U.S. Navy Muslim Chaplain Ministers to Prisoners in Cuba

February 3, 2002

Source: Los Angeles Times

On February 3, 2002, the Los Amgeles Times reported that "Navy Lt. Abuhena Saif-ul-Islam has [an] assignment with no historic precedent: to provide spiritual guidance and comfort to the captured Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters being held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba... Although the detainees have been described as boiling with anger at America and Americans, Saif-ul-Islam finds them mostly confused and anxious about the future... 'They're pretty consistent in seeking God's help' he said. 'The Koran says God helps those who are patient. They're very patient. Five times a day they are praying to God to forgive them and to help them. They say, 'If I am guilty, let me know my punishment''... After Sept. 11, Saif-ul-Islam and other Muslim chaplains and chaplain assistants were given a new assignment: explain Islam to troops who know little about the ancient faith, and rebut Osama bin Laden's assertion that Islam condones violence and terrorism... An estimated 4,000 Muslims serve in the military. The Army commissioned its first Muslim chaplain in 1993, followed soon by the Navy. The Navy provides chaplains to the Marine Corps."