NEW YORK—It's afternoon in downtown Manhattan, and Mohammad "Tipu" Sultan, a 34-year-old taxi driver from Bangladesh, stands by his car at a gas station on the corner of Houston and Broadway. It's one of the city's warmest summer days, and Sultan is carrying a plastic grocery bag filled with about a dozen water bottles. "I'm going to need these soon, after the last prayer, around eight, when I can break it," he says. Sultan is of course referring to the intensified prayer and sunrise-to-sundown fast followed by devout Muslims worldwide during the month of Ramadan, which began July 19 and ends Saturday night. Refueling his car before beginning his 12-hour shift, he points to an empty corner at the back of the station. "Look, they're starting," he says.
A small group of drivers has parked and unrolled prayer mats. Giant billboards towering overhead, the air filled with incessant honking, and the sidewalk packed with camera-clad tourists, they kneel eastward, praying toward Mecca. "We have until 7:45 or so to make this prayer, the fourth of the day, so people are going to be coming in and out to pray," Sultan explains.
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