NC: Muslims Search for Havens for Prayer


A small group of Muslims working for Charlotte's biggest banks have been spearheading efforts to find space uptown where Muslims can gather to say their daily prayers.

For Muslims, praying five times a day -- including two or three times during work hours -- is one of the pillars of their faith.

Right now, many uptown Muslims working as professionals, cooks and cab drivers have to duck into a vacant conference room, retreat to their car or even wait until they get home to combine the day's prayers.

Two Bank of America employees have joined with a former vice president at the bank to launch a nonprofit corporation in hopes of renting office-like space that could be used for prayer, as well as for cultural and volunteer activities.

And in a pioneering move for Charlotte, the city's other big bank, Wachovia, has agreed to start offering its uptown employees what bank officials are calling a "quiet room" early next year.

The small room in Two Wachovia, the bank's atrium tower, will not be just for prayer or just for Muslims. But after hearing from Muslim employees, such as Anika Khan, an economist who works uptown, Wachovia is including a sink where Muslims can purify themselves for prayer by washing their hands, face and feet -- a ritual known as wudu.

Bank of America also provides space "whenever possible" for Muslims and others who want to pray, said spokeswoman Kelly Sapp. (MORE)

 


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