BHMF were asked last year to assist in the appointment of a new Muslim Chaplin for the NHS Trust Hospitals for Brighton and Hove and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
This included helping to advertise the position and forwarding a very senior qualified person to join the panel that eventually chose the new Chaplin. The whole process from start to finish took just over three months.
Why chaplaincy is important
Chaplains play an essential role and provide pastoral care and a ‘listening ear’ to people who may be in distress or who may need counsel. They support people in making personal decisions. They can also be instrumental in supporting vulnerable individuals, people who may be emotionally and mentally incapable of making a rational judgment or who may have ‘malleable’ personalities. This means that chaplains have key roles in providing support on issues such as bereavement, trauma, radicalisation and extremism.
Whilst they do not necessarily have to be Imams or Muslim religious leaders steeped in Islamic theological knowledge, chaplains must have the ability to understand their faith, explain elements of the faith and more importantly work with people through issues that they bring up. The creation of Muslim community chaplaincy roles in hospitals, prisons, universities and elsewhere is a particularly significant development in recent years. Whilst community chaplaincy roles have been in existence in other faith communities, recent developments mean that it is starting to develop momentum within Muslim communities.
Faith Matters believes that today, this profession is largely ignored in its importance in a world in which people are affected by growing emotional, technological, spiritual, monetary and physical pressures. This report tries to address this and to promote a discussion around Muslim chaplaincy framed on the four key areas outlined above.
The genesis of this consultation was also based partly on encouraging Muslim communities to support the work of chaplaincy within sectors like Her Majesty’s Prison Service and universities. The work was also driven by consultations between DCLG and Muslim communities over the last four years and the objective to strengthen Muslim faith leadership.
This work takes a holistic approach to chaplaincy and in particular provisions 6
for this important role within Muslim communities. This profession should not only be seen through the lens of supporting vulnerable people who may be prone to extremism. Recent newspaper reports and the consistent flow of information about the radicalisation of young Muslims must not be projected onto all Muslims, particularly when the vast and overwhelming majority of the work of Muslim chaplains does not relate to radicalisation or extremism related matters.
The variety of activities undertaken by chaplains means that some of our most talented and able young people take up the challenge and they will need further community support in their work in the future. Chaplains can act as moderators, as mediators and as individuals who can place things into context for people who may have lost hope for the future of their lives.