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Muslim chaplains

A project investigating the role of Muslim chaplains in the UK.


Muslim chaplains have been working in institutions within the UK, such as prisons, hospitals, universities and the military for over a decade now. But who becomes a Muslim chaplain in Britain, and why? What Islamic traditions and scriptures are utilised in their training and practice?

Aims and objectives

Using a range of qualitative research methods, and with the cooperation of Markfield Institute of Higher Education (which offers a ‘Certificate in Muslim Chaplaincy’), the project sought to answer some of the following questions:

  • Who becomes a Muslim chaplain, and how does the career trajectory of chaplains change over time? What kind of educational, religious, or social capital do chaplains bring to their work
  • What do Muslim chaplains do? What kind of practices do they use, how do they spend their time, and how is the role performed differently by men, women, or by part-time or full-time chaplains?
  • How do chaplains navigate their way through the politics of their institutions, the wider chaplaincy community, and the broader politics of Muslims in Britain? What are the enabling and constraining structures that are shaping the development of their roles?
  • What is the wider potential deriving from the employment of Muslims as chaplains? To what extent does their role impact on ideas about religious leadership in mosques and other Islamic centres? How are their skills and professionalism informing debate about the role of imams?

The project team


Ali, M. M. and S. Gilliat-Ray (2012). Muslim Chaplains: working at the interface of ‘public’ and ‘private’. Muslims in Britain: Making social and political space. W. Ahmad and Z. Sardar. London, Routledge: 84-100.

Gilliat-Ray, S. (2010). “Body-works and fieldwork: Research with British Muslim chaplains.” Culture and Religion 11(4): 413-432.

Gilliat-Ray, S. (2011). “‘Being There’: the experience of shadowing a British Muslim Hospital Chaplain.” Qualitative Research 11(5): 469-486.

Gilliat-Ray, S., M. M. Ali, et al. (2013). Understanding Muslim Chaplaincy. Aldershot, Ashgate.

The Future of Muslim Chaplaincy in Britain – one-day conference 22 September 2011

Conference papers

Prison Service Chaplaincy, Annual Training Programme for Muslim Chaplains, Wakefield, 11th March 2010
AHRC/ERSC ‘Religion and Society’ Innovative Research Methods Conference, London, 29/30th March 2010
Royal Holloway, University of London, Muslim Youth Seminar Series, 28th April 2010
Religious Authority and Muslim Chaplaincy, Dutch Association for the Study of Religions, October 2010 (keynote lecture)


Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray

Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray

Professor in Religious and Theological Studies (Study Leave 2021/2)

+44 (0)29 2087 0121