Duke University to sound Muslim call to prayer

by Kimberly Pennington |

Duke Chapel, which will host a commemoration service for civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday, January 18, will break new religious ground two days before by sounding the Muslim call to prayer on Friday, January 16.

DURHAM, N.C. (Christian Examiner) -- Muslim students at Duke University will make history this Friday when they begin using the university's bell tower to chant a "moderately amplified" weekly call-to-prayer the school announced in a press release.

Although the purpose of the three-minute chant, called the "adhan," is to call Muslims to their life's purpose of worshipping God and serving others, according to Duke University's Muslim chaplain Imam Adeel Zeb, the weekly prayer meeting, set for 1:00 p.m. on Friday afternoons in the university's chapel basement, is open to the public.

Christy Lohr Sapp, Duke's associate dean for religious life, stated in the press release that this is a part of the university's broader commitment to religious pluralism – a commitment for which Zeb said the Muslim community was "truly grateful and excited."

The move is being met with criticism. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, denounced the move on Twitter stating that the University made this choice in the name of religious pluralism during a time in which Christianity is excluded from the public square and Muslims are "raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn't submit to their Sharia Islamic law."

Ashley Pratte, spokeswoman for Young America's Foundation, stated that universities who attempt to promote political correctness often "favor religions seemingly at war with Western Civilization and Judeo-Christian beliefs." She cited Duke's removal of Chik-Fil-A from their campus, their hosting of the National Palestinian Solidarity Movement conference, and the canceling of a pro-life event at the campus Women's Center as examples. Pratte expressed hope that Duke University administrators would show the same respect for the religious freedom of Christians by offering them an equal opportunity to meet and pray as they have offered to Muslim students.

Zeb, who has been training students to chant the "adhan," told The Christian Science Monitor that it will be recited in both Arabic and English and that its declarations include statements that "Muhammad is the Messenger of God" and "Allah is Most Great."

Muslim students at Duke are supported by the university's Office of Student Affairs' Muslim Life Department.

Duke University traces its beginning to 1838 with founders steeped in Methodist, Quaker, and Methodist Episcopal Church, South traditions.