Wednesday was the assigned day for Shaykh Ahmad’s weekly visit to the Coyote campus community at Cal State San Bernardino. It included a weekly Q & A Session, Bi-Weekly Lecture, Bi-Weekly Student-led activity/program, and office hours.
The winter quarter started with a continuation of the theme from the previous quarter, The Messengers of God. The Study Circle was dedicated to this topic biweekly. NMA Ebooks on this theme were read and discussed. January 15th Noah: A Mighty Messenger of God, and February 12th Abraham: A Complete Man.
Every week, an hour was dedicated to Q & A, where students would bring up issues of concern, and they would be provided with thorough answers and further readings. The students compiled a document which included all the topics discussed for the duration of the two quarters.
Some of the highlights of topics discussed during Q & A sessions: outside intervention for a domestic violence case and request for women’s shelters and resources, Kobe’s death, the afterlife, abortions and infanticide, body alterations, body hair removal, tattoos, body piercings, Salah regulations while traveling, haircuts and fades, praying for deceased non-Muslims, women changing their last name post marriage, Hijab: modesty and repentance, making up missed fasts during the winter, performing ritual washing in the shower, disclosing past sexual encounters to potential suitors, prayer while intoxicated, sects in Islam, grief and loss of loved ones, and conditions of marriage in Islam.
During some Study Circle sessions, students decided to read and discuss Yaqeen Institute’s Conversations, but they had many unanswered questions, as the material covered did not satisfy their questions and some information covered was not very relevant or accurate. Why Worship God and Proofs of Prophethood were covered in two separate meetings, and then the students decided not to continue going through the material.
On Tuesday February 25th, 200+ students from Dr. Dany’s “World of Islam” class at CSUSB went on a Field Trip to a local mosque and were graciously hosted by the biggest Muslim institution in San Bernardino, DarulUloom in Muscoy. Shaykh Ahmad was invited to host and present on the role of the Mosque in Islam. Students and some of their family members observed the announcement and call to prayer (Athan), followed by the post sunset prescribed ritual (Maghrib), and then listened to a presentation by Shaykh Ahmad on the direction of prayer (Qibla), the prayer leader (Imam) and the spiritual battleground at the center chamber (Mihrab). When asked about the absence of images and music in worship the response was out of reverence to the One True God and in following His commandments. A translation of the recitation of the Quran and some Arabic calligraphy was done on the spot. More was shared about the different functions that the mosque serves daily, weekly, seasonally and yearly for the different demographics of the community.
The next day Dr. Dany invited Shaykh Ahmad and his family to come to class to thank them personally and invited the family to have dinner in the common’s cafeteria. A few non-Muslim students accompanied Shaykh Ahmad’s family and had a meal with them as the chaplain had to leave to conduct a community program in Orange County. Several non-Muslim students from the class requested to interview Shaykh Ahmad and utilized chaplaincy office hours by booking appointments using the IOK CHESS website. A team of social work students also requested to have an interview with Shaykh Ahmad regarding the Muslim community for their class project on minority groups.
On February 26th NMA Infographs on Conditions for Repentance, Tawbah, Istighfar, Barriers to Forgiveness were discussed and Istikharah the Guidance Prayer was also discussed with references shared.
On March 4th Shaykh Ahmad joined the MSA, as they were invited to be on a student panel for Dr. Imad’s World of Islam Class. Later, Shaykh Ahmad was taken on a tour of campus by one of the students as the chaplaincy session was conducted while walking.
On March 11th Shaykh Ahmad and his children were invited to participate with the MSA in their arts and painting de-stress session. Prison Outreach work was also discussed and a video on Incarcerated Men and Women Joining Islam was watched.
During chaplaincy office hours sessions, some of the topics discussed were: self image psychology, self esteem, porn addiction and healing, how viewing porn shapes the religious lives of young people, following one’s passion for career, career planning, time management, spiritual refinement, growth and development, ReIntegrative Therapy, purification of the soul, friendship and interpersonal problems and the Names of God.
During Spring Break, Shaykh Ahmad wanted to stay connected to the students, and shared material with them, starting with 10 Pieces of Advice on Protecting Yourself From Disease, Preparing For Ramadan Like the Sahabah, and finally, The Prophet’s Ramadan.
As Shaykh Ahmad was holding two separate series via IOK Media on dealing with the pandemic (Spiritual Protection Against Pandemics) and extracting lessons from the Life of the Messenger (Prophetic Stories, Illustrations of Life 2), and since the Study Circle on campus was off for some time, these series were shared with chaplaincy students.
Spring Quarter started with the COVID 19 Stay at Home orders. Chaplaincy moved and adapted from an on-campus service to a virtual service through TeleHealth for office hours and Zoom meetings for Study Circle and lectures. Our focus was to continue to provide spiritual care, guidance, and support to Muslim students during this difficult time.
On April 8,th the first session after Spring Break began with the new set up using Zoom. The students decided to watch a video from Spiritual Protection Against Pandemics and have a discussion on it. There was a discussion on the month of Shaban, the eighth month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar, and material was shared regarding the middle of the month and its significance.
On April 15th The Message of Jesus was covered
On April 22nd NMA Ebook Receiving Ramadan was read
On April 29th there was a lively discussion regarding zoos and keeping animals confined, abuse of those under our care in relationships, being stewards of the earth including for animals and plants, smoking, e-cigarettes, medical marijuana, Islamic Dress Code and modes of attire, marriage in Islam and its rules and regulations, polygyny, why can’t Muslim women marry four husbands?
On May 6th NMA Ebook Coping with COVID 19 Pandemic was read and discussed
On May 13th Shaykh Furhan’s Guidance For Praying Tarawih At Home was referenced
Questions were asked about praying Eid at home, fasting the 6 days of Shawal, the tenth month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar, and voluntary fasting. The students also requested to dedicate some Study Circle time to Quran recitation and study so we read chapter 97 and read NMA’s article on the Night of Special Virtue.
On May 20th IOK CHESS article Eid in Quarantine was shared and questions arose on debts and interest-based transactions
On May 27th a video regarding Post Ramadan Wins was viewed and discussed it and then we went through the last three chapter of the Quran with recitation and brief commentary. We read NMA Infographs on Protection Against Satan, Angels and Devils, Satan in Quranic Vocabulary. There were questions regarding exorcism and some reading material and resources were shared. The video Ramadan in Conclusion was also shared. This was the last Study Circle for the quarter.
The highlight of this report is the dedication of one non-Muslim student, who was a regular on a weekly basis. Throughout the year she asked great questions and participated in reading and activities. In the Study Circle leading to Ramadan, she shared that her plan for the month was to read the Quran and asked where she can get a physical copy. Shaykh Ahmad delivered a translation of the meanings of the Quran with a package of supplementary complementary reading material as an IOK gift to her and she was very grateful. She continues to explore Islam and learn about it and is very appreciative of the MSA community and the chaplaincy service. Another notable and inspirational highlight was the transformation of one of the sisters, who had been coming to office hours. She had been inquiring about repentance and challenges in life and in modest clothing and eventually committed to making attire changes and wearing the head cover regularly.
We pray for the success of the students and their continued growth and development and we look forward to continue serving them in the future.