View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Faith and Work Colliding in a Taxi

"GET OVER IT," urged the posting on an online bulletin board, "YOU ARE IN AMERICA, ACT LIKE AN AMERICAN!!"

Thus begins Stephanie Simon’s article in today’s LA Times about the anger being directed towards Somalian taxi drivers in Minneapolis.

The Somalis who dominate the taxi business are raising the ire of many Minnesotans by refusing to take passengers carrying alcohol or passengers with the smell of booze on their breath. The cabbies are claiming the authority of Allah for their stand and religious freedom.

The newspapers have already been full of the news of another collision of faith and work when some checkout operators in American supermarkets are refusing to scan pork products.

Not all Muslims agree on this bold and blanket stance. Some of the locals are arguing that cabbies shouldn’t be in the taxi business if their religion leaves certain types of people out on the street. Similarly, they say, don’t be on the checkout at a supermarket if you have a problem with some of the products on the shelves.

The article goes on to discuss individual freedom, law and discrimination.

It is an interesting question for anyone to ask about the issues or practices which cause our faith (or our convictions) to collide with our work or society’s demands. Then it is revealing to examine whether we turn a Nelsonian blind eye or to see how far we are prepared to go before we say, ‘Enough!’ or ‘I’m out of here!’

It is easy to use a holy book to come up with our catalogue of dos and don'ts. We all have our own rating as to which things are more haram than others.

It takes more reflection, however, to think about what we do when an employer is intoxicated with money or to consider the time when we speak up about a leader who is so addicted to power that their people are getting hurt.

Geoff Pound

Source: Stephanie Simon, Faith and work collide in Minneapolis: Somalian immigrants create a stir by declaring certain jobs offensive to Islam. LA Times, March 27, 2007

Image: Mohammed, one of the best taxi drivers in Fujairah.