The U.S. Army is sending a strong message with their new division-level chaplain: A Muslim.
Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz is the first division-level Muslim chaplain in Army history, and he’ll be overseeing the spiritual needs of over 14.000 mostly Christian soldiers, according to McClatchy.
Shabazz said that when he received the news of his promotion in January, he was “running around the office saying, al hamdulillah, al hamdulillah, praise be to God!”
Shabazz was born Michael Barnes to a devout Lutheran home in New Orleans. He considered himself a Christian growing up, but after he lost a religious debate to a Muslim in his early Army years, he decided to study Islam.
He changed his name to Khallid Shabazz when he converted to Islam. He later became a chaplain after finding it difficult to abide by his religious dietary restrictions while being a soldier.
For 18 years, Shabazz has served as a non-division-level Muslim chaplain, and he feels he’s able to minister to the spiritual needs of soldiers, even if they’re not Muslim.
“Because I have the language from my days as a Christian, I can give them Scriptures from the Bible, and that doesn’t violate my religion,” he explained.
He added, “My job is not to convert anybody to Islam. God guides people. My only goal is to have people leave my office stronger than when they came in.”
But others wonder how truly effective he can be in helping Christians spiritually when he does not believe in the same ruler on the universe.
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