What Happened When Duke University Denied the Adhan?

Duke University announced earlier this week that it would allow the adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, to sound from their chapel’s famous bell tower. And then, just as quickly as the announcement had been made, it was revoked. Nothing short of expected — SADLY.

It wasn’t technically a big deal at first: just an announcement that there would be three minutes set aside every Friday, right before dhuhr (afternoon prayer), for the Muslim community. Not that much different from ringing church bells. And in that simple and thoughtful move, Duke was making history. Duke was acknowledging their own Muslim students with fervor, allowing for religious pluralism, and encouraging progressivism in tolerance. It seemed that, for just a moment, Muslims were being allowed a place in the community. It was just an announced three-minute call to prayer. And then it wasn’t.

After some letters expressing outrage and even threats of violence from members of the Christian community, Duke University canceled their plans. In doing so, they took a step back from religious inclusion.

I’m really not sure why anyone would oppose the call to prayer. It’s a spiritual aspect of Islam — a reminder for Muslims to embrace prayer, reconnect spiritually, and forget their worldly troubles. Or is it a call for terrorism? Maybe a religious tribute to al-Qaeda from the heart of an American university? To quote Liam Neeson, hollywood sweetheart and action movie star, from his interview on Ellen:

The call to prayer starts at 5 a.m. every morning… the first week it was a bit annoying, but by the second week, Ellen, it just gets into your soul and became the most magnificent wake-up call.

And that’s really all it is. A beautiful wake-up call.

Though originally a Christian church, the Duke University Chapel — as any other university chapel — is used as the campus’s religious hotspot. There are Hindu services, Buddhist meditations, and Muslim prayers in the basement. But, for some reason, those who opposed the adhan felt that, somehow, the Christian community and Duke’s legacy was being threatened. Because of a three-minute call to prayer.

It’s baffling, really, the things that piss people off.

Duke is still not allowing the adhan to sound. But, at least something beautiful happened. Tolerant supporters all across Duke gathered on the steps of the Duke Chapel in solidarity with the Muslim community to have their three minutes.

Sure, people opposed.

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But they still had their three minutes.

And they were beautifully peaceful.

Image: Wiki