Tuesday, May 20, 2008

To Be Closer to God

By Jeffrey Thomas, "Muslim Chaplaincy Student Wants to Help the Poor, Homeless" - News Blaze - Folsom, CA, USA
Friday, May 16, 2008

For a large part of her life, Ra'ufa (Sherry) Tuell was a very devout Christian, not someone recognizable as a future student in a Muslim chaplaincy program who intends to work with the poor, the homeless and the battered.

But 15 years ago, Tuell found herself leaving her church and searching for something she could not define, she said in an interview.

"It was a good period of growth, but very, very difficult. I came to the end of myself, so to speak, or the end of the search, and found myself crying out to God, and shortly after that I found myself at an introductory evening on Sufism."

Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, appealed to her. "Sufism is like the bee that pollinates all the flowers," she explained.

"The first in that continuum of coming closer to God or the creator Allah is the conversion experience and coming into the realization that we are a created being and that there is a creator and the maturation process is surrendering and becoming righteous or right with God.

And then it progresses, like any maturation process, spiritually - everything grows," she said. "As a Sufi, I only want to be closer to God."

Sufism led Tuell to enroll in the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.

In the United States, chaplains are often members of the clergy, but they also can be lay people providing spiritual advice and care in settings as various as colleges, prisons, hospitals and the military.

Hartford Seminary offers the only accredited Islamic Chaplaincy Program in the United States. The program has two components.

The first, a master of arts degree with a concentration in Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations, is designed to train students in Islamic religious thought and practice, historical and contemporary perspectives on Islamic societies, and theological and social interaction between Islam and Christianity.

The second component, which results in a graduate certificate, seeks to develop skills a chaplain needs for pastoral care and multifaith relations.

(...)

Previously, Tuell had done lay chaplaincy work and taught Sufism in prisons. As part of her program at Hartford, she expects to spend a year as an intern chaplain in a hospital. After that, she said, "I have a strong urge to work as an interfaith chaplain with the poor, the homeless and the battered - those who have fallen between the cracks of society and are unwanted and uncared for."

"I see myself as an interfaith person," she added. "I believe that we're all the children of Allah, that there is only one creator, and Allah is very diverse in manifesting creation, and I find great beauty and depth and richness in the various ways of coming into relationship with the creator - whether it be Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam."

Tuell's brother, sister and son have been supportive. "My parents have both passed away in the last five years," she said. "Most of my friends are like me: they're either Sufis or they are so spiritually oriented that they can't help but support a practice that is about love and service for others."

"To me, true Islam is love and service to others in need. It's the pouring out of ourselves to others in service to Allah," she said.

[Picture from: ICP Hartford Seminary. Visit the Islamic Chaplaincy Program Web site http://macdonald.hartsem.edu/chaplaincy/index.htm].

1 comment:

darvish said...

May Allah bless her soul and guide her rightly. Ameen.

Such a lovely soul, the story filled my heart with gladness.

Ya Haqq!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

To Be Closer to God
By Jeffrey Thomas, "Muslim Chaplaincy Student Wants to Help the Poor, Homeless" - News Blaze - Folsom, CA, USA
Friday, May 16, 2008

For a large part of her life, Ra'ufa (Sherry) Tuell was a very devout Christian, not someone recognizable as a future student in a Muslim chaplaincy program who intends to work with the poor, the homeless and the battered.

But 15 years ago, Tuell found herself leaving her church and searching for something she could not define, she said in an interview.

"It was a good period of growth, but very, very difficult. I came to the end of myself, so to speak, or the end of the search, and found myself crying out to God, and shortly after that I found myself at an introductory evening on Sufism."

Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, appealed to her. "Sufism is like the bee that pollinates all the flowers," she explained.

"The first in that continuum of coming closer to God or the creator Allah is the conversion experience and coming into the realization that we are a created being and that there is a creator and the maturation process is surrendering and becoming righteous or right with God.

And then it progresses, like any maturation process, spiritually - everything grows," she said. "As a Sufi, I only want to be closer to God."

Sufism led Tuell to enroll in the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.

In the United States, chaplains are often members of the clergy, but they also can be lay people providing spiritual advice and care in settings as various as colleges, prisons, hospitals and the military.

Hartford Seminary offers the only accredited Islamic Chaplaincy Program in the United States. The program has two components.

The first, a master of arts degree with a concentration in Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations, is designed to train students in Islamic religious thought and practice, historical and contemporary perspectives on Islamic societies, and theological and social interaction between Islam and Christianity.

The second component, which results in a graduate certificate, seeks to develop skills a chaplain needs for pastoral care and multifaith relations.

(...)

Previously, Tuell had done lay chaplaincy work and taught Sufism in prisons. As part of her program at Hartford, she expects to spend a year as an intern chaplain in a hospital. After that, she said, "I have a strong urge to work as an interfaith chaplain with the poor, the homeless and the battered - those who have fallen between the cracks of society and are unwanted and uncared for."

"I see myself as an interfaith person," she added. "I believe that we're all the children of Allah, that there is only one creator, and Allah is very diverse in manifesting creation, and I find great beauty and depth and richness in the various ways of coming into relationship with the creator - whether it be Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam."

Tuell's brother, sister and son have been supportive. "My parents have both passed away in the last five years," she said. "Most of my friends are like me: they're either Sufis or they are so spiritually oriented that they can't help but support a practice that is about love and service for others."

"To me, true Islam is love and service to others in need. It's the pouring out of ourselves to others in service to Allah," she said.

[Picture from: ICP Hartford Seminary. Visit the Islamic Chaplaincy Program Web site http://macdonald.hartsem.edu/chaplaincy/index.htm].

1 comment:

darvish said...

May Allah bless her soul and guide her rightly. Ameen.

Such a lovely soul, the story filled my heart with gladness.

Ya Haqq!