Islamic Think Tank Awards Hartford Seminary $1M Gift

A theological college known widely for its research and resources has been awarded a one million dollar gift from an Islamic think tank to help endow a professorship in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations.

Announced Tuesday, the gift to Hartford Seminary will allow the Connecticut school to "continue - and expand - our leadership education programs for chaplains and imams," reported Hartford President Dr. Heidi Hadsell.

"Hartford Seminary is truly honored to be the recipient of this generous gift, which shows the commitment of IIIT to both education and service to the American Muslim community," she added after announcing the gift from the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Va.

Presently, Hartford Seminary's Islamic Chaplaincy Program is the only accredited chaplaincy program for Muslims in the United States. The program, which started ten years ago, educates chaplains for service in the military, colleges, prisons and hospitals.

According to the non-denominational school, many of the religious needs of Muslims are being addressed through the aforementioned institutions.

In Monday's announcement, IIIT Vice President Dr. Jamal Barzinji said the Islamic think tank was impressed with Hartford Seminary's dedication to educating and preparing chaplains and imams for leadership in their professions.

"An endowed chair will help expand and enhance these programs," he added. "Establishing endowed chairs in American academia is in line with IIIT's goal of promoting scholarship in the study of Islam in America."

According to Hartford, the first holder of the endowed chair will be Dr. Timur Yuskaev, assistant professor of Contemporary Islam and director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program.

In his remarks, Yuskaev said his particular emphasis will be on "contributing to Hartford's impressive record of working with Muslim congregations and organizations, in the local area and beyond."

Hartford, in cooperation with IIIT and its Fairfax Institute in Herndon, Va., has begun a pilot Graduate Certificate in Imam Education that will prepare Muslim religious leaders for service in mosques and community agencies throughout the Greater Washington, D.C. area.

Hartford Seminary's Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations is the country's oldest center for such study.

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