What about Eid?

On eid-stamp-picutre3June 30th, 2009, the New York City Council passed a resolution to add the Muslim holidays–Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha–to the public schools’ holiday calendar. Both of these holidays are significant for Muslims worldwide as the first marks the end of Ramadan,the holy month of fasting, and the second marks the end of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. With Ramadan coming right around the corner, the last week in August, I can’t help but remember my own struggles growing up when I would miss school to celebrate these holidays with my family and friends. Many times, exams, group activities, presentations would be scheduled on one (sometimes both) of the two holidays and I would then have to reschedule or simply miss out on something important at school. This resolution would relieve many Muslim American students from having to make that difficult decision.

There is resistance, according to an article in the New York Times, to the idea of adding two more holidays to the school calendar on the grounds that too many days are already missed and that not all religions can be accommodated. Proponents of the resolution, on the other hand, point out that both of the Islamic holidays are floating and many times do not fall on weekdays; for example, this year, it is possible that Eid ul-Fitr will fall on a weekend, according to the Islamic Society of North America. So, is this  really a sufficient reason, especially since there are school districts that have included the two holidays in their calendars?

While Muslims are a minority, they constitute a sizeable group that some estimates put at 6-8 million and growing. At the very least, the holidays should be recognized so that exams and important activities should not be scheduled on those days. It makes it even more difficult for Muslim American students to assert their rights to celebrate their holidays, like their Chrisitian and Jewish counterparts, when teachers are not sensitive to their needs to practice their faith and celebrate with their communities.

Do you think that Muslim holidays should be added officially to the public school holiday calendar or be among the national holidays? Should any religious holidays be recognized and why? Share your thoughts.

5 thoughts on “What about Eid?

  1. One of the things that I have always thought about when I hear the word ramadan is why Allah(SWT) said after orering us to fast: “Laallakum tattaqoon” i.e. fasting is made obligatory on you, may be you become pious and virtuous. It is not said that you will certainly become pious and virtuous because this outcome of fasting depends on the perception and intention of the man concerned. Whoever will understand its purpose and will try through it to achieve its objective, will reach the state of being virtious but he who doesnt try cannot hope to gain any thing out of it but his “Jou'” which literally in Arabic means hunger. My argument her is that there are essentially two factors that shape the backbone of Fasting .The first thing is the purpose for why we fast and the second thing is the work which is chosen to achieve that purpose and in this case it is to fast from eating and drinking in this month. I hope that we as muslims understand those two components in order to be a real performers of fasting.

  2. If we have learned anything from history, it is that America makes it changes in baby steps. There will always be people who argue against change, and as long as these people are in the majority, for the most part they will have the end say. I believe that there should be some Muslim holidays, I have felt that way about all religions since I was little. It never made sense to me that a country that boasts about its religious freedoms would play favorites. Fact is, Christianity is the dominant religion in America and as long as that is the case, we will always have to play by their rules. So thinking of it that way, maybe pushing right away for the two holidays isn’t such a good idea as there will always be people pushing back. As the Mayor of New York said, “If you close the schools for every single holiday, there won’t be any school.” Baby steps. Instead lets first ask that schools at least recognize these days as holidays for the Muslim community and instead opt to not schedule tests or other important school functions on these days. How easy would that be to accommodate? How do you argue against that? “Well…its too hard for a teacher..to….make it for a day earlier or later.” Okay, there will probably be a handful of people who argue that, but those are the same people who argue against everything just because they have a hole in their face that makes noise. For the most part though, it doesn’t call for a “drastic” change and Muslim students wont miss important parts of school. I think that in itself would be a small victory for Muslims in this country. Maybe in the future we will see some Muslim holidays recognized at a higher level. Until then, we have to start somewhere. Baby steps.

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