DURHAM, N.C. — Officials at Duke University have made changes to their original announcement that the Muslim call to prayer would be broadcast over the chapel’s bell tower each week, and has instead moved the call outside following national outcry.
The school had outlined in its student paper on Tuesday that the “moderately amplified” chant would take place beginning today.
“Members of the Duke Muslim Students Association will chant a weekly call-to-prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower beginning Friday, Jan. 16,” Duke Today reported. “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 adhan declares, “I bear witness that there is none worthy of being worshiped except Allah. … I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. … Allah is most great.”
“Students passing by the chapel quad at 12:45 p.m. on a Friday afternoon might catch sight of the student muezzin facing Mecca in the chapel tower,” Christy Lohr Sapp, the chapel’s associate dean for religious life, wrote in a piece for the News Observer. “If those same students do not have earbuds in, they might catch a strain of the Arabic proclamation, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ which means ‘God is great!’ And, if they are so inclined, they might say a quick prayer under their breath or even pause for a moment’s reflection.”
But as the call to prayer made headlines nationwide, some expressed concern over the accommodation in light of the violence that thousands of Muslims are committing worldwide in the name of Allah, whom they believe has called them to take over the world with Sharia law. Franklin Graham urged sponsors to withhold their funding until Duke ends the practice.
“As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed.”
According to the Associated Press, Duke University was also flooded with calls and emails from those that opposed the accommodation. On Thursday, the university announced that it had changed its plans.
“Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students,” Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, wrote in a statement. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”
Instead of having the Muslim call to prayer broadcast from the chapel bell tower, Islamic students will instead gather outside of the chapel to chant their call to prayer before moving inside to continue their meeting. The adhan may or may not be amplified—the decision has been left up to the students.
Duke University, which was founded by Methodists and Quakers in the 1800’s and carries the motto “Knowledge and Faith,” notes that it hired its first full-time Muslim chaplain in 2009 and also launched its Center for Muslim Life that same year. It says that there are more than 700 students at the Bible Belt university that identify as Muslim.