I'm hearing that Nancy Khalil will no longer be the Muslim Chaplain at Wellesley College. I'm further hearing that Najiba Akbar is slated to walk into that position, with no open announcement or competition for for job. That's a little odd, innit?
Phyllis Chesler raised a few questions about the former Muslim chaplain here last October. Ms. Khalil was known as a big proponent of hijab. According to several Wellesley Muslim students, there was strong peer pressure in the Wellesley Muslim student group to wear headscarves and cover up. Otherwise, you were not considered a “real Muslim.” Another student reported being told "not to run and not to laugh too loudly" at an Al-Muslimat weekend retreat. At Wellesley, Hillary Clinton's college, imagine a woman being told this! The former Wellesley chaplain routinely took her students to the ISB mosque and she studied under the ISB's imam Basyouny Nehela. Will the next Muslim chaplain also be an advocate for the ISB?
Najiba Akbar (seen in this photo) is reportedly married to Bilal Kaleem, the Executive Director of MAS Boston. As I've mentioned before, the Islamic Society of Boston and the Muslim American Society are esentially the same organization, sharing funding, directors and office space. The ISB/MAS organization works hard to establish itself as the voice of Massachusetts Muslims. But not all Muslims are happy about the "Muslim mafia" and their monopoly on leadership in local Islamic organizations. If it's true that Ms. Akbar is going to simply assume a vacant chaplain position at Wellesley College, then it appears that the ISB/MAS is further spreading their tentacles, putting their people in positions of power at prestigious local colleges. Is this some sort of dynasty?
Why woulnd't Wellesley publicize this position in the open job market? Why wouldn't the MAS/ISB send out an e-mail announcement of this vacancy at Wellesley? They send out job openings - both religious and secular - all the time, but I've not heard a peep about the vacancy at Wellesley. Is Ms. Akbar the most qualified person for this position? Why doesn't the college advertise and have an open competition? Who funds that position? Are there requirements for a transparent hiring process - with equal opportunity for all - in hiring chaplains at Wellesley?