Farwa Shakeel is a sophomore at Ithaca College and is spearheading a campaign to create a new position for an on-campus Muslim religious leader or chaplain, and already has the full support of the school’s Catholic, Protestant and Jewish chaplains. Though the Muslim population at Ithaca College is said to be small, Ms. Shakeel makes the point that since Islam is a quick growing religion in America, the college should have representation ready and already in place. To date, there is not even a Muslim student group or club on campus.
Ms. Shakeel suggests an imam could be brought to the college through a fellowship program, as a faculty member, or as a permanent imam to take the position. With a stable religious leader on campus, Ms. Shakeel believes that Muslim students will be able to have a sense of community and will be able to practice their faith on campus. She also believes that having a religious leader on campus would show the Muslim community that the school has their support. “I think right now in the political environment, it’s important for the college to support their students,” says Ms. Shakeel.
The Ithacan reports that “the presence of Muslim faith leaders on college campuses is growing across the country. Schools such as Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as approximately 40 other private universities in the country, have hired Muslim chaplains to support college Muslim communities.”