By Tracy Simmons
Kudos to Hartford Seminary for once again being a leader in interfaith scholarship.
The institution announced this week that it’s launching a Graduate Certificate in Imam and Muslim Community Leadership. This is the first program of its kind offered specifically to imams and other Muslim leaders in the U.S. Christian clergy and lay leaders have constant opportunities to enhance their education, but until now U.S. Muslim leaders haven’t had an academic setting to further their leadership skills.
According to a press release, by the end of the program, students will be “better prepared to encounter the theological, pastoral and organizational challenges of providing excellent religious leadership to the growing Muslim community in the U.S.” And, according to the Washington Post, most American mosques are led by imams from overseas who aren’t fluent in English. They speak Arabic and have memorized the Koran — the sole requirements of imams in most Muslim-majority countries. So, to have a theological setting where imams can go and learn more about American culture is crucial.
“It is vitally important to prepare religious leaders to lead their faith communities in the American context. Hartford Seminary is a key player in this effort, through our various interfaith initiatives and now through this certificate in community leadership,” President Heidi Hadsell said. ”For more than 100 years we have offered education in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. In the last decade we have launched Islamic Chaplaincy and Building Abrahamic Partnerships programs. Now we are meeting the educational needs of imams and Muslim community leaders in the United States.”
I think this program is genius and I’m not at all surprised that our very own Hartford Seminary is behind it. The certificate is offered in cooperation with the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, VA.