Back to Focus

JBLM’s Imam one of eight Muslim chaplains in Army

Chaplain (Capt.) Aybu Laari is one of only eight Imams serving in the Army. Photo credit: U.S. Army

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Chaplain (Captain) Aybu Laari is a devout Muslim who believes that diversity and open-mindedness toward others should be embraced.

"If you are open-minded, you can respect and accept the views of others and believe that each and every other person has something to bring to the table," began the Imam assigned to 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division.

"I am a simple Muslim, and I decided to become a chaplain, or Imam, in order to support the soldiers I serve."

Laari's sense of service to others began by observing the hard work his parents did in order for him to receive a good education while growing up in Accra, Ghana.

"They had to toil and fend for me to educate me through high school to provide a symbolic key for the exploration of my world," he explained. "I grew up in the midst of diverse religions, and I attended a mix of Christian and Roman Catholic schools for my primary, middle, and high school education."

After graduation, Laari worked in order to continue his education. He attended King Saud University and earned a teaching certificate for non-Arabic speakers and an Arabic language and Islamic religious studies certificate. In 2005 he was awarded a Diploma of Religions from the University of Ghana, and he enlisted in the Army.

"I decided to join to share the knowledge I am endowed with, and to also advance my knowledge in higher learning to continue sharing the good things I have learned," Laari said.

For the next decade, he served as an interpreter/translator with 3rd and 7th Special Forces Groups. In 2013 he earned a BS from Park University; in 2015 he attended military chaplaincy school at Fort Jackson; and in 2017 he earned a master's degree in divinity with an emphasis on Christian-Muslim Relations from Hartford Seminary. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in instructional design at Liberty University.

"There are negative connotations circulating about Islam, and I wanted to contribute my share in presenting the positive about Islam," stated Laari.

With only eight Muslim chaplains in the Army, his life then became very busy while assigned to the 39th Transportation Battalion at Kleber Karsene, Germany.

"While in Germany, I was the only U.S. Army Muslim chaplain in the whole of Europe; I also traveled to Djibouti, Somalia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq, Norway, Romania, Hungary and Poland," Laari explained.

"Because I was the only Muslim chaplain in Europe, I had a lot on my plate.  Even until now, soldiers in Germany still seek support."

Arriving at JBLM in January 2021, Laari's commitment to serving soldiers continues. He recently held a celebration of Eidul-Adha (which honors the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to Allah's command) at the Evergreen Chapel Mosque with about 60 Muslim families.

"Currently, there is an influx of Muslim soldiers at JBLM as well as converts ... and I teach Islamic studies and Arabic language classes at the chapel on Saturdays from 10 am to noon. All are welcome."

comments powered by Disqus