At the end of July, the MSA board of CSUSB requested to meet with Shaykh Ahmad to add their campus to other SoCal campuses being served by the IOK Chaplaincy Initiative. The MSA has been struggling in recent years and the new board wanted to revive the organization. They desired to solicit the services of chaplaincy as they had heard about it from their peers at other campus communities and felt that it was much needed.
It is worth noting that CSUSB was the first campus to be served by Shaykh Ahmad when IOK Chaplaincy was in its pilot phase in 2014. The service lasted for a few years on campus and continued off campus by having office hours meetings with the student at UCR and the local community centers.
The current board of MSA is comprised mostly of students who had attended IOK Extension classes over the course of two years at the Islamic Community Center of Redlands and had established a relationship with Shaykh Ahmad during his service to the ICCR community since 2014. With the start of the fall semester it was decided that Shaykh Ahmad would visit CSUSB on Wednesdays to hold office hours and conduct a biweekly class.
The first meeting of the year, held on October 3rd was an MSA welcome-back meeting for the students and an introduction to Chaplaincy and the services we offer, conducted to the MSA members and a few staff members. The meeting was received with a warm welcome and excitement for the service.
Office hours have been open Q & A sessions and an opportunity to learn more about the campus community, their needs and backgrounds. Some of the topics discussed over the fall have been: Ideas for MSA growth and development, student relations, dealing with different personalities, working with other student organizations, dietary restrictions, spiritual diseases, and regulations of prayer ritual. Several students have decided to read Arabic texts with the chaplain during office hours. The selected text is Prophetic Stories.
The location of the meetings is the dedicated prayer space on campus, which allows for many folks to get introduced to the chaplain and ask their questions on the go.
The topic of discussion in the biweekly class has been Emotional Intelligence. We started by taking the Self-Scoring Emotional Intelligence Tests. The following topics have been discussed so far, ‘Are You Emotionally Literate?’, ‘Is Your Self-Image Positive or Negative?’, ‘Are You An Extrovert Or Introvert?’.
On Nov 14th, Shaykh Ahmad was invited to be one of three judges for the Kanafeh bakeoff competition. The other two judges were Dr. Danny Doueiri, a favorite professor at CSUSB and MSA advisor, and Dr. Ahlam Muhtaseb, the director for the Center of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. It was a great opportunity to meet with the students in a casual setting and to taste the sweet flavor of this famous Middle Eastern dessert.
As for UCR, Shaykh Ahmad started the year with the students in the MSA’s first official General Body Meeting on October 2nd. Many new faces were in attendance and the chaplaincy program was highlighted as one of the main services provided for the campus community.
An adjustment to chaplaincy schedule allows Shaykh Ahmad to be at UCR on Thursdays and for Associate Chaplain, Ust. Yafa on Tuesdays.
On Oct 10th the weekly Brothers’ Study Circle resumed for the new academic year and the topic of discussion was ‘Back to Basics.’ The focus of this class will be the foundations of faith. We started by having an introduction to the topic of ‘What is The True Religion of God?’ This was followed by a short summary of Islam as a Way of Life and the Way to God. The study circle gives the students an opportunity to ask their questions and have an open discussion. A big topic of discussion was repentance and seeking Divine Forgiveness. The study circle is a time where many students get to see the chaplain and connect with him as they are unable to make it to office hours due to schedule conflicts.
For other students, office hours are the primary service they utilize. Some are not members of MSA due to their demanding schedules and other engagements. During office hours a variety of topics have been discussed with new and returning students starting with regulations related to hair, modest clothing and attire, addictions and relapsing into old sins and negative behaviors, Divine Providence, sharing the message of Islam with others, Hadith Terminology, and Quran recitation.
The MSA resumed with plans to have a Dawah Committee, tasked with sharing the message of Islam with the larger campus community. A few meetings have taken place to assess the talents and skills of those who have signed up and to see how they can work as a team.
Shaykh Ahmad traveled to Umrah for Thanksgiving Break and was joined by a few chaplaincy students along with several IOK families. The Fall Quarter came to an end with finals and Winter Break.
Final exams are on the way and we pray for the students’ success. As is clear from the update, the chaplaincy at CSUSB and UCR is in full swing. Shaykh Ahmad will be back on both campuses next quarter to continue where we left off.
We ask God for acceptance and success for the students, the initiative and all involved. We also ask that you pray for us and support this important project.