Magazine article Islamic Horizons

Ministering to Hearts

Magazine article Islamic Horizons

Ministering to Hearts

Article excerpt

Muslims in America have been ministering to the sick, people with special needs, and those undergoing hardship for many years now. However, most of them do not realize that such activities can be considered as chaplaincy or ministering. Not too long ago, such people would not have considered themselves "chaplains," for this word had a specific and limited meaning.

Indeed, visitors to prisons, among them students who had organized themselves on college and university campuses as the Muslim Students Association, helped many inmates seek a better future by turning to Islam. Among these converts are some who are still carrying on this decades-long tradition of ministering to the incarcerated. However, successful volunteer work and ministering to people with special needs requires both organized work and enhanced training and skill programs.

Over a decade ago, ISNA recognized the important role played by chaplaincy services and started endorsing Muslim chaplains to serve in the military, hospitals, universities, and correctional facilities. Providing such services has a twofold benefit: it helps fulfill God's command to serve the sick and those in need and makes the Muslim community more visible.

Today, Muslim chaplains are the public face of the Muslims' presence in the nation's civic life. More importantly, properly educated and trained chaplains have played a role in improving the understanding of Islam among inmates who have embraced Islam and in contributing to better inmate-administration relations. …

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