Prayer Room Part of the Blueprints at New Walser Toyota Facility

April 22nd, 2022 by
Walser Toyota Customer Specialist Farhan Ahmed
Walser Toyota Customer Specialist Farhan Ahmed provided insight and suggestions for Walser Toyota’s interfaith prayer room

 

Walser Automotive Group is thinking on a spiritual level when it comes to the construction of its newest dealership. Walser Toyota’s new facility will open in 2023. Penciled into the blueprints of the 121,000 square foot floorplan are a dedicated interfaith prayer room and foot-washing station.

The prayer room and washing station reflect the dealership’s diverse staff and customer base, many of who are Muslims. Walser Toyota General Manager Greg Davis said he realized the need for such a space after frequently seeing customers and employees seeking a quiet place for prayer.

“We realized that our employees and guests were trying to find spaces to pray. We’d interrupt them because they were in a high-traffic area, or we’d find people in the oddest places, like an office you’d walk into. It didn’t feel right. They were trying to find a place to pray without interrupting us, but ultimately, we ended up interrupting them,” Davis said.

Davis said the search for a solution launched a conversation with Walser Chief Human Resources Officer Sherry Shultz. Schultz reached out to Muslim employees across Walser’s 27 locations, looking for insight. One of those employees is Walser Toyota Customer Specialist Farahan Ahmed. Ahmed said they dubbed their meetings “Faith & Understanding.”

“We talked about many things that we do in the Islamic faith because she wanted a better understanding. The prayers, the fasting, Ramadan, and all that,” Ahmed said. “And that’s when we actually talked about a prayer room and having one in our new building.”

 

Interfaith Prayer Room
The interfaith prayer room at Walser Toyota is open to customers and employees of all faith
s

 

While plans now include an interfaith prayer room and foot washing station in the new facility, Davis wanted to accommodate the needs of his team and customers more immediately. Without hesitation, Davis gave up his office on Walser Toyota’s current show floor and converted it to an official prayer room. The room is private and includes prayer rugs for anyone to use.

“I think it’s just the awareness of having facilities that accommodate people bringing their whole self to work. We say that a lot, but I think it still does ring true. And if prayer to you is important, then there should be a space for that,” Davis said.

Ahmed, a member of the Twin Cities Somali community, said word has spread that Walser Toyota is a place for Muslims to shop and work.

“You know, a lot of people are either purchasing cars or doing service, and they have to use a space during that time for prayer because they may be here awhile,” he said. In the Islamic faith, practicing Muslims must pray five times a day. “[Customers] see that this dealership actually put in a lot of effort, thinking about their customers.”

 

Prayer room
Ahmed demonstrates how the prayer room space can be utilized during prayer

 

Ahmed helped source prayer rugs for the current prayer room. He and others from the Faith & Understanding task force also gave guidance on details of the new space, including which direction it should be orientated. In Islam, the sacred direction is toward Mecca, and prayer should face that direction from wherever you are in the world.

Ahmed said he wasn’t looking for this room or even prepared to ask for it. He said Schultz’s request to talk came out of the blue.

“I never expected she would bring this kind of idea. If I need to pray, I just find a room. But she came up with this idea. She knew what was actually in our hearts. We appreciate that a lot.”

 

A rendering of the new Walser Toyota facility, which will be complete in 2023

 

Walser Toyota’s new building is located on the grounds of its current facility at 4401 American Boulevard in Bloomington, Minn.

Click here to learn more about the future home of Walser Toyota.

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