Abuhena Saifulislam

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Chaplain Saifulislam shaking hands with President Bush

Abuhena Saifulislam (in U.S. records) or Abu Hena Saiful Islam, (Bengali: আবু হেনা সাইফুল ইসলাম), (born 1963), a Pakistani by birth, of the then East Pakistan later Bangladesh is the first Muslim appointed as an imam chaplain in the United States military.[1] Born in 1963, Abu Hena went to the USA in 1989 for higher studies. He studied at the Southern New Hampshire University and received his MBA degree in 1992. That same year he joined the United States Marine Corps. Earlier he had applied for immigration to America by participating in the DV Lottery. He was granted US citizenship towards the end of 1995 while he was working in the U.S. Navy in the payroll and accounting department.

After obtaining citizenship, Saiful launched his drive to become an imam in the Navy Chaplain Corps, which provides chaplains to the Marine Corps, a part of the Department of the Navy. Saiful attended a course for Muslim chaplains in the Marine Corps, organized jointly by the Defense Department and the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Leesburg, Virginia. He studied hard for two years to complete the course in time. In 1998, he took the opportunity of the process of recruiting Navy chaplains and was commissioned in the same rank in 1999. After commissioning, the Navy assigned him to the Marines as the Corps' first Muslim chaplain. In this position his main task is to teach about Islam so that an understanding of the religion is built up across the US military. On his appointment as a Muslim chaplain, Saiful said, "When I found out that they were looking for Muslim chaplains, I wanted to become one. I was already involved in religious activities inside the Pentagon (Defense Department headquarters), establishing Friday services and other such things."[2] In the Navy his rank is Lieutenant Commander and he is popularly known as Chaplain Saif.[3]

As of today (2007), Saiful Islam remains the only Muslim chaplain in the US Marine Corps, and one of only two in the Navy Chaplain Corps.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Daily Naya Diganta"[dead link]
  2. ^ Phillip Kurata, "Bangladeshi American Is First Muslim Chaplain in Marine Corps", US Department of State website, 4 February 2008
  3. ^ a b Matthew Wells, "Muslim face of the US Marines ", BBC News, 20 June 2007

External links[edit]