“Migration as a global phenomenon calls for a collective effort of all faith communities ”
The Department of State works with six faith-based agencies to place Muslim refugees around the country. Hence, church communities in the United States are currently at the forefront in working with refugees. This mostly voluntary work is necessary and laudable. However, it still falls short in providing holistic care to these families. Many of the clergy and parishioners are less literate in terms of religious and cultural sensitivities. Most basically, they begin this work without any significant diversity training. Therefore, they face obstacles in engaging as care-teams with their assigned Muslim families. In addition, they also know little about the history of Christian-Muslim engagement within the context of global migration. This history provides insights with regards to the empowerment of Muslim immigrants but also to some of the pitfalls that might be caused by either side – receiving or arriving communities.
Lastly, the volunteers do not have sufficient Islamic theological resources available that explicitly inform the Muslim migration process. This would enable them to support these families spiritually and affirm their Muslim faith seriously as an empowering resource. A significant lack of Muslim scholarship in the newly emerging area of immigration theology is largely to be blamed for this predicament. In order to serve Muslim immigrants more holistically, one needs to be also well-educated about the particularities of the Muslim faith, history, culture and practices. This project aims to develop a resource that equips those Christians – lay, clergy and academics – who minister to Muslim newcomers. The research will primarily focus on areas of history, theology, law and spirituality and hence provides a rounded assessment of key issues related to Muslims and immigration. Selected academic resources in these areas will be investigated and then utilized for articulating a constructive discourse on Islam and immigration.