Are changing working hours during Ramadan justified? [Archives:2007/1087/Business & Economy]

September 20 2007

By: YemenTimes Staff
Whoever first decided that working hours in Ramadhan should be changed to accommodate the modifications in people's habits must think again, is this change doing more harm than good? What is the underlying notion that first justified the change in working hours? This report is an investigation in trying to understanding the perks and demerits of the change in Ramadan's working hours.

The holy month of Ramadhan is a special occasion for every Muslim, not only is every good deed rewarded more generously, but also because Muslims get to fast–a prime ritual of the Islamic religion. Imam Mohammed Ibrahim says that God has promised that whoever prays more, donates more Zakat, and undertakes more good deeds within the month of Ramadhan is going to be generously rewarded in the afterlife. Thus people tend to spend more time praying, reading the Holy Quran, and undertaking more good deeds so that God will reward them in this life as well in the heavens and afterlife. It's a trade-off, he says, you give more of your time to God and in turn God will reward you far more than you expect.

Imam Ibrahim's logic makes sense and many Muslims submit to it, however, there is another argument which points to the repercussions of changing working hours. Mohammed Al-Absi, a government cleric, stated that if you have documentation to process or any similar work you would have to wait until after Ramadhan to get it taken care of. Schools reduce their working hours and children learn less, government agencies run in less than a quarter of their usual efficiency, and furthermore courts and governance legislative bodies are closed.

“I don't understand why they just don't close shop in Ramadhan, instead of making false gestures that everyone works the same– no body works in Ramadhan, they just waste time” Al-Absi said.

Abdullah Ali, a businessmen, says that many Arab and Islamic countries do not change their working hours during Ramadhan, the cost of stopping business or reducing activities is too huge, he says: “Ramadhan is a retreat, people spend their days sleeping and doing little bits of work while enjoying themselves and socializing with friends and families”, He added: “what is so wrong with fasting and working at the same time, Islam recognizes productive work just as much as praying and making other good deeds, prophet Mohammed (PBUH) says that working is praying, so why do people in Yemen see working as an intolerable hardship they cannot handle”.

University lecturer Abdulkarim A. justifies why working hours change, he says if working hours start at 8 as usual, people will only come at 10, and would leave at 1 as usual. However to control the issue, it was decided that people would start working at 10 and would leave work at 3, to go with the flow he says. But the problem, he adds is: “even the change of hours isn't good enough; people always request their annual leave during Ramadhan. They come up with all kinds of excuses in order to leave early or arrive late its not working” he says.

Ramadhan is a special month for every Muslim, however, many Muslim countries have demonstrated that Ramadhan is not a problem that requires different work scheduling, nor does it give reasons for the Muslim population to simply skip work and avoid being productive. It should be a motivation for people to do more work and contribute to the development and well-being of their society in order to get rewarded by God.