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ERIC Number: EJ764686
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-May-18
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1557-5411
A Call to Lead
Hamilton, Kendra
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, v23 n7 p28-31 May 2006
Imam Yahya Hendi came from afar--the occupied Palestinian Territories--to become, in 1999, the first full-time Muslim chaplain serving at a university in the United States. He is now the chaplain at Georgetown University. Rumee Ahmed, appointed earlier this year as Brown University's first Muslim chaplain, had a significantly shorter trip, moving to the Rhode Island campus from Silver Spring, Maryland. Both men are part of a small but gathering wave of Muslim chaplains whose work tending to the faithful makes them an essential part of U.S. institutions, including universities, hospitals, prisons and the military. By many accounts, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States, and very ethnically diverse. South Asians make up 33 percent of American Muslims, while 30 percent are Black and 25 percent are Arab. Just 7 percent of mosques are attended by only one ethnic group. While mosques tend to be financially well supported by their congregants--only 15 percent reported being in financial difficulty--they are not well staffed. Fifty-five percent have no paid, full-time staff. Only 10 percent have two full-time staff. Clearly, the need for Muslim religious leadership is great, says Hendi, adding, "It is up to the Muslim community to produce the right people, to produce the qualified men and women" to answer the need. Interestingly, the path to religious leadership in Islam appears much less rigidly demarcated than in other faiths. "Services are pretty egalitarian," says Ahmed. "There are five prayers a day, each one following a certain formula, and every Friday they have a small sermon and two cycles of prayer. But anyone can lead. There's no hierarchy. There's no clergy" in the sense of someone specially trained, anointed and ordained to the service of a god. The distinctly different paths traveled by Ahmed and Hendi offers some illustration of Ahmed's point and hints at the diversity of the men and women called to lead the American Muslim population.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia; Maryland; Rhode Island; United States