A History of Chaplaincy
The Muslim Chaplaincy at Syracuse University was started in 1985 by Shaikh Ahmed Nezar Kobeisy who was Imam at the Islamic Society of Central New York Masjid (Mosque). Through his efforts, SU started serving halal meals on order at Shaw Dining Hall, and a campus wide Eid holiday was included in the Syracuse University calendar for many years, distinguishing Syracuse from nearly every other institution of higher education. This holiday was later affected by removal of all religious holidays. Prior to his arrival, SU had already established a Muslim Students' Association room that provides space for prayers, meetings and studying. Hendricks Chapel, the religious and spiritual center of campus, had installed wudu (ablution) areas for men and women.
Once at the forefront of providing services, facilities, and spiritual leadership to Muslims in its campus community, Syracuse University has in recent years fallen behind similar institutions. Once looked to for its best practices in providing adequate accommodations for Muslim students, Syracuse University is lagging behind as these universities have moved beyond the physical needs (i.e. prayer area, wudu facilities and halal food arrangements) to meeting the spiritual, educational and cultural needs of their Muslim students, creating positive interactions with student of other faiths, and active participation in interfaith dialogue.
With a recent completion of renovations to the Muslim prayer room and wudu areas in Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University has reaffirmed its commitment to Muslim students. Now is an opportune time to take the next step toward institutionalizing a position that would provide Muslim students with much needed support. There is no better time than right now to make history once again. Support the services the Muslim Chaplaincy provides!
Syracuse University has about 200 students who self-identify as Muslim and expects to enroll a total of 500 Muslim students over the next several years. Currently, the Muslim student body has members representing nearly 28 different ethnicities from around the world. In recent years, SU Chancellors have made the Gulf region a priority for student recruitment, opening an office in Dubai and establishing an Alumni Club in Istanbul to help raise regional visibility and boost enrollment in this critical “geography of opportunity.” Syracuse University continues to maintain strong connections with several of its extraordinarily successful Middle Eastern alumni, whose ongoing support for the University has generated invaluable scholarship and engagement opportunities for SU students and faculty. We value this legacy and hope to build on it as our presence in, and outreach to the Middle East, Turkey, North Africa, and Asia continues to flourish and grow.
Beyond campus, an estimated 10,000 Muslims call Syracuse and the surrounding region their home. The Office of Muslim Student Life and its related initiatives would deeply enrich and provide opportunities for engagement with this extended community. While the number of Muslims is increasing worldwide, ignorance about the tenets of Islam continue to plague our post 9/11 world. Being a part of Syracuse University, we are uniquely positioned to correct these fallacies and replace barriers of fear with bonds of mutual friendship and respect. The Muslim Chaplain fills a critical need and is accessible to students on a daily basis, acting as a facilitator of quality Islamic education and a provider of counseling and positive mentorship. More importantly, the Muslim Chaolaincy empowers youth to foster healthy and meaningful Muslim identities. The Muslim Chaplaincy provides a personalized approach that each individual, seeking enrichment or assistance, needs.