With Ingenuity, Muslim Cabbies Build Mosque at Philadelphia Airport

The Adhan (Islamic Call to Prayer) is identical wherever it’s sung, in every country where Muslims worship. 

 The phrase Hayya ‘Alas Salah” (Come to Prayer) is sung around the globe five times a day, and now similarly outside a construction trailer parked in a remote lot at Philadelphia International Airport by a city Muslim taxi driver, Sylla Salif, Philly reported.

“I hold no particular position of religious authority, but any Muslim can perform the Adhan to call for prayer. Drivers take turns leading the daily prayers,” said the immigrant who comes from the Muslim West African country of Cote d’Ivoire.

The mosque on Island Avenue is a humble structure to the efforts of cab drivers, the vast majority of them men, who sought to create a place of spiritual refuge amid the most prosaic of surroundings, a crumbling slab of asphalt where they park while waiting for fares from arriving flights.

The Muslim drivers who prepare for praying to perform ablution at the site’s spigots. They then climb a few steps onto a wooden deck and put their shoes on shelves to start their prayer.

The new mosque, however, was facing challenges as the airport authorities announced plans to displace taxis from that parking lot on May 1.

As a result, around 300 of the city’s cab drivers who rely on the airport almost exclusively for work, might lose their jobs and also their mosque.

In response, the drivers voted Tuesday to authorize a strike, then the airport management relented the next day.

“The airport wouldn’t move the cabs next month and would seek to accommodate the mosque in whatever parking arrangements eventually are made,” a spokesperson said.

The official continued that “while the airport’s management was aware of the existence of the trailer used as a mosque, it didn’t grant official permission for it to be there, or for drivers to route water there from a nearby hydrant.”

On the other hand, the drivers agree that: “Islam doesn’t require an individual to conduct his/her daily prayers in a group, but there’s a prescribed spiritual value from Allah in gathering.”

“If you pray with the group, you get more rewards than if you pray by yourself,” explained Amadou Diallo who came to America almost 20 years ago from the Muslim West African country of Guinea.

“When you get together, you’re going to love each other. If somebody needed help, you’re going to help each other. It’s social solidarity that Islam seeks,” the 52-year-old man continued.

Islam is the third largest religion in the USA after Christianity and Judaism. According to a 2017 study, it’s followed by 1.1% of the population.

Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rak‘ah.

The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.

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