Council (URC) at UCLA – a multi-faith body dedicated to serving the multi-faith student population at UCLA.  We, at IOK, are very thankful to the URC, among other things, for their financial support of IOK’s Chaplaincy Initiative.

Looking forward to continued service,

— Sh. Suhail Mulla