Duke University Reverses Decision To Sound Muslim Call To Prayer From Chapel Bell Tower

Originally, Duke University intended to begin allowing a weekly call to prayer for Muslim students from the campus’ chapel bell tower. After a significant amount of backlash, the university has reversed the decision.

As previously reported by the the Inquisitr, the Muslim Call to Prayer, called the “Adhan,” is normally sounded five times per day in areas that are densely populated with those of the faith. Duke University intended to allow the prayer to be chanted from the bell tower once every Friday during the afternoon.

After the decision was announced, social media exploded with debate about it.

As of Thursday, one day before the first Muslim Call to Prayer was supposed to be chanted, Duke University canceled the religious action.

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

According to Omid Safi, the director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center, the call to prayer was canceled because of “a number of credible threats against Muslim students, faculty and staff.” He insisted that Muslim students are frightened about the possible consequences of the Call to Prayer.

“We had hoped for a symbolic action that would shine a light on how a leading international university in the American South can be a place where the symbol of the Christian heritage of the university is demonstrating hospitality to its Muslim community members. And instead we’re having to talk about crazy people,” Safi said.


University officials claimed that “more than 700 of the 15,000 students at Duke identify as Muslim.” It’s because of that figure that Duke hired a full-time Muslim chaplain in 2009. The university campus also has dedicated spaces of worship for Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus.

“At Duke University, the Muslim community represents a strikingly different face of Islam than is seen on the nightly news: one that is peaceful and prayerful,” wrote Christy Lohr Sapp, associate dean for religious life at Duke University, in an op-ed she published in the News and Observer of Raleigh.

Sapp stated that the chapel is “a symbol of faith of the school’s founders, but the use of it as a minaret allows for the interreligious re-imagining of a university icon.”

Both the original decision, and the decision to overturn, remains a point of debate. Do you believe Duke University should have overturned the decision to broadcast the Muslim Call to Prayer from the chapel bell tower?

[ Image courtesy of Duke University ]