IOK Chaplains Code of Ethics
IOK CHESS is a Public Service Collaborative for the region, combining IOK’s Seminary program and Chaplaincy Initiative with Professional Mental Health and Religious Counseling Services to bring public benefit to all Muslims across Southern California.
- Purpose of Code of Ethics
- Ethical Values and Principles
- Ethical Standards
- References and Authors
The Code of Ethics and the processes implemented to support it are motivated by concern for the safety and well-being of members and those whom they serve. Neither are intended to “protect” the association or its members from public scrutiny. Each is designed to guide the organization and its members in recognizing norms for ethical conduct and calling people to accountability when these norms are violated.
Ethical behavior is a justice issue, which is of utmost priority in Islam. Honesty about competency, clarity about professional roles, and the ability to articulate and keep appropriate boundaries while still entering into empathetic pastoral relationships are critical to public respect for and trust in the work of professional chaplains.
This code does not undertake to define standards of professional conduct of members for purposes of civil liability.
Furthermore, IOK recognizes that the development of ethical standards is an ongoing process and that it is not possible to cover every conceivable situation that may occur.
This Code, a living document, is meant to give expression to the basic values and standards of the profession and guide decision making and professional behavior. It also seeks to provide a mechanism for professional accountability while informing the public as to what they should expect from spiritual care professionals.
2) Purpose of Code of Ethics
The Institute of Knowledge (IOK) Chaplaincy Initiative maintains that all of its chaplains should follow an ethics that is firmly rooted in the principles and teachings of the Quran and based on the lived example of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him. We draw inspiration for our work from the statement of God in the Quran:
“He is the one who sent to the unlettered people a messenger from among them, reciting to them His verses, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and Wisdom.” (62:2)
And His statement:
“A Messenger from among you has come to you, he is troubled over your difficulties, concerned for your well-being, kind and merciful to the believers.” (9:128)
IOK Chaplaincy Initiative and its chaplains present the following Code of Ethics as a means by which there is clarity among themselves and the community as to some of the specific standards that fall under the general guidance of the ethical teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.
3) ETHICAL VALUES AND PRINCIPLES
IOK Chaplains shall seek to demonstrate commitment to these values and principles in relationships with those whom they serve, their colleagues and through conduct in their professional roles. In situations where chaplains are faced with conflicting obligations and ethical dilemmas arise, chaplains should take into consideration Islamic values and principles and the standards in this code that are relevant to any situation which requires ethical judgement.
The absence of an explicit prohibition against a specific kind of conduct does not mean that IOK considers such conduct to be either ethical or unethical. While the specific wording of these standards is important, the spirit and intent of the principles should be taken into consideration by those utilizing or interpreting this code of ethics.
Chaplains place service to others above self-interest. They draw on their knowledge, values and skills to enhance people’s capacity to change and to address social and spiritual problems with people in need, as a social and professional responsibility and public service.
Dignity and Worth of People
Chaplains believe in the dignity and worth of a person and make every reasonable effort to respect the dignity of those persons seeking their assistance and treat each person in a caring manner.
Chaplains are consistently aware of Islamic ethical values and principles as well as their profession’s ethical standards and strive to practice in a manner consistent with them. Chaplains behave in a trustworthy and responsible manner and promote ethical practices in their service.
Chaplains serve within their areas of competence and pursue ongoing personal growth, Islamic education and professional development in areas that enhance their professional proficiency and competency.
Diversity and Inclusivity
Chaplains are mindful of individual differences and strive to understand the diverse backgrounds of those whom they serve, recognizing their strengths. Chaplains offer services free of discrimination.
Confidentiality and Privacy
Chaplains safeguard the confidentiality of clients when using materials for educational purposes or written publication. They are expected to respect the confidentiality of information entrusted to them by clients except when disclosure is required for necessary treatment, granted by client permission, for the safety of any person or when required by law.
Chaplains understand the limits of their individual expertise and make referrals to other professionals when appropriate. IOK provides referrals to a mental health professional available for counseling and teletherapy services at our Diamond Bar location.
4) ETHICAL STANDARDS
Chaplains behave in ways consistent with IOK’s values and uphold the following ethical standards that are relevant to their professional activities.
1 – Chaplains’ Commitment to Self
1.1 Lifestyle and Work Ethic
Chaplains reflect personal love for God and fear of God in their lives and in their work. They actively
pursue the development and enrichment of their faith.
Chaplains maintain a lifestyle and work ethic that reflects their Islamic faith and they hold in trust Islamic traditions and practices. They strive to uphold and practice the things they teach.
Chaplains maintain self-discipline as a Muslim through establishing regular prayers and practicing required acts of worship, endeavoring to maintain wholesome family relationships, and engaging in educational and recreational activities that promote professional and personal development.
2 – Chaplains’ Ethical Responsibilities as Professionals
2.1 Commitment to Others
Chaplains understand that their primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of those whom they serve.
Chaplains promote dialogue in their teaching and counsel, understanding the interactive nature of counsel and advice. Chaplains invite engagement with those whom they serve, seeing the helping process as a partnership based on mutual participation.
Chaplains recognize the special authority granted to them and are aware of their influential position with respect to those whom they serve. Chaplains never use their authority in ways that violate the personhood of another human being and do not exploit the trust and dependency of such persons.
2.2 Islamic and Professional Development
Chaplains look to the Qur’an, the Prophetic model, authentic traditions, and established scholarly opinions in the understanding and transmission of the religion.
Chaplains take responsibility for continued Islamic and professional education to be better equipped to serve people and to perform their duties.
Chaplains maintain high standards of educational and professional competence and seek opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills and enhance the quality of Chaplaincy services.
Chaplains recognize the boundaries of their competence and refer questions and matters that fall outside of their religious and professional competence to others. Chaplains seek the advice and counsel of their colleagues and local leadership on issues that impact the greater community.
Chaplains obtain consultation and collaborate with professionals and other community resources in order to enhance the wellbeing of those whom they serve. They refer those whom they are not able to assist, whether due to lack of time, expertise or for personal reasons to professionals.
Chaplains present themselves based solely upon those services that they are qualified and trained to provide in their area of competence. They do no misrepresent their qualifications or imply that they have experiences or capabilities which they do not have.
Chaplains continually monitor their effectiveness as a Muslim Chaplain and take steps to improve when necessary.
Chaplains should not allow their own personal problems, psychosocial distress, or other mental health difficulties to interfere with their professional judgement as a Chaplain or to jeopardize the wellbeing of those whom they serve.
Chaplains whose personal problems, psychosocial distress or mental health difficulties interfere with their professional judgment and performance of responsibilities should seek consultation and take appropriate action by seeking professional help and making necessary adjustments.
3 – Chaplains’ Relationships with Clients
Chaplains maintain their commitment to promote the best interests of those whom they serve and do not exploit their position of authority to advance their own interests.
Chaplains avoid any situation that may be potentially harmful to those whom they serve or that may make it difficult for them to maintain appropriate professional boundaries.
Chaplains continue their relationship with those whom they serve only so long as it is reasonably clear that they are benefitting from the relationship. Chaplains do not create or foster dependency in their relationships with those whom they serve.
3.2 Cultural Awareness and Diversity
Chaplains strive to understand and recognize the diverse cultural and experiential backgrounds of the people soliciting or receiving their counsel or advice and endeavor to provide sensitive care.
3.3 Conflicts of Interest
Chaplains recognize that their relationship with any person they serve as a Chaplain supersedes any personal, family, or friendly relationship they may have with the person.
When Chaplains anticipate a conflict of interest (that interferes with their professional discretion) among the individuals receiving their service, or anticipate having to perform in potentially conflicting roles, Chaplains clarify their role with the parties involved and take appropriate steps to minimize any conflict of interest and protect the wellbeing of those whom they serve.
Chaplains recognize that their primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of those whom they serve. However, their responsibility to the larger community or specific legal obligations may supersede their relationship with those whom they serve on limited occasions.
3.4 Sexual Relationships
Chaplains recognize their Islamic obligation to refrain from any sexual relationship outside the institution of marriage. They avoid situations that might lead to sexual contact or a sexual relationship with persons seeking their assistance or with their family members, whether such a relationship is consensual or not.
Chaplains engage with students in spaces that are not intimate and private, as regulated by considerations of khalwa as understood by the scholars of our Islamic tradition. This applies to both female and male students.
Chaplains appropriately use technology to enhance service provision and to advance the work of their profession. They do not engage in inappropriate sexual communication through the use of technology.
Chaplains do not engage in sexual misconduct including sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or sexual harassment. Sexual harassment includes sexual solicitation; sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, written, electronic, or physical contact of a sexual nature.
3.5 Privacy and Confidentiality
Chaplains treat their meetings with those they serve with the utmost concern for confidentiality, recognizing the importance of trust within the helping relationship.
Chaplains may disclose confidential information when appropriate with valid consent or on the basis of a legal requirement. Chaplains inform those whom they serve about the disclosure of confidential information and the limitations to confidentiality set by civil laws and regulations.
Chaplains respect the client’s right to privacy and protect the confidentiality of all information obtained from all sources in the course of their service, except for compelling professional reasons when disclosure may be necessary. In these cases, Chaplains disclose the least amount of confidential information necessary.
Chaplains do not disclose identifying information when discussing clients with consultants outside of IOK unless the client has consented to the disclosure of confidential information or there is compelling need for disclosure.
Chaplains are encouraged to carefully document significant decisions regarding those whom they serve and handle all records in a manner that protects those served.
4 – Professional Relationships with Colleagues and IOK
4.1 Respect and Cooperation
Chaplains strive together with their colleagues to preserve the dignity, maintain the discipline, and promote the integrity of the chaplaincy profession.
Chaplains respect their colleagues and seek to collaborate with them and with colleagues of other professions to maintain interprofessional relationships and promote the well-being of those whom they serve.
Chaplains seek the advice and counsel of colleagues whenever such consultation furthers the interests of those whom they serve. When seeking counsel, chaplains should consult only those colleagues who have demonstrated knowledge, skills and expertise associated with the focus of the consultation.
Chaplains work cooperatively with chaplains of other faiths, respecting their beliefs and traditions as they respect those of the people they serve.
Chaplains who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should seek resolution by addressing any potential concerns with their fellow chaplains directly and internally before seeking redress elsewhere.
Chaplains do not take advantage of a dispute concerning a colleague to advance their own interests.
Chaplains do not involve those whom they serve in disputes with colleagues or engage them in inappropriate discussions regarding internal conflicts.
4.3 Handling of Complaints
Chaplains maintain professional integrity with their colleagues, IOK, and the campus they serve in handling formal complaints through the duly established process for addressing complaints.
Chaplains report any corrupt or unethical behaviors that they personally witness to IOK. Chaplains understand that in accordance with Qur’anic injunctions, IOK will not entertain an accusation or complaint against a Chaplain on the basis of hearsay. All formal complaints must be supported by testimony or written evidence.
Chaplains recognize that in the event a formal complaint supported by written or verbal evidence is filed with IOK, a task force will be appointed to verify the information, interview the chaplain against whom the complaint is made, and report its findings.
Chaplains will provide IOK with immediate notice of any complaint of unethical conduct made against them in a civil, criminal, or other professional forum.
All IOK chaplains are expected to adhere to this code of ethics and standards. Any issues or concerns can be directed to the IOK Administration. In consideration of the aforementioned, I recognize that if I am found in breach of this code it may result in disciplinary actions, including but not limited to, my removal from the program.
References and Authors:
This document was compiled and reviewed by:
Shaykh Nomaan Baig, Director of IOK
Shaykh Ahmad AlKurdy, Chaplaincy Coordinator
Maryam Ashraf, MSW
Meher Mohsin, MPA
The IOK Chaplaincy Code of Ethics draws from The Association of Muslim Chaplains (AMC) Code of Ethics and The Professional Chaplains Common Code of Ethics.
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