mardi 17 décembre 2013
Posted on December 16, 2013
New York City is home not just to a massive fleet of iconic yellow taxis, but to an amazing diversity of cab drivers.
Roughly half of the city’s 40,000-odd cabbies are Muslims who hail from countries all over the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere — and a great number of the drivers are observant, praying five times a day. Which raises the question: How and where do these men on the move pray?
When you spend your days driving a taxicab, it’s impossible to say where, at any given moment, you might wind up. Followers of Islam can perform their five daily prayers in any relatively clean space, even bowed down on the side of the road. But the process isn’t so simple. You first need to ritually wash with water and then to prostrate yourself facing east, toward Mecca.
“That’s why we have an app in our iPhone, we know where is the Mecca,” Youssef Kamal told me. “Right now, I’m here, right? I check my iPhone, check which is the Mecca. Straight to Mecca. Like, I am in Mecca right now. Technology!”
I found Kamal praying alone at the BP gas station on the corner of Houston and Lafayette streets. He’d taken a prayer mat from the cardboard box kept there for drivers, laid it down in front of the pumps and was kneeling in the cold.
Said Kamal: “We have to pray no matter what. Even you put it in double park. Even you put it in the bus stop. We have to go to pray. It’s like something mandatory.”In other words, sharia law is mandatory. Laws of the kufr are not. And the NYPD defer to sharia law.
New York’s Muslim cab drivers have memorized a city-wide circuit of mosques and other, more makeshift, prayer spaces that do the job when one can’t reach a formal house of worship. Basements in South Asian restaurants. Backrooms in gas stations and auto repair shops. Certain parking lots. This way, the driver is prepared no matter where his next destination.Makeshift = illegal. This city-wide circuit probably has many other uses as well. Think future intifada.
Cabbie 1: “OK, the big central one in 96th and 3rd Avenue. And you got one on Broadway, between Broadway and 5th Avenue on 29th Street.”
Cabbie 2: “A restaurant in 29th between 6th and 7th. That’s in the second floor, there’s a spot there where we can pray.”
Cabbie 3: “Sometimes some people are praying in gas stations. Like here; 2nd Avenue, 1st Street; 36th and 10th Avenue. Like this.”
Cabbie 4: “Sometimes I have a bag. You can open the bag to be a carpet, a prayer carpet, to pray anywhere. Anywhere. We have a little mosque in JFK — in the parking lot, taxi lot.”
“Illegal parking, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. Because if you go to pray and you get a ticket for $115. $115. $115, you can’t make it the whole day,” he added.
Once passenger-less, he’ll will switch the light on the roof of his cab off. “If you’re not off and somebody stop you, you can’t say no,” said Nassar.
“So you have to be off-duty to control your time and to find a place to park.
Then you go to pray, in peace.”