Duke's global centers & initiatives

Duke Islamic Studies Center

Mission Statement

The Duke Islamic Studies Center is a vibrant, diverse community of scholars and students engaged in interdisciplinary teaching, interactive learning, and cutting-edge research about Islam and Muslims. We are educating today’s students to become tomorrow’s leaders by equipping them with knowledge about the breadth and diversity of Islamic cultures, cross-cultural experiences, and language skills. DISC is one of the leading institutions in North America for the study of Islam and Muslims. Its comparative, cross-cultural approach to Islamic studies will foster fresh interpretations of Islam and encourage creative solutions to the economic, political and social challenges involving Muslims. We are committed to working with partners at home and abroad to provide undergraduate and graduate students, professionals and policy makers with the knowledge about Muslims and Islamic cultures, beliefs and practices that will enable them to operate effectively in a multicultural world.

Summary of 2019-2020 Programs

Building Bridges: Muslims in America

In Spring 2018, Duke Performances launched its three-year Building Bridges: Muslims in America initiative, a new project showcasing the richness and diversity of Muslim culture in this country. Working in partnership with the Duke Islamic Studies Center (DISC) and the Duke University Middle East Studies Center (DUMESC), Duke Performances will host residencies by U.S.-based Muslim artists featuring substantial engagement with the Duke and Durham community, visits to nearby high schools, and public concerts. Durham-based filmmaker KidEthnic will provide a behind-the-scenes look at each residency through short films documenting the series.

This year we entered our final year with the Building Bridges program and hosted three more outstanding musicians: Mumu Fresh, Rafiq Bhatia, and Gwana Langus.  Maimouna Youssef (aka Mumu Fresh), grew up pivoting between genres and styles — singing gospel and jazz with her mother in an African-American Muslim household and drawing inspiration from her Choctaw and Muscogee grandparents.  Rafiq Bhatia — a Raleigh native and the son of Muslim immigrant parents — was recently described by The New York Times as “one of the most intriguing figures in music today.” The guitarist and composer’s 2018 album Breaking English finds a visceral common ground between ecstatic avant-jazz, mournful soul, tangled strings and building-shaking electronics, using surprise and contrast to fuel a meticulous, hybrid style all his own.  Gnawa LanGus, fronted by GRAMMY-nominated musician Samir LanGus, fuses the raw hypnotic power of the centuries-old Moroccan Gnawa tradition with Berber, Indian, Saharan, and Flamenco music. Each musician participated in a residency that brought them into Durham Public School classrooms along with a community conversation or workshop and concert hosted in one of the fine arts spaces in Downtown Durham.

Black Muslim Atlantic Symposium

DISC hosted the Black Muslim Atlantic Symposium over two days in January 2020 but the spirit of this symposium had been envisioned and organized over the past few years by Imam Abdul Hafeez Waheed to honor the Black Muslim community in North Carolina and beyond, its culture, literature, history, and legacy from slavery until the present.  The symposium focused on these cultural forms as a way of fore-fronting the powerful role played by Islam and Muslims in a shared culture of the black Atlantic by gathering 14 scholars to share their work with the gathered community. The Black Muslim Atlantic Symposium was in memoriam of C. Eric Lincoln, professor of Religious Studies at Duke—whose work on both black Muslims and race and religion helped pioneer the field and raise more nuanced consciousness about these subjects. Dr. Lincoln’s wife, Mrs. Lucy Lincoln, opened the second day of the symposium with words of welcome and honor from Dr. Lincoln’s family.


DISC continued to support and co-sponsor Docunight with the Graduate Student Association of Iranians at Duke. Docunight is hosted in over 25 cites in the USA and purpose is to uplift a documentary from or about Iranian filmmakers. Each moth, GSAID gathers to view and discuss the films with students, faculty, staff, and community members.

2019-2020 Notable Programs

Certificates & Degrees

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