Three times a day during their shifts at the Indianapolis International Airport, more than 100 Muslim cab drivers wash their feet.
In the parking lot where they wait to be dispatched, some fill plastic bottles with water and pour it over the right foot, then the left. Others clean their feet in the restroom sink.
The practice is the last step in a ritual called ablution — “wudu” in Arabic — which involves washing several parts of the body to cleanse before Muslims’ five daily prayers.
And by November 2008, when the new $1.07 billion airport terminal is scheduled to be complete, the restroom near the parking lot where taxi drivers stay between runs will include floor-level sinks that will make their daily ritual easier.
Such foot baths have started to crop up across the country, in schools such as the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where more than 10 percent of students are Muslims, and at airports such as Kansas City International Airport.
They have drawn the ire of bloggers and pundits, who say they violate the separation of church and state, and the praise of advocacy groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (MORE)