Saleha Jabeen Becomes First Female Muslim Chaplain in the US Military

Noted last year when she began training, 1Lt Saleha Jabeen has now graduated the chaplain’s course and has become the first female Muslim chaplain in the entire US military:

The graduation ceremony for BCC Class 21A was a historic event as the Air Force aims to foster a more diverse and inclusive service…

“I did not have to compromise on any of my religious beliefs or convictions,” Jabeen said. “I am surrounded with people who respect me and are willing to receive what I bring to the table as a woman, a faith leader, and an immigrant.”

Jabeen’s entrance into the military as a chaplain is an interesting, if unusual, situation. On one hand, it speaks to the US military’s promotion of religious exercise that it would commission a chaplain with religious beliefs held by only a few people in the entire military. On the other hand, Jabeen’s ability to perform one of her primary chaplain roles – act as a faith leader – is essentially non-existent, making the practicality of her appointment somewhat confusing.

Meanwhile, there are shortages of chaplains in other faiths who need faith leaders in the military.

Tellingly, atheists have been unusually quiet about the newly minted military female Imam. While they frequently claim Christians are over-represented in the US military chaplaincy (and atheists are under-represented), they don’t seem bothered by the fact that the military has installed a chaplain who has essentially no adherents in the military to serve.

All that said, Jabeen’s role in the military can be celebrated – so long as the US military continues to advocate for the religious exercise of all of its troops, even those who hold beliefs that some may dislike.

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4 comments

  • Not only confusing, but frightening. Depending on which group she identifies with, can she truly uphold all values of military members?

  • Renee Lynn Reif

    wow. I can’t believe the shallowness here. Remember Father Mulcahey from M*A*S*H? He was himself, Catholic, but he served everyone equally to the best of his ability. To “minister,” a verb, means to serve. To tend to the needs of someone. You are looking at the world thru your own lense and refusing to consider life experiences and offerings of other people who are different from you.
    Furthermore, Susan K. Hisey’s statement is as ignorant and racist as it is shallow-I’m going to share Godless Engineer’s list:

    courtesy of Godless Engineer on Facebook:
    Hi y’all, KC here… just a few comments:
    1. Islam is bad. Not all Muslims are.
    2. Christianity is bad. Not all Christians are.
    3. Catholicism and priests molesting/raping kids is bad. Not all priests do this. But the Catholic Church does cover it up and anyone still supporting the Catholic Church is complicit.
    4. Various religions teach various things. Not all of them bad. However, the bad stuff they do teach influences its adherents and can easily motivate them to do things they would not otherwise do without that foundational influence.
    5. We can talk about all of these things at the same time. Sharing a terrible story of a crime motivated by one religion doesn’t mean the others aren’t also bad.
    6. Criticizing religion is not a “phobia.” Religion should be criticized and we will continue to do so.
    7. Social justice advocacy is important. We support social justice causes and will continue to advocate for the rights of minority communities, whether that be race-, age-, ability-/disability-, or sexuality-/gender-based and we hope that y’all will join us in that cause.
    8. This page is called Godless Engineer. We are atheists, not Christians. We are also not communists.
    9. Atheism is not communism. Atheism is not a belief system. It has no doctrine or dogma. It’s an answer to a question. That’s it.
    10. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

    seriously, especially right now, the biggest threat to America is white, Christian males-domestic terrorists, white supremacists. What’s worse? Many of them don’t have an actual organization or they are very loosely organized, making them dangerous and hard to track.

    The biggest thing you can’t seem to understand is that it is possible for people to minister to others, putting their own needs/beliefs aside while they are tending, regardless of belief system. Those who are called to be a chaplain, to minister (verb), are performing a service based on the Universal desire to do good for others-to help, to minister, to serve. Those “Golden Rules” are universal and not based on one religion or another. Those priests raping children… that’s not part of the Golden Rule and is not a moral act. Enslaving people-not under the Golden Rule in any belief system. Discrimination-NOT on the list of “Golden Rules.”

    I love what Samwise says in LOTR: “There’s Good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”

    The thing is, we define what’s worth fighting for. I would think that you would stand behind a female imam who is trying to serve others and stand against those who are genuinely trying to harm others, to make the world terrible for others.

    • @Renee Lynn Reif

      Susan K. Hisey’s statement is…racist…

      And that tells us you don’t know what the word “racist” actually means. Try looking that up and learning something today. Maybe then you can come back and explain. Once again, it is you that are dividing the world by race, not anyone here. The fact that you then go on to apparently support #6 on your list demonstrates your hypocrisy.

      chaplain[s]…are performing a service based on the Universal desire to do good for others-to help, to minister, to serve

      Given that you think Father Mulcahey — a fictional TV character — is a model, it’s understandable you don’t know what a military chaplain actually does — by law and military regulation. Consider researching the role of a military chaplain. You’ll find many articles here that discuss it as well. Then maybe you can come back with an understanding of why some people — including atheists — question installing a chaplain whose adherents number in the single digits.

    • @Renee Lynn Reif
      Did I hear you right when you said “Those priests raping children… that’s not part of the Golden Rule and is not a moral act.” Raping children is not a moral act to you? Wow, if that is true, you are really screwed up in the head and heart. How many children have you raped in your lifetime?? My main concern with female Iman is does she have any connections with the Muslim Brotherhood or CAIR, both which are radical Islamic organizations which have called for the death of all Jews and who also support Hamas, which is a terrorist organization.

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