Muslim Chaplains Research Project


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?  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:

Aims and objectives

  • 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 22nd 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)

The Project Team

Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray (Cardiff University) Principal Investigator
Prof Stephen Pattison (Birmingham University) Co-Investigator
Revd Stephen Roberts (St Michael’s College, Llandaff, Cardiff) Consultant
Dr Ataullah Siddiqui (Markfield Institute of Higher Education, Leicester) Consultant
Dr Muhammad Mansur Ali (Cardiff University)

For more details please contact:

Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray
Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK
School of Religious and Theological Studies
Cardiff University
Cardiff CF10-3EU
Tel: 02920 876125