ISNA Chaplaincy Services Department (ICSD)
ISNA’s Chaplaincy Services Department (ICSD) is dedicated to building leadership capacity among American Muslims by setting standards for leadership excellence, conducting educational and training programs to help community leaders meet those standards, and preparing and publishing guides, manuals, handbooks, and other material for enhancing leadership awareness and performance.
The Department functions as a nucleus of leadership development for the Muslim American community and offers a fully equipped facility to conduct occasional and regular programs to train chaplains, imams, youth, and community leaders. The center activities will include:
- Setting standards for imams and chaplains, and organizing training programs for them meet these standards.
- Granting certification and providing endorsement to Muslim chaplains.
- Conducting conferences, seminars, workshops, continuing education and other programs for the purpose of developing a new caliber of imams and community leaders.
- Preparing and publishing guides, manuals, handbooks, and other material for training purposes.
- Developing and distributing training aids including audio and videotapes, charts, kits and packages.
- Making and promoting training plans, motivate and help trainers, and carry out other activities to enhance the training dimension in human performance.
Organizing joint programs with various universities and colleges in North America.
What is our Guiding Principle?
The directors, staff, and consultants of CHAPLAINCY LEADERSHIP DEPARTMENT embrace, in all their activities and undertakings, the following principles:
- To respect the human and fundamental rights of all peoples, regardless of cultural, religious, national, or gender distinctions.
- To work for enhancing the well-being and welfare of all members of society, while opposing abusive and degrading social practices.
- To strengthen the institutions of civil society by supporting civic organizations and grass roots movements, both morally and logistically.
- To cooperate with organizations and groups committed to fighting bigotry and prejudice, and to oppose those involved in distortion, abuse, and injustice.
- To develop a culture of enterprise, creative and positive thinking, and mutual help and assistance.
- To nurture and project an attitude of hope, empathy, and trust, and to struggle for more equitable future for humanity.
- To promote participatory and responsible governance, and to encourage participation in projects aimed at promoting public good.
What An Endorsement Is Not
An ecclesiastical endorsement is not a letter of recommendation. Anyone or any mosque can write a recommendation. Only recognized ecclesiastical endorsing agencies can legally endorse. ISNA is one of these.
What An Endorsement Is
An ecclesiastical endorsement is a legal document that states that an individual is spiritually, doctrinally, educationally, and professionally qualified to represent his/her faith community in a specialized setting (beyond the local masjid) ministering to all in a religiously diverse context.
What is ISNA’s Application Process?
Before ISNA will endorse a chaplain, he/she must complete a very thorough application process. All applicants must document their basic background information, testimony (of beliefs and experiences), education, and professional experience. Next, ISNA will conduct a criminal background check as well as checking submitted references. The Chaplaincy review board will then interview chaplaincy applicants. In addition to all of the above requirements, the prospective chaplain will be instructed that he/she must agree to the Muslim Code of Ethics, and serve all people regardless of their ethnic, religious backgrounds, and moral values. This is quite a challenge to many, but if a brother or sister desires to be a chaplain he/she must agree, in writing, to be a servant to all, without discrimination. A more detailed description of the application process is below.
The Significance of An Endorsement
An endorsement is only good for a specific period of time, for a specific institution. At almost any time, for a variety of reasons, a chaplain can have his/her endorsement withdrawn and the brother or sister quickly becomes a “non-chaplain.” Further, if the chaplain does not perform to the high standards of chaplaincy or is guilty of ethical breech or felonious activity, he/she is likely to find their endorsement non-renewed, if not “pulled” (prematurely terminated) for cause. Ultimately, endorsement links all chaplains to their faith communities in matters of accountability and spiritual oversight. Thus, chaplains are continuously accountable to their endorsing agency, and to the institution of which they are a part.