(Photo: Flickr / Questermark)
A historically Methodist, Texas university now offers a prayer room for its Muslim students.
Following a 2012 meeting betwen Texas Wesleyan University (TWU) president Frederick Slabach and Mohammed Khalid M. Alshafei, the head of the Saudi Students Club, the university designated a space in its gym for Muslim students to pray.
"The reasons for this (prayer room) are two-fold," Rev. Dr. Robert K. Flowers, the Wesleyan chaplain, told The Rambler, TWU's school newspaper. "One, to show hospitality to our foreign students and, two, our campus needs to be open and tolerant of other faith traditions whether it is Islam, Hindu, Jewish, or otherwise."
According to Alshafei, many of his Muslim friends and classmates have made use of the space. Muslims must pray five times a daily in accordance with one of five pillars of their faith.
Muslims also believe they must wash themselves before prayer, which TWU students currently address in the school's restroom. Whether or not there should be a separate space has been discussed, though students have continued to use the TWU's existing facilities.
"We have to be cleaned before we pray," said Alshafei. "We believe that when we pray, we will be between the hands of God."
According to its website, TWU "has remained closely affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The University maintains special relationships with several United Methodist congregations, and some of the trustees are representatives of the United Methodist Church."
It also claims that its committment to plurality is rooted in its faith tradition.
"In keeping with Methodist tradition, the University welcomes individuals of all faiths and is thoroughly inclusive in its practices," it states.