Franklin Graham Blasts Duke University's Muslim Call to Prayer; Tells Donors to 'Withhold Their Support'

(Photo: Reuters/Darren Whiteside)Israeli border police officers (back) stand guard as Palestinians pray in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud October 9, 2009. The Dome of the Rock, on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City is seen in the background. Palestinian leaders on Thursday called for a one-day general strike and warned of more street protests over Jerusalem, where clashes at the flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque two weeks ago cranked up tensions in the disputed city. Israel is playing down Palestinian warnings that its security tactics risk a new Palestinian uprising.

Duke University has come under fire for making the decision air the Muslim call to prayer on Friday, beginning this week; Rev. Franklin Graham has come out against the school's decision.

"This opportunity represents a larger commitment to religious pluralism that is at the heart of Duke's mission," Christy Lohr Sapp, Duke Chapel's associate dean for religious life, said in a statement to Duke Today. "It connects the university to national trends in religious accommodation."

The Muslim call to prayer, known as the adhan will air for three minutes at a "moderately amplified" level to announce the call to prayer, and an English translation will follow. The service will take place in the chapel basement every Friday at 1:00 p.m. and is open to the public. Members of the Duke Muslim Students Association will perform the chant, which will be released from the chapel's bell tower.

"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. The collective Muslim community is truly grateful and excited about Duke's intentionality toward religious and cultural diversity," Imam Adeel Zeb, Muslim chaplain at Duke said.

However, the university's decision has not come without controversy. Rev. Franklin Graham has called for donors and alumni to "withhold their support" for the school until the decision to air the adhan is changed.

"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. I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed," Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association wrote on his Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Sapp defended the decision in an Op-Ed, saying it was a good opportunity for Muslim students.

"The chanting of the adhan might barely make a ripple in the lives of many at Duke," Sapp wrote in an Op-Ed for the News Observer. "But for Muslim students, the adhan will sound as familiar as the prayers recited since birth. Perhaps, too, this small token of welcome will provide a platform for a truer voice to resonate: a voice that challenges media stereotypes of Muslims, a voice of wisdom, a voice prayer and a voice of peace."