Duke University to broadcast Muslim call to prayer on Fridays; Update: Duke reverses

At some point you have to wonder if they’re just trying to create controversy down at Duke University. The school paper announced this week that they will begin broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer from the university chapel each Friday. Obviously it is now time for everyone to freak out.


Members of the Duke Muslim Students Association will chant the call, known as adhan or azan, from the Duke Chapel bell tower each Friday at 1 p.m. The call to prayer will last about three minutes and be “moderately amplified,” officials said in a statement Tuesday.

“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.”

If I was looking at this in a vacuum, I’ll confess that my first response would be essentially a yawn. It is still not illegal to be a Muslim in the United States nor to have religious services for your faith. We have church bells ringing on Sundays all across the country, including on many college campuses. Of course, doing this right on the heels of the attacks in Paris makes the timing more than a little curious. Plus, there are some who note that the church bell analogy doesn’t hold up because the call to prayer is more than just music.

The objection should not be to the call to prayer, per se, so long as Duke rings an Angelus bell, but to the blatant, school sponsored proselytizing that it is permitting by making the call also in English. Something that is not done in mosques in the United States…

This is not a mere call to prayer for Muslims, it is active call to become a Muslim. It is no different than a Christian exhortation to attend church.

If Duke permitted the Lord’s Prayer or 23d Psalm to be announced from the Chapel Bell Tower you can bet the nutcases at the Freedom From Religion Foundation and commies at the ACLU would be squirting blood from their ears. But they won’t. Because they know that Christians will accept they abuse and Muslims will chop their pointy little heads off.


I’m not entirely convinced that the call to prayer is entirely different than ringing the bells in a Christian chapel. I mean, it’s not as if you’re going to mistake those for an invitation to the bake sale. But it’s clearly true that it’s more overt to be sure. But for a different slant on Duke’s decision to do this, we might ask if they need to go back and review their charter, as emblazoned on a plaque in the main quad of West Campus.

The aims of Duke University are to assert a faith in the eternal union of knowledge and religion set forth in the teachings and character of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; to advance learning in all lines of truth; to defend scholarship against all false notions and ideals; to develop a Christian love of freedom and truth; to promote a sincere spirit of tolerance; to discourage all partisan and sectarian strife; and to render the largest permanent service to the individual, the state, the nation, and the church. Unto these ends shall the affairs of this University always be administered.

Not sure how this new policy fits in with the charter, but I’m sure the good folks at Duke will be able to explain it all in good time.

Update (Allahpundit): This is unexpected. Easy prediction: They’ll reverse themselves once again and reinstate the policy permitting the call to prayer either tomorrow or this weekend.

“Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”…

In an interview Thursday with The Observer, [Franklin] Graham said Duke should not allow the chapel to be used for the call to prayer. “It’s wrong because it’s a different god,” he said. “Using the bell tower that signifies worship of Jesus Christ, using (it) as a minaret is wrong.”

Graham, president and CEO of the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, did say Muslim students should be allowed to worship on campus. “Let Duke donate the land and let Saudi Arabia build a mosque for them.”


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Jazz Shaw 9:20 AM | February 29, 2024