Through the grace and mercy of Allah ﷻ I assumed the role of the Muslim Chaplain at UCI near the end of the 2018 Fall Quarter, after Sh. Jamaal stepped down to dedicate his time and effort towards establishing the Majlis. May Allah bless him in his efforts, knowledge, health, and continue to make him a source of benefit for the community. He served the MSU at UCI for 3 years, doing an amazing job providing religious and spiritual education, guidance, and support. He had also built an excellent rapport with the student body, which I got a chance to see during his farewell study circle (halaqah). I definitely have some big shoes to fill.
As an alumnus of UCI serving as the Chaplain has been somewhat of a homecoming for me, bringing back a lot of memories and nostalgic feelings from my time as a student. Although I graduated more than 13 years ago, the struggles, experiences, and challenges of college students have not changed much, making me realize how beneficial it would have been for me to have had a Chaplain during my time as a student.
During the Winter Quarter, I would be on campus once a week on Monday’s from 1:00 pm – 6:00pm providing office hours and a halaqah. The office hours were from 1:00pm-5:00pm in one of the study rooms in the Courtyard Study Lounge, which the MSU was able to reserve for the entire quarter. Being new to the campus as a Chaplain, office hours were initially a little slow as it takes time to break the ice and build a level of comfort, familiarity, and trust with the students. I was able to meet several students for personal consultations regarding a wide variety of issues. During the office hours I would also meet with members of the MSU board for consultations and updates on various campus activities and events. The halaqah was held outside the Cross Cultural Center where the MSU gathers for congregational prayer. During the Winter Quarter we focused on a study of Surah al-Fatihah exploring its meanings, lessons, reminders, and guidance. In the Spring we had a few sessions on preparing for Ramadan as well as a Qiyam program at Darul Falah, one of the local mosques close to campus. Because of my obligation of leading nightly prayers at IOK I was unable to make it weekly during the month of Ramadan. For the days I was unable to go, Mudassir Mayet, one of our Seminary students who will be completing his Masters in Islamic Law and Tradition, was able to lead the Halaqah.
Spring quarter at UCI is very busy for the MSU. They hosted several different and programs including College Day, Islam Awareness Week, Anti-Oppression Week, and the End of the Year Banquet. During Anti-Oppression Week, I was able to attend a screening of a few documentaries that highlight the injustice and oppression directed to the Uyghurs in China. I also spoke at the End of the Year Banquet regarding the concept of gratitude.
One of the highlights for me personally this past year was receiving the UCI Engage Great Partner Award as an alumnus. The Great Partner Award honors campus-community collaborations that are empowering and transformative. It recognizes graduates from UCI for their commitment to civic and community engagement as seen through their community service, non-profit work, support, and involvement with our communities. I was extremely humbled and honored to learn that one of the MSU students nominated me for this award and that I was chosen as one of the winners.
It has been an absolute pleasure to serve and spend time with the students on Campus this past year and I look forward to picking up where we left of in Fall 2019. The MSU is an amazing organization led by students for students and I am there to serve and support them in any way they need.