Chaplain, Military Person
Who is Abuhena Saifulislam?
Abuhena Saifulislam or Abu Hena Saiful Islam, a Bangladeshi by birth, is the first Muslim appointed as an imam chaplain in the United States military. 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, establishing Friday services and other such things." In the Navy his rank is Lieutenant Commander and he is popularly known as Chaplain Saif.
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