California State University, Northridge is, by and large, a commuter school. 95% of the Muslim student population lives at home, and not on campus. So interestingly enough, participation in the MSA, in general, and in Chaplaincy, in particular, has increased walhamdulillah. Due to the realities of quarantine, students are not commuting between home, work and school and are, therefore, participating in MSA programs, albeit virtually, more so than in past years. It is easier to log on one’s computer and join the weekly halaqas and MSA meetings than it is to attend these gatherings in person. So Muslim students at CSUN have, in effect, accessed the silver lining of easier access to community during these difficult times of the pandemic.
Students have engaged chaplaincy services to better understand their faith and have been generally appreciative that they have an outlet to seek spiritual guidance at a time when even the local mosque is providing barebone services, if any at all. Office hours are availed frequently and new students have engaged one-on-one virtual appointments even though they have never met me previously in person.
Student engagement in our weekly halaqas where we primarily focused on the Proofs of Prophethood Series taken from the Yaqeen Institute website has been robust. The goal in these study circles was to ground students in their connection with our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and to instill in their hearts a reverence and love for him. Rich discussions emerge from our weekly sessions and students ask honest and difficult questions. The sessions leave me fulfilled and I am hopeful that the same could be said of the students as well.
Alhamdulillah, in an unprecedented move, the students have requested to hold a weekly halaqa even during their six-week winter break. Insha’Allah, during the extended vacation, we plan to embark upon the study of the Forty Hadith of Imam An-Nawawi. We ask that Allah, the Most High, grant us success in all of our affairs.