Many corporate bodies already provide canteens to help cater for the physical well-being of their staff and visitors. And now, in the same way, more employers are providing for their staff’s spiritual well-being.
If money was no object then every building would have separate facilities for every faith. However, reality dictates that normally either space or financial limitations means it’s usually a single space. How do you make that happen?
Facilities for prayer
There are well over 50 religions, denominations and faiths, so there can be no single, definitive, all-encompassing formula for a perfect multi-faith room. Here’s a few things to at least consider:
- Employers have a duty to give individuals of each faith the opportunity to undertake their own specific religious practices. The facilities for this can be thought of like bathrooms or similar facilities, readily accessible to all.
- The size of a faith room depends on how many people will be expected to use it. And when they use it. The Muslim prayer cycle is easily considered, usually at fixed times during the day, depending on the sun. A Muslim requires approximately 4ft x 2ft of floor space in which to undertake Salat, enabling them to place their forehead on the floor whilst kneeling facing forward.
- For most faiths, there is no stated direction for prayers, However, for Muslims it is mandatory for them to face the Ka’ba during prayer, an ancient temple located in the town of Mecca. Jews generally pray facing East towards Jerusalem.
- Many corporate bodies in the UK today are unaware that some religions demand ablution before prayer, and thus they do not provide any specific washing facilities. This can result in those wishing to pray and undertake their ritual washing, having to use unsuitable washing appliances, such as hand basins in washrooms. Water needs to be clean and flowing.
- Religious icons should be discouraged since the presence of icons from one religious group can offend other religious groups. If use of icons should be specifically requested, a compromise would be to make cupboards available for their storage when not being used.
It’s also important that facilities are respected. All visitors should be encouraged to remove their shoes before entering the prayer area. A prayer room should not be used for meetings or study not associated with prayer.
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