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“Religious accommodation”: Duke University chapel to have Muslim call to prayer every Friday

“Religious accommodation”: Duke University chapel to have Muslim call to prayer every Friday January 15, 2015


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Duke University Chapel via Wikipedia / Public Domain

The university’s press release: 

Members of the Duke Muslim Students Association will chant a weekly call-to-prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower beginning Friday, Jan. 16.

The chant, called the “adhan,” announces the start of the group’s jummah prayer service, which takes place in the chapel basement each Friday at 1 p.m. The service is open to the public.

The chant lasts about three minutes and will be moderately amplified. {More information about the adhan can be found here.)

“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. “The collective Muslim community is truly grateful and excited about Duke’s intentionality toward religious and cultural diversity.”

“This opportunity represents a larger commitment to religious pluralism that is at the heart of Duke’s mission,” added Christy Lohr Sapp, the chapel’s associate dean for religious life. “It connects the university to national trends in religious accommodation.”

Reaction from the Christian Science Monitor: 

“On campus among students and faculty the response has been overwhelmingly positive,“ says Duke spokesman Keith Lawrence in a phone interview.

“Those responding from the outside, particularly on social media like Twitter, have been mixed with some negativity that has begun to feed off of itself,” Mr. Lawrence adds.

Imam Adeel Zeb, Muslim chaplain at Duke says in a phone interview that the addition of the chant was in the works months prior to the militant Islamist attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and are in no way in response or politically motivated.

Duke has deep Christian roots, according to Wikipedia: 

The school was organized by the Union Institute Society, a group of Methodists and Quakers under the leadership of Reverend Brantley York, and in 1841, North Carolina issued a charter for Union Institute Academy from the original Brown’s Schoolhouse. The state legislature granted a rechartering of the academy as Normal College in 1851, and the privilege of granting degrees in 1853. To keep the school operating, the trustees agreed to provide free education for Methodist preachers in return for financial support by the church, and in 1859 the transformation was formalized with a name change to Trinity College and the adoption of the motto “Eruditio et Religio,” meaning “Knowledge and Religion.”


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