On Sunday evening, March 17, 2013, the Hartford Seminary community and guests from across Connecticut and the nation celebrated the successful completion of funding for an endowed faculty Chair in Islamic Chaplaincy. The Chair is currently occupied by Dr. Timur Yuskaev, Assistant Professor of Contemporary Islam and Director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at the Seminary.
The lead gift for the Chair, of $1,000,000, was made by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon, Virginia. Established in 1981, IIIT is a private, non-profit, academic, cultural and educational institution concerned with issues of Islamic thought and education. “Islamic Chaplaincy embodies the threefold mission of IIIT to encourage worship, community, and service, and there is no better place for this Chair to be established than at Hartford Seminary, which shares our commitment to these priorities,” said Dr. Abubaker al-Shingieti, Executive Director of IIIT, in remarks at Sunday’s event.
Another significant donation to campaign for this Chair came from the estate of the Revs. Jane and William Inderstrodt, alumni of Hartford Seminary.
The Islamic Chaplaincy program at Hartford Seminary was begun in 2003 to prepare Muslims for chaplaincy positions in hospitals, prisons, universities and the military. It remains the only accredited such program in the United States, and graduates have been named to positions in many such institutions across the United States, most notably at Yale University, Williams College, and Princeton University.
“IIIT and Hartford Seminary have established a productive, creative and effective relationship which is advancing the vitality and impact of Muslims in this country, and this most generous gift to the Islamic Chaplaincy Chair dramatically embodies that relationship and our shared mission,” said Heidi Hadsell, President of Hartford Seminary. “To now have an endowed Chair to oversee the program ensures that Hartford Seminary will continue to be the unrivaled leader in equipping Muslim chaplains long into the future.”
Following the President’s remarks, a panel reflected on the current state of Islamic chaplaincy and its challenges and prospects. Members of the panel included Dr. Abubaker and Dr. Yuskaev, Mumina Kowalski, a graduate of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary and currently the Secretary of the Assocation of Muslim Chaplains, and Tricia Pethic, a current student in the Islamic Chaplaincy program and chaplain at the University of Hartford and the federal women’s prison in Danbury, CT. The panel was moderated by Dr. Saleem Bajwa of Holyoke, MA, former Trustee of Hartford Seminary and long-time supporter of the Islamic Chaplaincy program at the Seminary.
Dr. Bajwa’s introductory remarks acknowledged the visionary leadership of Dr. Ingrid Mattson, founder of the Islamic Chaplaincy program and former Director of the Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary. Dr. Mattson is currently Chair of the Islamic Studies Program at the University of Western Ontario.
About Hartford Seminary
Founded in 1833, Hartford Seminary has had a commitment to interfaith dialogue for more than a century. The Seminary equips individuals and religious institutions to provide leadership that is faithful, contextually sensitive and open to dialogue with other faith traditions. Students graduate prepared to contribute more fully to a culture of dialogue and creative leadership in their civic and faith communities locally, nationally and abroad.
About the International Institute of Islamic Thought
The International Institute of Islamic Thought is dedicated to the revival and reform of Islamic thought and its methodology in order to enable the Muslim community to deal effectively with present challenges, and contribute to the progress of human civilization in ways that will give it a meaning and a direction derived from divine guidance. The realization of such a position will help the Muslim community regain its intellectual and cultural identity and re-affirm its presence as a dynamic civilization.
The Institute promotes academic research on the methodology and philosophy of various disciplines, and gives special emphasis to the development of Islamic scholarship in contemporary social sciences. The program endeavors to elucidate Islamic concepts that integrate Islamic revealed knowledge with human knowledge and revives Islamic ethical and moral knowledge, through education, teaching and support of scholarly research.
IIIT aspires to conduct courses in order to promote its objective to reform Islamic thought, to bridge the intellectual divide between the Islamic tradition and Western civilization. In its teaching and selection of teachers and courses, IIIT endeavors promote moderation, inter-faith dialog and good citizenship.
About Islamic Chaplaincy
The Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary is a 72-credit program (the only such accredited program in the United States) that combines academic study and practical training. The Islamic Chaplaincy Program consists of two components:
Integral to the rationale for the Islamic Chaplaincy Program are core strengths of Hartford Seminary which include: