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Duke names its first Muslim chaplain

Posted June 16, 2008

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— Duke University has named Abdullah Antepli as the school’s first Muslim chaplain, a full-time position that will provide services ranging from pastoral care to teaching about Islam, school officials said Monday.

Antepli, an imam who’s finishing doctoral work at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, becomes one of only a handful of full-time Muslim chaplains at U.S. colleges and universities. He will start at Duke on July 1, joining the more than 20 campus chaplains ministering to diverse faiths at the university.

“Chaplain Antepli was the overwhelming choice for the position by students, staff and faculty,” said Zoila Airall, assistant vice president for campus life at Duke. “He brings a wonderful combination of spirituality, inspiration and wisdom to this position.”

Antepli’s work at Duke will focus on three primary areas: religious leadership for Duke’s Muslim community; pastoral care and counseling for persons of any faith, or of no ascribed faith; and intra- and interfaith work.

He will engage students, faculty and staff across campus through seminars, panels and other avenues to provide an Islamic voice to discussions of faith, spirituality, social justice and life in general. Antepli also will teach two introductory courses on Islam.

“Duke is today a leading international university in an increasingly cosmopolitan social and religious culture,” said Duke Chapel Dean Sam Wells. “If Duke, alongside other leading Western institutions, is to become a hospitable environment for the formation of a new generation of international Muslim leadership of a broad-minded character, it has to take proactive steps to show the Muslim world here and abroad that it is open for business. Having a joint chaplain/faculty position is saying the university and its students have a great deal to receive from the Muslim tradition and that we are turning the page into a new style of interaction across ethnic and religious boundaries.”

Antepli said Islam and Muslims are “at the center of attention in our time.”

“People need to learn about Islam and Muslims from Muslims, not from popular media or others who are not qualified to speak on behalf of Muslims,” he said. “The Duke leadership admirably recognized this. They had the vision to create this position. It will be my role and responsibility to shoulder that vision.”

Antepli completed his basic imam training in his native Turkey. From 1996-2003, he worked on a variety of humanitarian projects in Myanmar and Malaysia with the Association of Social and Economic Solidarity with Pacific Countries.

Antepli, a husband and father of two, is completing his doctor of ministry project at Hartford Seminary, titled “Muslim Campus Ministry: Challenges and Opportunities.” He was associate director of the seminary’s Islamic Chaplaincy Program & Interfaith Relations and an adjunct faculty member. His responsibilities included syllabus and curriculum development, student recruitment, and leadership of interfaith projects.

Prior to his work at Hartford Seminary, Antepli was the first Muslim chaplain at Wesleyan University, from 2003-05. He is the founder and executive board member of the Muslim Chaplains Association and is a member of the National Association of College and University Chaplains.

Duke’s Muslim community has been served for the past nine years in a voluntary capacity by Imam Abdul-hafeez Waheed, who Wells said he hopes “will continue to have a role in the new arrangements. We are grateful to him for carrying the flag for Muslim ministry here at Duke for a long time and helping us envision these new possibilities.”


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  • curiousgeorgia Jun 18, 2008

    Hi, WRAL, I just wanted people to calm down, so many anti's are frothing at each other that they look plain silly. I do believe that Christians are being **** upon unfairly while everybody else kowtows to the great idol PC. Let me know if that is still too much.

  • iamforjustice Jun 17, 2008

    Oh, and can we get off of the "This country was founded on Christian beliefs."? Do some research on that too, our founding fathers were far from supporting Christianity...

    Very well said and thanks

  • ahh-fooie.... Jun 17, 2008

    This is why “Christians” are bothered by some other religions1
    Note * these are real feel free to research them!
    Christian hymn:
    We shall gather at the river …the beautiful … beautiful river!
    Actual muslim chant (music is forbidden)
    Sharpen my bones an sharpen them and make them swords Fill me Molotov cocktail! We are a nation of blood who break through the night! *(this is the real catchy part!!)* And transforms their flesh into bombs And my favorite “KOSHER BLOOD”! With sayings like “We’ll knock on the doors of paradise with the skull of a Jew”! Yes, I’m comfortable with my beliefs! But… I must use some plain thinking too. P.S. this was mild to some.

  • dws Jun 16, 2008

    "This is a giant step for Islam. Duke can lead the way for others to follow. An endowment could see a complementary Mosque built on campus to mirror the picturesque Christian Chapel Imagine a call to worship on the Duke Campus."
    ahhhh, dreamers....it will not happen in this Christian world, much to your chagrin

  • djofraleigh Jun 16, 2008

    This is a giant step for Islam. Duke can lead the way for others to follow. An endowment could see a complementary Mosque built on campus to mirror the picturesque Christian Chapel Imagine a call to worship on the Duke Campus.

    This might bother some, but Duke is NO longer Trinity, no longer a church sponsored school, and I'm sure there's a rabbi in a same position on campus, already. I've been on Duke's campus and found it less than Christian in demeanor, but like other universities. An Islamic chaplain will bring more of a religious feel to the campus than the current pastor has, I predict.

  • lovethecrazycomment Jun 16, 2008

    Why are you so afraid....not secure in your faith? Sorry to dissapoint but I do have a brain, and I am not afraid...I am secure in what I believe, so no, Muslims do not scare me!

  • sweetsea Jun 16, 2008

    If "Won't Judge" cannot tell the difference between southern baptists and radical muslims, then I suggest he visit a good Baptist Church next Sunday. The isolated Christian zealots like David Rudolph and the Nebraska nuts would not fill up more than a high school gym in the whole country. With muslims you are talking about tens of millions of stone age zealots who do not have one bit of tolerance for anything other than their own religion. Christians evolved out of their stone age mentality hundreds of years ago but muslims are stoning and beheading people daily and treat women like animals. If you do not fear what we have witnessed from radical islam in the past twenty five years then you have no brains. And you don't hear an outcry against radicalism from the so called moderate muslims because most sympathize with it and all value their heads.

  • fireman1963 Jun 16, 2008

    helle012 - how in the world would you know anything about whether I was fearful or not. I do not fear Islam. I am disgusted that a college like Duke would pull such an "in-Your-Face" move when this country is fighting a war against Islamic terror.

    Fear has nothing to do with it.

  • lovethecrazycomment Jun 16, 2008

    I cannot understand why people, but most especially the ones that call themselves Christian, are so threatened by a religion. If you believe and have faith in your God, why are you so worried about someone else's God?

    Someone mentioned converts...well I was raised
    Southern Baptist and they were always looking for converts...does that make them bad? There have been Christian religious zealots that have murdered, bombed and killed....abortion clinics come quickly to mind....David Rudolph...does that mean all Christians think that way? How about the church who in the name of a Christian God, protests soldier funerals because they have some far fetched notion that their deaths was a just punishment for Aids? Is that truly a Christian belief?

    This is a college, and supposedly inhabited by intelligent young adults. No one is forcing them to go to a Muslim service, but most comments here sound as if you want to force everyone to go to a Christian one.

  • LiveLifeToTheFullest Jun 16, 2008

    Oh jf there's fear wrapped all around that disgust of yours. You'll be okay.