Charisma Caucus

A Muslim Is About to Minister to the Spiritual Needs of 14,000 Soldiers

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz will become the U.S. military's first-ever division-level chaplain, a job that tends to the spiritual needs of 14,000 mostly Christian soldiers, later this summer. (Sgt. Jasmine Higgins/U.S. Army)

Later this year, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz will become the nation's first division-level chaplain—responsible for the spiritual well-being of 14,000 soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington state—who is Muslim.

Most of those soldiers he will be responsible for ministering to are Christians.

Just how out of the ordinary would this be? According to Military Times, although there are about 8,000 Muslims in the military—constituting about one-quarter of one percent of the nation's armed forces—there are just five Muslim chaplains in the Army and 10 total in all of the branches. The newspaper also published a little background about the chaplain:

Michael Barnes, a devout Christian raised in Louisiana, converted to Islam and took the name Khallid Shabazz. He said he felt a deep connection with the tenets of Islam, such as the absence of clerical hierarchy and the focus on charity.

Shabazz's conversion to Islam initially did not go over well with his family. Now, they tease him about praying on time and they make him a special gumbo—minus the pork.

Shabazz also emphasizes that such gestures must go both ways.

"I do still go to church with my family—that's an important part of reaching across the aisle," he said. "It would be improper for me to disrespect something that instilled in me so much of who I am."

Shabazz has now served 26 years in the Army, including 18 years as a chaplain. Over the years, he has counseled scores of soldiers, the majority of which have sought assistance for alcoholism and relationship problems. Some have refused to work with Shabazz because of his Muslim faith, but Shabazz says it doesn't bother him, and that he lives by the chaplain's motto of "perform or provide."

But even if Shabazz is a former Christian, how can a predominantly Christian community of soldiers be led by a non-Christian chaplain? It's an issue rarely explored by theologians, but it would seem fraught with spiritual peril for everyone involved.


To contact us or to submit an article, click here.


Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.

Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!

  • Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
  • Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
  • God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
  • Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
  • HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!

Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for Only $24.97 and get a free gift. With your subscription, you'll receive Born For Significance by best-selling author Bill Johnson. View Offer

Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details

Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective