Islamic US Army Chaplain Ministers to All
Chaplain (Maj) Khallid Shabazz was formerly an Army field artilleryman named Michael Barnes — a Lutheran with a rough reputation and two Article 15s. After converting to Islam while in the Army, he had an interesting path to the Chaplaincy:
The imam said he had a 92 general technology score, so he had to increase his GT score by 18 points to be eligible for Officer Candidate School.
While trying to increase his GT score, he faced opposition about going to Jummah service on Fridays, Shabazz said, so he desperately sought help and went to the chaplain.
“The chaplain said, ‘Why don’t you become a Muslim chaplain so you can help people like yourself that are in trouble?’,” Shabazz said. “If I had the GT score at the time, it never would have happened. I think life is amazing that things like this happen. That is how I became a Muslim chaplain.”
Like many other Chaplains, Shabazz has traveled extensively in the combat area to provide spiritual support to members of his faith, as well as that of other faiths. Now he works with US Army Europe, training local faith leaders to fill-in in the (frequent) absence of an Islamic Chaplain. (The article says Shabazz is one of 5 Islamic Chaplains in the US Army.) He cites that as a conscious effort by the US Army to protect the religious freedom of Muslim Soldiers:
Shabazz said being able to train and commission faith group leaders throughout USAREUR is an example of how the Army provides the necessary support and resources to meet the spiritual needs of Muslim soldiers.
The US military generally makes an admirable effort to support the religious freedom of its servicemembers, and Shabazz’s story is yet another positive example of the military’s efforts to that end.
Ironically, Shabazz is serving in Germany — a nation whose own military was just chastised for not having an Islamic Chaplain.