The adhan, which was chanted in both English and Arabic, begins with a repetition of the lines “God is the greatest” and “I bear witness that there is no God except God.” The multifaith crowd listened in silence. Many people had their eyes closed. Some Christian divinity school students carried signs: “Let us worship together.” “Duke Divinity supports you.”
“I feel that Christians are called to peace,” explained third-year divinity student Sarah Martindell, when asked why she had decided to show up.
I should point out that Duke’s decision isn’t entirely unreasonable. Duke was founded as a Methodist university (that’s no longer the case, although it retains a Christian influence, and a Christian divinity school). Its chapel is clearly a church. Some will point out, correctly, that Christians have the right to ask members of other faiths not to use their facilities.
The university is clearly a pluralistic place, though. And Duke’s Muslims have been praying in the chapel basement for years. “The chapel to Duke students is a symbol of Duke, not just a symbol of Christianity,” said Ting Chen, a sophomore who attended the call-to-prayer in solidarity. Schoenfeld echoed that sentiment: “The chapel represents Duke.”