Living now in North Carolina I think it is a fair statement to say that I live in part of America’s Bible belt. It is not uncommon to see individuals gather hands and pray before a meal in a public restaurant. It’s not even unusual to see people praying inside of a shop or mall. In fact, one time while I was out shopping with my bald chemo head in a small shop a total stranger came up to me and asked if she could pray for my healing. I was very moved by her gesture.
Yet it seems that many non-Muslims in America continue to feel various forms of trepidation when confronted with a Muslim. If a Muslim chooses to pray during the day at appointed prayer times and in public, you can visibly see and feel most non-Muslim’s feeling of being uncomfortable.
This is the holy month of Ramadan and similar to when Christians celebrate Lent or Jews celebrate Hannukah, people should be more considerate of the respective beliefs of Muslims during their special time of prayers too.
Thankfully, one company, CEVA Logistics, in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee corrected the ways of intolerance and discrimination. CEVA has some Muslims among its employees who desire to pray as close as possible to appointed prayer times. The male employees chose to use the washroom as the place where they could perform wudu (cleansing prior to prayer) and then perform their prayer. They performed these prayers during their standard break times. It was especially important to nine Muslim employees to pray during Ramadan rather than have to make up for missed prayers later.
To their surprise and in spite of positive working records, the men were released from their duties and fired. The men complained and an initial investigation took place. All nine men have since been reinstated to their positions.
I consider Tennessee as part of the Bible belt just like North Carolina. The question I wonder though in regards to Muslims who openly follow their faith and particularly in America’s Bible belt is whether non-Muslims are simply intolerant of a different faith or it is fear?