Text of my remarks at the Harvard Islamic Society, Opening Event, Aug 31, 2009:
Bismilahi r-rahmani r-rahim. As salamu 'alaykum. As Harvard Islamic Society Chaplain and Muslim Chaplain at the Harvard Chaplains, I would like to echo what the President, Hafiz Na'eel, and his fellow officers have said by welcoming you to Harvard and to this open house. I apologize for not being able to attend as I have a family related medical matter to attend to that took me out of town. Nonetheless I pray that your time at Harvard is beneficial and fruitful, for yourself and for others, in this life and the hereafter.
Before I became Muslim Chaplain, I was an undergraduate and then a graduate student here at Harvard. I can remember the excitement and eagerness that I felt; and therefore can relate to the similar feelings that I am sure you and your fellow first years must feel. Of all of the impressive resources and networks that I encountered at Harvard during my time here as an undergraduate--and you have no doubt seen that Harvard has a truly awe-inspiring array of resources to offer its students--I myself found the brothers and sisters at the Islamic Society, and the internal growth that resulted from my relationships with them, to be the most lasting and impactful aspect of my Harvard experience. As Chaplain during the last decade or so, I have witnessed first hand similar growth in contingent after contingent of students who have come from around the country and the world to Harvard. I therefore encourage you to take advantage of the Harvard Muslim community, embodied by the Islamic Society, while you are here. Get to know people, participate in activites and balance the growth that you will experience in other aspects of yourself with ethical and spiritual growth. I can assure you that you will find a warm and welcoming community of highly talented individuals who have also managed to fit the Islamic society, somehow, into their busy lives. In the Prophet traditions we find: "The best companions are those who, when you think of them (or are with them), remind you of God!" I encourage to encounter the experiental reality of this tradition in the Islamic Society.
Finally, let me point out to you yet another University resource: namely myself. As Islamic Society Chaplain and a Harvard Chaplain, think of me as resource who is available for personal consultations on various aspects of Islamic thought and practice. Feel free to grab me after jumu'a, track my blog, attend my study sessions, set up an appointment to see me during office hours (which are Fri 2-3 this semester), drop me a line by email at the Chaplain's e-mail address or call me at any time of day or night. From basic questions of Islamic devotional practice to inquiries into points of contact between Islamic thought and post modernist ethics, I am at your service.
May Allah bless us with guidance and decorate our endeavors with Success. Ameen. Wa 'alaykum as salam.