CAIRO - As the holy fasting month is set to coincide with a major annual festival, Canadian officials in the city of Calgary are considering how to help Muslim taxi drivers to perform their religious duties during Ramadan.
"There's a plan, we've just got to secure a site," Marc Halat with the city's Taxi and Limousine Advisory Committee, told CBC News on Thursday, June 20.
"We're looking for a location these can guys can worship in privacy."
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, is set to coincide with the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival.
The ten-day event, which bills itself as "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth", attracts over one million visitors per year.
But this has raised concerns among officials that the holy fasting month could affect the taxi service during the festival.
Muslims are estimated to make up less than the taxi drivers in Calgary.
I think it's about 45 percent of the industry, so I'm not sure what the impact's going to be, Kurt Enders, owner of Checker Transportation Group, the city's largest taxi broker, told Calgary Herald.
Some that are very heavily of the Muslim faith, they said they'll go home, eat with their family and pray.
And they may or may not go back to work, Enders said.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.
Muslim drivers are also busy considering how to balance between worship and work during Ramadan.
It's going to be a little different, more challenging this year, Mohammad Mughal, a driver and trainer, told Calgary Herald.
But most of our people are not millionaires. We need money, too. So we'll be working.
Ahead of the iftar, Muslim drivers would pull off the road to break their fast, pray and recite the Qur'an.
Some cabbies may decide not to return to work and spend the time with their family.
Mughal opines that taxi drivers would need between 45 to 90 minutes to break their fast and perform prayers before resuming their work.
I don't know personally if I am going to be that energetic after a whole day of fast and then doing another two hours of prayer, Mughal said.
Last month, a bulletin was sent to drivers to gauge how many Muslim cabbies would like the city and industry to set up a special worship facility near Stampede grounds with food vendors nearby, to offer a quicker work break.
The feedback we've received is that they will be driving, Mario Henriques said.
There may be short gaps in their service, but the bulk of drivers will be on the road during this period.
Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart, the chair of council's transportation committee, said time will tell if Ramadan fasting would impact the festival.
I'm glad they're at least looking at (it) so the drivers don't have to drive way to wherever their place of worship is.
Muslims make up nearly two percent of Canada's some 32.8 million people and Islam has become the number one non-Christian faith in the country.A poll has showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian and are more integrated and better educated than the general population.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net