While still in a Muslim chaplain training program at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit and volunteering at a local hospital early last year, Hajj Reyad Mallad was asked to fill a challenging role many others face gaining similar experience: visit the family of a dying patient.
When the Canton Township man entered the room, he found a group of relatives gathered around the bed with Bibles, praying. They asked him to recite a prayer, which is typical of the chaplains -- often Christians -- who offer spiritual support during difficult times.
After the last entreaty, Mallad said, the group was "just floored" to learn he was a Muslim. "They said, 'Muslim people pray like that?' " he recalled. "They were so receiving of me. ... Three or four of the women were in tears."
More enlightening encounters are expected since Mallad completed the chaplaincy program, which prepares area Muslims to spiritually counsel people of various faiths at hospitals, nursing homes, jails and other settings.
It was spurred by increasing requests for Muslim chaplains, said Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, president at the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren who helped launch the program and is an instructor. "The need was definitely there. There's need simply because of the huge presence of Muslims in southeast Michigan." (Read more)