Following the departure of Kaiser Aslam, the University has hired Sami Abdul Aziz as the new University Muslim Chaplain. Also known as Imam Sami, he began working at the University in August and hopes to focus and create events dealing with issues of Islamophobia and interfaith relations between different religions.

As chaplain, his role is to facilitate religious services on campus, as well as provide pastoral counseling to all students, regardless of religious beliefs.

“If somebody on campus is of another faith, doesn’t matter which, I’m also there to listen to them,” Aziz said.

Aziz emphasizes that although he focuses on Muslim events, everyone is invited to all events, including weekly Friday prayers and support groups. The support groups are created for Muslim students to have a safe space and to interact with one another.

Speaking to the political climate in the country with respect to Islam, Aziz highlighted the importance of openness in the campus community.

“Being a Muslim in America can be difficult right now, [as] we are minorities not only in religious group, but also a minority group in the color of our skin,” Aziz said. “There is a lot of fear in the Muslim community regarding the political situation, [such as] what is going to happen. Is Islamophobia going to increase, and are people going to judge us based on our religion? There is some of that fear here among students on campus, and I want to help them be comfortable and let them know that this campus is open to you.”

As Aziz works only part time at the University, he discussed his efforts throughout Connecticut in spreading awareness of Islam as a whole. He is the founder and CEO of the Common Grounds Services Institute. Through the institute, he travels to churches, libraries, and schools, educating members of these institutions on a variety of topics, including ISIS, Islamophobia, and women in Islam. He has also hosted joint services in churches, giving talks on the relationship between Islam and Jesus Christ.

Aziz hopes to host an event at the University on the difference between ISIS and Islam.

Interfaith relations are also something on which Aziz focuses, as he works with the on-campus Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders in hosting interfaith events and exploring ways that they can work together. Aziz is also a member of the Bloomfield Interfaith Council.

“I would like to see more interfaith collaboration events, maybe we talk about our faiths and what’s similar,” Aziz said. “The similarities are amazing between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. We have so many things in common that we don’t have an excuse to divide ourselves, in my opinion.”

As Monday was Eid Al-Adha, a sacred Muslim holiday, Aziz has already hosted six events on campus. He hopes to also create a Muslim film series and bring in more Muslim singers and theater performances.

Aziz is also working with Bon Appétit, the campus food service provider, in developing meals during Muslim religious holidays. Currently, Bon Appétit has special meals during other religious holidays, but not during Muslim ones.

Aziz, who has also worked as a prison and hospital chaplain, noted that his time at the University has been enjoyable not just because of the campus environment, but also the welcoming atmosphere he has encountered.

“For the first two weeks, I would walk around campus and not say who I was and people would think I’m a student,” Aziz said. “It showed me that people are willing to talk to me regardless of my beard or skin color. They would approach me. That was a nice feeling.”

Aziz joins the line of Muslim chaplains who have served the University in one of the oldest Muslim chaplain programs in America.

“I would say 80 percent of college campuses don’t have a Muslim chaplain,” Aziz said. “It’s been many years, probably a decade. I really appreciate that.”

He also noted that he appreciated how the University provides budgeting for events.

Aziz connected his experiences as chaplain now to how he felt in college and high school and how he used to be shy about practicing his religion openly.

“Maybe some students don’t feel as open about their religion on campus, but I want them to know that no one is going to judge you. They should have the right, and Wesleyan does give you that right to be open,” Aziz said. “I want to provide more programming to make the Muslim kids feel more comfortable.”

John Hossain, a graduate student at the University, admires Aziz for his engagement with students.

“I’ve found the new Muslim Chaplain, Imam Sami, to be deeply invested in his students,” Hossain wrote in an email to The Argus. “He’s put significant effort into reinvigorating Muslim life on campus, for both practicing and non-practicing students, and providing a close-knit and diverse community for us to support one another. I’m hoping he builds momentum with this over the next couple of years and increases the visibility of Muslims at Wes.”

Alicia Strong ’18, President of the Muslim Student Association, also discussed her confidence in working with Aziz in the upcoming school year. She had also previously collaborated with him in the wider Connecticut community.

“He is very friendly and genuine and I know he’ll be able to reach Muslim students of varying religiosity,” Strong wrote in an email to The Argus. “I know him from my work in the Connecticut Muslim community and he is incredibly motivated. I’m particularly fond of his work educating people about Islam and his interfaith work. Hopefully the Muslim Student Association can have a bigger presence on campus with his help.”

  • Sachmo

    Incoming Arafat rant in 3… 2… 1…

    • Arafat


      The two comments I wrote above are not rants. They are factual comments presented reasonably. I would be happy to discuss them in a friendly exchange with you to better understand why you believe my comments are either factually incorrect and/or why you believe they are “rants”.

      • Sachmo

        I didn’t say or imply that your rants were factually incorrect. A rant and a factual statement aren’t mutually exclusive.

        I was simply alluding to your tendency to be verbose. You generally overwhelm articles about Israel, Jews, or Islam with walls of text. I’m making no judgments about the factual basis of any of these comments, I am simply making a joke about your tendency to rant–because that’s what you do. You rant.

      • Arafat

        Guilty as charged, but I feel no shame in caring about Islamic barbarism and/or the anti-Semitism found in many of the Argus’ opinion pieces. Rightly or wrongly I see it as akin to those who ranted on about Hitler. Or, I suppose, it’s similar to the Bernie acolytes ranting about the Bern. The difference being the Bernie fanboys used conjecture and hyperbole and not facts to make their points.

  • Arafat

    “There is a lot of fear in the Muslim community regarding the political situation, [such as] what is going to happen. Is Islamophobia going to increase, and are people going to judge us based on our religion?”


    We/I are judging Islam on devout Muslims actions and it makes sense to do so. Across the globe and on a daily basis one can see the results of Islamic doctrine in action. It might be a mass killing in a gay nightclub committed by a devout Muslim or an entire country where women cannot walk outdoors unless wearing a burka and accompanied by a male.

    It would be foolish for people to close their eyes to this reality and to not think that this worldwide phenomenon does not relate to Islam’s core values.

    • Ralphiec88

      The Orlando nightclub killer expressed hatred for gays but picked up other men and had a lifetime history of mental problems. He was described by an unfortunate ex-wife as “obviously disturbed, deeply, and traumatized”. One school report alleges that as a student Mateen was “constantly
      moving, verbally abusive, rude, aggressive,” often abusing other
      students while engaging in “much talk about violence and sex.” Simply describing him as a “devout Muslim” is like trying to make Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapper the poster boy for the Mormon church. Similarly you describe the absurdly repressive Saudi regime like it’s mainstream, when there are a million and a half Muslims living in this country as your neighbors.

      • Arafat

        Do you ever get weary of making excuses for Muslims? Tell us what excuse you can for the bombings in NYC and the stabbings in Minneapolis by Muslims and all within the last two days.

      • Ralphiec88

        Again, when you don’t like a point, just argue another one.

      • Arafat

        We are debating Muslim’s embrace of violence – something you are denying. You cannot ignore facts if they get in the way of your fantasy image of Islam.

      • Ralphiec88

        You are imagining that “embrace” as universal fact. It isn’t.

      • Arafat

        Yet the Qur’an and hadiths are filled with calls for violence against infidels, and Mohammed devoted a substantial part of his life towards spreading Islam through violence, and Islam’s history is filled with violence.
        Ralphie, you can believe in unicorns if you want but that does not make them real.

      • Rahaf Hammami

        I don’t know if you will be reading my reply knowing this thread is a month old. I just can’t be silent when you think you know what you are talking about when clearly you have no recollection of the basic examples of atrocities committed in the name of God regardless of who is claiming to be His representative. Suffice it to say, go to the history of our land, and you should be ashamed to remember how the white Christian man committed genocide against the natives in North and South America in the name of God. Guess what? The white Christian man still does not have the decency to admit his guilt. And all we teach our kids is the Thanksgiving banquet.

      • Arafat

        Ralphie…then there are these…Are all these Muslims also “disturbed, deeply and traumatized”?

        2016.09.18 India Baramulla (17 killed19 wounded) Four suicide bombers sneak onto an army base and murder seventeen sleeping soldiers.

        2016.09.16 Pakistan Batta Meena (36 killed 45 wounded) Children are among three dozen worshippers blown to bits by a suicide bomber at a packed mosque.

        2016.09.13 Iraq Shirqat 7 killed. Four children are among an entire family of seven blown to bits for fleeing the Islamic State.

        2016.09.12 Iraq Mosul 8 killed. Eight civilians are put into a metal cage and lowered into a pool by the Islamic State.

        2016.09.11 Nigeria Tumur 10 killed. Boko Haram slit the throats of ten traders.

        2016.09.11 Yemen Wadea 10 killed and 20 wounded. A suicide bomb blast at a police station leaves ten dead.

        2016.09.09 Iraq Baghdad 40 killed 60 wounded. Two suicide bombings claim forty souls at a shopping mall.

      • Ralphiec88

        Or the tribal atrocities committed in Rwanda. Or the atrocities committed during the Troubles in Ireland. Keep going back, you’ll find practically every race and creed on the globe at some point. Nobody would deny these things happened. But selecting them to attack all in a group or creed? Thats the stock in trade of terrorists and hate groups.

      • Arafat

        The Rwanda atrocities were not part of a 1,400 year long history as are the atrocities committed by Muslim jihadists. Let me repeat that within 300 years of Mohammed’s birth, Muslim jihadists had violently conquered almost the entire Middle East and North Africa, large sections of Asia, Spain, Portugal, Southern France and parts of Southern Italy. All this happened in just the first 300 years of Islam’s bloody origin. It is said that up to 70 million Hindus have been killed by Muslim jihadists during the past 1,400 years.
        Your analogy is misleading and shows a lack of understanding of Islam’s history and of Islam’s current acts of barbarism.

  • Arafat

    “Interfaith relations are also something on which Aziz focuses, as he works with the on-campus Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders in hosting interfaith events and exploring ways that they can work together.:


    This is all well and good but is not representative of the Islamic world more generally. And, again, if one objectively studies the facts it is verifiable that throughout the greater Islamic world minority religions are being ethnically cleansed.

    • Ralphiec88

      How quickly we forget that the term “Ethnic Cleansing” came back into use with the Bosnian genocide campaign against Muslims.

      • Arafat

        Actually, Ralphie, some would argue that conflict’s origins are due to Muslim aggression against the Serbs. Speaking for myself I do not know, but it would be consistent with what one sees both historically and currently with Muslim jihad against infidels. You should read Huntington’s book “The Bloody Borders of Islam” and it will help you understand why Bosnia is consistent with most all Muslim border regions.

      • Ralphiec88

        You don’t know, but you’ll say it anyway. Thank you Mr. Trump.

    • disqus_LJH92ylDNO

      I propose WU hire clergy to address the spiritual needs of students who may be Wiccans, Scientologists, and Libertines.

  • Andrew Tomer

    A phobia is an irrational human fear, and, unsurprisingly for us humans, there are a lot of them; to wit, the dictionary is littered with them on practically every page.

    However, it is perfectly rational to be very fearful of an Islam that spreads 1300 years of death, destruction, enslavement and geographic advancement by the sword, and continues in this behavior even today.

    • Ralphiec88

      One could make the same argument about Christianity, with about the same likelihood of being accurate. American Muslims are just like you and me other than the way they pray. On the other hand, many of the recent Islamist terrorists have not been particularly devout Muslims. For example, the 9/11 hijackers spent their last days drinking in strip bars. What is decidedly not helpful is this sort of bigoted rhetoric that has been used almost verbatim against multiple religions throughout history.

      • Arafat

        The Game:Bringing other religions down to the level of Islam is a favorite tactic of apologists confronted with the spectacle of Islamic violence. Remember Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber? How about Anders Breivik, the Norwegian killer? Why pick on Islam if other religions have the same problems?
        The Truth:Because they don’t.

        Regardless of what his birth certificate may or may not have said, Timothy McVeigh was not a religious man (in fact, he stated explicitly that he was agnostic and that “science” was his religion). At no time did he credit his deeds to religion, quote Bible verses, or claim that he killed for Jesus. His motives are very well documented through interviews and research. God is never mentioned.

        The so-called “members of other faiths” alluded to by Muslims are nearly always just nominal members who have no active involvement. They are neither inspired by, nor do they credit religion as Muslim terrorists do – and this is what makes it a very different matter.

        Islam is associated with Islamic terrorism because that is the association that the terrorists themselves choose to make.

        Muslims who compare crime committed by people who happen to be nominal members of other religions to religious terror committed explicitly in the name of Islam are comparing apples to oranges.

        Yes, some of the abortion clinic bombers were religious, but consider the scope of the problem. There have been six deadly attacks over a 36 year period in the U.S. Eight people died. This is an average of one death every 4.5 years.

        By contrast, Islamic terrorists staged nearly ten thousand deadly attacks in just the six years following September 11th, 2001. If one goes back to 1971, when Muslim armies in Bangladesh began the mass slaughter of Hindus, through the years of Jihad in the Sudan, Kashmir and Algeria, and the present-day Sunni-Shia violence in Iraq, the number of innocents killed in the name of Islam probably exceeds five million over this same period.

        Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 innocents in a lone rampage on July 22nd, 2011, was originally misidentified as a “Christian fundamentalist” by the police. In fact, the killings were later determined to be politically motivated. He also left behind a detailed 1500 page manifesto in which he stated that he is not religious, does not know if God exists, and prefers a secular state to a theocracy. Needless to say, he does not quote any Bible verses in support of his killing spree, nor did he shout “praise the Lord” as he picked people off.

        In the last ten years, there have been perhaps a dozen or so religiously-inspired killings by people of all other faiths combined. When such a small handful or loners act in isolation, it can legitimately be chalked up to mental illness or (at best) genuine misunderstanding.

        By contrast, Islamic terror is organized and methodical. Islamist groups span the globe with tens of thousands of dedicated members, despite intensely targeted counter-measures, and supporters numbering in the tens of millions. They are open about their religious goals and they kill in the name of god each and every day of the year. Verses in their holy texts arguably support them. There are none who will even debate them.

        No other religion is doing this. So while some Muslims may pretend that other religions are just as prone to “misinterpretation” as is their “perfect” one, reality says otherwise.

      • Ralphiec88

        The definition of a straw man argument is making up your own points to attack. Breivik fancied himself a crusader and is clearly crazy, but he’s not a representative of any religion really. Likewise most Muslims I know are appalled at the things done in their name.

      • Arafat

        You cannot make up facts to support your opinions, but even if you’re correct about Breivik (which you are not) how do his actions even come close to the daily Muslim atrocities committed? Every single day one can find information about another Muslim killing innocents and you are forced to go back five years to come up with an example of the opposite. Your doing so pretty much proves my point.

      • Ralphiec88

        You started with “1300 years”. Now you have a problem with 5?
        Judging from your comments and those of others about you, it seems like hatred of Muslims is the focus of your life. I find many people like that do it because without hate, they’d only have pain. Is that you?

      • Arafat

        You twist my words once again. My point was that for 1,400 years Islam and violent jihad against infidels has been intimately intertwined.
        Furthermore my disdain is for Islam, not for Muslims. Islam is a supremacist and violent and expansionist ideology. Muslims are, in fact, Islam’s first victims as Islam crushes its followers ability to feel the joys of freedom. Islam crushes an individual’s right to express themselves freely, Islam crushes religious freedom, it crushes curiosity and artistry.

      • disqus_LJH92ylDNO

        I’ve studied this issue for a long time. I’m convinced that the best way to combat Islamic Extremism is to offfer the repressed young adults falling under the sway of the violent bigotry of the clerics is to pipe in porn 7×24.

      • Andrew Tomer

        So, the “not particularly devout Muslims” seem to have a predilection for “sudden radicalization”, with woeful consequences instead. Same thing, different route.

        Calling people “bigots” for pointing out facts may stifle discussion in PC land, but not out here in the real world.

        Try again, loser.

      • Ralphiec88

        Sorry, but painting a million and a half Americans with hatred of their religion just is bigotry.

      • Thank you Ralp!

  • ’17

    Looking good, Wes. It’s great to see the students of the ORSL rubbing elbows among their different religions.

  • disqus_LJH92ylDNO

    How much does a chaplain get paid by the university? How many chaplains does WU employ? Who decides what faith/branch is needed on campus?