The soft-spoken Antepli’s sense of humor surfaces with quicksilver speed, his tone shifting from gentle solemnity to bemused wordplay. He describes himself as an enthusiastic fan of Duke basketball and the only imam who “prays for the Devils”—a reference to the university’s Blue Devil mascot. By the time he entered high school, the conflict between him and his parents led them to issue an ultimatum: abandon Islam or move out of their home.
“The only ‘chaplain’ I had ever heard of was Charlie Chaplin,” says Antepli with a wry smile. Soon he was convinced that chaplaincy was his life’s work. It was not just chaplaincy that appealed to him, but the secular and pluralistic nature of American society.
Antepli had been offered the position of Muslim chaplain at Princeton, but before accepting was urged by a friend to visit Duke, which was also interested in hiring a full-time chaplain. Once here, he was attracted to the wider role Duke offered him.