With a sponsorship from IIIT, Cordoba House, in partnership with Hartford Seminary, has successfully launched the Muslim Leadership Training Program in New York City in spring 2016. The vision for the program is to train moderate, forward-thinking, and spiritually well-versed leaders. The program provides a foundation of practical skills and the knowledge required for individuals to confidently guide and lead within their communities. Through five Saturday workshops the attendees learned to conduct religious services, address challenges, and provide relevant solutions for Muslims living in contemporary America. In addition, attendees gained the skills to serve as bridge-builders with other faith traditions.
Cordoba House president Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, with an experienced team of instructors, trained a select group of 20 participants, 12 of whom will be receiving academic credit from Hartford Seminary. The workshops were divided into two parts: I. Leading Congregational Prayers and Delivering Effective Sermons, and II. Skills for Muslim Ritual Life.
Joshua Salaam, Youth Director of the Adams Center in Virginia, and moderator Timur Yuskaev of Hartford Seminary, engaged attendees on the best practices and strategies for effectively writing and delivering khutbahs. Imam Zakir Ahmed, a current Hartford Seminary graduate student and New York City imam, along with Imam Feisal, instructed attendees on how to preside over Muslim life events such as Nikah (marriages), Janazah (funerals) and Aqeeqah (child naming). In addition, Cordoba House invited two guest instructors, Dr. Khalid Rehman, a senior medical Oncologist, and Erhan Yildirim, a Muslim funeral home director and official NYPD liaison officer, to engage attendees on lessons and experiences of end of life medical care and funeral and burial procedures.
The workshops seek to enhance the capability of aspiring and emerging Muslim leaders to take ownership and responsibility to positively guide their communities. The program will continue over the course of one year until spring 2017. Future workshops include: A Practical Introduction For American Muslims To Understanding Shariah Law (Fall 2016), Leading With Islamic Spirituality (Spring 2017), and Engaging the Interfaith Community & the Media (Spring 2017).
2016 – 2017 Course Syllabus
WORKSHOP SERIES C – Fall 2016
Islamic Law: Fundamentals and its Relevance to American Muslims
Workshop One: Fundamentals of Shariah Law: Methods and Approaches (October 29, 2016)
Workshop Two: Islamic Law in the Context of America (November 5, 2016)
Workshop Three: The Roadmap Ahead: Developing an American Fiqh (November 12, 2016)
This series of workshops will provide students with a substantive understanding of the objectives of shari’ah law and the development of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). During the course of the workshops, students will learn the differences between shariah law and fiqh, and review different schools of thought. After reviewing key texts that have shaped Islamic jurisprudence, instructors will moderate a dialogue on the guiding values that are inherently common in both shariah law and American constitutional law, such as the well-being of a nation’s citizens, and the challenges. From this discussion, students will explore the concept for an American Muslim fiqh, and how community members can best integrate the values of shariah with a modern American lifestyle.
WORKSHOP SERIES D – Spring 2017
Leading with Islamic Spirituality
During this workshop series, students will explore the origins and development of Islamic spirituality (tasawwuf), and the practices of purification (tazkiya). By learning about how a person can spiritually progress through the disciplines of self-purification (tazkiya), including exploring salat, dhikr, and fasting as established by Prophet Mohamed (PBUH). Students will gain a sensitivity for leading and assisting others in their personal journeys towards spiritual development.
While exploring the practices and values intrinsic to Islamic spiritual development, students will acquaint themselves with shared values inherent in other major faith traditions and communities in the United States. These values will be used as a basis for learning about successful interfaith dialogue and partnerships. Through robust discussions with interfaith leaders, students will identify the unique challenges facing American Muslims, and how lessons learned from interfaith experiences can assist in building a stronger American Muslim community.