Ramadan, the Muslim holy fasting month – which runs from 18 June to 16 July – has arrived in the middle of summer and there are fears that this year’s abstinence period could take its toll on its adherents.
The holy month follows the lunar calendar and it is the first time in recent years it has come so late into the British Summer Time (BST) when daylight hours last for almost 19 hours. London’s estimated one million muslims could be fasting from sunrise to sunset with only about three hours to break their fasting with family and friends before continuing again.
This year’s Ramadan is also predicted to affect at least a quarter of minicab and taxi drivers in London who will be stopping work once the sun goes down to mark Ramadan. The holy month commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, according to Islamic belief. Muslims worldwide are required to forego earthly pleasures and reconnect with their faith through a strict regime of fasting and prayers.
Steve Wright, chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association, said: “We are aware that many private hire and taxi drivers won’t be working during Ramadan. It’s certainly very tight, it’s about 25%, but it doesn’t stop the world from turning.
“There are lots of religious festivals which means there are less drivers available but we cope with it and others make hay – it’s a sort of counterbalance.”
However, retail businesses are gearing up for the seasonal’Ramadan Rush’, a trading period when muslims splash out on goods for their families. This year it also coincides with the traditional summer sales period with many retail analysts expecting takings to go through the roof.