American schools and universities showing flexibility to accommodate the religious need of Muslim students to perform their daily prayers are being accused of giving them preferential treatment. Critics say schools and universities are increasingly granting Muslim requests for prayer breaks and facilities. The Muslim Students Association (MSA) says nine universities nationwide have prayer rooms for Muslim students and 17 have foot baths built or under construction. Muslims pray five times a day at the appointed times: dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, dusk, and before retiring to bed. Prayer is one of the most important obligations of Islam, being one of the five pillars of Islam. The debate over Muslim prayer was thrust into the spotlight a few months ago. Carver Elementary School, a public school in San Diego city, became part of a nationwide controversy after setting aside a 15-minute break for its 100 Muslim students to pray. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a major rights advocate group, is mulling to sue the school for what it describes as unconstitutional prayer break. However, Muslim advocates insist that prayer accommodations are utterly legal.
There are between six to seven million Muslims in the US, less than three percent of the country’s 300 million population.