Naijla R. Faizi has joined the Office of the Chaplain as director of Muslim life programming. A Wake Forest graduate, she succeeds Imam Khalid Griggs, an associate chaplain who served the University’s Muslim community for 17 years.
At Wake Forest, Faizi will provide support for Muslim students, faculty and staff. She will coordinate religious services, holy days and educational events, and supervise the Muslim Students Association.
“As a Muslim alumna of Wake Forest, I experienced the challenges of being a hypervisible Muslim woman on campus who was simultaneously rendered invisible by the public discourse on Islam which often prevented my fellow peers from engaging with me directly,” Faizi said. “It was the support of Imam Griggs, allied faculty and staff, and my friends in the Muslim Student Association who ultimately helped me grapple with these challenges and develop a sense of belonging. Now, as the director of Muslim life programming, I hope to cultivate safe spaces at Wake Forest for Muslim students, faculty, and staff to engage intellectually with Islam, express a diversity of personal identities, and build a vibrant campus community. “
At Wake Forest in 2014, Faizi received a bachelor of arts degree in religious studies with minors in international studies and Middle East and South Asia studies. She also studied at the University of Jordan in Amman, where she took courses in Arabic and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
As a student, she served as president of Wake Forest’s Muslim Student Association. Faizi was involved in organizing more than 30 campus-wide events focusing on faith-based issues in the media, Islamophobia and diversity within Islam. Some of her other efforts included collaborating with the University’s Admissions Office to boost Muslim enrollment and establishing relationships with leaders from other campus religious organizations to develop ongoing service projects.
Since graduation, her work experience has included stints with the Asian American LEAD organization in Washington, D.C., and the AmeriCorps VISTA for Education program in North Carolina.
She succeeds Imam Khalid Griggs, who has become well known on the campus community as a member of the staff led by Chaplain Tim Auman. Griggs, who is the Imam of the Community Mosque of Winston-Salem, recently decided to change his relationship with Wake Forest because of his new role as vice president of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). Auman said that Griggs will continue informally as an advisor to the Office of the Chaplain.
An event will be held in the fall semester to express the University community’s gratitude for Griggs’ extensive service on campus.