Faith Tradition

Muslim Chaplaincy

Muslim Chaplaincy has been an active field in the United States since the 1970s. The first Muslim chaplains were primarily from among the Muslim African American communities and served in the capacity of prison and military chaplains. In the 1980s the need for programs that provided formalized training for chaplains and imams that gave students an opportunity to both gain depth in Islamic knowledge and the practical skills of chaplaincy work gradually began to be addressed. American Islamic College (AIC) attempted to create educational degrees that provided this type of learning in the early 1980s and the Graduate School of Islamic Social Sciences (GSISS) emerged in the 1990s with the mission of providing formalized training for imams and Muslim chaplains. The first Muslim Navy chaplain was appointed in 1997 through a joint MDiv degree between AIC and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). After these initial efforts changed direction, Hartford International University for Religion and Peace (HIU; formerly Hartford Seminary) established a program in Islamic Chaplaincy in 1999.

Currently, there are three programs in Muslim chaplaincy operating in the United States. They are at HIU, which provides a 48 credit MA in Islamic Studies followed by a 24-credit certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy. These combine into a 72 credit MDiv equivalent. American Islamic College has an Mdiv in Islamic Studies with a focus on Muslim chaplaincy as a part of its Muslim Chaplaincy Program. Bayan Claremont also has an MDiv program in Islamic chaplaincy taught online and in hybrid format by visiting instructors. Additionally, Boston Islamic Seminary and The Islamic Seminary of America (TISA) are among the many emerging schools currently in the process of formalizing their own programs in Muslim chaplaincy and imam training.

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Institutions offering academic degrees and other credentials in Muslim chaplaincy include the following:

Opportunities to pursue CPE in a Muslim context are also increasing:

  • Lab partner Wellspring Chaplaincy Initiative provides micro grants to individuals from Muslim communities that are currently serving as hospital chaplains or are pursuing their CPE to become a healthcare chaplain. These micro grants can be used for CPE unit fees, to attend chaplaincy conferences, or similar educational opportunities related to healthcare chaplaincy. Visit Wellspring for more information.
  • Those interested in pursuing such training immediately could begin by contacting Ziyara Muslim Care Services; further resources will be listed here as they become available.

The field of Muslim chaplaincy is continually evolving. Developments include: