The New Role of Muslim Chaplains

HARTFORD, CONN. - When Trinity College students return to their snow-bitten
campus next week, for the first time they will discover a Muslim chaplain
working there.

Sohaib Nazeer Sultan is one of only a handful of Muslim chaplains at
colleges and universities across the country.

But as the number of Muslim college students continues to grow - along with
the desire to understand religious and cultural complexities at play in a
post-9/11 world - more schools are hiring Muslim chaplains.

Mr. Sultan is a slight man with a soothing demeanor. In khaki pants, a navy
tunic, and square, dark-rimmed glasses he could easily pass for a young
graduate student.

In many ways, he seems older and wiser than his 24 years. He has already
written a book - "The Koran for Dummies" - published last year. He speaks
of the need to create a culture not just of tolerance, but of acceptance.
He sees his job as a Muslim chaplain as a divine calling.

Yet he's also down-to-earth, self-deprecating, and compassionate when he
discusses the many obstacles - both spiritual and secular - that young
Muslims on their own for the first time are likely to encounter.

In 1999 Georgetown University hired Yahya Hendi - the first full-time
Muslim chaplain at an American university. Today, the Muslim Students
Association (MSA) estimates that 14 institutions of higher education
provide for a Muslim chaplain


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