Muslims Press Public Schools On Islamic Holidays

August 12, 2009

Author: Omar Sacirbey

Source: Religion News Service

Calculus and chemistry are among the pressures awaiting Mesuka Akter, a senior this year at Long Island City High School in New York City.

But unlike past school years, Akter, a Muslim, will not have to choose between missing school and missing the two holiest days on the Islamic calendar.

Provided an early or late moon does not change the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, is expected to take place Sept. 20. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, is expected to come on Thanksgiving Day or the Friday after.

“It feels great to know that I’ll be home, hopefully, with my family,” said Akter, who has two younger brothers. “But you also have to keep working to change things, because this will be a problem again next year.”

Akter belongs to the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays, a group of more than 80 religious and ethnic organizations lobbying to have the two Eid holidays designated as days off in New York City schools, in which 10 percent of the 1.1 million students are Muslim, according to a study published last year by the Teachers College at Columbia University. The city’s school calendar already recognizes Christmas and the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.