Friday, February 24, 2017
7th Infantry Division has a new division chaplain
And he is a Muslim. Which makes him no more and no less holy than any other denomination, it just puts him in charge of the spiritual needs of some 14000+ soldiers of all denominations.
He was offered the job of chaplain for an entire division, an honor for anyone in his field, but a milestone in his case. After a ceremony this summer, Shabazz will become the first Muslim division-level chaplain in the history of the U.S. military – a Muslim spiritual leader for more than 14,000 mostly Christian soldiers.No word on how his Commander-In-Chief will react but we wish him well as most of his duties have nothing to do with which invisible sky demon has dominion over you.
Shabazz, who’s dedicated his life to working across religious lines, found it hard to keep calm as he received the news at his desk on Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington.
To get a sense of what a long shot this might’ve seemed like to Shabazz, consider the numbers. He’s one of only 56 Muslim chaplains in the entire U.S. military; the Army alone has around 1,400 chaplains. He said more than 140 other chaplains of his rank were vying for division-level jobs. And the number of Muslim division chaplains in the military’s 241-year history: Zero.
“When you get the call saying you have been bestowed a division, the news is kind of like, unearthly,” Shabazz said. “The list is so small and it’s such a tough cut.”
With four months until the ceremony that will make him chaplain of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division at Lewis-McChord, Shabazz has plenty of time to think about taking on such a visible role in an age of open anti-Muslim hostility. He’d like to think his transition will be as smooth as those of his Christian peers, but he knows that not everyone will welcome him as warmly as the senior officers who gave him a standing ovation when the news was announced at a meeting on base.
“For me, a regular old guy from Louisiana, I look to the heavens and say, ‘Why me?’ ” Shabazz said. “As the day gets closer, I’m sure I’ll have more anxiety and think about it more. I’m extremely proud to have been on this journey for 20 years and never would’ve imagined that I’d be chosen to be the first.”
“Islamic guy in a leadership position?” he said. “If I think about it too much, it’ll get overwhelming.”
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