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 are the responsibilities of a chaplain?
Chaplains either perform or provide religious services as well as attend to other spiritual or pastoral care needs of those individuals charged to their care.
Performing Duties: As a Muslim chaplain, you would be responsible for organizing, and conducting all Islamic religious services (Salatul Jumu’ah, Janazah, and the 2 Eid Salah) for the Muslims within your designated institutional setting, i.e., hospital, prison, university/college or military.
Providing Duties: There would be occasions when you would be required to coordinate religious services with chaplains or religious lay leaders from other faith groups. This coordination could be to either participate in an inter-faith program or religious service, or assist a person from a another faith background by providing them with a chaplain from their own faith background.
Additional Duties: Chaplains are also responsible for the delivery of spiritual care to patients or clients, their family members and staff assigned to the chaplain’s area of responsibility.
What are some potential benefits of considering a career as a Chaplain?
One of the foremost benefits of becoming a Muslim chaplain, is the distinct honor and privilege of being a representive for Islam within the general society.
As an ambassador for Islam, and professional chaplain, you’ll have the opportunity to share and exchange your Islamic life experiences with colleagues from multiple faith backgrounds in a very collegial and non-threatening manner.
What does it take to be a good Chaplain?
To be a good chaplain, one would need to be a good role model. Always strive to follow the life example of Prophet Mohammed (SAS). Establish excellent interpersonal communication skills. Foremost being a good to listener. Be willing to be flexible, yet remain within the moral and spiritual boundaries of Al-Islam. Be willing to assist people with their worries, fears, hopes, and grief and to provide comfort, counseling, and spiritual guidance in response to their many issues. At times you work with people one-on-one, as couples or at times in small or even large groups.
Years of Experience and Salary
After spending several years in school and hands-on training, chaplains earn a livable wage that increases gradually over time, though it stabilizes and may even dip slightly later in the career. Other forms of compensation normally includes full benefits, i.e., health, life insurance, dental and vision insurance for the chaplain and eligible family members.
◾Entry Level: $44,883
◾Late Career: $52,021
The average military chaplain’s salary is higher, at $90,000 per year, with the top 25 percent earning more than $120,000 and the bottom 25 percent earning less than $42,000 per year.
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.
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.
I, as a Muslim chaplain, pledge to serve God in accordance with sound Islamic principles: compassion, service to humanity, sincere advice, equity, respect for human dignity, and justice; I will obey the Islamic teachings, love the Compassionate God with all my heart and soul, and serve the people who seek my help, counsel, and advice with compassion, sincerity, and integrity.
To affirm this commitment, I will abide by the ISNA Code Of Ethics for Chaplains by faithfully supporting its principles and purposes. As further affirmation of my commitment, I pledge to hold myself and my fellow Muslim Chaplains accountable for all public actions set forth in this Code of Ethics
I recognize that I have a responsibility to read, understand, and follow the Standards and Code of Ethics established by ISNA Chaplaincy Board.
I look to the Qur’an, the Prophetic model, authentic traditions, and established scholarly opinions to promote spirituality, goodness, compassion and justice. I will do my best to relate Islamic values and teaching to daily events.
I am committed to continue my Islamic and professional education to be better equipped to serve people and perform my duties. I will maintain high standards of educational and professional competence, and will actively strive to develop my knowledge and skills as a Muslim chaplain.
I recognize the boundaries of my competence, and will refer questions and matters that fall outside my religious and professional competency to others. I will seek the advice of the ISNA Chaplaincy Board in matters that have implications to the larger Muslim American Community
Personal Integrity, Development, and Trust
I will actively pursue my Islamic faith development and enrichment. I will seek not only personal integrity but also an integration of faith, work, and lifestyle.
I will maintain self-discipline as a Muslim in such ways as establishing regular prayer and required worship obligations, endeavoring to maintain wholesome family relationships, and engaging in educational and recreational activities that promote professional and personal development. I will seek to maintain good health habits.
I will hold in trust Islamic traditions and practices, and pledge to not exploit my authority and position to advance my own interest at others’ expense.
I will show personal love for, and fear of, God in my life and work, as I strive together with my colleagues to preserve the dignity, maintain the discipline, and promote the integrity of the profession to which we have been called.
I recognize the special power afforded me as an endorsed chaplain. I will never use that power in ways that violate the personhood of another human being, religiously, emotionally or sexually. I will use my office only for that which is best for the persons in my care..
General Attitude and Relationships
I understand as a Muslim chaplain in a multi-religious society that I must work along side chaplains of other faith traditions, promoting a fair and pluralistic environment.
I will personally respond to persons of other faith traditions who seek my service and counsel with the same respect and attention I give to members of my own faith tradition. I will seek to ensure equity of treatment and the well-being of those entrusted to my care.
I will promote dialogue rather than monologue in my teaching and counsel, understanding that the nature of counsel and advice is interactive, done with people rather than to people. I will invite engagement with others in my care, rather than passive receptivity, by asking for and listening to feedback
I will strive to understand and recognize the diverse cultural backgrounds of the people soliciting or receiving my counsel and advice. I will not condone or engage in discrimination based on age, color, culture, disability, ethnic group, gender, race, religion, marital, or socio-economic status.
I recognize my Islamic obligation to refrain from any sexual relationship outside the institution of marriage, and will not engage in sexual intimacies with persons seeking my counsel and assistance. I will avoid situations that might lead to a sexual relationship or result in sexual harassment.
I will work collegially with chaplains of other faiths, and will respect the beliefs and traditions of my colleagues and those to whom I counsel and serve. When conducting services of worship that include persons of other than my religious body I will attempt to draw upon those beliefs, principles, and practices that we have in common.
As a supervisor I will respect the practices and beliefs of each chaplain under my supervision. In recognition of their right to believe and practice their religion I will and exercise care not to require of them any service or practice in violation of their faith tradition.
I will seek to support all colleagues in ministry by building constructive relationships wherever I serve, both with the staff where I work and with colleagues throughout the military environment.
I will defend my colleagues against unfair discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, or national origin.
I will hold in confidence any privileged communication received by me during the conduct of my services. I will not disclose confidential communications in private or in public.
I will obtain permission from persons to whom I provide counsel before taking notes or electronically recording confidential information. I understand that I am responsible for securing the safety and confidentiality of any records I create, maintain, transfer, or destroy whether the records are written, taped, computerized, or stored in any other medium.
Accountability and Handling of Complaints
I will carefully adhere to all directives conveyed to me by my Islamic Endorser in order to maintain endorsement.
I will maintain contact with the Islamic Endorsing at all times, by current telephone and/or email information, or through conference calls, or any other communication channels as determined by my endorser.
I will avoid any and all activities that would harm the reputation and interests of the Muslim American community, my endorser, or my colleagues.
I will report any corrupt or unethical behaviors that I personally witness to both my Islamic Endorser, and to the appropriate institutional authorities. I further understand that following the Qur’anic injunctions; my Endorser will not entertain an accusation or a complaint against a chaplain on the basis of hearsay. All formal complaints must be supported by a testimony or written evidence.
I understand that in the event a formal complaint supported by a written or verbal evidence is filed with my Islamic Endorser, a task force will be appointed to verify the information, interview the chaplain against whom the complaint is made, and report its finding to ISNA Chaplaincy Board.
I will not make a public criticism of my colleagues, my endorser, or the agency I work for outside of the formal complaint process.
I recognize that any violation of the principles of this code of ethics needs to be handled beginning with the local level as applicable through the due process procedures available to the person or persons in question.
I realize and agree that my Endorser has the right to withhold membership and revoke certification from a person who has violated this code of ethics.
In order to endorse in the program of chaplaincy, there are a few requirements that are essential for both males and females to follow:
- The applicant must meet the minimum requirements of the specific branch of the military to which he or she is applying or the minimum requirements of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, university or hospital.
- The applicant meets general educational requirement, including a 120-credit hour baccalaureate degree and a Master of Religious Practice or its equivalent with at least 72 graduate-level credit hours.
- For the Chaplain Candidate program, we need an acceptance letter from a Seminary.
- The applicant has to demonstrate the moral integrity, maturity, and experience necessary to help him become an outstanding representative of his faith group in a pluralistic environment.
- The applicant must have an understanding and integration of Personal and Professional Boundaries.
- The applicant needs to provide the following documentation
- Contact information.
- Transcripts of all academic work
- A 10-15 page typed essay answering the questions on the application. These questions (attached) are designed to reveal the character and values of the applicant.
- Three reference letters from chaplains or imams concerning the applicant’s. Character and ecclesiastical qualifications to serve in the capacity of chaplain or imam.
Upon an initial review and approval, the applicant for endorsement as a chaplaincy candidate or as a chaplain has an interview with the ISNA Chaplaincy Services Department (ICSD) Director. If the candidate is deemed qualified but deficient in some area, additional documentation, reading, training, or other remedial action may be recommended and the endorsement deferred.