Islamic Faith Basics
Islamic Faith Basics

Islam at BenU

Nearly one in four traditional undergraduate students (24 percent) at Benedictine University are Muslim, according to a 2016 survey. This may be the largest percentage of Muslim students to compose a university’s student body in the United States, according to the Chicago Tribune. The University welcomes diversity and respects all religions, and strives to meet the needs of all faith adherents including Muslims.

Benedictine has an active Muslim Student Association and a dedicated Muslim faith advisor, Ali Yurtsever, Ph.D., who was appointed by University President Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D., M.F.A., in August 2016. 

Practicing Islam at BenU

Regular and Friday Prayers

Regular prayers can be held in the Interfaith Prayer Room located in Kindlon Hall, Room 136. It is a place for the adherents of all religions. Students must be mindful about keeping the space welcoming for all.

For Muslim students and staff, Benedictine has designated the Intercultural House in the Founders’ Woods Apartments community as a venue for Friday prayers. Friday prayer is scheduled between 12:00-2:00 P.M., which was purposely selected as the best time to avoid conflict with academic activities. University administrators and faculty are to try not to schedule important activities during this time.

Muslim Holidays

Benedictine University’s policy for religious observances requires students to submit requests in writing to their professor or instructor by the end of the first week of class.

Ramadan

May 27-June 25, 2017

Eid ul-Fitr

June 26-29, 2017

Hajj

August 30-September 4, 2017

Eid ul-Adha

September 2-5, 2017

Muslim and Interfaith Student Organizations

Muslim Student Association

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at BenU provides education on Islam to the University community through informational meetings, events and participation in interfaith dialogue sessions. 

The MSA meets monthly during school semesters from 12:30 – 1:20 p.m. Thursdays in Tellabs Lecture Hall, Room 112 in Birck Hall. New members are always welcome.

Catholic Muslim Dialogue

A Campus Ministry program, Catholic-Muslim Dialogue was developed by Rita George-Tvrtkovic, Ph.D., associate professor of Theology, and gives students of both faiths an opportunity to come together to share their experiences, ask questions and discuss some of the global issues that are often shaped by religious doctrine.

The group meets bi-weekly over a shared meal in a safe and hospitable space for students to share their beliefs and develop bridges of understanding with one another. Past topics have included homeschooling, interfaith marriages, Islamophobia, vocation and easily misunderstood customs. Though kept intentionally small to foster true conversation and community, once a semester Catholic-Muslim Dialogue hosts a Fishbowl conversation that is open to the entire campus community.

For more information about joining Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, visit Campus Ministry or contact Kathryn Heidelberger, campus minister, coordination of ecumenical and interfaith engagement, at (630) 829-6336 or kheidelberger@ben.edu.

Muslim Faith Advisor: Ali Yurtsever, Ph.D.

As the first Muslim faith advisor at Benedictine University, Ali Yurtsever supervises the Muslim Student Association and organizes lectures, seminars, conferences and meetings. He advises members of the University community on Islam-related matters and other social issues, and helps recruit Muslim students.

Yurtsever attends classes (with invitation from faculty) to inform students about Islam-related issues and answer questions. He also uses his network across the world to create exchange programs with universities overseas and represents BenU at meetings organized by Islamic institutions across the country.

Yurtsever earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physics at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey; a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Ege Üniversitesi in İzmir, Turkey; and a Master of Arts in Management at Fatih Üniversitesi in Istanbul, Turkey.

He has taught and completed research at Fatih Üniversitesi, Florida International University, Georgetown University and The Catholic University of America. He was the president of the Rumi Forum for Interfaith Dialogue in Washington, D.C., from 2004-2009. In 2009, Yurtsever was invited to Chicago to help revive the American Islamic College (AIC), after the institution lost its operating and degree-granting authority. He served AIC president from 2012-2016. When he stepped down as president in August 2016 to join Benedictine, AIC was in its highest academic and financial standing since its inception.

News articles on the University’s growing Muslim student population and programs:

Small Catholic university, big Muslim enrollment try to build bridges
—Chicago Tribune

BenU appoints Muslim faith advisor to promote interfaith dialogue, understanding
—Daily Herald

Request Information

Please contact Ali Yurtsever to schedule a meeting or for any inquiries related to Islam at BenU at hyurtsever@ben.edu or (630) 829-1323, or by submitting the form below.

Faith Communities

Ali Yurtsever, Ph.D.
Muslim Faith Advisor
(630) 829-1323
hyurtsever@ben.edu

Kathryn Heidelberger, M.Div.
Campus Minister, Coordinator of Ecumencial and Interfaith Engagement
(630) 829-6336
kheidelberger@ben.edu