20 June 2007

Muslim chaplain represents Islam to the Marines

US Navy LCDR Abuhena Saifulislam serves with the US Marine Corps as its only Muslim chaplain, and one of two Muslim chaplains in the Navy.

Growing up in Bangladesh, Saifulislam was fascinated with US Navy uniforms that he saw in World War II movies. After immigrating into the US in the 1980s, he decided to join the Navy instead of working in the world of finance in New York, which had been his original plan.

Saifulislam is often interviewed by the media, and tries to point out that there is nothing incompatible between being Islam and the US Armed Forces.

While working as a Muslim chaplain, he has obtained prayer space for Muslims at Marine Corps Base Quantico (located in Virginia), and started regular Muslim calls to prayer at the detention centre at Guantánamo Bay.

Saifulislam also teaches non-Muslim Marines about Islam.

On relations between the US and the Arab world, Saifulislam says, "Don't see the entire religion, or judge it, through one set of eyes. The Arabs shouldn't generalise (either)...The majority of Americans may not approve of many things that we do outside, but it doesn't mean that we don't love the country (BBC).

Definitely not the most typical place for a Bangladeshi to end up in. Saifulislam is doing good work, and the US Armed Forces need more people like him, both to combat an image of their being an anti-Islamic force, and to teach American soldiers to be respectful to Islam and Muslims.

No comments:

Something Even More Magical

In other news...