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Duke Univ. to use campus chapel bell tower for ‘amplified’ Islamic call to prayer

UPDATE: Duke has cancelled the weekly Muslim call to prayer in the face of controversy.

The Muslim Students Association at Duke University has been given permission to chant a weekly call-to-prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower, the university has announced.

The chant will take place at 1 p.m. on Fridays, announcing the association’s weekly jummah prayer service.

“The chant lasts about three minutes and will be moderately amplified,” the university said in a statement.

“The adhan is the call to prayer that brings Muslims back to their purpose in life, which is to worship God and serves as a reminder to serve our brothers and sisters in humanity,” said Imam Adeel Zeb, Muslim chaplain at Duke, on the university’s website. “The collective Muslim community is truly grateful and excited about Duke’s intentionality toward religious and cultural diversity.”

Duke University officials did not respond to emails and a phone call by The College Fix seeking comment Wednesday.

“As campuses continue to foster political correctness, they use it as a way to favor religions seemingly at war with Western Civilization and Judeo-Christian beliefs,” explained Young America’s Foundation spokeswoman Ashley Pratte regarding the new initiative at Duke. “Frequently, we see students fighting for their religious freedom on campus-especially Christians. We hope that Duke University will also allow equal opportunity for Christian students to gather to pray and respect their religious freedom.”

Fox News’ Todd Starnes, responding to the news, pointed out on Facebook that Duke University is a historically Methodist school.

“The university says delivering Muslim prayers from the chapel of a historically Methodist university is a way to demonstrate their commitment to religious pluralism,” Starnes wrote. “A university spokesman told me the chapel has never been specifically for Christian worship. It’s an interdenominational chapel. So they really don’t understand why folks are making a big deal about Muslim prayers being publicly broadcast at a historically Methodist school.”

As Duke faces more criticism as word of this decision spreads, Christy Lohr Sapp, associate dean for religious life at Duke University, defended the move in the News & Observer.

“The neo-gothic cathedral at the heart of Duke’s campus is a symbol of the faith of the school’s founders, but the use of it as a minaret allows for the interreligious reimagining of a university icon,” she wrote. “So, while it might seem an odd juxtaposition to have the adhan chanted in the same tower from which bells toll daily (and twice on Sundays!), it is actually in keeping with the university’s commitment to fostering the spiritual development of all students.”

“The chanting of the adhan communicates to the Muslim community that it is welcome here, that its worship matters, that these prayers enhance the community and that all are invited to stop on a Friday afternoon and pray.”

The Christian Science Monitor, which interviewed Zeb, the Muslim chaplain at Duke, translated the prayer that will be chanted in both Arabic and English at the school:

God is Most Great. God is Most Great.

God is Most Great. God is Most Great.

I bear witness that there is none worthy of being worshipped except God.

I bear witness that there is none worthy of being worshipped except God.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.

Come to prayer. Come to prayer.

Come to Success. Come to Success.

God is Most Great. Allah is Most Great.

There is none worthy of being worshipped except God.

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IMAGE: Duke University

About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. She previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for a decade in Southern California, and prior to that held editorial positions at The Weekly Standard, Washington Times and FrontPageMagazine. She is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipient and has contributed to National Review.

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