Earlier this month, Malik Shakoor began his role as Muslim chaplain at Wesleyan University. Chaplain Shakoor grew up in Huntsville, Alabama and says he dreamed of being an NBA star. He would go on to receive various basketball scholarships in school and graduated from the University of Maine. At the age of 23, he converted to Islam.
As the son of a Presbyterian and an African Methodist, his conversion was met with some shock but the chaplain says that growing up around religion, he noticed discrepancies between what people preached and how they actually acted. And what Mr. Shakoor appreciated about Islam was the approach to action over words. “I read the Quran and it made sense to me. [I appreciated] listening to what the different scholars were saying, how they were saying how knowledge is about application and not just knowing but applying that knowledge.”
He says he has many ideas of how to bring the college community together at Wesley. “The key aspect is not just throw scripture or religion at them, but to find out what they have in common. People have a lot more in common than they think. They may like sports, they may like art, whatever [it] may be, but once they find people with different backgrounds and find out what they have in common, it gives them a better understanding and opens the door to who they really are.”