November led to the end of the quarters and semester at the various campuses. For office hours and study circles our efforts continued as usual. The major event that affected all campuses this month was the Presidential Election. On the night of the general election we had our study circle at USC so while discussing the hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) we would stop every so often to get updates on the major swing states. Everybody was concerned, and more so as the evening progressed, but at least we were experiencing it together. As the results of the elections became clear and the various campuses began to mobilize efforts to support minority students in particular. In that vein we were able to hold support and conversation sessions on all of the campuses. At UCLA we were joined for our session by Dr. Yusef Daulatzai who is a therapist at the UCLA counseling center. These sessions were opportunities for the students to share their concerns, expectations, fears, hopes, and perspectives in a safe environment. We also spoke of some of the values and teachings that we have in Islam that can be of aid to use in the face of challenges. All and all the students are amazing. Over the course of the last few years and the many things that we have gone through as a community they have developed a certain resiliency and hope that is truly beautiful.
In November Shaykh Jamaal was also able to join two of the campuses, UCLA and UCI, for their Friday services. These are always good opportunities to connect with the students in a different space than where we usually meet them and also reach out to new students that we have yet to meet.
Outside of the usual office hours and study circles in November were Shaykh Jamaal speaking at a conference at Fuller Seminary and Shaykh Jamaal and Shaykha Muslema attending the CAIR Banquet. Fuller Seminary is one of the oldest and largest Christian seminaries in our area. One of their sessions at a recent conference was on Muslim-Christian relations here in the US and Muslim experiences. For this panel Shaykh Jamaal was joined by three other speakers from the Muslim community. Each had an opportunity to weigh in on different issues and it was a well-received session. As for CAIR, this month they had their 20th anniversary banquet. It was a grand event with great attendance from across the Muslim community and Shaykh Jamaal and Shaykha Muslema were able to join leadership from all parts of the Muslim community and the community at large for this great celebration. It was a good opportunity for networking and relationship building while also being very uplifiting. Shaykh Jamaal and Shaykha Muslema were also fortunate to be able to attend the annual banquet of Sahaba Initiative in Downtown Riverside. It was a beautiful evening celebrating the important work that they have been doing in serving the underserved in San Bernardino County.
December ushered in the end of the semester at USC and the quarter at UCLA and UCI. As things slowed down on the major campuses Shaykh Jamaal was able to join the MSA at Loyola Marymount University for a Jumuah service. About a year ago he led the first jumuah service on campus and it was great to go back and see how the community is developing there. They have been recognized as one of the most active groups on campus and the administration has been supporting their efforts at welcoming Muslim students on campus. They have even been in talks with the administration about the possibility of having a part-time Muslim chaplain on campus. Unfortunately, we are already stretched too thin!
December also witnessed a tragedy at USC with the stabbing and killing of Professor Bosco Tjan by a graduate student on campus. The incident shook up the whole campus. Some of the students our program serves had worked with the Professor Tjan before and had nothing but nice things to say about him. Dean Varun Soni, Dean of Religious Life at USC, hosted a remembrance service on campus in the days after the tragedy and Shaykh Jamaal was able to attend and show support.
In the last few weeks of the year Shaykh Jamaal and Shaykha Muslema have continued to be busy. For Jamaal it is wedding season and there have been a number of weddings that he has joined, some having to do with students or former students. He also attended an event with an organization called Pillars of the Community that does grassroots organizing work led by Muslims with the community in Southeast San Diego. In it he spoke on how to prepare ourselves individually and as a community for the years to come. Shaykha Muslema spent the last week and a half of the year in Toronto and Chicago where she spoke at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference and the MAS-ICNA Conference, respectively. These are two of the biggest conferences in North American with over 15,000 people in attendance at each.
All and all we’re excited for the new year and continued service to our communities and campuses.
Jamaal Diwan & Muslema Purmul