NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–This summer, the Center for Islamic life of Rutgers University (CILRU) moved from its small office on 60 Sicard Street to a new location at 122 College Avenue in New Brunswick.
The organization is the product of an endless commitment from the Muslim alumni of Rutgers University. Though the idea for CILRU started out in the late 1970’s as platform for the Muslim community to come together, it is only recently secured an on-campus location.
After several unsuccessful attempts, the CILRU was finally established and incorporated in 2010. In 2016, the CILRU became the first organization of offer a full-time Muslim chaplain at a public university in the United States.
According to Rutgers University, the CILRU filed in 2011 to create a Muslim chaplaincy, at which time the group began raising funds for the position, reaching its goal of $150,000 in 2016.
The CILRU received its 501(c)3 tax-exempt status from the Internatl Revenue Service (IRS) in March 2013 and started their humble beginning on Sicard Street.
The CILRU co-ordinates and supports many student organizations on campus, particularly serving the five self identified Muslim organizations
"Our service is not just limited to the Muslim organizations," said Kaiser Aslam, who became CILRU's chaplain after coming to Rutgers from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
Aslam's office opened in March 2017 to co-ordinate the programms and activites of CILRU, and he hosts about 20 student appointments a week, far more than the number he saw at his prior position.
Under his leadership, CILRU also conducts several weekly student gatherings.
Limited staffing and funding pose challenges for the organization, which needs funds to support their growing programming, and future renovations to cater to the many spiritual needs of the Muslim community.
The CILRU is not allowing the challenges its facing to hold them back, as they develop programs for Rutgers students that could be inculcated in the normal academic curriculum.
More information about CILRU is available at www.cilru.org.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.