Second Lt. Saleha Jabeen, chaplain candidate, hugs a friend after being commissioned into the Air Force, Dec. 18, 2019, at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Jabeen was endorsed by the Islamic Society of North America to become the first female Muslim chaplain in the Department of Defense. (Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)
The Air Force made history last month by commissioning 2nd Lt. Saleha Jabeen as the first female Muslim chaplain candidate in the military. Though the commission marks a new chapter in American military history, it is only the latest in a long spiritual journey for Jabeen that started 14 years ago, when she first came to the U.S. as an international student from India.
At the time, Jabeen thought she would earn a Masters of Business Administration and make her mark in the corporate world, Jabeen wrote in a blog post for the Muslim American Leadership Alliance. But after experiencing bigotry and prejudice in the U.S., Jabeen realized she wanted to study Islam to better understand her identity as a Muslim.