Muslim chaplaincy in the United Kingdom (UK) is fairly new and particularly in higher education (HE). Currently there is no study of what Muslim chaplains do and what the result of their actions is. The lack of a formally defined practice means Muslim chaplains often just do chaplaincy as they experience it. According to a news article on Muslim chaplains, "Chaplaincy is a rapidly expanding sphere of work for Muslim religious professionals in the UK, but we know very little about the work and role of these chaplains" (BBC, 2011). There are no clear guidelines of how Muslim chaplains work, and little attention has been paid to what Muslim chaplains bring to HE. No study has been undertaken to establish what Muslim chaplains do in HE.
The development of Muslim spiritual leaders to support Muslims living as minorities in a non-Muslim plural country is a new phenomenon of modern times. Therefore, not much has been written about it. However, it is questionable whether it would be appropriate for anyone to offer pastoral and spiritual care without appropriate knowledge and skills. Muslims come into chaplaincy in public institutions without a history, narrative or experience of public sector pastoral support. Understanding what Muslim chaplains do is important due to the contribution Muslim chaplains make, which will contribute to broader discussions about enhancing the student experience. Furthermore, recognising how Muslim chaplains work will help consolidate new knowledge that will help improve effective performance, thereby improving Muslim chaplaincy practice.
Muslim chaplaincy work needs to be better defined in order to know if Muslim chaplains have done their work well. Clarification about chaplains’ work would ensure energy and effort is well placed, thereby ensuring their work is finite, useful and rewarding, rather than being ill defined and diffuse, and therefore demoralising.
In this regard, the Association of Muslim Chaplains in Education (AMCed) is developing training for Muslim chaplains in HE to enhance chaplains’ competence and to develop a framework for Muslim chaplaincy work.
The three-year ‘Training of Muslim chaplains’ project commenced in April 2014 and will end in April 2017. The outcomes of the training are: a training manual, online resources, continuous professional development, and networking Muslim chaplains.
The project has three phases and the first phase of scoping, needs analysis interviews and developing standards is coming to an end. The second phase is the development of four modules, online resources, continuous professional development and preparing delivery of training throughout the regions. The third phase is delivery of the training, evaluation, writing the training manual, and a summative report.
For further information on Muslim chaplaincy in high education, AMCed or the development of the training contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Asgar Halim Rajput is a Muslim Higher Education chaplain at Brunel, Goldsmiths and Roehampton universities.
Image from bbc.co.uk, available in the public domain.