Tucker Center hires Abdul Rahman Latif as the Dartmouth community’s first Muslim chaplain
Following the departure of the College’s last Muslim adviser, Latif hopes to provide support for Dartmouth’s Muslim community and create an inclusive space for all students.
Last fall, Abdul Rahman Latif joined the William Jewett Tucker Center for Spiritual and Ethical Living as Dartmouth’s first Muslim chaplain, according to a press release published by the College on Nov. 18. Latif, who is also serving as the associate director of the Tucker Center, will work with Tucker Center director Reverend Nancy Vogele ’85 to provide spiritual care for the Dartmouth community.
According to the press release, Latif has a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and is currently working towards his PhD in Religion at Columbia University. Latif said that he has served as the Affiliate Campus Minister for Muslim Students Association at Boston College and also as the academic advisor for the Boston Islamic Seminary Academy Program — now the 'Iqra Academy'.
Reverend Vogele said that the former Muslim spiritual adviser, Khalil Abdullah, left the College in the summer of 2021, which left the Muslim community at Dartmouth without a spiritual advisor for over a year. Latif added that although “students spoke very highly of Khalil,” his departure, combined with the lasting impact of COVID-19, left Muslim students with a “chunk of time without community.”
Al-Nur Muslim Student Association board member Aimen Abdulaziz ’25, said the last year was a “very rough time” because “the community was almost falling apart.” He added that much of this was due to COVID-19, as well as the challenges that students faced without their own advocate to the College’s administration.
According to Abdulaziz, the addition of a Muslim Chaplain gives the opportunity for Muslim students to have their voice heard by Dartmouth’s administration.
“The administration was not aware of what Muslim students wanted, but this year [now] that Abdul Rahman is here that has changed,” he said.
Abdulaziz said that since Latif’s arrival at the College, his advocacy resulted in the addition of prayer rugs in the new Academic Skills Center and Student Wellness Center’s wellness room in the Berry Library. Abdulaziz emphasized the importance of a space to pray in the library especially in the winter, when it is difficult for students to go anywhere else.
“A Chaplain is someone who serves essentially a pastoral role, usually in a college setting or a hospital setting,” Latif said. “A lot of my role is trying to bring people together, trying to foster a sense of community and belonging for them, and then also provide education and support.”
According to Latif, some of the ways that he has been building community have been through hosting “religious learning circles,” as well as discussion circles about “intellectual” topics that are not necessarily religious. In addition, Latif said he has organized weekly socials to provide an alternative safe space for students on campus, and he serves homemade chai and various other teas at his weekly office hours, which are “overflowing” with students.
Latif said that he organized the attendance of 26 Dartmouth students at the annual Ivy Muslim student Association Conference at Yale, which took place between Nov. 4 and 5, 2022. Reverend Vogele said that Dartmouth, despite being the smallest Ivy, had the second most students in attendance behind Yale.
According to Vogele, something that Latif focuses on is fostering a sense of community and making Muslims and non-Muslims from all different walks of life feel included. She added that “he’s very proactive” in asking “‘who is not here?’” and “‘how can we make people feel comfortable?’”
“You know, students might identify in certain ways that they think, ‘oh, Islam doesn't want me,’” Vogele said.”He wants to make sure that they know they're welcome.”
Abdulaziz said that Al-Nur has been more involved in the Muslim community with the support of Latif. He added that Latif tries to hold “as many events as possible every week” to make it easier for students to get involved with Al-Nur.
Abdulaziz added that something he personally likes about Latif is that he “really cares about everyone” and explained that Latif will personally reach out to students and individually greet attendees at the door.
“Although Dartmouth’s slogan is a ‘voice in the wilderness,’ I’m here to help that be a prophetic or comforting voice, and not just students screaming in the woods,” Latif said.