In September 2012, the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto hired Amjad Tarsin, Canada’s first full-time Muslim chaplain. More than a year later, many say that Tarsin has greatly enhanced the Greater Toronto region’s Muslim community.
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Tarsin grew up in Malaysia and Saudia Arabia in addition to the U.S. He graduated from the University of Michigan and planned on going to law school, but eventually turned to the Hartford Seminary Islamic Chaplaincy Program. It was important for him to give back to his community by affecting it positively.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Tarsin to get some more insight on his work.
He explained to me how serving university students became his main focus because of his own college experience. He described how the university setting allowed him to connect with his own religion. Tarsin wants to make sure that other students get to experience the same thing.
“Chaplaincy is focused on the emotional, mental and spiritual health of people,” he says. This was one of the major objectives of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and very important to Tarsin.
Since young people are looking to make sense of their faith, Muslim chaplaincy then becomes an important service in contemporary society, where not all settings are mindful of Islam. Students and youth need someone who they can to turn to for answers—someone with the right training and credibility. Tarsin is that someone.
His job is multi-faceted due to its complex nature. He conducts one-on-one counseling sessions, holds seminars that focus on the life of the Prophet (pbuh), runs a beginner’s class on ‘Being Muslim,’ and chairs a weekly, student-led discussion called “Soul Food.”
When I asked him what the highlight of his career is, Tarsin responded by saying that it‘s the chance “To be able to see someone increase in the love of Allah and His Messenger (pbuh), and to be able to facilitate that.”
I also asked him to give some advice to our readers: “The Prophet (pbuh) said the best actions are those that are most consistent, even if little.”
The Muslim Chaplaincy has recently launched their “#30Lives Campaign” to improve the sustainability of their programs. Check it out at www.mcuoft.com/30lives/