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Life of a Muslim Cabbie in the Age of Coronavirus

As the coronavirus sweeps across the world, millions of people have forced themselves into a self-isolation to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

However, with bills coming, many people couldn’t afford the luxury of working from home or taking a leave.

Hassan Iqbal, a New York City cab driver is one of those.

The 52-year-old man born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, came to the US when he was 23.

Over almost three decades, he has been working as a cabbie for 12 hours/day, seven days/week.

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As the coronavirus forced people to stay home and quarantine to help reduce the spread, the cab drivers are facing a work shortage.

“There’s no work. Nobody is outside because of the coronavirus,” Iqbal told “The only people who are outside are those going to the doctor or doing the grocery.”

Iqbal would spend hours driving around before he finds a passenger. “The city is empty,” he said.

Yet, bills were not the only concern for his wife Sajida Iqbal. Being his wife for 25 years, she fears the coronavirus danger her husband faces on a daily basis in his work.

 “I am very scared. There are so many different types of people that sit in his car. What if they are sick?” she said.

“But I know he’s not afraid of getting sick. He always says he will do anything for his kids. He did it all for you.”

Hassan Iqbal buttoning up his thobe before going to the masjid. (Photo via Avery Leigh White)
Hassan Iqbal buttoning up his thobe before going to the masjid. (Photo via Avery Leigh White)

Piling Bills

With the spread of COVID-19 fears, a total shutdown of the city is cabbies’ worst nightmare.

“The bills aren’t going to stop coming. We will still have to pay rent. I don’t know how I am going to do it. Cab drivers need help and the city has to do something,” Iqbal said.

“We all worked really hard in this city, for this city. So why can’t anyone help us? I am very worried. But I leave it to Allah.”

The coronavirus virus originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has quickly spread to more than 100 countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on March 11, the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has passed 220,000, and death toll is near 9000.