Understanding cultures: Muslim prison chaplain charts new territory

He’s a commercial pilot who moved to Canada for more flying opportunities, but recently Khaled Al-Nahar has been filing a completely different type of flight plan.

Khaled Al-Nahar

WINNIPEG — He’s a commercial pilot who moved to Canada for more flying opportunities, but recently Khaled Al-Nahar has been filing a completely different type of flight plan.

The native of Amman, Jordan, and decade-long resident of Winnipeg is now the first chaplain hired by Manitoba Justice to minister specifically to Muslim prisoners. Contracted for two days a week, he divides his time between the Headingley Correctional Centre and the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

“Being a Muslim and being born overseas, I have the Islamic values and the cultural values,” says Al-Nahar, 39, of what he brings to the position. “I understand the cultural differences.”

The father of two young children says he’ll juggle his new job with his ongoing responsibilities as office manager for the Manitoba Islamic Association and his geography studies at the University of Manitoba. Although this job won’t get him up in the air, his experience as a pilot won’t be wasted, he says.

“You’re taking responsibility for yourself and people on board and people on the ground,” he says of what is expected of a commercial pilot. “It’s not an easy task and you have to have good judgment. You’re a team player at one point and at another point you have to make a decision and be responsible for it.”

Those team-building skills are useful in working with prisoners and their families, says the chaplaincy co-ordinator for Manitoba Justice.

“Life experience is critical and reflection skills are critical and even more the ability to empathize with people who are marginalized and hurting,” explains Bernie Mullins of the abilities required for prison chaplaincy. As the first Muslim chaplain in the Manitoba prison system, Al-Nahar hasn’t had the same educational opportunities and clinical training as Christian chaplains, but he will be offered ongoing skills training, Mullins says.

Initially, the position is funded only until March 31, 2010, but Mullins has recommended it continue into the next fiscal year.

In addition to one-on-one visits with Muslim inmates at both institutions, Al-Nahar will also advise Manitoba Justice on issues specific to the growing Muslim population behind bars, says Mullins, including dietary restrictions and religious duties such as praying five times a day.

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month