A high school in Texas has made one of its classrooms available for Muslim students to hold Friday or Jummah prayers after some students were leaving campus each week to participate in the prayers.
“[I]t kind of started when a core group of students were leaving campus every Friday for Friday prayer,” Liberty High School Principal Scott Warstler told the school publication Wingspan. “Their parents would come pick them up, so they may miss an hour and a half to two hours to two and a half hours of school every Friday.”
He decided to approach the students and offer space on campus so they wouldn’t miss class traveling elsewhere.
“So I met with those students and a couple of the parents and suggested, ‘Hey, would you be okay if the students led the prayer here at school as a group?'” Warstler recalled. “And we gave them a space to do that so that they didn’t have to be in a car traveling thirty minutes each way on a Friday missing an hour, [to] an hour and a half, of class.”
The students initially used a small conference room at the school, but as the number of participants grew, the prayer room was moved to a classroom.
“I think the trademark of what makes Liberty High so great is our diversity and in how our students respond to the different cultures and diversity on campus,” Warstler told the outlet. “This is the seventh year that we’ve been doing this and we’ve never had one issue. You know we have other religious student groups that meet maybe before school or maybe after school.”
“As long as it’s student-led, where the students are organizing and running it, we pretty much as a school stay out of that and allow them their freedom to practice their religion,” he said.
While the accommodation for Muslim students has been ongoing for several years, the student website just reported on it this month. Local radio station KERA also picked up on the matter and spoke with Warstler and some of the students involved.
“It’s a Friday afternoon, a little after 2, at Liberty High School. Student Zaki Sayyid recites the Islamic call to prayer. He and 10 other Muslim students are inside a classroom, on their knees facing east,” the station reported on Tuesday. “Girls wear hijabs. Everyone’s taken off their shoes. They spend the next 15 minutes in prayer. This isn’t a common scene at most schools. But at Liberty, it happens every Friday.”