The Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Illinois at Chicago
Who Are We?
The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is the 5th most diverse campus in the nation, and maintains the largest Muslim population of any university in the city of Chicago. In a school with nearly 30,000 students, 15% identify themselves as Muslim – that means about 4,500 Muslims on campus. UIC’s weekly Friday prayers host nearly 500 Muslims, and UIC’s Islam Awareness week had nearly 700 attendees Masha’Allah.
The numerous Muslim students on campus face real issues, and they need a qualified leader and counselor to help them. Many students already turn to the UIC Muslim Student Association’s faculty advisor, who is a professor in Mechanical Engineering. Students have come to him to seek help with:
· Relationships with a person from the opposite gender
· Love interests and the pursuit of marriage
· Thoughts of suicide
Our professor and advisor has done his best, but he has made it clear that he neither has the time nor the training to help all of the Muslim students on campus who really need it. The Muslim community on campus needs a chaplain.
The UIC MSA has been serving Muslims on campus since 1966 and continues to be a strong force in the lives of students even today, 49 years later. For decades, the Muslim community in the United States has gone through different stages of lacking resources. When Muslims first came to this country, the vast majority of resources were wisely spent on building Mosques, a need which was soon met as we have seen the amount of Masaajid increase exponentially. Thereafter, the social emphasis came to the need of building scholarship in order to fill these Masaajid with capable, scholarly minds to lead the communities they built with their own hands. Today, with the culture of an “American Islam” becoming more apparent, the social emphasis turns to pastoral care. These chaplains, men and women who call to Allah with a balance between culture and the traditional Islamic Sciences, are already being employed all across the country. In hospitals, prisons, university campuses, and even branches of the American military.
The Muslim chaplain would have the potential to be:
- Counselor – Provide one-on-one counseling to students through personal struggles, emotional/psychological crises, and struggles with their practice of Islam.
- Mentor – Providing continuity in the midst of constantly changing student organization boards and mentor the Muslim Student Association and Muslims on campus.
- Advocate – Organize and participate in interfaith events and dialogues.
- Leader – Lead prayers on campus. facilitating the acquisition of an Islamic center with a prayer space on or near campus – the possibilities are really endless.
With an ever-growing Muslim community at UIC we need to build a foundation for future undergraduates and graduates at UIC as they are the leaders of tomorrow. The following are long term goals that we hope to acquire with the UIC Muslim Chaplain Insha’Allah:
- Offer balanced courses in Islamic Studies in the College of Religious Studies.
- Establish a formal department of Islamic Studies at the University.
- Acquire a Musallah (prayer space) near campus for the growing community.
- Establish an Alumni Association to create a network of registered Muslims throughout the years of UIC MSA in order to offer services for undergraduate and graduate community.
Step 1: Fundraising – As UIC is a public university, our organization has to raise all of the funds to hire and host a Muslim chaplain on campus. We are hoping to collect enough funds to offer a full-time position, but will likely have to initially start off with a part-time position.The salary of the chaplain in addition to office rent must be collected before employment is given. The following is a breakdown of the approximate cost based off a 5-year contract for a part-time position:
Step 2: Search Process – once funds are collected, there will be a search committee and potential application process to find a qualified man or woman who can best serve the Muslim community at UIC.
How You Can Help
1. DONATE to our campaign and support this cause!
2. SHARE this LaunchGood campaign with your friends and family on all your social media; Facebook, Twitter or by email and encourage them to donate and further share the word. Even if you can’t contribute, it doesn’t mean that you can’t help. The faster the word spreads, the faster we will reach our goals, Insha’Allah.
3. CONNECT with us on Facebook and stay up to date on the other ways you can help and learn about the progress of our project.
4. DUA is one thing our campaign will not function without. Keep us in your prayers!