School Days Off for Muslims This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 12, 2010
By , Wexford, PA
We all believe in social equality, don't we? We all should, because America's Muslim citizens wish to celebrate their holy days in peace and cheer, not filled with the stress of missing classes and making up assignments. Islam is the second-most practiced religion in the world, and our country should address the needs of its Islamic citizens properly. The federal government should give two days off from school for the major Muslim holidays in order to grant religious rights, alleviate inconveniences imposed on Muslims, and develop an interfaith community.

Muslims make up a significant portion of the population, so they have the same rights as Jews or Christians. Currently, an estimated 2.8 million ­Muslims live in America. Islam is the third-most practiced religion in America, following Christianity, and is believed to be growing. The considerable ­Muslim population impacts the local economy and education systems. Yet our nation undoubtedly prefers to recognize Judeo-Christian customs. Weekends take place on Saturday and Sunday, the primary days of worship for Jews and Christians. School breaks are scheduled with respect to the major ­religious holidays of Jews and Christians, often ­coinciding with celebrations of Passover and Easter. In fairness, school calendars should acknowledge Muslim traditions as well.

The policy of not assigning homework and tests in recognition of holidays is problematic as well. First, a majority of teachers do not follow these rules. ­Second, these specified dates never appear to fall near Muslim holidays, defeating the whole plan.

Similarly, young Muslims often face the difficult situation of going to school and missing a holy day or celebrating their holy day and missing school. A friend of mine often skipped school for holy days when she was younger, but as her studies grew more complex, she skipped the holy days more frequently. “It created a great divide between me and my family,'' she says. For those who do skip school, a greater burden of making up missed work prevents them from enjoying the holy day. Every year, I have to come home and complete homework on a day that I would like to spend in joy with my family and friends. We should, at least, have our holidays off so that we can enjoy these days in serenity. After all, can you ­imagine doing homework on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve?

Finally, during Ramadan, the month leading up to Eid Al-Fitr, Muslims across America fast from sunrise to sunset each day, for 30 days, going without food or drink. Attending school, participating in extracurricular activities, and taking physical education courses greatly inconvenience Muslim students who fast regularly. Despite humble requests for awareness of my fasting, many of my teachers forget as the month proceeds.

If schools closed for Muslim holidays, a clearer understanding of the Islamic religion would emerge, creating an interfaith community. Most students do not know much about Islamic ­culture, aside from the deceptive images they see in the media. Many misconceptions of Muslims have unjustly arisen, especially after the terrorist attacks. On behalf of the many American Muslims, we think that Islam has been wrongly blamed for the violence and prejudice of a few wrongdoers. Allowing these days off could potentially eliminate any shared insecurities of the Muslim youth about feeling uncomfortable. Riad Mustafa, president of an Islamic center, has said, “Our kids will feel that as much as they respect other religions and holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah, now others from other ­religions are respecting their faith.'' Granting two holidays off allows us to learn about the Islamic ­religion through Muslim students, and establishes a more diverse community. After all, my school ­district, like many, celebrates diversity.

Of course, citizens may not want to close school in fear of depriving students of their education. But when most Muslims miss school on these holidays, it causes a high percentage of absent students in certain areas.

After the terrorist attacks, non-Muslim citizens may feel uneasy about celebrating the holidays of such a controversial ethnic group. But if people truly believe in social equality, there would be no real problem with this proposal. Citizens display insincerity if they disagree with expanding religious rights out of fear. ­Religious freedom doesn't mean anything if equal privileges don't apply to people of different belief systems.

Muslims are a prominent part of the ­nation's population and should have the same rights as any other ethnic group. Holidays would build the acceptance of diversity and interfaith within the community. If we acknowledge the beliefs and traditions of other cultures, then other cultures should acknowledge ours.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 25 comments. Post your own now!

ZOEMALIKThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 20, 2016 at 6:55 am
Yes!! something needs to be done Especially like the part when you said "deceptive images they see in the media". Greatly pointed out. Nice. Keep it up and you have potential it will get you somewhere incredible.
nothingidc236 said...
Oct. 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm
The argument made in this is understandable. However, our government doesn't really observe religious holidays. There's a Spring and Winter break, but no religion is specified. Our observed holidays really depend on the majority rather than a religion.
Jayyy said...
Oct. 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm
Oh please. In the USA, Muslims arent a huge population. I understand in countries were Muslims are a majority, but in the USA Christians are a majority. And it wouldn't be fair if just muslims got the day off, unlike in Christmas when Muslims and non-muslims do get the idea off. Besides, its not a big deal skipping school. Most students are happy to be missing out.
ColdplayForever replied...
Jan. 2, 2016 at 3:41 pm
Some might be happy to be missing out on school, but they would fall behind in homework and classwork.
Afra- said...
Nov. 5, 2011 at 7:16 am
I really liked your article=) it makes  a whole lot of sense.
Pumpkinscout said...
Sept. 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm
You make a great point...why don't we have days off for Islamic holy days as well as Judeo-Christian? Nicely Written.
rockyraccoon said...
Jun. 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm
what you say makes a lot of sense but generally islam is not an altogether well liked religion because of the war also it is kinda inconvient the reason christian holidays are celebrated is because american school systems have been takeing those days off for like ever and haveing some students take the day off would be inconvient
Afra- replied...
Nov. 5, 2011 at 7:18 am
Well, so what if its not an "alltogther well liek reliodion"? It's a strongly follwed religion that is practiced by a large portion of people in America. And every religion should be granted a holdiay on school days on their holy days.  Besides the country is speaking of change, so this could be one of them. =)
Afra- replied...
Nov. 5, 2011 at 7:18 am
excuse my grammar and spelling errors.
anna_banana replied...
Dec. 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm
Excuse me? It's not a 'well-liked religion'? Sure, there may be many people who don't like the religion of Islam. But just because a small group doesn't approve, don't mean that Muslims don't deserve the same respect and holidays that everyone else recives. And don't even tell me I'm defending it just because i'm a Muslim. I'm not, I'm a Catholic, who believes all people deserve the same respect.
Afra- replied...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 5:28 am
well said anna.
Afra- replied...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 5:28 am
well said anna
InvisibleNerdGirl said...
May 12, 2011 at 8:38 pm

From a (non-Isla.mic) American standpoint, this is a good idea. It makes sense that Mus.lim kids should get days off for holy days as well.

However, in practice this might vex some parents and make them gripe about the government taking still more days off in addition to furlough days and holidays. :\

hahaha said...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 8:03 pm
thank you!!! i hate having to take tests and do homework after eid and study on eid and it gets harder in high school. i think this would raise awareness to every1 else and should be for everybody. nice article:)
Blahblah said...
Oct. 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm
I believe that it shouldnt just be muslims that have extra holidays andeveryone should have it.
spiritualrevelationrevealspainandrevolution said...
Sept. 11, 2010 at 1:49 am
just read the first paragraph and i love it IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE FO LIFE!
made-in.detroit said...
May 30, 2010 at 10:56 pm
omg finally some1 who wrote abt this.. i hate the fact i have to go to skool on eid so i dnt miss any assignments its soo annoyin tht they dnt respect our holidays
somaligirl replied...
Mar. 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm
Yea its a hastle. I hate not going to the Mosque on eid.
Fayrouz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm
Missing a day when you're sick is frustrating...teachers say "oh, well, you didn't know..." But when it's a religious holiday, they frown and grimace: "Well, you should have planned ahead!" It's tough to actually be jolly during a holiday when you have to worry about a test when you come back.
Ishfaq said...
May 12, 2010 at 12:29 pm
Very nice and well-written article! This discussion has already started in many school districts and we need more Muslim students to share their opinions so the general public know they are out there and deserve the same respect for their beliefs as others do. I also agree with the writer that such a step would greatly enhance the understanding of the true spirit of Islam among the citizens of our nation. Thank you.
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