On October 15th, many Muslim students missed school to celebrate Eid al-Adha, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice. The holiday honors Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his young first born son as a sign of his dedication to God.
Eid al-Adha is one of the most important Muslim holidays of the year. Students traditionally go to morning prayers, exchange gifts, mingle with friends, and enjoy a day full of visiting relatives, prayers, and food.
However, unlike for major Jewish and Christian holidays, students have to pass up instructional time to participate in the annual Eid celebration, as the county’s Board of Education has not made Eid al-Adha an official school holiday. School system officials argue that too few staff members take time off from school to justify shutting down the entire system. Several decades ago, the Board of Education decided to close school for several Jewish holidays due to a large shortage of teachers and substitute teachers that made it difficult to keep some schools open.
Nevertheless, many students are demanding that schools close for Muslim holy days. Eleanor, a student at Montgomery Blair High School, believes that “since there are many Muslim students who celebrate Eid al-Adha, it is unfair for them to have to miss school for a religious holiday, putting students of other religions at an advantage.”
This year, the PSAT test for sophomores and juniors was administered the day after Eid al-Adha. While other students were preparing freely at school and at home, Muslim students had to take time out of the sacred holiday to study.
Phil, a student at Richard Montgomery High School, remarks that “Muslim children deserve to have their holidays celebrated too… [MCPS] should respect that and their culture.”
Zainab Chaudry, vice president of the Maryland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, helped start an online petition calling for both Muslim and non-Muslim families to support a school holiday on Eid-al-Adha. So far, it has gained about 1,000 signatures.
Article by Jennifer Chen, Freshman at Montgomery Blair High School, press correspondent for The MoCo Student
Photo provided by Nairland.com, transcribed from Asian Fortune