Muslim scholar calls for halt to Ramadan construction work

Chairman of the Int'l Union for Muslim Scholars said halt would help fasting workers.

WORK BAN: Labourers are banned from working outside over midday hours during the hot summer months. (Getty Images)

WORK BAN: Labourers are banned from working outside over midday hours during the hot summer months. (Getty Images)

A leading Muslim scholar has called for a halt to work on construction sites during Ramadan, to help workers fasting during the holy month, it was reported on Wednesday.

“Work should be stopped in such circumstances. But in case it is not possible, Muslim workers are then permitted to break their fast, especially if they feel very, very thirsty,” Sheikh Qaradawi, who is chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, said during a lecture organised by the Al Qaradawi Centre For Islamic Moderation and Renewal in Qatar.

However, while Qaradawi said workers should be allowed to break the fast to avoid dehydration, “they have to make up for the missed days later,” according to a report by the Gulf Times newspaper.

His comments are in contrast to those made by Doha-based Muslim scholar Sheikh Ahmed Al Buainain, a scholar at the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, who said the hot weather was not enough of an excuse for workers to break their fast.

“I do not believe that there is a good reason for workers not to observe fasting during the days of Ramadan because of the high temperature as long as they are healthy,” Sheikh Al Buainian told Gulf Times.

Sheikh Qaradawi also said that some scholars were being too severe in the restrictions they were demanding during the holy month, especially those who prohibited the use of toothpaste or inhalers.

In relation to sports athletes who have to compete in games during Ramadan, he recommended that the games be held after the breaking of the fast, “but if the venue of the game is outside the country, then they are permitted to break their fast since they would be exempted from fasting because of travel.”

Earlier this month, the UAE's religious authority issued a fatwa allowing workers, especially construction workers, who have to contend with extreme heat, to break their Ramadan fast to avoid health problems.

"It is permissible for workers in certain professions to break the fast because of severe hardship," said the fatwa, or Islamic religious edict, issued by the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, according to AFP.

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Posted by: Irish Eye

I am not Muslim, but I thought the Koran said that good Muslims should treat their work as their religion too and that you should never use your religion (prayer, fasting etc) as an excuse not to work....

Posted by: Paolo C

If people would apply the same effort to solve an everyday problem shiffting it from religious beliefs we would be in a far better world.

Posted by: Yaser

If i am looking for a logical solution to this- what can be done is to have non-muslim (non fasting) labourers work during the day and muslim workers can work- for some time post-iftar. It depends if that part of construction work can be done in the evening or not. In compensation- a re-shuffle can happen post ramadan where those non-muslims who worked longer during ramadan days can be given relief and instead muslims who were fasting during the wholy month can compensate instead for a month.

Posted by: sonnydubai

I had a cab driver the other evening who looked so ill, he could hardly hold his head up. The drive was appalling. He had been working from 5am that morning and was a mess. I think exceptions need to be made for certain categories of workers

Posted by: Michael Caine

It's horrendous to see workers not only enduring hard physical labour in stupefying heat, but to deny them water seems criminal. Of course, these decisions should be down to the individual, but the fact that Sheikh Qaradawi has raised it is gratifying, and good to see. Perhaps a logical way to avoid issues is to simply give fasting construction workers a month's leave during Ramadan? There must be a higher incidence of accidents. Fasting on any kind of construction site is surely a health and safety risk? I think the holiday rule should also apply to taxi drivers. I've had some terrifying journeys by taxi just in the first week of Ramadan!

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