An Eid Dilemma

Muslim+students+are+faced+with+the+choice+of+going+to+school+or+honoring+their+faith+during+Eid.

Courtesy of Google Images

Muslim students are faced with the choice of going to school or honoring their faith during Eid.

Madi Madiha, ENN Staff

Ramadan is the highlight of the year for many Muslims, taking up 30 days of the Islamic calendar and ending with a large celebration called Eid. This holy month falls at different times each year and dates back to as early as 610, marking the revelation of the Muslim holy book, the Quran. During this time, Muslims make more of an effort to get closer to Allah through fasting, praying, and other expressions of gratitude. 

Globally, Ramadan, which leads up to Eid, is known as the month that Muslim people fast from dawn to sunset. Muslims commemorate the end of 30 days of fasting with the Eid-al-Fitr celebration. This is celebrated in the span of 3 days with family and close friends, in remembrance of the prophet Muhammads (PBUH) journey from Mecca to Medina, two extremely holy places for Muslims. On the first and most significant day people prepare cultural feasts and get together to eat and pray. Since this is arguably the biggest Muslim holiday, many believe that they should be given time off from school. Unfortunately, Eid is not considered a holiday in American public schools and most Muslim students skip school on that day. Junior, Neva Khan, believes it is silly that she has to get a note from her mosque to have an excused absence for her religious holiday, especially since there are approximately 3.5 million Muslims living in America, according to worldpopulationreview.com. With statistics that big, she feels that Eid, like Christmas, should automatically be a student holiday. 

“There’s just too many of us [Muslims] for schools to still be in session on Eid day. You think they would change it by now. I know it’s difficult since the Eid date changes from year to year but it’s something they should have. It’s a courtesy. I remember when I was little and missed school for Eid I had to get a note from the mosque. It’s like, why do I have to justify myself for a religious excuse. I think it’s super unfair. Muslims and our holidays just get overlooked in the grand scheme of things,” Khan said. 

Students who skip school on the day of Eid understand that skipping school isn’t ideal, but they feel that the holiday is worth it. This is because Eid-al-Fitr is known as the biggest Muslim holiday, alongside Eid-al-Adha and Laylatul Qadr. For most, the day starts with a special prayer at the mosque, surrounded by fellow Muslims and followed by an abundance of socializing and happy hugs. From there, some visit family members, some prepare to have guests over, and some head to their favorite Eid carnivals. Either way, Eid is an experience and it is uncommon that people willingly miss out, therefore raising the absence statistics on that day. Students, like sophomore Sara Karajeh, feel that while skipping school isn’t the best idea in general, having a note for an excused absence from her mosque makes it a lot better. 

“I will skip school my three days of Eid. I know it’s not very good for me to do that but also my mosque gives out excuses, so it can be an excused absence instead of just being counted as an unexcused absence. But I don’t really think that’s fair. I think they should just be like “oh, it’s their holiday, they can take off and it won’t count against anything,” said Karajeh. 

Every year, multiple mosques around the area create and upload absence forms to social media or WhatsApp groups so parents can fill in their students’ information and send it to the school. Azza Adhami, a pharmacist, mother, and Youth Coordinator & Islamic Sunday School teacher at the Unity Center in Mansfield, works with her mosque to provide excused absence notes for Muslim students. Adhami has, in the past, worked to help students of other religions feel comfortable during their religious holidays, and feels the same generosity should be extended to Muslim kids. Many would agree with her, because America is not a Christian nation and yet most “diversity” only extends to that religious group. 

“Some people at my daughters school sent out a message saying “this is a day of worship for us as Catholics, I’m not gonna send my kid to school and it should be an excused absence” and I was totally for it,” said Adhami. “That definitely should be an excused absence because that’s a day of worship for them. And so, I believe what goes around comes around. I completely agree that they should have a day off for their day of worship and we should have a day off for our celebration.”

Efforts have been made to change the American school system for a while now, but individual school districts, like Mansfield ISD, are working to become more inclusive. Principal Ashley Alloway believes that people can change the district to have it embrace their Muslim community by talking to the right people. 

“Ideally we would want equity for all of our students. I think that would be something we need to bring to the attention of district leaders, even if we were looking at just calling it a student holiday rather than a religious holiday. Inclusivity is something the district is working on because we do want to be inclusive of all religions, races, and ethnicities,” said Alloway. 

Each year, as Eid nears, Muslim students are forced to pick between their faith and education. If they choose to skip, even with an excused absence, they fall behind on school work and have to play catch-up over the next week. If they choose to go to school on that day, they miss out on the one Islamic holiday that is widely celebrated.