Is work during Ramadan worship?

Posted on September 3, 2008


By Meena S Janardhan, Speronews

Note from Rafik Beekun: During Ramadan, Muslims are supposed to continue their regular work schedule unless they experience extreme hardships (as indicated by the Shari’ah). However, as this previously published article points out, Muslims in several countries just slow down, or take special leave of absence, thus potentiallly damaging their national economic welfare.

DUBAI, Oct 25 (IPS) – Ramadan is a period of fasting, prayer and penance for Muslims everywhere but, in the Gulf countries, it is also a month of reduced working hours to help the faithful observe the strict regimen. Of late, however, the fewer working hours has become the subject of debate in terms of its necessity, interpretation, application and economic costs.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issues a circular prior to Ramadan indicating that working hours for all categories of workers should be reduced from eight to six during the holy month which, this year, falls between October 4 and November 2.

But analysts estimate that two fewer working hours could cost the country 73.88 million dirhams (20 million US dollars) in daily productivity loss.

According to the UAE Central Bank, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), last year, was 323.6 billion dirhams (88 billion dollars), which translates to a daily GDP of 886.57 million dirhams (243 million dollars) or 36.94 million dirhams (10 million dollars) in hourly GDP.

At this rate, the UAE would lose 2.21 billion dirhams (605 million dollars) in productivity during Ramadan. [more]