Muslim rideshare drivers improvise prayer spaces amid lack of relief stations in NYC

by | Apr 24, 2023 | Religion

NEW YORK (RNS) — A deli in midtown is more than just a spot to grab a bite to eat. It is a place of prayer. Rather than selecting a bag of chips off the shelf, Muhammad Ahmed spreads out a small rug on the floor in the corner and offers worship.For Ahmed, and thousands of Muslim rideshare drivers like him, finding friendly establishments open to hosting daily prayers is a constant and necessary project in a city notoriously bereft of public bathrooms, parking spots and private spaces.
Like many devout Muslims, Ahmed prays five times a day at set times and, beforehand, performs a detailed act of ablution (cleansing) with clean water, known as “wudu.” For him and other Muslim Uber and Lyft drivers in the city, this daily prayer obligation and the associated rituals have a big impact on their driving. 
“If I don’t find parking, then I don’t have any other option, so I skip one prayer and then for the next prayer, I offer both prayers at one time,” said Ahmed.
New York City, home to the iconic yellow taxicabs, has long relied on cars for hire, but the rapid growth of rideshare companies — there are now nearly 80,000 rideshare drivers compared to 13,587 taxis in the city — has exacer …

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