Hartford Seminary

Profiles in Chaplaincy

Sohaib Sultan is the Imam & Muslim Life Program Coordinator at Princeton University. We spoke to him briefly about his experience in the Islamic Chaplaincy Master’s program at Hartford Seminary.

"The Islamic Chaplaincy Program

In what setting do you plan on, or are currently, using your Islamic Chaplaincy degree (i.e. hospital, military, education, corrections)? Please expand on your current roles and responsibilities as a Chaplain in your particular setting.

I’ve used my training at the Hartford Seminary to work on college campuses as a university chaplain. For the last seven years I’ve been at Princeton University. My responsibilities as the university Muslim chaplain are manifold. Every day is a new day with its own set of joys and challenges. My work is divided into six converging categories: organizing Muslim worship and devotion on campus; counseling and advising students on the myriad of questions and challenges they face from religion to relationships; advocating for the religious needs of Muslim students on campus and representing the Islamic faith when necessary at official university functions; teaching non-academic personal enrichment classes on the Islamic tradition; and, lastly, working closely with other faith chaplains to foster inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.   

What should prospective students know about Hartford Seminary and the Islamic Chaplaincy program?

The Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary is a really unique and outstanding program. If you want to learn how to be a religious leader who can apply theology and ethics in the real lives of real people, then the seminary is for you.

Please click here to continue reading about Sohaib and his time at Hartford Seminary.

Taqwa Surapati graduated from the Muslim Chaplaincy program in MayTaqwa Surapati cropped of 2014 and is a Healthcare Chaplain at Stanford Hospital as well as a volunteer chaplain at Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California. We had a conversation with her about her experience as a Muslim Chaplaincy student at Hartford Seminary.

What sets the Hartford Seminary environment apart?

The setting: a community of learners, fellow Muslims from different parts of the country and diverse backgrounds. You have to live and learn together despite differences. There is a big cohort of Muslim students each year, that I hope we continue to grow as an educated society.

The faculty: highly professional and qualified senior lecturers, where you learn not only from classroom and discussion times, but from their respectful attitude and love towards one another in social settings. I have never seen any other faculty members behave with such beautiful conduct as our role models.

The curriculum: rigorous and complete, especially for the MA and Islamic chaplaincy. Not every seminary or theological school demands such complete mastery and understanding with weekly reflections! It gave me confidence and in-depth understanding preparing me to work as a chaplain.

The community: an interfaith community within the institution is a good way to train open communication in the real world.

To read more about Taqwa, her work, and desire to study at Hartford Seminary, please click here.


Former Chaplain to the Muslim Community – Smith College

Saima Malik (staff at the ICP): Would you please share some background information about yourself and the work that you are involved in?

I have worked in community service in some form or another for many years, from being a criminal investigator in Mississippi to my current position as a Psychotherapist and Chaplain at Smith College, Northampton, MA. I’m blessed to be able to do the two things I love most, dawah and psychotherapy. I began my work as the Muslim Chaplain in 2000 as adjunct faculty to the Office of Chaplains. After the events of September 2001 my role as Muslim Chaplain was expanded.

My educational background includes a B.A. in Social Welfare/ Sociology from the University of New Haven in West Haven. CT. I earned my Master of Social Work degree from Smith College Social for Social Work.

Read more of this interview


Muslim Chaplain at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy, PA

Saima Malik (staff at the ICP): Would you please share some background information about yourself and the work that you are involved in?

Since 1999, I have been the Muslim Chaplain at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy, the first woman to work in this capacity in the Pennsylvania state system. Located in the north central sector of the state, this prison is the largest facility for women in Pennsylvania, with approximately 900 females incarcerated at five levels of security, including capital cases.  Read more of this interview



Associate Chaplain at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA

Saima Malik (staff at the ICP): Would you please share some background information about your qualifications and the work that you do?

I am an Associate Chaplain at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA. To be a chaplain at any clinical setting one must possess a Masters degree in religion or theology. Also, one must take units of CPE or clinical pastoral education, which are closely orchestrated counseling sessions at a hospital accredited to teach in this function. I am close to finishing my degree at Hartford and I have had CPE at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Fl. This has all been very rewarding indeed. I have been working at the Children’s Hospital for about three years now and loving every minute of it despite its ups and downs. Read more of this interview


What is a Chaplain

A chaplain is a professional who offers spiritual advice and care in a specific institutional context, such as a military unit or a college campus, hospital or prison. Although chaplains often provide religious services for members of their own faith communities, the main role of a chaplain is to facilitate or accommodate the religious needs of all individuals in the institution in which he or she is working.

Chaplains often serve as experts on ethics to their colleagues and employers, providing insight to such diverse issues as organ transplantation, just-warfare, and public policy. Professional chaplains do not displace local religious leaders, but fill the special requirements involved in intense institutional environments.

Thus, a Muslim chaplain is not necessarily an “Imam,” although an Imam may work as a chaplain. There is a need for both male and female Muslim chaplains. For example, female Muslim students on college campuses or hospitalized Muslim women may feel more comfortable with a Muslim woman chaplain.

To learn more about becoming a chaplain see our Frequently Asked Questions section.

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