NEW YORK, June 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Vice President of the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center and Imam, Dr. Tahir Kukaj (http://www.aiccny.com/home/?p=46095) was recently named as a chaplain for the NYPD in a swearing-in ceremony that took place on June 24. The oath was given by Chief of Personnel William Morris at One Police Plaza. Albanian-born, Dr. Kukaj is an active spiritual leader with deep ties to the New York Muslim community. Having fostered interfaith relations for over two decades, Dr. Kukaj was widely celebrated as a welcome addition to the spiritual leadership of the NYPD by multiple organizations, including the NYPD Muslim Officers Society.
"Today is a great day for me, my family, and my community at large," said Dr. Kukaj. "There are so many wonderful chiefs, deputies, and officers who have worked with me and our mosque. I've been working with the NYPD for two decades in a variety of ways — introducing our youth to the force, organizing round tables, bringing our communities together. I see this formal recognition as chaplain as a welcome and beneficial evolution for us both. I would also like to take this moment to introduce myself to the finest men and women of the best police department in the world. I want the officers to know that I am always available to them, 24/7 … I am here to serve and listen to you."
About Dr. Kukaj: Fostering Interfaith Cooperation
Dr. Kukaj was born in 1965 and grew up as an Albanian Muslim in Kosovo. He and his family were survivors of the war and subsequent strife that plagued Communist Kosovo during the 1970s and 80s, having endured the loss of the Kukaj patriarch, Tahir's grandfather, to a brutal communist execution before Dr. Kukaj was even born. Citing his father's altruistic benevolence, despite the horrors around them, as a major motivation in his life, Dr. Kukaj moved to Cairo in 1984 to study at the prestigious Azhar University. Among his other work, he learned Arabic and ultimately achieved a Ph.D. for his research. After immigrating to the United States, Tahir became both Imam and a director of outreach at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center on Staten Island.
Dr. Kukaj has served on the clergy advisory board for both former New York Mayor Andrew Cuomo and current Mayor, Bill de Blasio, as well as a liaison for the Muslim community. Dr. Kukaj was also named one of the 2019 Staten Island Power 100 by City & State Magazine. A specialist of interfaith outreach, Tahir is widely acknowledged as a skilled spiritual diplomat, representing both his mosque and his faith, and routinely hosts a variety of interfaith dialogues and dinners with other Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders of New York.
Recently Dr. Kukaj spoke in mid-May at such an outreach at the Interfaith Iftar Dinner hosted at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Tompkinsville. Addressing his audience regarding the necessity for understanding the purpose of religious observances like Ramadan fasting, Dr. Kukaj typified his overall outreach philosophy by saying: "It's not about how much time you can make it without eating or drinking. It's about how much you will prepare yourself to be a person that people will benefit from…."
To learn more about Dr. Kukaj's appointment as NYPD chaplain, or the Imam's spiritual work in New York City, visit the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center at: www.AICCNY.com.
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